Poetry Drawer: Crib: Close quarters: January break: Emissary by Tony Beyer


after Christmas
I re-wrap separately
depending on their rank
angels humans and beasts

Jesus and his
earthly parents
are first to be accorded
tissue paper privacy

the King who comes
bearing gold has lost his crown
after years of journeying
and annual storage

ox and donkey
fit together
knee to knee
in a corner of the box

lastly a sheep
that seems
to have strayed into the mix
from a childhood farm set

Close quarters

in summer
the boards under the house
are dry
and reverberate
when trodden on

birds treat
the veranda as theirs
hopping and pecking
at leavings
under the outdoor table

we wait
all year for this
bearing the winter
like a bye-child
spring like fresh news

then the heat
on the planet
that never quite suits us
our ancestors
left for us to resolve

January break

the barber from India
spends his days
razoring the edges of beards
of large men
in the provincial centre

this is the first I’ve heard
about the subcontinental diet
and its spices
affording staunch
resistance to coronavirus

from the park across the street
the fountain sings
and gulls disagree
concerning entitlement
to takeaway scraps

nearly everything in town
commemorates somebody
even the ambulances
parked regularly at lunchtime
outside hot bread shops

single rooms to rent
up a staircase
no longer there
off the laneway between
two main thoroughfares

the man in the bookshop
advises me
to hang on to change
for the meter
though I’m on foot

in the heat
the council-commissioned murals
slide down buildings
to pool colourfully
on the ground


mail comes late
and is sparse

requests for payment
real estate flyers

only the occasional
much creased

and redirected
envelope from the frontier

one containing
dead leaves

another crushed parts
of a praying mantis

the kind of messages
composed in the

kind of script
a ghost might send

Tony Beyer’s print titles include Anchor Stone, a finalist in the poetry category of the 2018 New Zealand Book Awards, and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press. Recent poems have appeared in Hamilton Stone ReviewMolly BloomMudlarkOtoliths and elsewhere. 

Leave a Reply