Poems: Nick Ascroft

Illo for Nick Ascroft's poems.

Five Recycled Single Use Items

The urologist was surrounded by a bevy of average-looking haemaphrodites.

I have with me in my satchel, your honour, a shred of evidence.

Franky Knuckles had a close haircut, a close waxing of the hindquarters, but a distant shave.

You speak in dry tones tempered by a dulcet mouthful of semi-masticated caramels.

Both Hong and his wife were social caterpillars, liquefying in the party’s cocoon.

Spring Is Sick with Child

Grey and morning-sick, spring
nurses itself like a pelican,
skimming a spoonbill of Cook Strait
ice water, and vomiting it back
onto Wellington in a trimester of rain.
The other seasons look on and quack
inanities. Summer coos from afar.
Summer blurts. Summer says of spring’s

grey lump, you must be so happy.
Winter is unfiltered. Winter doesn’t
want to tiptoe on sugar-coated
eggshells. It wishes spring
to entertain no false hope: this
will get worse. Autumn mansplains
through its duck beard that spring
shouldn’t be eating the Camembert.

Put it down it says, as heads turn.
Put it down, the only thing that
is bringing any comfort. The weeks
puke on. Spring’s bud swells
inside it like a rolling wave of corn
and petals. It rains apple juice. It
rains pasta sauce. It rains yoghurt
and olive oil. The barometer stinks,

lurching in the wind, towards its eyrie,
a thrush’s nest in a gutter’s attic,
curry hot, freezer cold. Just colossally,
diarhhoeally dreck: the outside is
the open souvlaki of a nappy in wait.
On the tin roof, a kaka retches
and tweets the season’s headache.
Ice water. Grey, regurgitated rain.

Five Ways I Would End a Sonnet on Shelley’s Cremation

So Mary looked around, suppressed a cough.
Lord Byron lit his fag and tottered off.

And when before St Pete the Bysshe appeared,
still drunk on brine, he pulled at Peter’s beard.
What larks, said he, I find your hedge a hairy’un.
But God was neither dead nor vegetarian.

In Italy the law’s a florin lean:
them who dies by sea must quarantine
and burn on sand afar of foreign green.

He either drowned or was assassinated,
or was a little soon, alas, cremated.

The fire like a tide washed over him,
till like the sea his bones were black and grim.
The funeral done, we had a lovely swim.

No More Experimental Poetry

The cacophony of salt
bristling down from unheaven,
the little chariotborne oraclemongers,
eyes of hellfire,

the night’s thinking we sweat awake out of,
all of the shambling poor,
bowing channelled fiddles of their dead,
and the motey

morality hanging in its air

from the beaten mat
of my figment, my imagined gist

of an argument for,
they all descend
below the neckwear, and my shoulders
huff back up into it.

To say there is no ought is to be
not naive but
uninsured against those who disagree,
including your own self-perjuring.
Nick Ascroft’s third collection, Back with the Human Condition (Victoria University Press, 2016), has been longlisted for the 2017 New Zealand Book Awards. He lives in Wellington, New Zealand.

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