Lines for a New Year

I like the branch
I find myself on

a view over the garden
all the way down to the beach

the family below me
gathered in the garden

debating where I’ve gone.
My father’s got a theory.

I like the branch
I find myself on.


You know how it is

to give up the piss
a week to the

day before Christmas

you know how it is

to fall over sober
safe in some spot,

come to later
remembering the lot.


the rugby ball kicked
far as the far paddock

where an apple tree caught it.
Was agreed among folk

they’d never seen such a catch,
such a kick, such a match.


I gave it away lately
I had no choice,
no need pump the brakes—
they’d already seized.

I like your poison, lady,
I like it too much:
which is why I am
          where I am today
outside of thought, beyond your touch.

I said I’ll be seeing you.
You knew what I meant,
at least you seemed to.
Was the message you got
the same one I sent?


It’s a love song
between a mother and son.

The son plays the drums
and wrote the song.

On the recording
mother sings the song

like mothers do. And the
son plays the drums

like a good boy. It′s a
love song.


A friend used to say
my dog and I
had the same way of walking,

especially walking away.
Which was
often the case.

These days there’s
not much happening.
It’s people walking toward me

asking, where’s the dog,
the dog? And they’re
right. Where is he?


You live in this world
you have no choice.
Silence would be fine.
But you give it voice—

you have to, you cannot
help yourself.
Your mother says you never knew
when enough was enough.


Dreamt I met Thomas Hardy
walking a local back road.
He was an old man
but coped okay with his cane.

He said he was looking for
a woman called Lizbie Brown.
I said I knew her name—
but only from his poem.


Sitting on a clifftop
was always a dream
that more or less came true.
Just the words dried up.


Friends disappear
off the face of the earth.
For what it’s worth
I loved you.
But you can’t hear.


Is said (what few
elders we have left)
anyone for whom birds sing
all night through to dawn

are themselves
close to eternal bird-song:
their time, among these branches,
that of the elders—not long.


If this were the view
I got all year through—
a branch of a tree at the window—

I would become that
branch of tree and with it

The nurses agree
I never complain
about the rain, or pain.

Easy, when you know
you’re a tree
at the window.


When I poured her a cup of tea
and asked her, strong or weak?
she held out a dark wrist:
same colour as this.


I’m off to look at angels.
And toetoe if I see it.

The family move in close.
No way out but

close my eyes to see

if anything’s left of the toetoe,
and the angels.

Sam Hunt was born in Castor Bay, Auckland, in 1946. He lived for a long time on and about the Cook Strait. He has published roughly fifteen books, most recently, Doubtless: New and Selected Poems (Craig Potton Publishing, 2008). Upcoming volumes include Backroads Off Backroads and The First Fifty-Two Chords (Craig Potton),  James K. Baxter: Poems (Auckland University Press, May 2009), selected and introduced by Hunt, and an album with David Kilgour, Falling Debris (2009). He now lives with his 11 year old son on the Arapaoa River of the Kaipara.

Poem source details >



Sam Hunt’s New Zealand Book Council profile
Auckland University Press: James K. Baxter: Poems