Cold Hub Press ~ John Gibb


freepost per copy – national & international

price NZ$19.50

John Gibb’s poems have appeared in New Zealand literary magazines for several decades. An English honours graduate of Otago University and former student literary editor, he later worked as a crime reporter at the Wanganui Chronicle newspaper. He lives in Dunedin, where he has been a science and university reporter at the Otago Daily Times for more than 25 years. This is his first published collection.

The thin boy & other poems

John Gibb

ISBN: 978-0-473-27736-9

Softcover chapbook, 44pp, 210 x 145mm

Glimmering through many of these poems are various arrivals and departures, among them the waking and sleeping which begin and end each day. Here too are many close encounters: with former Dunedin artist Eion Stevens and his paintings, and with several slightly quirky characters. A golf-loving senior detective nears retirement. A judge’s courtroom routine is unsettled by something forgotten. And from his grave deep under a garage floor, a murdered bank robber still dreams of making a final perfect getaway.

In these poems the margins of an ordinary life are ruffled by winds rising late at night, and questions which refuse easy answers. But here also are flashes of awareness and hope: shirts billow exuberantly on a washing line west of Sydney; and helpful strangers arrive in force after a woman tumbles from a building in London. Elsewhere we glimpse the ancient world of an exiled Anglo-Saxon seafarer, keeping watch on a boat, amid a wilderness of waves. And when a man falls asleep on a Dunedin beach, he travels “Beyond the roar of breakers,/ Beyond the footprints that brought you here,/ To a place beyond sound, and above the sun.”

"Thin boy" image : Eion Stevens.


At dusk, on a farm west of Sydney,            

A shirt, arms outstretched

Like a parachutist in glorious free fall,

Flaps on the clothes line.

Years earlier, on TV, seven astronauts

Die when their space shuttle

Explodes shortly after launch:

Fragments stretch out vapour trail arms.

Here droughts and bushfires  

May not be far away,

But as dusk gathers, a cool wind rises,

And keeps the shirts flying

Like free-falling liberated scarecrows.

When hopes, even spectacularly,

Burn up, somewhere else

The shirts are still flying.

Here your eyes are fixed on that spread-eagled shirt:

Arms flapping in the breeze.

A crazy snapshot of freedom          

Even as night falls.

        © John Gibb 2014