Cut off from tidal violence,

it’s safe to paddle. Keening silence

delimits tension and release.

Above the palisade of shoals

that wavelets browse, conniving gulls

bide time until their titbit feast.  

Off north sounds out the clanging hulk

of shored up industry. Who’d balk

at honest work? But reclamation

for Corporate ends of sea-keeled land

pins Magna Mater underhand.

Her trustees suffer on probation.  

In February she shrugged her shoulders

dislodging scores of car-sized boulders.

One crushed a local’s house. The city

fared much worse. Cribbed Gothic stone

and brutal slab smelt blood and bone

en masse. Dame Nature showed no pity.  

Silica, shuck, and carapace

(and divers stuff besides) en face,

smudged self on verso: lest our votive  

vista freeze, prized specimen

in sappy seam, withstood, pared thin

by reason, dare I parse for motive?

A Graveyard by the Sea, stanzas vi – ix

© Robert McLean 2012

Cold Hub Press ~ Robert McLean


A Graveyard by the Sea

Robert McLean

with ink drawings by Roger Hickin

ISBN: 978-0-473-20953-7

Softcover chapbook  24pp

From limit to extent, from mortality to open sea, with a nod to poetic ancestors (Swift, Valéry, Lowell, Rickword, Sisson . . .), Robert McLean combines history, elegy, satire and geology in a post-seismic

62-sestet voyage beginning in the graveyard at Rapaki on Lyttelton Harbour . . .

Robert McLean was born at Bethany in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1974. He now lives in Lyttelton.

His previous books include: For the Coalition Dead (2009),For Renato Curcio (2010), and Goat Songs (2011)