Spring 2017

2018

2017

Three poems

By John Adams

Wen-Juenn Lee
© Wen-Juenn Lee

You old swaggie
(with a nod to R. A. K. Mason)

You’re constantly coming
down the metalled road
past the bluegums.

There’s that old swaggie,
Mum says.
She’s looking out

the kitchen window.
He comes round
every year

looking for odd jobs
on the farms.
Worn canvas rucksack

loaded high;
shabby boots treading
dusty back roads.

You never called
at our place. I never
knew your name.

Rumpelstilstskin,
I’m still passing,
passing by.



All at sixes and sevens
(Geoff turns 65)

When you were five and I was six
we played with sticks.
I was a cowboy, you were a baker
with a rolling pin. Fancy dress.
When I was six and you were five,
we were young. Alive.

Now you are six and also five.
Pick up sticks. Thrive.
I’m a writer. No gun. You’re a banker
with a numbered pin. Fancy that.
I can count to sixty-six. Just
ahead. Falling under.


Locker room talk

I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things, I keep dirty things
and I talk dirty in my locker room

Unbelievable support I’m receiving,
Unbelievable support I’m receiving,
I’m closing one eye, I’m rating very high,
to be honest, it’s just unbelievable.

I’d lock people out of my country,
I’d lock people out of my country,
I’d lock people out, I’d lock people out -
my country could become a locker room.

I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things in my locker,
I keep dirty things, I keep dirty things
and I talk dirty in my locker room.

About John Adams

'You old swaggie', 'All at sixes and sevens', and 'This woman I met' can be found in John Adams’s second book of poetry, Rumpelstiltskin Blues (Steele Roberts, 2017). Hugh Roberts (New Zealand Listener) described John’s first book, Briefcase (AUP, 2011) as ‘intriguing and accomplished’. John has a Masters of Creative Writing from the University of Auckland and works as a teacher and a mediator. In 2013, he was a Visiting Fellow at Cambridge University.