People spray color on a special made wall placed for Graffiti artists on October 2, 2016 at Tantolunden park in Sodermalm, Stockholm. The wall in Tantolunden is a total of 36 meters long and serves as a constantly changing work of art that people get to legally paint on. / AFP / JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)

The Friday poem: ‘Tag’, by Emma Neale

New verse by Dunedin writer Emma Neale.




From the tangle of trees

by the Warrender Street steps

near where city council crews have been deleting

the fuck-cunts and dick pics sprayed on the path,

sharper than the doof-doof of the stereo

from a student party in the valley’s dank trench,

comes the sound of castanets.


Someone drunk has peeled off from the party

to climb this high; camouflaged now

as sky puzzle, green-stitched twig-work

so all we can see is sycamore sway, azaleas,

rhododendrons in their flamenco-blaze.


They clatter again, tik-tik-ticka-chicka!

Closer now, it’s clear we’d got it wrong;

it is the hard bead rattle

as someone preps fresh aerosol paint.


Doggeding up the steps we scan

the ragged branch and bloomscape

for what little punk might be so half cut

they’d even graffiti-cuss the trees —


quick-quick-look, there there he is

that small sleek agile man

in his hooded, beaked, silken onesie —


trickster korimako:

bell-bird, mimic bird, can-bird;

in great neon streams now

he tags the air with song —


Bird iz here! Bird lovez azaleaz! Bird lovez birdz!

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