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From Alexandria to Auckland

Skin Hunger by David Lyndon Brown
Titus Books, Auckland, 2009. Reviewed By SCOTT HAMILTON

Late last year I attended the premiere of a short film called Skin Hunger at David Lyndon Brown’s small but stylish apartment in Auckland’s inner city. I sat in the dark with a crowd of Brown’s friends and watched as a series of words – I remember adjectives like ‘sublime’ and abstract nouns like ‘beauty’ – floated across a naked male torso wrapped in blue light. Music fluttered in the background, and a voice – deep and calm, and yet passionate – read fragments of poetry filled with words like ‘sublime’ and ‘beauty’.


The light, the music, and David Lyndon Brown’s language all suggested that Skin Hunger was supposed to be a celebration of otherworldly loveliness, like the early paintings of Rossetti or the poetry of Stefan George. Yet the body that was the focus of the film did not resemble the youthful, perfectly-proportioned beauties that Rossetti and George had immortalised in paint and words. In fact, the star of Skin Hunger was a bit of a slob. A gut hung over his waist, pimples grew between the hairs on his back, and his skin looked dirty in places. As the film went on, and the camera zeroed in on its subject’s grime-encrusted nipples, I noticed that words like ‘mucous’, ‘stain’, and ‘piss’ were slipping into the poet’s litany of praise.

The star of Skin Hunger was no Adonis, but David Lyndon Brown has never been interested in idealised beauty. Brown has taken the title of his first, long-awaited collection of poetry from his short movie, and stills of his star’s torso adorn the book’s front and back covers. ‘Cavafy’s Shoes’, the second poem in Brown’s book, can be read as an elaboration of the images that flickered across the wall of Brown’s apartment last year. Brown wrote ‘Cavafy’s Shoes’ after learning that a number of tiles taken from the floors of old houses in Alexandria had turned up at an Onehunga warehouse where his friend and fellow poet Bob Orr worked. Brown has a fascination with Alexandria and with the writers it has sheltered, and he was horrified when Orr told him how one of the tiles was being prepared for resale:

When you said you’d taken to the tile with hydrochloric acid,
I flinched. I feared
that you might dilute
the essences of Alexandria,
the vital fluids –
sweat, tears, semen, spilt perfume, blood.
I feared that you might erase
the footprints of Forster, Cavafy, and Durrell.

Brown didn’t want the tiles of Alexandria cleaned up for the same reason that he didn’t want the star of Skin Hunger to take a shower. He sees the marks that time and chance leave on objects and people as records and reminders, however cryptic, of experiences and feelings that might otherwise be lost. The poet’s job is to interpret the stains and other small details that life leaves behind. Ideals of beauty and perfection should be resisted because, like hydrochloric acid, they erase what is particular and meaningful. Imagining the tiles that Bob Orr has been cleaning, Brown conjures a series of images of the decadent, doomed Bohemian world that made Alexandria famous in the first half of the twentieth century:

Justine stalks the terrace on imperious heels,
chain smoking…
at the end of the bar, as always,
the Poet of the City,
slipshod in scuffed orthopaedics
sips absinthe
and tenderly observes the handsome waiter.

‘The Poet of the City’ is Constantine P Cavafy, the Greek civil servant who lived almost his whole life in Alexandria, scribbling irascible messages on bureaucratic memos and composing exquisite poems about lost love, passing pleasures, and the way of all flesh. David Lyndon Brown shares Cavafy’s themes, and he has also learnt from the man’s style. Like the poems Cavafy circulated surreptitiously amongst friends, the pieces in Skin Hunger are usually short, concrete, clearly constructed, and fiercely attentive to detail. Nothing is too ordinary to elude Brown’s gaze:

The eyes open.
The fingers unfurl.
I marvel at the magnitude of these events.

Like Brown’s book of short stories Calling The Fish and his novel Marked Men, Skin Hunger explores a seedy but loveable Auckland of crumbling Bohemian villas, underfurnished apartments, twenty-four hour bars, and dodgy nightclubs. The poems set amidst Auckland’s gay community have considerable sociological and historical value, despite the fact that they eschew generalisation and political rhetoric. ‘The Virus’ says more about the impact of AIDS on members of the gay community than any table of statistics or patronising health campaign:

When he sleeps
it plays
making his limbs dance.

It juggles his thoughts.
He forgets.
He loses things.
It has uncurled his hair.

Brown’s uncomplicated technique and relatively limited range of subjects do not restrict the resonance of his poems. Like Cavafy, he is able to communicate complex meanings through simple means. In ‘Neighbourhood Watch’, for instance, Brown brings together themes of voyeurism, social isolation, sexual deprivation, and violence through a simple if ingenious rendering of an experience which is commonplace in Auckland’s badly designed inner city:

Your smoke signals
lure me
to the balcony.
Reflected in the glass balustrade
I see your hand,
cigarette poised,
I see your stomach,
I see the nipples of your chest.
Your head is cut off…

I move slightly
to maximise my view.
You light up.
I light up,
feasting on your headless body.

‘Neighbourhood Watch’ is all the more provocative because its author refrains from either defending or apologising for his voyeurism. He also refrains from speculating about the character and motivations of the ‘headless body’ he feasts upon. It is up to readers to interrogate ‘Neighbourhood Watch’. Have voyeur and exhibitionist met their match, or is the narrator of the poem guilty of somehow exploiting his neighbour? Is the narrator simply a lonely pervert indulging in a cheap thrill? Is the sort of objectification of a stranger’s body that the poem records a natural part of human life, or is it a consequence of the alienation that a big city like Auckland can breed? Does ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ make us uncomfortable because David Lyndon Brown has been brave enough to describe what all of us like secretly to do, in one social context or another?
Not all of Brown’s poems are as free of authorial comment as ‘Neighbourhood Watch’. In ‘Law and Order’, for instance, the poet offers a judgement of the whole of the natural world:

Don’t be deceived by the roses in that prim vase.
The nuzzling buds, the sluttish petals unfurling –
anther, stamen, pistil erect,
twitching for a fuck.

Outside in the hot dark, the sap simmers.
The grass shoots up green blades.
Pods burst.
The oleander thrashes at the glass.
Tendrils reach and grasp.

In the Serengeti a predator is tearing something apart.

Brown is hardly the first person to tell us that nature is red in tooth and claw, but he makes us appreciate the idea anew by finding such unusual images to illustrate it. His poem has a casual tone and uncomplicated syntax, but it has been carefully designed. Brown has made sure, in particular, that the shape and sound of his lines reinforce the meanings that they carry. The slow, almost languorous rhythm of his second line, for instance, embodies the unfurling of petals that it describes. The first three lines of his second stanza become progressively faster and shorter, until the alliterated plosives of ‘Pods burst’ announce the violence that is germane to nature, a violence that can only be temporarily disguised by a ‘prim vase’ of roses. The poem’s final line throws the reader halfway around the world, and makes the extent of Brown’s vision dizzyingly apparent.
The great strength of Skin Hunger is also one of the book’s few weaknesses. David Lyndon Brown’s intense response to the world around him and impassioned recall of past experiences can lead him to become overexcited and sentimental, and to succumb to the sort of clichés that give lyric poetry a bad name. Deep and meaningless phrases like ‘the ravenous moon’, ‘I shudder at your impact’, and ‘You are the sailor of my mysterious ocean’ mar half a dozen of the poems in Skin Hunger. Titus deserves applause for publishing this book, but a good editor should have made sure that all its poems had the concreteness and clarity of ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ and ‘Law and Order’.
Titus Books will be launching David Lyndon Brown’s Skin Hunger along with Ted Jenner’s Writers in Residence and other captive fauna on May the first, at Fordes Bar, 122 Anzac Avenue Auckland, from seven o’clock.

16 comments:

  1. James King, 6. June 2009, 20:42

    Scott, thanks for taking the time to write a lengthy treatise on David Lyndon Brown’s Skin Hunger. I’ve just recently read the book which I really enjoyed. But what struck me was how poor your reading of the material is and how inaccurate some of your comments are. First off Bob Orr has never worked in an Onehunga warehouse as far as I know, and I don’t how you have arrived at that impression based on the reading of Cavafy’s Shoes (perhaps you gave that poem only a cursory glance). Second your observation about the grime-encrusted nipples of the person Brown used in his film and showed at the opening suggest that you might have some retinal damage (a result perhaps of excessive masturbation?). The other thing I thought i should mention is the absence of the words piss and stain which you promise are in the book I’ve read read the book through a number of times and unless I have pages missing in my copy, you’ve got your facts wrong again. I could go on and on, but I can’t really be bothered wasting any more time on a reviewer who is out of his depth. It’s so important Scott to get the details right before you publish reveiws. I’m just glad I didn’t rely on your review when I was deciding to get the book. Skin Hunger is brilliant by the way– well worth reading.

     
  2. Brett Cross, 8. June 2009, 19:38

    James, I’m surprised you’ve taken such a negative view of Scott’s review, it does have some inaccuracies, but generally to emphasize a certain point, ie the overstating of the condition of the model’s body in David’s film was in order to make the point:

    ‘He sees the marks that time and chance leave on objects and people as records and reminders, however cryptic, of experiences and feelings that might otherwise be lost. The poet’s job is to interpret the stains and other small details that life leaves behind. Ideals of beauty and perfection should be resisted because, like hydrochloric acid, they erase what is particular and meaningful.’

    Which is an good observation from a reviewer, and there are many others, mainly positive:

    ‘Like the poems Cavafy circulated surreptitiously amongst friends, the pieces in Skin Hunger are usually short, concrete, clearly constructed, and fiercely attentive to detail.’

    so why the hostility?

     
  3. Ross Brighton, 9. June 2009, 15:36

    James,
    Though they are near each other in the review, Scott doesn’t suggest that “the words piss and stain […] are in the book”. Secondly, though Orr may not have worked in said warehouse, the note preceding “Cavafy’s Shoes” Dedicates the poem to Orr, and states it is written “On discovering, in an Onehunga warehouse” said cache of tiles. The dedication implies the poem’s addressee is Orr, so Scott’s extrapolation is, in my view at least, understandable.

     
  4. James King, 9. June 2009, 20:00

    Thanks Chaps,

    An observation that’s wrong however understandable it may have been doesn’t remove the fact that it’s still wrong. reviewing like other aspects of journalism relies on fact and accuracy to be of any value. I realise Scott has a good working relationship with Titus so it’s not surprising that you (Brett) would defend his review; Which is so longwinded I had to have a cup of tea and a wee nap before I came to the end. I’m sorry if my comments come across as hostlie, but frankly I’m sick to death of academics writing deep and meaningless reviews that turn people away from poetry for fear they might not get it. Skin Hunger is too good a book to be turn away from.

    cheers
    James

     
  5. Richard Quinn, 10. June 2009, 17:46

    James,

    Sorry to have to correct you, but in Scoop’s columns, reviews don’t necessarily (or even often) rely on ‘fact and accuracy.’ It may be ‘journalism’ but not as we know it.

     
  6. Skyler, 11. June 2009, 14:46

    I thought the review was straight forward and not long winded. It didn’t take me long to read (and I’m not an academic). Overall it is a supportive review of Skin Hunger. Scott does actually like DLB’s writing and has supported the publication of David’s last two books. I think it’s good to let reviewers make a few recommendations on how a book could be improved – we don’t want uncritical brainless PR reviews. We want thoughtful reviews that make us think – at least the review made you read the book James and made you engage in an argument here.

     
  7. Scott, 11. June 2009, 15:37

    I think James takes an interesting stance when he characterises reviewing as a form of journalism, and complains that lengthy or over-‘academic’ reviews of poetry books can ‘turn people away from poetry for fear that they may not get it’.

    James seems to see the involved and passionate discussions that can arise around poetry – discussions that can find venues in the introductions to books, in book reviews, in forums like this one, and even (horror of horrors) in academic seminar rooms – as impediments to the actual experience of poetry.

    James is implicitly suggesting that there is a radical separation between the sort of experience that a poem gives us and a sort of experience that we have when we engage in intellectual debate. He seems to be suggesting that a poem communicates directly, bypassing the parts of our brain that we engage when we talk about, say, politics, or philosophy, or history. It is wrong, James seems to be saying, for us to read too much in to a poem, by interpreting and discussing it in terms of ideas and events which it does not directly respond to or describe. We should ‘get’ a poem, not think about it. Literary criticism should be no more than a species of journalism, supplying simple facts about the production and publication of texts.

    I have some sympathy with James’ stance. I think that academic discourse, in particular, can all too often disfigure the work of poets, by converting their images into ugly pieces of jargon, and turning their insights into ‘concepts’ to be moved about in irrelevant arguments.

    Even outside the academy, there is a tendency to regard poems as more or less elaborate puzzles disguising some sort of ‘message’ which it is the reader’s task to discover and ponder. Once the message has been extracted, the poem – the images, the turns of phrase, the shapes of the lines and the sounds they make – can be cast aside, like the rind of a fruit. I’ve been involved in several arguments with political activists who believe that the purpose of poetry, and of art in general, is to serve ‘the people’ by broadcasting didactic arguments to as large an audience as possible. There is no ontological difference, as far as these self-appointed commissars of culture are concerned, between a poem and a poster.

    Although I sympathise with some of his points, I think James throws the baby out with the bathwater by implying that the experience of poetry owes nothing to the intellectual discourse surrounding poetry. David Lyndon Brown’s Skin Hunger was launched on the same night as Ted Jenner’s Writers in Residence, a book for which I wrote an introduction. On the surface, at least, Ted and David are very different writers: where David’s poems are laconic and concrete, Ted’s are long, self-conscious, and filled with very deliberate allusions to the classical world as well as twenty-first century geopolitics.

    Titus asked me to say a few words about Ted’s book, and I delivered a boozy, rather rambling talk filled with names like Heraclitus, Rimbaud, Hitler, and Ezra Pound. At one point, a fan of David’s interrupted me to ask me when I was going to talk about Ted’s poetry, or better still David’s poetry. I could see his point.

    All I could say, in my defence, was that I didn’t know how to talk about Ted without talking about the other people I’d mentioned, and about the traditions in which Ted is immersed. As I see them, Ted’s poems are part of a conversation – a frequently frustrated, sometimes angry dialogue, but a conversation nonetheless – with European history and culture: a dialogue about the relation between the ideal and the real, the relation of the individual to the collective, the meaning of democracy and human rights, and the place of the arts in society. We cannot really read Ted’s work without entering into this discussion.

    David Lyndon Brown might seem like a very different writer, but I think that his poems are also part of a conversation, or a set of conversations, and that it is the critic’s job to describe and enter into these converations.

    Let’s examine ‘Law and Order’, one of the poems I mentioned in my review of David’s book:

    Don’t be deceived by the roses in that prim vase.
    The nuzzling buds, the sluttish petals unfurling –
    anther, stamen, pistil erect,
    twitching for a fuck.

    Outside in the hot dark, the sap simmers.
    The grass shoots up green blades.
    Pods burst.
    The oleander thrashes at the glass.
    Tendrils reach and grasp.

    In the Serengeti a predator is tearing something apart.

    The formal features of ‘Law and Order’ – its unrhymed free verse lines of carefully varied lengths, for instance – might not seem remarkable today, but one hundred and twenty years ago they would have made the piece unpublishable. For even the most forward-thinking English-language literary editors of the late nineteenth century, ‘Law and Order’s lack of a ‘regular’ rhythm and its wildly varying line lengths would mean that it could not even be considered a poem, let alone a ‘successful’ poem.

    Only after a heroic struggle in the early twentieth century by modernist poets and – perhaps just as importantly – modernist literary critics, did the style which David uses win acceptance. Even today, nearly ninety years after TS Eliot published The Wasteland, there are many people who do not believe that a ‘real’ poem can be unmetered, or even unrhymed. The style of ‘Law and Order’ is not something that is ‘natural’ to David, something that we can ‘get’ without any knowledge of literary history. When David uses the style, and when we appreciate it, we are affirming a certain definition of poetry, and rejecting another one.

    Without falling into the trap of making the poem into a mere vehicle for the delivery of a message, let’s examine the argument which ‘Law and Order’ insinuates. David begins the poem by looking at the roses sitting inside in a ‘prim’ vase. Humans love to domesticate the rose, either in gardens or in flowerpots or in vases. The flower has often been used to symbolise beauty and refinement, but David rejects these connotations, and the dichotomy between the ‘nice’ and ‘brutish’ parts of nature which they both rely upon and reinforce. In a series of images that bring sex together with violence, David suggests a continuity between the apparently-innocent rose in the vase, the wild vegetation outside his window, and the violent predators of the faraway African plains.

    Whether or not we find ‘Law and Order’ convincing, we cannot help reading it in the light of other texts. Blake’s famous poem ‘Tyger, Tyger burning bright’, for instance, raises the question of the character of the natural world, and of the guilt or innocence of a God responsible for the ferocity of this world:

    When the stars threw down their spears,
    And watered heaven with their tears,
    Did he smile his work to see?
    Did he who made the Lamb, make thee?

    Blake left his questions unanswered, but others have not been so reticent. In his long sequence of poems Birds, Beasts and Flowers, DH Lawrence recognised and celebrated the ferocity of which the natural world is capable. Deeply distressed by the First World War, Lawrence was attempting to turn away from the human world, and find refuge in the innocent chaos of nature. For Lawrence, the violence of nature was not comprable to the violence of humans, because it was not the product of reason and malice. In his poem ‘Snake’, Lawrence reinterprets a creature that has often been made into a symbol of evil:

    …he seemed to me like a king,
    Like a king in exile, crowned in the underworld,
    Now due to be crowned again…

    A quarter century later, the great Welsh writer Alun Lewis found in the forested mountains along the border between India and Burma an escape from a human world whcih seemed to have gone mad:

    But we who dream beside this jungle pool
    prefer the instinctive rightness of the poised
    pied kingfisher deep darting for a fish
    To all the banal rectitude of states,
    The dew-bright diamonds on a viper’s back
    To the slow poison of a meaning lost
    And the vituperations of the just.

    Lawrence and Lewis offer variations on one of many possible responses to the problem that Blake’s poem posed. Geoffrey Hill, who is often considered Britain’s leading living poet, offers a very different vision of the ferocity of nature in his eary poem ‘Genesis’, where a mysterious, remote God deliberately introduces violence into the world in order to charge it with meaning:

    By blood we live, the hot, the cold,
    to ravage and redeem the world.
    There is no bloodless myth will hold.

    I am not suggesting that we need to have read Hill, Lewis and Lawrence, nor even Blake, to appreciate ‘Law and Order’. Nor am I suggesting that one writer is ‘correct’ and the others ‘wrong’ in his response to the theme they share. I am offering poems like ‘Snake’ and ‘Genesis’ as examples of a complex and long-running conversation in which poets have faced up to a seemingly fundamental feature of human life – the isolation we feel from the natural world and the threat which that world seems to pose to us. David Lyndon Brown’s poem acquires its meaning and value within that conversation. Reading and responding to David is not a matter of ‘getting’ the hermetic meaning of a single human, but of entering into a conversation which involves many writers, living and dead.

     
  8. Ross Brighton, 11. June 2009, 15:58

    “sick to death of academics writing deep and meaningless reviews that turn people away from poetry for fear they might not get it”? I have to say I don’t buy it. I enjoyed Scott’s review immensely, and while I don’t necessarily agree with parts of it, the reading of the poems is subltle, nuanced, and performed with a great deal of care and obvious love for poetry.
    I, on the other hand, am sick of people ragging on critics (like myself, see http://www.artbash.co.nz/article.asp?id=1377&watch=1#com10013) for so-called “accademism” or worse, “elitism”. Where does this manifest itself in Scott’s review? And, more importantly, what is wrong with using the language of the study of literature to, shock horror, talk about literature? you would never see that kind of criticism leveled at a someone talking about evolution, or biology.
    And to call Scott’s review “deep and meaningless” is so unfounded as to almost be laughable.

     
  9. dave bedggood, 12. June 2009, 23:29

    I look forward to reading the book now that we have several perspectives on it. I wouldnt have bothered otherwise.

    Here are some jottings on poetry by Marx Clark that some might appreciate

    http://clarkmax.blogspot.com/2009/06/o-learn-to-read-what-silent-love-hath.html

     
  10. Richard Taylor, 12. June 2009, 23:37

    The review by Scott is very good. Reviewers always make errors but the analysis of the poems Scott gives are very good. It is inevitable that any good poetry or literature wil be reviewed and analysed and argued about. One sign of good writing is that generates discussion. Criticism of various kinds is what we (humans in general and writers more specifically) do. It is inevitable. The work doesn’t exist in a vacuum -unless David doesn’t want anyone to read his book. You need, James, to write your own assessment.

    I found some of the poems in that book to be of a quality of what I would call great – and many are very moving. Particularly the poems concerning his mother’s death, as my own mother died of a stroke.

    Criticism is how literature is promulgated and promoted. How else is a potential audience to hear of this book?

    If Scott thought the book was rubbish he would “tear it to pieces”

    I know him and I know David enough to know that sparks would fly. But such is the nature of writing and the creative process. It is a part of a larger “industry” in all Art.

    But clearly this was a very positive review.

    I was there when David read these poems at Auckland Live (at the Thirsty Dog in K Road) and I realised then I had to get a copy of his book.)

    D L Brown references many writers (directly or obliquely) so in no way is he not “literary”, or is he not also philosophic or even ‘religious’ in a sense of that word: integrated with that there is an intense feeling of life beng so close to death and the enormity of the sexual (and sometimes the wry humour of that sexuality or sensuality and life) – the being alive in the world – and death is powerfuly present as well as life and desire and the body.

    And his language and his images are extraordinarily intense, which reinforces the “terrible beauty” depicted.

     
  11. Felix Jones, 13. June 2009, 16:13

    What an interesting discussion. Reading down, I was surprised to see Scott interpret James’ comment as an implication that we “should ‘get’ a poem, not think about it”. I didn’t read that into this comment at all. Scott mounts a worthwhile defense against the positions he claims James “seems to say”, only I don’t think James seems to say those things at all.

    Instead, it seems to me that what James objects to in his comments above is authoritative, prescriptive readings of poems – which, let’s face it, academics are prone to, simply by virtue of their disciplinary penchant for asserting claims to knowledge.

    To “turn people away from poetry for fear they might not get it” …it seems a little perverse to assume that discussion, or thought, are the likely culprits here. Isn’t it more likely that the aggressive assertion of one particular set of thoughts about a poem may turn away – be inhospitable to – those with other frames of reference or relationships with that poem?

    A case in point is Scott’s assertion in his reply to James that:
    “David Lyndon Brown’s poem acquires its meaning and value within that conversation.” These are strong words: the MEANING of the work is conferred in this way. The conversation in question is a
    “complex and long-running conversation in which poets have faced up to a seemingly fundamental feature of human life – the isolation we feel from the natural world and the threat which that world seems to pose to us.”
    A conversation, moreover, which “involves many writers, living and dead.”

    An emphatic assertion. But what of those who approach Brown’s poem through other conversations, other means? Why should they be invalidated? What might it mean, for example, to approach a poem like Law and Order, with all its connections between nature and sex, as part of the conversations his book has within homosexual discourses, or within gay Auckland? The review here relegates those aspects of the work to the margins, rather quaintly suggesting that those “poems set amidst Auckland’s gay community have considerable sociological and historical value”. I want to emphasise, though, that there is “meaning and value” to be found for Brown’s poem within that conversation, too.

    Why should poetry somehow be the privileged domain of writers, writers, and more writers? Perhaps James has a point: there is certainly something fundamentally inhospitable about the idea that poetry is somehow hermetically sealed against other aspects of human experience, human history, and human culture.

     
  12. Scott, 13. June 2009, 22:01

    Hi Felix,

    I quite agree with you – there are other conversations which David Lyndon Brown’s poems are part of. If I focus on a poem like ‘Law and Order’, rather than a poem that is more obviously connected to ‘gay Auckland’, that’s not because I think the second type of poem is less important, but because I perhaps don’t feel well qualified to discuss it. I am interested in hearing or reading such a discussion, though. I hope Skin Hunger attracts additional reviewers who explore its other aspects.

    When I discussed David’s prose works Calling the Fish and Marked Men back in 2007, I talked about them in relation to the decline of the quality of life that many Aucklanders experienced as a result of the neo-liberal capitalist ‘reforms’ of the ’80s and ’90s:
    http://readingthemaps.blogspot.com/2007/07/decay-and-beauty.html

    There was an interesting discussion about that review, too!

     
  13. David Lyndon Brown, 17. June 2009, 8:27

    Much as I am intrigued by this discussion, I feel obliged to present the full text of Law and Order. The poem doesn’t end where Scott Hamilton seems to think it does .

    LAW AND ORDER

    Don’t be deceived by the roses in that prim vase.
    The nuzzling buds, the sluttish petals unfurling –
    anther, stamen, pistil erect,
    twitching for a fuck.

    Outside, in the hot dark, the sap simmers.
    The grass shoots up green blades.
    Pods burst.
    The oleander thrashes at the glass.
    Tendrils reach and grasp.

    In the Serengeti a predator is ripping something apart.

    Listen: the bulbs are sprouting.

    There’s a tremor in Mexico City.

    The compost is fraught with worms.

    Beneath a lagoon somewhere, something silently explodes.

     
  14. Scott, 17. June 2009, 10:05

    Thanks David. The version of the poem in the prepublication copy of Skin Hunger I received ended in the Serengeti.

     
  15. Go David, 30. June 2009, 16:15

    I can’t believe that, faced with the staggering richness of David’s new book, the critics can find fault. Wait – I can believe it.

    ‘When a finger points at the moon, an idiot points at the finger’

    David’s poetry is the moon (and the sun, and the stars).

    The idiot is…

    well, just check this thread.

    New Zealand doesn’t deserve a writer of David’s genius!

     
  16. Skyler, 1. July 2009, 13:06

    Why are David’s so-called supporters so insecure…chill out, the review above is a good one.