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CONFERENCE
Regardless of the motel’s gesture to air
conditioning and system, the unit’s still cold.
My expenses are paid for, and I am
making not much of May Day over the kitchen sink
with my nose streaming, bleeding the way
I used to when I was a kid.
There’s blood on my hands, as much as washed
over the screen last night: The Guns of Navarone
shook the theatre to its foundation
but it couldn’t be known whether we were shaking
by reason of fictions or because of earthquake.
There were quakes in the afternoon, motions
before the conference broke up. Now,
only one morepork passing over Cawcaw.
You have to take what you can get.
That’s why we’re here. Who would have chosen?
I mean, not merely somewhere along a fault line
but along the flight path, over-and-down,
to touch. They take this as normal.
Out of touch, out of phase, I bleed over a sink.
The last or startlingly singular bird has flown.
No traffic at the airport, but (west) some plane
approaches, crosses, goes away east into nothingness,
only sea out there for landing.
They’ll tell you, Yes, you do hear that, these past
     sixty years and more. He crossed the Tasman,
     He missed us
in cloud like cloud out the window, and carried on.
Did you know, keith was named after him?
He’s a bit of a legend. You know
the town is full of conferences and out of towners.
You might meet Thomas Wolfe in full cry
along Lambton quay flying from death
to morning. He’s dead? So what? Didn’t you hear
something pass overhead just now, is he
dead too? Or only an angel, looking homeward?
                                                                      ..? April 85
Editor's note
Conference : first publication; the city is Wellington which is located on a fault line and subject to frequent earthquakes; The Guns of Navarone:1961 movie, directed by J. Lee Thompson, based on a novel by Alistair MacLean, starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn; Cawcaw : is probably Mt Kaukau near Wellington; Thomas Wolfe (1900-38), American novelist, wrote Look Homweward, Angel (1929), see also previous note; the Australian aviator who disappeared in 1929 was Keith Anderson, after whom Keith Sinclair, the historian and KS’ close friend, was apparently named; Lambton Quay : street in Wellington
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