by Tony Beyer


now beyond the years it says
a man should have in the Bible

I’m not waiting for this life 
to end but know it must

sitting outside on a hot
evening in January

anticipating beans and small
marrows soon to be picked

in the garden there are at least
these gains to look forward to

my daughter and son too are grown
(her children nearly also) and I’ve

loved the same wife since
just past my own boyhood

each circumstance like this is
what matters most to the species

individual satisfactions like poems
are more debateable but still

worth prizing within their
maker’s intimate heart

the public world for good or ill 
will progress or regress without me

puffed-up threats of chiefs
mute sufferings of underlings

the planet’s ache under 
the heavy load of our progress

governments would find it easier
if we all dreamt the same dream

at the same time
eyes closed to the world

sleepers unmoved by all
but worldly goods

and yet the desire for comfort
is not in itself malign

when even or especially 
the deprived are prone to it

now dusk thickens
and the temperature falls

as of now the man over the road
the man next door and I are all 71

my friend Jim around the corner
is twelve years older

our leader into the dark tide
the smaller boats of our years bob after


one of the finer English poets
John Clare was driven mad

by the destruction
of the countryside he loved

small meadows amalgamated
common land enclosed

so the linnets robins wrens and larks
that were his muse and subject

survived but in lower numbers
than in the records

of that other great ornithoptimist
in the preceding century Gilbert White

and have diminished ever since
their kind both locally and globally

struggling with extinction
along with the bees the frogs

the mysterious multitudes
of the dimming ocean

mysterious and miraculous
but no safer being so

our earth that seemed so voluminous
inexhaustible     exhausted now

the new unbreathable atmosphere
we will bequeath not only

to our children’s children  
but to those of all beings


in these days of rage
what is there for our kind

who so poorly learn our lives
to pass on to the young

the usual channels of wisdom
knowledge information are congealed

precept serves only to delude
example to destroy

the bullies come in all 
sizes and colours

white to orange to brown
depleting Africa flouting basic law

to be tortured in Guantánamo
is no different from being interned

for re-education
in western China

the usual suspects are rounded up
and dealt with as usual

the stacked metal
of the vehicle convoy

blazes in the middle of the road
melting tar

bright enough to linger on the retina
of the closed eye

or even the missing eye under the patch
the jaunty admiral claps his telescope to

choosing what to see and not to see
as universal a strategic policy

as flies around the mouths of children
who have nothing to put in them

effrontery of the man
desperate to be less forgotten

than his predecessor
or the man before him

such a primitive impulse
at least as ancient as the Iliad

battlefields and heroes’ tombs
time has smoothed to even ground

the president is impeached
so people must die

the general is assassinated
so people must die

billions and billions are invested
by so very few

in obsolete concepts
so the planet must die

it’s like leaving the building
after a performance

neither the reviews
nor your entourage can help

only you know
how good you were or weren’t


let the mad world pause and draw breath
sidelined by viral peril

cars nestled in garages
malls and metropolises subdued

tieless important men skype from home
in the capitals of industry

children and pets in the background
and the occasional disapproving spouse

sportsmen and women train alone
in basements and on balconies

the resistible outdoors
expurgated from their selfies

the backs of our hands
such familiar territory

crack into new unknown landscapes
with the repeated application of soap 

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. He is the author of Anchor Stone (2017) and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press. Recent work has appeared in Hamilton Stone Review, Landfall, Mudlark, NZ Poetry Shelf and Otoliths.

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