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 —
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!