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silhouette of two people on a train station platform
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BooksMay 26, 2023

The Friday Poem: ‘Schoolboy Reunion’ by Danny Bultitude

silhouette of two people on a train station platform
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by Wellington poet Danny Bultitude.

Schoolboy Reunion

Saw him at Wellington Train Station after I
Saw him on the Police Ten-7 Facebook page
Last summer, obsidian, he worked in this gym
Underpaid, mistreated, he set the place aflame
Never realised that was how you spelt his name
Mugshot taken from some arrest some other day
Same caught-tooth smirk, same kid as always

We slapped backs, bumped shoulders and
I imagined kissing him, but instead we sat
On the cold metal bench, two old boys indifferent
To the cold-hearted arrest warrant, barely aware
That every quick-eyed glance from any wannabe pig
Any sudden phonecall from a well-meaning prick
Could be the end to this tentative freedom
Which made me tense with tenderness for him

Cos it sent me grinning that this dude knew I
Weren’t no lame-ass fucken nark, despite my
Refusing the pills he’d offer some weeks
Following that schoolyard fight I refereed
On the dense yellow dirt beneath the library
Near where that kid tripped and smashed his teeth
That inspired a level of mutual respect in tune
Respect only bolstered that golden noon. When I

Saw him shirtless under the Porirua overpass
Wading with six or so children in the stinking mud
Hunting for crabs with a stick in each hand
Adorned in boxer shorts and bucket hat
Laundry basket under his armpit like Moses
With the holy tablets brought down from Mt Sinai
Knee-deep in the shit, but still busy teaching
Still waving wildly up at me looking down,
Yelling and laughing and burning the whole fucking town
Melting my goddamn heart cross that vertical mile
With every flash of that perfect, identifiable smile.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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