You never discussed the stream
and no doubt the stream didn’t want
your discourse (its own merry way)
but now that you live by the stream
a mosquito has come up the bank
and bitten you, and the stream
is in your bloodstream. You buff
the site of entry like a trophy.
Your chuckling new acquaintance
takes your cells out to the sea.
It goes all night, you tell your friends
drinking wine to warm the house
(already warm), and laugh of course
like a drain. Later in your roomy
queen you listen to its monologue –
ascending plane that never reaches
altitude. Your fingers stretch
from coast to coast to try it out,
this solitude, while water thumps
through the riverbed.
You’re not exactly on your own.
Teenagers come and go, the screen-door
clacks, Cardinals mob a little temple
hanging in a tree. A neighbour with a bag
of seeds asks you if you mind
the birds. There is that film, and the flu,
but no. In the mornings earlyish
you slide the rippling trees across
(Burnham Wood) and watch
six parrots lift like anti-gravity.
At sunset a rant about the dishes –
you’ve worked all day, unlike
some people! The tap runs. The sun,
tumbling over Waikiki, shoots through
the trees, gilds the stream (unnecessary),
stuns you in the empty room. Every day
for ten years (you realize, standing there)
you’ve crossed the bridge etched Mānoa
Stream, 1972, back and forth,
except the day the river rose.
Some facts: Mongooses (sic) (introduced)
pee into the current, plus rats and mice,
The stream is sick. All the streams.
Mosquitoes -your messenger and those
that bit the teenagers whose young blood
is festive like the Honolulu marathon –
could carry West Nile virus. Often fatal.
Probably don’t, are probably winging it
like you, and you will go your whole life
and only die at the end of it.
The stream doesn’t look sick. It takes
a pretty kink near your apartment.
The trees are lush and spreading
like a shade house you once walked in
in a gallery (mixed media). The water
masks its illness like a European noble
with the plague – a patina, and ringlets.
You’re pissed about the health issues
of the stream, and healthcare, because
it has your blood, you have its H2O.
You think it’s peaceful by the stream?
Ducks rage, waking you at 2am,
or thereabouts. Mongooses hunt
the duck eggs, says your son. Ah, you say.
That night the quacks are noisy, but
you fret in peace. Sometimes homeless
people sleep down by the river bank.
Harmless. One time one guy had a knife.
They still talk about it and you see him
ghostly like an app against the trees.
All your things are near the stream,
beds, plates, lamps – you’re camping
apart from walls and taps and electricity.
Your laptop angles like a spade,
and clods of English warm the room
(already warm). They warm your heart.
Overall you have much less, because
of course – divided up. But you’re lucky
or would be if the stream was squeaky
clean, and talked to you.
The stream had caused a little trouble
in the past, i.e., the flood. Not it’s fault.
900, 000 people pave a lot, they plumb
a lot. Then rain like weights. From a safe
distance (your old apt) you watched
your little water course inflate and thunder
down the valley taking cars, chairs, trees.
You saw a mother and her baby rescued
from a van – a swimming coach, with ropes –
the van then bumbled out to sea.
One apartment in your complex
took in water in the flood. And mud. It was
this apartment. You’ve known it all along,
of course, because you watched.
They fixed it up. Lifted carpets, blasted
fans for a week. Repainted.
It’s pretty good. The odd door
needs a shoulder still. In certain lights
though, on the wall, a watermark,
the stream’s dappled monogram.
You’re talking clichés – water under
the bridge, love letter from a lawyer,
serious harm, sunk without you.
The stream has been into your bedroom,
and you in its. Remember reeds, coolness,
summer afternoons. You loved
the stream. Its stinging waters send
a last message in lemon juice:
If I’m fucked, you’re coming with me.
Sincerely, the stream.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDAwith M Breeze and S groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones