Thirteen waves: xi.



You know they dumped dioxin
and smashed the drums
and let it leak
by permanent little
on to the world’s
most musical beach.

Poem and reading by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0, photo of Backbeach by Dave Young CC BY 2.0.

Thirteen waves: ix.



The first penguin peels her voice,
and the shuffle inside the wall
is a field mouse
rushing an octave through.
When it snows on the mountain,
they feel like improvising.
The sea brushes our earlobes:
skeins and skeins of whisking tails
drumming with silk on the globe.

Poem and reading by Rachel McAlpine cc by 2.0, photo of Mt Taranaki by Denis Bin, CC BY-ND 2.0 via Flickr

Thirteen waves: iv

Cloud-capped Taranaki, driftwood in front. Photo Dave Young CC BY 2.0
Cloud-capped Taranaki, driftwood in the foreground. Photo Dave Young CC BY 2.0


Not many people understand that
curled up high by the tide
is the weather-front,
a rendez-vous of sticks and sand,
the aged lovers holding hands
as tight as a whelk in a shell,
and the embryo of a dune.
Look, you don’t just slap up
a concrete wall and call it
real estate.

Poem and reading by Rachel McAlpine cc by 2.0, photo by Dave Young CC BY 2.0 via Flickr.

Dave Young’s note:

Strong winds blow the black sand along the beaches of coastal Taranaki and expose the broken driftwood deposits of storms long past. This driftwood serves as a foundation for the dunes.

Thirteen Waves: i.



Sunlight throbbing among the yachts;
moonlight oozing.
Waltz of a green-lipped wizard,
hunch of a black-backed gull.
Sun makes punctual explosions
inside the meat of the heart.

Poem and reading by Rachel McAlpine CC BY 2.0, photo of pingao grass by Tomas Sobek CC BY 2.0.

This is the first poem in a sequence, Thirteen Waves, written when I was living in a flimsy little holiday bach (a simple holiday cottage) right beside the harbour of New Plymouth… almost in the harbour, or so it seemed. Day and night had a wholeness, a continuity, and clocks were irrelevant. The poems comprise one big love poem to the land, sea, and coastline of Taranaki. The glorious photographs accompanying them on this blog are by various photographers who have made their work available through Creative Commons licensing — thank you all!

Thirteen Waves was published by Homeprint in 1986 in a limited edition of 100. Handprinted and handbound by John and Allison Brebner, with linocuts by Michael Smither.