Words for Christchurch: Andrew Bell

Andrew Bell was driving through central Christchurch when the February 22 quake hit. These are his Words for Christchurch:


Driving down Lichfield Street,
that banal, modern automaton achievement,
concentration supposedly on total road awareness, defensive driving
only, deep down, even cops would admit we’re
all over the place,
thinking about an apricot and chicken Panini
washed down with a
thought about the germination of a play
or was Roy (substitute any generic Euro/Pakeha name)
giving you the evil eye because you looked
at his missus just a little too long and lateral
or a million f****** other insignificances

When Mother Nature got one s***-kicking
surprise for you, Jack (or Roy if you’d rather)
and She gonna whip your ass with some p-wave
or s-wave or whatever-wave
and suddenly I thought I’d blown a back tyre,
but She was having none of it,
raining down masonry like it was a lolly scramble
of Death.

And I, a transplant in this city, a pseud
Southern Man,
weep to see it go down, to go down
on Kai Tahu, Pakeha, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese
and so on, not the Whitebread city it used to be,
not Skinhead Central,
going down, twisting in agony over Bridle Path,
writhing in pain through London Street
and the Square, not hip, Daddy-O,
but the heart of old, white squattocracy
torn out, that heart and
trampled underfoot.

We lost, we gained,
we waxed, we waned,
we came into the heart of what it means
to be human
and we were spat out by Papatuanuku
like seeds from a watermelon.

2 thoughts on “Words for Christchurch: Andrew Bell

  1. Helen Lowe 18 April 2011 / 10:25 am

    Great poem–thank you, Andrew.

  2. onederccl 18 April 2011 / 9:06 pm

    Yes, one of my favourites posted here so far.

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