You Could Say

Things as they are
   are simultaneously
mundane and extraordinary

on an ordinary evening
   in the Maniototo
that gives way

as it gives up everything
   it has to offer every time
in ways which set us

apart and highlight
   how hard it is to know
what to give back anymore,

let alone to ask whether
   the common good’s
able or meant to include

the land and skies
   and all that lives there
as best it can, instinctively…

just as you could say
   a broken heart’s a broken
heart and it matters not

who did it or why,
   or what comes next, but
how long it takes, takes.

Brian Turner, born in 1944, is a poet and non-fiction writer. His numerous awards include the New Zealand Book Award for Poetry in 1993 and in 2010 and the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Poetry 2009. He was the Te Mata Estate New Zealand Poet Laureate 2003–05 and received The Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry 2009. An Otago-ite and staunch southerner, he has for some years lived in Oturehua, Central Otago, also known as ‘Where the hell's that?’ and the so-called ‘Middle of Nowhere’.

Turner comments: ‘Other than acknowledging the touch of a nod towards Wallace Stevens, I'd prefer to let the poem speak for itself.’

Poem source details >



New Zealand Book Council writer file