The Poetry of Objects #3

DO YOU HEAR ME NOW?

…HISSSSSS…
(FADE IN FROM WHITE NOISE):

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*

causing a small beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a writer, reading verse about
humans becoming angels the hard way,
music beating behind her like wings through the house;
the beeps on each hour;
the bird every morning
singing from the magic box atop the fridge.

*click*

Do you hear me now?

If
there was a microphone
and
I spoke
who now would hear me say:

Close your eyes and forget the foamy white noise of the breakers,
close your eyes and feel the swell that lifts you,
Up you go,
and down…

now,
without looking, see the next wave nearing, and
as you rise with it see the one behind it,
and the next,
and the rest,
a procession of gentle waves
refracting around you,
lifting you.

Now-
see:

splash your hand on the wave and smaller ripples spread
in all directions from your radiance,
a signal riding up and along on the
smooth series of sine waves.

See
clouds in the bright blue casting fat drops wide onto the water,
each drop broadcasting ripples,
each drop the centre of expanding circles
that become lost in the noise of the ocean.

Kick
the depths.
Stroke
the surface.
You swim in broad frequencies.
Look
up at the hill.
The transmitter tower,
there.

Swim
for shore.
Time for home.

*click*
Do you hear me now?

Shelter
from the sun-shower under a corrugated iron roof.
See
the world outside wet and bright,
holes torn in the clouds where
the single visible point of radiance is blinding.
Up on the hill, the radio transmitter pushes swells into the air,
a radiance unseen to biological eyes
making great spherical onion layers around itself,
a series of smooth sine waves
carrying splashes and ripples coded for voices and music;
they fly straight through the iron and wood and the feature wall,
and you, not lifting you

but

in the shade someone
turns
a knob
with a satisfying

*click*
causing a smaller beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a broadcaster who recalls:
“slipping between the peaks and troughs,
a whisper in the whines and crackles
of the cosmic microwave background.”

The bakelite box hums to itself.

“Is this thing on?
Do you hear me now?”

Pause. Hum. Another voice says:
“Thank you, we’re coming up to the news at 9-”
but she murmurs:
“If my lips brushed the microphone would you hear
i love you
within the hiss and pop of
the dying down of the birth of the universe?

Do y-”
*click*

Get
me a microphone,
I want you to hear me say:
let my waves lift your body,
let my waves lift your soul, while
radiant angels splash in the medium of space/time and
throw voices into the ear…

(Fade out to white noise)
…hissssssssssss…

Aaron Compton, July 2021

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. This radio is currently for sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or on Facebook.

Poetry of Objects #4

Plain Weave|

Location becomes ingrained in the object
and its story,
in us,
in the cracks of our heels,
between round willow weaves, over/under the thicker spokes
in the up-set corners
of a plain-weave basket.

Inside the picnic basket is not most important,
beneath is where it’s at:

where are we going?

You have to take the turn fast
and in the mirror the bottle of bubbly rolls
off the highway onto the dusty road
(i mean across the backseat),
making the basket rattle
under the bridge as the cars behind us
accelerate above, across, away and
let’s hope the fruit doesn’t squash the jubilee sandwiches;
only a brief snaking loss of traction then a slow river
between giant graffitied concrete pillars and rounded boulders so

as for your fancy almond-flour cakes,
none of this matters like dirt under your tyres.

Here, there’s a patch of grass and weeds
soon giving way to the creaking hamper,
chlorophyll staining the fibres of basket and knee
beside a waterfall, where someone’s hair drips
mountain water into the willow weave while

unseen grubs munch the grass from underneath,
pausing to eavesdrop on us, feasting above.

Next time it might be beside the
seaside, side-eying the salad and the sand

on the blue fabric lining your wicker treasure chest, a loose berry getting gritty, a jammy knife, stray; crumbs on the blanket, our hair still wet, again, still, falling back, eyes closed in the sunshine
and hearing the hinge squeak open.

Inside is not what’s most important, nor underneath, it’s who’s beside the kete that counts,
beside us:

who are we?

Who, in a minute or two, is going to
gently touch your arm and say

“Hey?”

Objects become ingrained in their own provenance
and in our stories too, memories
in the wrinkles of our eyes,
between round willow weaves
over/under thicker spokes,
in the up-set corners
of a plain-weave basket.
Aaron Compton
Tūranganui a Kiwa
The third stanza is woven, alternating lines from what had been two separate stanzas, the ends trimmed to fit.

The Poetry of Objects #2

Remember the Grain

 

From micro-organisms in the silt of an undersea jet trench
to bacteria,
seeding rain-clouds,
we all need our star,

even poets needs the sun;
Let’s paint a picture:

photons striking green barley in the field,
energy stored as starch in swelling grains.
Oak leaves taking the same energy
to stouten trunks.

Evening rays,
filtering through the atmosphere at an obtuse angle,
shifting to the amber end of the spectrum,
giving painters and film-makers’ the brief,
perfect light for capture in their cunning artifices.

There’re golden fields.
Mighty oaks.
There’s
you,
glowing.

A selection of my favourite things.

Consider yeast,
in the darkness of a mash tun,
converting the energy of grain,
again,
from starch and sugars to ethanol,
which goes in an oak barrel to age,
the way the day is aged,
with the hogshead sun so low
over the yardarm.

Bring the decanter into the light,
let it flash and colour,
see your fingers refracted through the cut crystal,
through morning and afternoon sun distilled into a flammable liquid.

Pour one out for us;
Feel that good burn as it goes down;
Become part of the sunset,
even as a sunset passed becomes part of you;
Remember the grain,
and,
if only for this brief few minutes:
live as if in a movie,
or in a picture we’re painting,
with all,

from the trenches to the cloud tops,
raising a glass to Te Rā.

 

By Aaron Compton

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. These sparkling crystal decanters are currently on sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram @retro.ro.gisborne or on Facebook.

The Poetry of Objects #1

Branksome Dinner Set

Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile,

This bird boned tableware, so thin, light weight,

Your gracious, timely action, full of style.

So curl your hands ‘neath powder blue, and wile,

And cup a cloud of steam against your face,

Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile.

We teacups wear no halos, sure, but I’ll

Reglaze the blue of Mary’s baked in grace

Her timeless gesture, classy, full of style,

As families grow more stories pile up, while

Boards groan with hued ceramics song ‘till late,

When summer nights are to lift me to your smile.

The gravy tide, it lifts all boats on high

So raise a toast to bread and butter plates,

Sunday roasts are to lift me to your smile,

A timeless set. So classy. Full of style.

By Aaron Compton

Supported by Ro Darrall at Retro

Meremere – A Multimedia Jam

Choreographer Malia Johnston is all about collaboration.

She’s the director of Meremere, a multimedia performance that tells deeply personal stories from the life of dancer Rodney Bell (Ngāti Maniapoto). The show is sometimes seen as a dance performance but there’s much more to it, Malia says “it’s actually theatre, a new way of telling a story, and as such it draws a more diverse crowd than traditional dance”.

Rodney performs in his wheelchair but he isn’t defined by his disability rather, it’s his ability to sustain a career in the performing arts. Malia says there are not many dancers still dancing in their late 40s – he’s had the longest career of any dancer that she has known, “The opportunities for dancers with access needs might be more limited but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Rodney.”

Joining Rodney onstage is a live band (fronted by Eden Mulholland, who wrote the songs) and live projection designed by Rowan Pierce.  This is where the collaboration comes in. “It’s like jamming with a band,” Malia says about the way they created this show, “everyone throws in their ideas and we pull out the cool stuff.”

During the creative jams Rodney would tell them stories and Eden would respond intuitively with music. Malia says “Rodney is very funny. And engaging, when he tells stories about his life living on the street (in San Francisco), or his dancing stories, his stories of predicaments he’s come across  in his life – which are many – but they’re very funny as well, we have a lot of fun working with him.”

He’s also very generous as a performer, answering questions from the audience after each show. People often ask about being a dancer who is in a wheelchair, which, Malia says, is an extension of his body “An able bodied person probably perceives the problem with it and the emotional relationship to what that means, but from his perspective he sees it as this highly engineered piece of equipment that enables him to do what he wants to do.” As a choreographer Malia describes the chair as a “fantastic manoeuvring device – it’s fantastic for choreography because it glides, it’s got beautiful movement in terms of what’s possible, like skateboarding or rollerblading.”

Each show is slightly different because of the live music and because the projection has to be mapped to each new venue they play in, essentially collaborating with the architecture as well. Years ago it was expensive to hire a projector but it is becoming cheaper and cheaper. The technology is becoming more accessible and Malia encourages young people who are working with technology to collaborate with people in other disciplines.

“If you’re learning to master one discipline it’s really good to play with that skill set in relation to others in many territories… when you’re collaborating with people it teaches you more about what you can do in your own field, it opens up opportunities. We can add value to other people’s environments.”

Meremere will play at the War Memorial Theatre on October 12 and 13. Get your tickets here: https://tetairawhitiartsfestival.nz/events/meremere

Rodney Bell will also be doing a movement workshop at the YMCA on October 13.