From Renée's garden
  • Tiger Country

    May 11, 2022


    Kia ora koutou, I’ve been asked, as a favour, to publish this poem again on the Busk. It’s a while since the first time (and it is in my memoir) but hey, thanks for the kind words and yes, I agree, poems need to be read and read (and read) again so… here it is…





    Tiger Country





    You plunge off the cliff into Tiger Country
    sleek and smiling tigers play hide and seek
    slope around abandoned chairs, sad tables
    silk cushions call encouragement from the sofa
    an old painting turns its face to the wall.





    Tigers lurk in old cards, beneath yours forever
    snooze under Christmas lights that never worked
    lope ahead to a destination only they know
    signposts are suspect; there is no tunnel, no light
    nobody pins a tail on these tigers.





    Some nights after the sun has flamed
    and seabirds search the pastures of the sea
    tigers come out and lean gentle over your chair –
    wrap you in a striped shawl of sturdy warmth
    fold their paws and purr soft in the silent room





    This is the danger time. Stand up. Walk slow.
    Their eyes are on the game and you’re It.





    Renée


  • I see another autumn

    May 4, 2022

    Kia ora koutou, Late autumn in 2022 and I see another autumn, a long room, varnished wooden walls, a table, some chairs, what used to be called a Colonial couch down one end. There’s a woman sitting on the couch reading and across from her, sitting on a wooden chair, her feet on a brick in the open oven, sits a girl, aged around nine, reading. Her mother must have blacked the stove today. The smell of the blacking stuff lingers but its not bad because her mother opens all the windows wide when she cleans the stove. The blacking smell mixes with the smell of wood and coal burning in the grate. When her mother cleans the stove she wears an old shirt on over her clothes and scrunches all her hair into an old cap. She wears old gloves and she uses pieces of old towels to put the blacking on and a pair of old woollen socks on her hands to polish it. Emily of New Moon by LM Montgomery is the first ‘long’ book the girl has ever read. Up till now she has only read short stories. She had not realised that long stories existed.… Read more…

  • She remembers him waving

    April 27, 2022

    Kia ora koutou,This is a poem I wrote in memory of all the wives and kids whose lives were harmed when their husbands, fathers, sons, came back damaged, unhappy, marked forever by what they’d seen and done in both wars and to whom neither the government nor the medical profession offered any help. The men were supposed to just come back and ‘get on with it’. Some of then did but lots of them didn’t. She remembers him waving.He fixed the lemon tree with saltcarved his name on the wooden spoonshe used for mixing pikelets. She saidshe’d wait. This was before. Now the Band packs up her troubles… The club went south to tramp.One day the boys played bulrush.She made scones and apple shortcake.He whipped the cream, sneaked a lickfrom the beater. This was before. In her old kitbag… The Lieutenant-Colonel sings,the minister prays — reads a poem,talks about sacrifice. She smellsmint, remembers the tomato sauce.She’d sterilised the bottles. Now there’s a Lucifer to light your fag… It all got spilt, the spoon bent,the bottles broken, her arm. He got a warningfrom the constable after he chopped downthe lemon tree, broke the frame on the photoof him smiling.This was after.… Read more…

  • Going for Gold…

    April 13, 2022

    Kia ora Koutou,So — the NZ Rugby Union has bombed again. They not only allowed a culture of bullying and racial slurs to fester and grow, now that they’ve been called out on it, nothing appears to be going to change. The same old jargon, the same old apologies, same old promises and yes — the same old coach. So the culture of coaching that uses body shaming, shouting and bullying, remains. Oh yes, there is vague talk of ‘making changes’ but talk, where the Rugby Union is concerned, is cheap. It’s the only thing that is cheap as far this union is concerned. Behind closed doors I imagine the determination of the discussion is targeted at hushing the complainant, dismissing the bad publicity rather than dismissing the coach and his bullying and racism. It amazes me that women support this treatment of other women by watching the games but the figures show that they do. The figures for the men’s games are even higher. Of course they are. The game, whether its women or men, is never going to change as long as people keep watching. Money represented by viewers numbers and advertisers (who come on board because of… Read more…

  • Variations on a theme…

    April 6, 2022

    Kia ora Koutou, thinking about our various forms of greeting… ‘Kia ora e hoa.’‘Kia ora. Kei te pehea i a koe?’‘Kei te pai.’ ‘Hello.’‘Hello. How are?’‘Good thanks.’‘That’s good.’ ‘Hi, how are you?’‘Not bad. You?’‘Been better.’ ‘Hooray. Or Hurray.’ (Been suggested this might be a Pakehaisation of Haere ra) ‘See you later, Alligator.’‘In a while, Crocodile.’ ‘Hi, how’re you doin’?’‘Not bad. You?’‘Not bad.’ ‘Darling. I’ve been so worried. How are you and Michael?’’Been better – think we’ve got everything dried off now. How was it in Hawaii?’ ‘G’day, how you going?’‘Pretty good, you?’‘Pass with a push.’ ‘Good morning children.’‘Good morning orning, rning, Miss…sss…s.’ ‘Hi.’‘Hi.’‘Nice to see the sun.’‘Yeah. Oh well, see ya.’ ‘Did you hear the sirens?‘What sirens?’‘There’s been four. Sounds like something on the motorway.’ ‘Did you hear the sirens?’‘I’m not fucking Odysseus, chained to a rock.’‘On the highway.’‘Who? Odysseus? Bugger. I’ll have to do that line again.’ ‘Hello, that’s a pretty dress. What’s your name dear?………A little bit shy today are we? How old are you dear?’‘Mum says its rude to ask people how old they are.’ ‘Darling. Where are you off to?’‘Don’t call me darling in public, you fool.’‘Whoops, sorry.’‘Oh fuck. Hello Leila – this is my secretary,… Read more…

  • The Blue Marble

    March 30, 2022

    Kia ora koutou, When I was a kid marbles were all the rage. Not many girls played marbles but our brothers and neighbours did, so we knew all about them. Some boys were good marbles players by eye and instinct and others had to learn, some never did but they tried. My brother was pretty good and when he wanted to practise at home he was a bit hampered because he only had sisters and sisters were no good at marbles, right? In my case this adage was absolutely bang on. I wasn’t any good at marbles because I was not interested in sitting on the ground flicking a little china/glass ball at another china/glass balls. The idea came dead last if put up against reading a book. Sometimes though, I gave in and with a theatrically heavy sigh would sit down and play. The idea was you had one each in the centre and tried to hit them out. If you missed then you put the marble that had missed in the centre with the other marble and this kept on until one of you ran out of marbles and/or the other one managed to flick all the marbles… Read more…

  • Rain…

    March 23, 2022

    Kia ora Koutou,It’s a lovely morning as I sit down at the computer. Rain fell yesterday, not as much as I would have liked but at least there was some. I remembered how many times I’ve wanted rain and how many times I’ve wanted rain to stop. One of the times I wanted rain to stay away was when my kids were little. I wanted to hang the nappies out in the sun, see the lines fluttering with white flags, all saying I think we’re winning against the odds. And you all know that wonderful feeling of taking warm dry nappies off the lines, folding them up, putting them away, happy you’ve staved off the dreaded going to the cupboard and finding you’re down to one or two and its pouring outside and the baby has a tummy upset… I can remember washing them (nappies not the baby) in the tub, and hanging them, wet, from lines in the kitchen where the trusty wood and coal range would gradually dry them out hard and stiff, so unlike the soft and cuddly way the sun did, but at least clean and dry. Rain is also the title of a W Somerset… Read more…

  • …When the wooden table was moved…

    March 9, 2022

    Formica by Maggie Rainey Smith The Cuba Press Kia ora koutou, in a land far, far away, Cincinnati in the USA, to be exact, in the years 1912 or 1913 — take your pick, Formica was invented by Daniel O’Connor and Herbert Faber, who worked for the Westinghouse Corp. it immediately swept away its competition. Kids could spill drinks, adults could spill beer or wine, you could even put a hot pot on it for a second if you had to grab the baby before he crawled into the rubbish bin you were taking out to the bag but had to drop on the floor because his brother had spilled his porridge on the table. 107 years later, Formica is the title of a beautiful new poetry collection by Maggie Rainey Smith. published by The Cuba Press, and on the Neilson Best–Selling list before it was even launched. Maggie, poet, novelist, essayist, and among many other things, a teacher of English as a second language, grew up in a Roman Catholic family, in Richmond, Nelson. In Formica she traces events in her own life with a wry and tender eye — sometimes amused, sometimes sad, always engaging. She says… She… Read more…

  • Merry March Moaning Day…

    March 2, 2022

    Kia ora Koutou, I have decided to nominate this Wednesday as Merry March Moaning Day. Merry March Moaning Day is the one day in the year when we can moan about trials and tribulations and not be thought a grizzle–pot. Just the reverse. On Merry Moaning Day I am encouraging you to moan. The more the merrier. As everything in the news is scary or contemptible we can take those things as read. So here I go… Having Macular Degeneration deserves a big fat moan. Yes I know I’m lucky in all sorts of other ways but having to peer to find a power point or a particular spoon or fork, the salt cellar, not be able to see if my jersey’s clean, or if I’ve put my shirt on inside out is a pain. Peeling potatoes is particularly exciting. Jar lids Every new jar (jam, honey, marmite, you name it) has its lid on so tight there is no way I can open it unless I plunge the vegetable knife into the lid. This does the trick because the lid will then let me unscrew it but its probably not a good thing for a 92 year–old with poor… Read more…

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From my garden

From my garden
From my garden
From my garden