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HITCHING
Fellow of jest!
Infinite variety steps up from the scrub,
desiring to take your hands in his
to confide that he is, however priestly,
spoilt by the old Adam, by skull
aching doggedly under tanned skin.
He is pitchpine, claypatch, highcountry
scree. Shitwood, and knotty offcut.
Clothed, like one of our mountain men
with parka, pack and cutdown .303.
Stinking, like deerhide,
countryman of a horned god, himself horny
he is warlock out to conjure
a licklipping housekeeper at one of the motels
along the highway by the Lake.
A chopper dragonflies away from a crater
where seismic survey gear is freighted
for vulcanologists intent to exorcise
preAdamite nature. Science is
so far it’s nearly out of sight,
but one gross burly cloud smokes
resistance. Otherwise, skies are clean,
farseeing
               far enough for him to pick out
unbroken ponies herded by native
will, a line of descent from
guerrilla bands of the Sixties and Seventies.
With Old Testament in one hand,
millenarian carbine in the other
they shot from rock to rock extravagant
and spent like so many rounds,
not forsaking the old Adam
who cantered ahead, wives and all.
Who, like us, liked to hang on to the skirts
of Mystery. Who (they say) giving or taking
half a chance, liked to get his hand up,
countryman of a horned god,
homing on deerhide, catskin, beard of the goat?
I’ll put him down this side of
the store.
Near the stream, where trout are for tickling,
where a private sybil-mouthed pool fumes
like a woman on heat. You can’t blame them,
it’s nature (he assures me) if a man
with a hard on puts the hard word
to her, she’ll come across.
For the next mile or two, looks thoughtful.
We carry on, between folk tales.
                                                                      12. 10. 71
Editor's note
Hitching : first published in Mate 24 (May 1975), 70; also in Dwarf with a Billiard Cue  and Selected Poems: KS’ note in Dwarf reads: ‘The guerilla bands are those of Te  Kooti, himself an Old Adam. I don't remember where I came across the report that he  had more than one wife and a lively habit. The scene proposed is from the Desert  Road, heading for Taupo.’
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