Self-talk. C-19 Blues





I don’t normally feel like this

this isn’t normal

It’s like my head wants to explode

it does but it won’t


How do you know, you’re not me?

we’re all in this thing together

That just leaves me twice as lonely

that’s a feeling we all share


I wake up and dread walks in

that’s a gut feeling

I have this mad idea to run

if you do I’m coming with you


There’s this conflict I’m avoiding

that’s because you don’t need stress

Maybe not but the email’s waiting

it can wait what’s one more email?


I can’t even think about it

what’s your body trying to tell you?

Even thinking makes me tired

thinking’s work we do inside us


I’m just going round in circles

from the self we can’t escape

What if this goes on forever?

that’s an ever never comes


Next you’ll tell me try deep breaths

nothing further from my lips

Then you’ll say “this too shall pass”

only if you say it first


2014-08-26 14.42.27



Jeffrey Paparoa Holman



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Covido-rambling, St Albans, 7 May 2020.

Hari cattle

Hari meets the local cattle herd, rus in urbe.


It’s hard to get bored on a morning ramble with Hari, around St Albans (Edgeware now to some). He’s never bored and like any Jack Russell, ready for the chase, the scraps on the pavement, unwary neighbourhood cats and any sparrows silly enough to ignore his approach, straining on his lead. His muscles bulge as he hauls the expandable towrope out to full stretch, his Hari-named harness, Union Jack-patterned to salute his origins, threatening to choke him huffing and grunting.


Hari (it’s Māori for happy, joyful) lives up to both his name and his namesake’s breeding line, the Rev Jack Russell, who in 1814 named a terrier bitch Trump (unfortunate these days, but hardly the poor dog’s fault). The English clergyman was looking to breed foxhunting dogs, and Hari – with no fox in sight around here – carries on the tradition with anything that moves. Sadly, that has included our other four-footed furry whānau member, Mako, a gorgeous short-haired black and while cat who came to us as a stray, around a year before Hari’s puppy entrance to the den last year. By rights, possessing ahi ka roa (territorial rule by prior occupation),  he should be in charge.



Mako up in the nectarine tree in pre-Hari days

Hari,  of course has never recognised this and once he clapped eyes on Mako, chased him, as Jacks do. This has necessitated the installation of a second cat door at the front of the house, the old entrance into the living area (where the dog now rules) having become a no-go zone for the cat. This situation has resolved itself – if such a verb is appropriate – into a feline-canine standoff, where our house now functions in something resembling the city of Berlin before Mauerfall in 1989. We live in hope, as did the Berliners, until the wall finally came down.



The early days of confrontation.


So it remains essential – especially in these dog days of Covid-19 Lockdown – that I get Hari out of the house for his exercise and my own sanity. To say he loves it would be failing miserably to convey the intensity of his bursts of joy, as we exit the gates twice a day and head off to the park, or down to the river. The gates, by the way, are part of a fenced-off property necessity for owners of Jack Russells and JR-Fox Terrier crosses, like our boy. These dogs are diggers and escapologists, the complete package, the whole ninety-nine yards, and suffer a very high mortality rate as road-kill if they escape and charge off to terrorise any small animals that heat up their radar. What sight is to us, smell is to Jacks and Hari is onto them all, in a flash.


This morning’s ramble had us going round St Albans Park, where owners are routinely ignoring new signs to keep their dogs on leads, to avoid engagement with other owners should the dogs get involved with each other, as they do. We’re talking a scrap here, or a tangle. Hari loves chasing the swallows that swoop low around us and drive him mad, when the lead snaps to its end and he can’t pursue them further. I hate having this restriction on him, but it has to happen.


I’ve seen him chase a magpie in another park (in the days when I used to let him off the lead) and unless the bird had got pissed off and landed, and faced him down, Hari would have raced across a very busy Ilam Road. When his blood gets up, he won’t come back. Yes, yes, I know, I can sense the JR Advisory Group out there telling me I’m doing it wrong, but the statistics are my guide. I’m hanging out for the re-opening of the fenced City Council Dog Parks, like The Groynes near Casebrook and Victoria Park up in Cashmere, where you can take your dogs and let them go.


Escape plan

Hari puts Escape Plan B into action by the cabbage tree.


But today, it’s Level Three and we’re doing the wander around the blocks, down side streets – Canon, Purchas, Packe Street (to the lovely semi-wild park) – crossing the road to avoid other dogs, giving approaching walkers their  space. While Hari sniffs and chases shadows, I listen to the cries of spur-wing plovers out there somewhere, muse on the sight of a harrier hawk over St Albans Park, inner city flyers all, and the legions of finches and all small birds chasing the seedtime harvest of autumn here before winter sets in. Yesterday a pīwakawaka flew right down to me and circled my head. Hari went nuts of course, but I rejoiced, the fantail a sign to me that life  – not death – is ascendant, and the faith that resides invisibly in my heart – battered, triggered, PTS-deed-off as I am – will keep me in this moment, for one more day.


Writer dog

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Morning walk Covid-19

Morning walk Covid-19

I saw two spur-winged plover
on the wing

No, it was not the windhover
it was was a better thing

Three piwaiwaka fanning me
with grace

Tree-to-tree above the stream
where mallards glide

on this deep troubled well
in time in space

a natural salvation

and wing-to-wing.

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Winders and the Wharfies




While Winders sits upon his arse
and wharfies toil in weathers
the million dollar ruling class
won’t lift a fucking finger

to give the raise the union says
is piffling when you reckon
sixteen percent of Winders cut’s
a cool six hundred thousand.

Just think of that, this fat fat cat
who purrs while still presiding
on navvies offered two per cent
of bugger-all of nothing.

Of such obscene and galling
stuff the poor must swallow
daily, the heart of revolutions
once, perhaps tomorrow, maybe.

How can he sleep, this Winders
man, if man we still can call him,
when he’s content to fill his nest
and watch his workers struggle?

What did we do, how did we come
to such a gross deception,
when acronyms like CEO
entitle men to mansions?

The parable of Lazarus
I offer now to Winders
that while he’s on this side
of death, a judgment fast

approaching, he gives a share
that’s equal, fair, to men
who make his living, those
wharfies’ backs he’s riding.


Jeffrey Paparoa Holman

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Stukas – for Terry Eagleton

Stukas       (for Terry Eagleton)

Stuka poem

The day we fall in love

with the Stukas of experience

dawns fine: out of a refugee


run sky, the crosses fall.

You bear yourself along

the road with all you


own at noon. The sun seems

somehow German, as the moon

was French last night.


The hour we meet in person

the fascists of conviction

can’t be told: they’ll trial


their new-made weapons on

your ground (they sense a hole

your Fuhrer wants to hide).


In the meantime, it is both

inadvisable and not worth

the candle to avoid what


waits: you just can’t buy

what falls from your personal

sky in the swastika shape.


@ Jeffrey Paparoa Holman   2006



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Night Patrol with Hari.

Baby patrol: alarm at 1am for pee time.

Back to bed, pup in cage.

5am, alarm: Bob Dylan track, Pay in Blood blast outta my phone.

Up and attem.

Mako is in lounge but jumps out window when I turn light on and he hears doggie squeaking, “Daddy!”.

Hari out to pee, brrr!!

Time to get up, feed pup, cat comes back, feed cat, lie down on couch at 5.30am with puppy snuggles and wait for Jeanette to get up and fetch paper.

No, Hari is not there yet.

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Dog Whistle Simon goes for his gun.


Dog Whistle Simon goes for his gun

15-3-2019 –

The blood of the martyrs lies in the ground

that Bridges tramples upon.

 Dogwhistle Simon rallies the Gnats

with the lies of a NeoCon.

Dogwhistle Bridges

hungry for power.

Dogwhistle Bridges

Man of the hour.

The blood of the martyrs cries from the ground

and here comes a man with a gun.



Bridges Ngata.png

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Planting seeds

Summer high is always

in your ripe flesh

a taste of wild and sugar.

You set my body

clock for a full season

bite on bite. Why this is

alone my body knows, eyes

that greedy saw you

grow from flower to bud

to now. Last year

saved twenty seeds

inside their husks

that yesterday I took

a hammer to. You

did not give your secrets

with no fight. Will

any of the dozen

in this seed tray

bloom? The tree is old

and coming close

to die. The tree is

brother, sister and

even, yes, near

God. I know for sure

each bite I take

that Eve ate nectarine.

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Not just a black dog

Mako rests

Mako at rest on me


I’ve just finished reading on The Spinoff  Tusiata Avia’s poem, ‘Massacre”, her response to the mass murder of Muslim worshipers here in Christchurch on 15 March. Anyone who knows her work would not be surprised at the force of its attack on white racists: that is, all of us beneficiaries of historical institutional racism, through an accident of birth. As the flame thrower of her controlled anger burns me line by line, I’m reminded of the things I’ve just read in a discussion document on racism, sent to me by a close family member.

“Most white people do not talk about racism, do not recognise the existence of institutional racism, and feel personally threatened by the mention of racism”, writes Christine Sleeter. “There is no comfort zone for white people when it comes to discussing white racism. Being uncomfortable is the price we must pay”, agrees Alice McIntyre. She continues, “There is a tendency to locate racism within the individual and not think institutionally or culturally about racism”.

Living and working in London during the 1990s woke me up to racism and my own part in it, and it has made me uncomfortable ever since. But I have remained white and privileged by that whiteness, no matter what I’ve tried to do to escape from racism’s web of deceit. There always remains, however hard we work to remove it, an underlying sense that we have no race and no colour, that we are the norm, the mirror into which all non-white people must look and see that they are not us.

This may not be true in those countries, those parts of the world where whiteness is not normative (most of Africa, or China, and many other regions where whites are either visitors, tourists, or a settler minority), but for a high percentage of the world’s population – even if only mirrored against whiteness by the global white media – cultural and institutional racism is as normal as the sunshine, the rain, the wind, the air we all breathe.

My own problems, my issues then, are always seen in a context: no matter how dire, or how trivial my stresses and my struggles, it is always going to take place in the reality of my whiteness: better access to health care than many Māori and  Pasifika; less likelihood to be stopped and searched by police, than are people of colour; more likely to have representation when arrested; less like to be imprisoned; better job prospects and a longer life expectancy. That’s me. You too, if you are white.

I’m not making this up; these are statistics you can go and find online, if you care to. The question is, why? How – in the context of Tusiata’s poem, which you can read here – did such a massacre occur in our midst, if “they” truly are “us”? It happened to them, not us didn’t it? Was the shooter one of us, after all that? He hid among us, no-one questioned what he was doing, he was invisible except on social media, until he struck.

The Friday Poem: ‘Massacre’ by Tusiata Avia

I’m struggling with all this.  I go to the Linwood Masjid on Fridays when I can, and pray with the believers, but it all feels too little, too late. The report in today’s Press – on the condition of Sazada Akhter, a 25-year old Bangladeshi woman still lying in hospital, shot in the chest and abdomen as she ran, lungs, liver and kidneys critically damaged, unlikely to ever walk again, who says, “I don’t know how I can go on” – puts it all in relief.

Somebody decided she was not one of us; now one of us has just been sentenced to 21 months in jail for applauding this atrocity and distributing the gunman’s video.  This greeted me after a freezing winter’s morning as I forced myself to get up and resist the black dog that’s been hunting me since I left the university scene after twenty years of having an external identity and came home to be a house sparrow, one who has found it hard to concentrate on much, with all the institutional scaffolding removed.

I came home from a bicycle ride out there with my wife this morning, and left my bike at the gate while I went inside and turned off the alarm. As the cat greeted me and I stepped out the back door, the frost was melting on the roof of the verandah, streams of melted droplets patterning the deck. Suddenly, I was sixteen, back at the sawmill near Redjacks on the Coast, the valley frost on the roof turned to streams of water by a rising sun striking the roofing iron, icy fingers dripping over you, down your neck, as you ran the winch or revved the chainsaw.

As I walked down the drive to open the gates and get my bike, I thought of Proust, his aunt’s madeleine dipped into a cup of tisane, of memories loosened within by sensations. Having opened the gates, it was only when I was halfway back up the drive, I realised I’d left the bike behind. In the second year into my seventies, in a flick of reality, I can fly back from June 2019 to June 1965 and in the same breath, forget what I actually walked outside to do.

This is my brain reprogramming me; a new life with a black and white cat as companion, a black dog of sadness at my heels. But whatever it is, it all pales and evaporates, morning frost under the sun, as what has happened here in Christchurch rises up within me to dismantle the crumbling remains of my whiteness.



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