Wednesday, October 31, 2012

in the entire history of humankind...

I have come
such a long, long way,
you opened up your door.
And in celebration
of my forty-fourth year:
You have made for me
the sweetest,
most perfect dessert
ever known to humankind...
We have parted now,
and I walk past
bright purple jacarandas.
I marvel at their amazing colour
set against
a sky of purest blue.
Meanwhile, in another part of the city:
You paint jacarandas
and a bright blue butterfly
in an artwork celebrating Spring.
I discover a park
behind Central Station
filled with deckchairs.
I sit down in one
to finish off remains
of my special birthday treat.
Meanwhile, at the same time
far across the city
alone (yet together)...
having a break from painting,
finishing off
the dairy free
chocolate ice cream
I left in your freezer.
In the sunlight,
I wear a child-like smile
from ear to ear;
as I dig
(with re-newed enthusiasm)
into my
strawberry & blueberry
mini pavlovas
with jam glaze coating!!
The glaze
coats my tongue
& tickles my nose,
and I close my eyes
to intensify
the taste...
(Behind closed eyelids,
 I see myself once more
 in your hallway,
 in your doorway,
 in your arms.
 We are holding
 each other so, so close.)
And right at this moment
in the park,
never, ever, EVER
(in the entire history of humankind)...
Has a dessert
tasted so, SO sweet
   and so salubrious!!!

(c) Brent M Harpur, 29/10/2012.
"The object isn't to make art, it's to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable."
(Robert Henri)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

reasons that I continue to write, no. 11...

a text message
that simply read...

:) Water so versatile, can freeze can boil,
    can soothe, can scold.
    Write, write, write -
    I can't wait to read more x



out of suffering...

"Out of suffering
  have emerged
  the strongest souls;

  The most
   massive characters
   are seared
   with scars."

   (Khalil Gibran)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

there are no ordinary moments...


I'd rather
 learn from one bird
 how to sing

than teach
 ten thousand stars
 how not to dance.

-e.e. cummings.

"I am here." (Brent Harpur)

For E.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

memories of Margaret...

Late July, 2012.

My home country,

is in mourning...

For a storyteller beyond compare.

Memories well to the surface,
like tears.

This is not a poem,
just a collection of small memories.

I remember being asked
to tour with you
around the Kapiti Libraries...

It is sometime in the last year
of the old Millenium.

I have recently turned thirty
and am
beginning to doubt
whether I should be still working
with children.

The night before I am due
to meet
and work with you,
I re-read some of your

I am so excited
that I barely sleep.

The next day,
I agree to meet you (and your host)
at the Parade Cafe
in Oriental Bay.

I am so nervous,
but somehow manage to be
gracious and intelligent.

We all sit down for a coffee
and scones, with jam & cream.

I find myself holding onto
every word you speak.

At one point,
I glance down and see that we are
wearing a small
purple amethyst ring
on our pinky fingers.

You are more than twice my age,
but I entertain in my head
the idea of marriage.


For the next three days,
I ride on the train to Kapiti,
and met with you.

We tour into a couple of libraries each day
and a few lucky schools...

You put on your multi-coloured wig
and your badge laden scarf,

and become a magician!!

With your words
and your voice alone,
children and adults alike

are captured & enchanted

by your huge presence, wisdom and magic!!

I stand at the whiteboard,
whiteboard marker in hand,
and try to control my shaking...

Do justice to your whirlwind of words,
bring them to life in pictures.

The gift you give me
(over three amazing days)
is that you are never
too old to work with children!!

That if you love what you do
and have a passion for it...
They will always love you back!

I wish I had been given a chance
to tell you that you gave me that back...

I remember sitting
on the trainride home
every night,

(having been so inspired,
working in the company
of a true wordsmith):

Scribbling masses of words & images
into my book,
the coast line of Paraparaumu
flashing by outside the window...

Years later, just
before I moved to Australia

(to continue my work with children
on a larger scale)

I saw you give a speech
at Te Papa,
the National Museum of New Zealand.

You were now in your seventies,
but you hadn't slown down at all...

I still vividly remember
your tiny frame
filling that entire huge stage.

& every now and then,
you would cough.

And you said, 
delighting everyone that came to see you,
(all still hanging on your every word):

"When you get to my age,
a cough can be used as punctuation,
like an exclamation mark in a sentence..."


In late July of this year,
I was swept up in a sense of loss...

A loss an entire nation
(and indeed, many a booklover
& librarian overseas, young and old)

would feel too.

I wanted to write this then,
but the words failed me.

They still fail me now.
How does one put in words
what we have lost?

I am just grateful that you
were a true magician of words,

and have left so many of your words
behind in this world.

A world,
that now,
perhaps (more than ever)

needs the magic,
love, wonder & delight

that you believed in
and wrote about.

Kia Kaha, Margaret!!

I said it before.

This is not a poem,

and the words
contained within
seem awkward,

fragile even.

Yes, they are not a poem.

a collection
of small memories.


memories of Margaret.

(c) Brent M Harpur, 2012.

- For Margaret Mahy,
  21 March 1936 - 23 July, 2012.

"I hope I am not too repetitive. However, coming to terms with death is part of the general human situation." (Margaret Mahy)

the three most beautiful things...

Have you ever imagined
what it would be like...

For the sun to come out in the middle of the night?

Or to look upon the dry red desert sand
and to suddenly see it

bloom with a 1,000 tiny red flowers??

Or for the entire skyline
to become a single rainbow light???

And so much more beauty,

imagine it if you will...

I no longer have to
imagine these things

for I have seen your smile.

And in your smile
I have seen all these things...

...and so, so much more.


In the (nearly) forty-four years
I have walked upon this earth,

the three most beautiful things
I have ever seen


(in no particular order)

A painting by van Gogh of his chair.

The early morning gold & silver
glitter skyline
(from a plane window)

of Beunos Aires.


Your smile.

Should I go blind,
these are

the three things

that I will hold onto in my head
and never erase.

These three things will
keep me sane,
make me smile from ear to ear,

even when I lose all my teeth...

And the memory of

these three things

will help me
to remain an artist,

even in darkness.

Even in darkness.

(c) Brent M Harpur, 2012.

- For E.

"I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day." (Vincent van Gogh)

"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream." (Vincent van Gogh)

probably (the distance between two hearts)...

Would the fish miss the waves
 if they were taken from the sea?


And would the moon miss the sky
 if it were caught up in the trees?


Will the flowers miss the sunshine
 if the world lost all its bees?


And will a blind man miss his sight
 when he can no longer see?


And would a bird miss its cage
 when it is finally set free?


And if a door is left unlocked
 does it miss its key?



But not nearly as much,
my dear /

As I am missing thee!!

(c) Brent M Harpur, 2012.

- For E.

"Some cannot loosen their own chains & can nonetheless redeem their friends. You must be ready to burn yourself in your own flame: How could you become new, if you had not first become ashes?" (Thus Spake Zarathustra)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

paint the town purple...

"For what is it to die, But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind? And when the Earth has claimed our limbs, Then we shall truly dance.” (Kahlil Gibran)
It is nearly
thirteen years to the day...
A day when
the world
(one warm
 Saturday October morning)
cracked open,
and all the purple
threatened to
bleed & spill
right out of it.
it is a beautiful Spring Melbourne day.
And outside the local library
purple flowers bloom brightly.
They remind me of:
Your hair,
your tattoos,
your amethyst eyebrow ring,
even that
larger than life laugh
that contained
every ounce & every shade
of purple
within its thunder.
Will I ever see you
(or the likes of you)
I would give up
everything I own
(and more)
to have one last
red wine
with you.
Oh, to talk about art,
and to tell you
about this woman I have met
(whose art, heart & smile has captured me
 like your's once did).
You'd take the piss of course,
laugh that laugh
that I miss so, so much.
Nothing was ever
serious in your company
for too long.
Then again,
Gentle Piscean Purple Man,
then again.
One thing
that perhaps you did believe in
(and maybe
 even more than your art??)
was Love.
In fact,
that was what I loved most
about you...
(even more than your
 accomplished, well practiced,
 enviable passion & play
 with paint.)
Here we were,
two young men barely
in our thirties,
sitting at the edge of a new Millenium.
Two young artists
who had been stung by love
(and who had broken a few hearts ourselves)...
we remained two hopeless
hopeful romantics.
(or maybe because) we'd
 had our hearts broken before,
we still  believed
there was
a girl out there
who would save us.
Save us, by loving us.
It seems like only yesterday:
That I remember seeing you
in that small, cramped casket,
so still & cold & pale,
all life gone.
I still remember
thinking that no coffin so tiny
could ever contain
such a huge heart.
I also remember
(and it still brings tears to my eyes):
Your beautiful Clan
of older sisters
presenting everyone
 that attended your service
with a purple "Vivid" marker.
So that, as we went in
a select few at a time,
to see you in state
and to pay our last respects...
...we could do so
 by drawing & writing
in permanent purple ink
on the outside of your white casket.
- Such a fitting tribute,
to a man who spent most of his life
creating & making art.
And when it was finally
carried to the front
of the (full to bursting)
Nelson hall,
everyone laughed at a message
someone had scrawled
on the back panel
of its lid:
"You can visit"
I remember standing there in
my purple suit,
reading a poem
I had written for you
on the flight over.
And seeing everyone sitting there
from the Wellington Art Posse,
wearing their purple armbands
in tribute
to a fallen artist & friend.
And I remember Rimu
tenderly playing his guitar
and singing
with all his young (raging) heart:
"Have I Told You Lately that I Love You?"
by Van Morrison.
At the end of the service,
you were carried out to
the speakers crackling, spluttering & vibrating to:
"Purple Haze"...
(I'm sure that
you and Jimi must still be
talking & laughing
about that one.)
Time is a strange, strange thing.
All of this feels like it happened
only a few weeks ago.
And I am sure that this week
I am not alone
in thinking of,
(and celebrating)
Seeing those purple flowers
outside the library,
I smile,
& shed a couple more tears
behind my purple Raybans.
It appears
that you are still finding the time,
my Friend:
Getting out there
in this world
with your
paintbrush & palette,
and painting the town
in bright splashes of purple!!
I will raise this glass of red,
and (quietly) promise
that I will never forget you...
And all those days
of your long / short
(thirty-four year) life...
That you gifted
& blessed me:
With your company,
your heart,
your humour,
your compassion...
and your art.
- For Maru "Marz" Cummings,
  (March 1966 - October 1999).
(c) Brent M Harpur, 11th October 2012.

"It is eternity now; I am in the midst of it.
 It is about me in the sunshine; I am in it, as the butterfly in the light-laden air.
 Nothing has to come, it is now. Now is eternity; now is immortal life."
 (Richard Jefferies)