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What would you like to do?
By James K. Baxter
Auckland, you great arsehole,
Some things I like about you
Some things I cannot like.
I came to the Art School, carrying the paintings
Of an eighteen-year-old chick.
On the door of one room somebody had written 'life'
But there was death inside it.
A skeleton hung there by a hook in its skull
Its ribs brown with earth, age, or varnish.
The statue of a Greek god lay on the floor
With his prick and balls knocked off by a chisel.
'Alison,' I said, 'they've buggered the god of death,
They've cut the balls off the god of love.
How can their art survive?'
'Roimata ua, roimata tangata - '
The tears of rain are falling,
Tears of rain, tears of men.
I went to Mass at Newman Hall,
Then visited the Varsity Cafeteria
With six Catholic aquaintances.
One wanted to show me the poems he had written,
One talked about the alternate society,
One wanted to convert the world,
One girl in glasses gave me the glad eye,
Another praised the pentecostal movement,
Another hoed into his plate of cheese and camel turds.
I said, 'Excuse me a minute, there's a Maori friend of mine,
If he doesn't get a place to crash tonight
The cops will pick him up for the four crimes
They dislike most in Auckland,
Not having a job,
Wearing old clothes,
Having long hair,
Above all, for being Maori.
When they shift him to the cells in the meat wagon
The last crime might earn him five punches in the gut.
Could any one of you give him a night's lodging?'
They were extremely sorry.
The bourgeois Christ began to blush on the Cross.
The Holy Spirit squawked and laid an egg.
One had landlord trouble,
One had to swot for exams,
One was already overcrowded,
One didn't know exactly,
One still wanted to show me the poems he had written,
And the last one still silently consumed his plate of camel turds.
I took the Maori lad to Keir Volkerling's place.
He slept on a mattress in the bathroom.
Keir was not a Christian, or a student.
He worked ten hours a day
Digging drains or mixing concrete
To support an average of twenty-five people
Who would otherwise have been in jail
For being out of work,
For wearing an old coat,
For having their hair down to their shoulders,
And above all, for the crime of being Maori.
Christianity has weakened my brain cells, brother,
I haven't got the fortitude of Keir Volkerling.
The Auckland Varsity gives me a pain in the rectum.
I am waiting for the day
When its wedding cake tower goes down in a pile of rubble
From a bomb planted by an intelligent boobhead
Or a not-so-intelligent Varsity radical.
The Auckland Art School gives me a pain in both my testicles.
They don't know the best of Illingworth.
They admire the worst of McCahon.
Why not burn the Art School down
And get some old houses and do a bit of painting
Either with a brush on the ceiling
Or with a brush on a bit of canvas?
I paid a visit to an old friend
Who used to write some good poems.
The door of his office was painted black and yellow,
The color of the plague flag.
'Peter,' I asked him, 'could you spare me a dollar?'
He looked unhappy.
He was putting on some ceremonial robes
For a meeting of the University Council.
'I'm sorry, man,' I said,
'I didn't mean to interrupt you.'
Outside his office the wind rustled
Dead leaves on the concrete pavement.
I shook hands with an old moss-grown statue
And went barefoot down the road.
Auckland, even when I am well stoned
On a tab of LSD or on Indian grass
You still look to me like an elephant's arsehole
Surrounded with blue-black haemorrhoids.
The sound of the opening and shutting of bankbooks,
The thudding of refrigerator doors,
The ripsaw voices of Glen Eden mothers yelling at their children,
The chugging noise of masturbation from the bedrooms of the bourgeoisie,
The voices of dead teachers droning in dead classrooms,
The TV voice of Mr Muldoon,
The farting noise of the trucks that grind their way down Queen Street
Has drowned forever the song of Tangaroa on a thousand beaches,
The sound of the wind among the green volcanoes,
And the whisper of the human heart.
Boredom is the essence of your death,
I would take a trip to another town
Except that the other towns resemble you exactly.
How can I live in a country where the towns are made like coffins
And the rich are eating the flesh of the poor
Without even knowing it?
O Father Lenin, help us in our great need!
The people seem to enjoy building the pyramids.
Moses would get a mighty cold reception.
They'd kiss the arse of Pharaoh any day of the week
For a pat on the head and a dollar note.
At another time in another place
Among the Ngati-Whatua
When they brought the dead child into the meeting house
She opened her eyes and smiled.
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