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POETRY


poems of the month

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

suicide for
non-beginners

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

confession from belgrade

gloss on rilke's
ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa:
a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

imagepoem

 

TRANSLATIONS

 

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

good riddance to mankind

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400 revolutionary maxims

nice men and
  suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

PROSE

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

after a first cataract operation

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

a note on the cathars

happiness

londons of the mind
& dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

the dog from sinope

combatting normality

shoplifting
in britain & america

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

a holy dog
& a dog-headed saint

fools for nothingness

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo



Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland & the phallic continuum

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

a small town in france

 

western values

 

 

 


ALREADY BACKWARDS


POEMS BY GLENN COLQUHOUN

a New Zealand doctor whose last collection
PLAYING GOD: Poems about Medicine
has recently been published by the Hammersmith Press.

 

WHEN I AM IN DOUBT
a poem for surgeons

When I am in doubt I talk to surgeons.
I know that they will know what to do.
They seem so sure.

Once I talked to a surgeon.
He said that when he is in doubt
He talks to priests.
Priests will know what to do.
Priests seem so sure.

Once I talked to a priest.
He said that when he is in doubt
He talks to God.
God will know what to do.
God seems so sure.

Once I talked to God.
He said that when he is in doubt
he thinks of me.
He says I will know what to do.
I seem so sure.

 


TODAY I DO NOT WANT TO BE A DOCTOR

Today I do not want to be a doctor.
Nobody is getting any better.
Those who were well are sick again
and those who were sick are sicker.
The dying think they will live.
The healthy think they are dying.
Someone has taken too many pills.
Someone has not taken enough.
A woman is losing her husband.
A husband is losing his wife.
The lame want to walk.
The blind want to drive.
The deaf are making too much noise.
The oppressed are not making enough.
The asthmatics are smoking.
The alcoholics are drinking.
The diabetics are eating chocolate.
The mad are beginning to make sense.
Everyone's cholesterol is high.
Disease will not listen to me
Even when I shake my fist.

 


IN OTHER WORDS

In other words
a poem is a way
of knowing you are alive
as shocking as fish leaping out of deep water
as sharp as
light stabbing
through a row of trees,
as bold as
opening up your eyes during prayer
as simple as
lying awake in the middle of the night
listening to the sound of people snoring.
Every minute
of every day
of every life
is a full library.

 


TO THE GIRL WHO STOOD BESIDE ME
AT THE CHECK-OUT COUNTER OF WHITCOULL'S
BOOKSTORE IN HAMILTON ON TUESDAY

For ten seconds I fell
in love with you.

The first second we met.
You were buying recipes.

The second second we turned,
Taking pieces of each other out of our eyes.

The third second we held each other gently.
Your skin was a small kitten playing with a curtain.

The fourth second we kissed.
Front gates clicked against our fence.

In the fifth second we married.
Your dress was made of Nikau palm.

The sixth second we built a house beside a lake
It was never tidy and the grass was up to our knees.

The seventh second we argued:
About toothpaste and poetry
and who would put out the rubbish.

The eighth second we grew fat and happy
and laid on the ground after eating.
Your stomach wriggled with a round child.

In the ninth second we were old in the same garden
of the same house by the same lake in the same love.

The tenth second we said goodbye.
Your hand slipped away from mine but
seemed to me like something I could feel.

We passed again beside each other without turning
as though we had somehow only met at the checkout
counter of Whitcoull's bookstore in Hamilton
on a faintly blue September Tuesday.

 


AN EXPLANATION OF POETRY TO MY FATHER

To my Mum
And to my Dad
Who made me good
And made me bad
An apology

I was not a son to take the Word
of God to the whole world.

I was not a son to spot a fine
cow at auction.

I was not a son who was able to
fix the inside of dark engines.

I did not win the game
in its final minute.

I was not a son to sweat all day
on the end of a shovel.

I was not a son to remain calm
at the sight of my own blood.

I was not a son to capture the
hearts of beautiful women.

I did not save for a rainy day.

I was not a son to discover
the cures to rare illnesses.

I was not a son to bear you
a generation of fine children.

I was a son who believed
in the making of poetry.

Which is, I suppose, in the end,
pretty much the same thing.

 


A MINI MENTAL STATUS EXAMINATION

1.
She told me that it was summer and that we were in the south of France.
The night before we had heard a man sing beautifully on the street Her father was important and young men had always sought her.
I was no exception.
She complained of the heat.

2.
She remembered three things:
One The sound of crickets frying in the sun.
Two The correct way for casting on a row of stiches.
Three That in her father's house were many mansions.

3.
She told me that my pen was a dagger and my watch was a fading rose in my hand.

4.
She said that the world was already backwards and why make it worse.

5.
She wrote:
‘Old Meg she was a gypsy
And lived upon the moors
Her bed it was the brown heath turf
And her house was out of doors.'

6.
She drew a butterfly on a piece of paper for me.
She coloured the body in blue where the wings overlapped.

7.
She closed one eye at a time slowly while she looked at me with a smile.

8.
She took the paper in her right hand, screwed it up and threw it at me.

No ifs, ands or buts.

Later I told her what day it was and the name of the place where we had talked.

I said her name like a cold flannel wiping the food away from someone's mouth.

There are times when I wonder why I did.

 


A HISTORY

THE PRESENTING COMPLAINT

It was a fine day. I was outside. I had thought to myself that it was a good day for washing. There are people who say that they will do it for me but there are many ways of hanging it out. I know which way I like it hung myself and I don't mean to be a bother. It was a fine day and I was so warm. It was a terrible sound. Like someone had cracked a branch. I knew by the sound of it that it wasn't good. It was a very hot day. I hope someone has got them in. You probably don't mind which way they are hung.


A PAST MEDICAL HISTORY

I knew a doctor once which was many years ago. You may have heard of him. He worked here. You have not. You must have heard of him. He was quite famous. He invented a machine. It was the shape of a triangle. He sewed it onto the skin to help his operation. I was one of the first he used it on. I can tell you I would never have it again after that. I don't remember the operation. You would know it of course. Do they still use it. I'm not surprised.

No. I have had no problems there. I take pills of course but I do not know what they are for. They may be for that. I have read that sometimes you would not know. They could be for that—the pills. It would make sense. What do you think.

No. No. No. No. Oh my goodness no. I have never had that. Not at least that I know of. Should I have known. I am not sure. I could have I suppose. How would I know. I wouldn't have thought so. You have me thinking.

You have had me thinking and now I remember. I have had upsets there yes. In the past. Yes I have had problems. How is that then. I have. Thank you for reminding me.


THE MEDICATIONS

I have taken many pills in my time. Yes there have been a lot. I used to take a blue pill. It was small even for a pill. Once for a while I took the blue-tongued mussel. Have you ever heard of that. I don't know why I took it now. I told my doctor I had been taking it. He said the less of it I took the better. I don't suppose I should have taken it now. The blue-tongued mussel. Could it have done me any harm.


THE ALLERGIES

I am allergic to morphine. I must not have it. They gave it to me when I came here. It made me see things. There was a room full of men and they were looking at me. It was very strange. I did not look back to begin with. They spoke to me. One of them I thought quite smart. He asked me to dance. I said to the doctor could I dance. My leg was not sore. I said the men had been talking to me and did he think what they have been saying could be true. He asked me which men. I said the men who have asked me to dance. He said I was not to have any more. I was disappointed. He did not see them at all.


A SOCIAL HISTORY

I have been married. It did not seem long ago. I met him when he was playing rugby and I was going to church. In the end of course he came to church. He was a very good player. A winger. He was very fast. He played for the local team in his day. He could not come to church then. He was a great man for his football but I was patient. I knew that he belonged in church. He knew it too but he was a young man and very fast. He had to wait till he could not play football anymore and then he came. He went happily then. He came to be
very strong. He was an elder. He was a winger and an elder. Very fast. I suppose I was faster.

I live on my own now and I do not smoke. My husband used a pipe. Is that better or worse. He said it was better. I was not sure. I drink wine on occasions. I have been told that it is good for me. You have been very thorough.

Have I told you what you wanted to know ?

 


THE OTHER SIDE OF A RIVER

We live on either side of a river.

She sits in the day beneath the sun.
It seems to orbit her.
Her feet are grass soft.

At night I lie on the ground.
I am shivered by the stars.
My eyes are moon round.

Some days she spins in long grass.
Her hands stretch outwards.
Her hair is blown. She is a small storm.

Some days I stand very still.
The world breaks open.
The sky shakes her hips in front of me.
All the shades of green dance and I am flattered.

Sometimes I think she speaks to me.
Before I have heard the words fall into the water
and curl away in small pools.

When I try to talk there is so much to say
it sticks in one long sentence which catches
in the wind and blows away.

She shades her eyes from the sky as if she is looking.

When she swims I place my feet in the water.
My arms float like small branches.

Sometimes I think she will come to me.
At night the moon makes a bridge on the water.

Sometimes I think I will go to her.
When the wind blows I lean
on the edge of the shore like a bird
with my arms out.

We live on either side of a river.

 




An interview

with
Glenn Colquhoun

 

 


the book of nothing
The Book of Nothing

 

 

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