Common Knowledge

They say chickens instinctively fear the
shadow of the hawk: just imagine the
wingspan of Lucifer.

They say what doesn't kill you makes you
stronger, which is an illustration of the
fallacy of aphorism.

They say nothing lasts for ever, which
has a sad ambiguity.

They say beneath every man is a good
woman, an example of male locker room

They say that swans sing before they die
and elephants have a secret graveyard.
Such beliefs are reassuring.

They say out of sight out of mind, and
absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Both can't be true.

They say see you round, which is meant
as a dismissal.

They say the truth will out and honesty's
the best policy, but few believe it.

They say Einstein's a genius, but Murphy's
greater, his law not relative, but absolute.

They say you've had a good crack of the
whip and it's time for someone else
to have a gander.

They say you can't take it with you
but you can lay it on the table, or stick
it you know where.

They say it's a long time between drinks
mate, and that's inevitably a reflection on
the company.

They say you only live once so make
the most of it, and about that
they're dead right.

Owen Marshall has written, or edited, more than twenty-five books, including three collections of poetry. He has held fellowships at the universities of Canterbury and Otago, and in Menton, France. In 2000 his novel Harlequin Rex won the Montana New Zealand Book Awards Deutz Medal for Fiction. Marshall is an adjunct professor at the University of Canterbury, which awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters in 2002. He received the ONZM in 2000 and the CNZM in 2012 for services to literature, and in 2013 the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Fiction.

Marshall comments: ‘“Common Knowledge” is a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the specious nature of much of our commonplace conversation.’

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New Zealand Book Council writer file