Here I give thanks to Modernism
Within a shack of raffia and scrim
a Sailor from Bilbao
chaperones an assignation:
the Captain with his dream called Johnny.
It's the novel Joseph Conrad
never wrote. The Modern Painter
is squinting through a crack
as he makes a charcoal sketch:
the old man’s hand where it rests
upon the young man’s brow.
What cannot be inscribed in lines:
the Captain’s inner monologue
about a woman with her throat cut.
And the Painter’s floating reverie
about his model in a tin bath
as she lifts her leg to cut her toenails.
Everything that is not there
matters more than what is.
Outside bearers in bandanas
stagger through bamboo.
A green lizard runs across
the writing desk and spills the ink.
A sweaty Corporal with a bandolier
carries in a laughing bambino.
‘Here I Give Thanks to Modernism’ comes from Murray Edmond’s thirteenth individual volume of poetry, Shaggy Magpie Songs, which was published by Auckland University Press in 2015. In 2015 he also published a volume of fiction, Strait Men and Other Tales (Steele Roberts), and in 2014 a volume of selected critical writing, Then It Was Now Again (Atuanui Press). He works as the Dramaturge for Indian Ink Theatre Company, whose latest play, The Elephant Thief, opened in Hamilton in December 2015; their 2013 play, Kiss the Fish, won Best New New Zealand Play in 2014 in the Chapman Tripp Awards. He is the Editor of Ka Mate Ka Ora: A New Zealand Journal of Poetry and Poetics.