Sunday, May 27, 2012

Trees bring People Together

In the photocopying marvel shop that is Warehouse Stationery St Lukes, (honestly they do the best job), I'd rushed in with my laptop late on Friday, to see if they could help me get more copies of our Family of Artists book printed.

A lovely woman got talking with me after I mentioned my trip to America and Trees for Travel. Barbara Drake is building an off-the-grid house and planting many native trees on their property. 'My partner and I have no children, we're leaving trees behind us instead. It's easier.' She laughed.

I was writing the poem below, a rough first draft while I waited; few people were about. A glance at the screen and she murmured, 'Poetry.' Asked me if I knew some people she knew, turns out I did, (somewhat, anyway).

What a pleasant way to spend time in a queue. How very New Zealand of us, striking up such a conversation impromptu and swapping emails.

It was trees, they brought us together.

May trees also inspire you to grow and extend, I could say. We branch out, turn over a new leaf, we're sometimes a bit green about things if we do not understand, and we may put down roots. But we are not trees. We certainly need trees however, now we've removed half of the world's trees since homo sapiens first appeared on Earth.

Trees absorb carbon, if we plant more trees we could help save the ocean from extinction by 2030, (and ourselves).

Please go and plant at least one tree this week or plan where one shall be placed, soon. Make sure it is the best time of year for tree-planting, and choose a spot where the tree can readily flourish for decades, even centuries.

The oldest living things on the planet are trees.  The first tree on this link, the Jhomon Sugi tree, of Yakushima in Japan is believed to be over 7,000 years old.

People may also be old. In New York I met a man who told me he was 377 years old and a vampire. Perhaps he is, but I'm at least 30% garlic at any one time and have the protection of many great goodnesses upon me, so I think I was relatively safe.

The iMovie film I made to go with this recorded poem includes images from New York and places near there but is mainly NZ photographs, (my NYC pix were stolen with my laptop at LAX, during security check). I chose some photos I thought went with this NYC poem. We always bring our own experiences and memories to any place we visit. 

Images include some from my 'I Guess I Just Don't Know' 2011 exhibition, named after a Lou Reed song, (those fine pictures are by Genevieve McClean), and other images which I've taken such as some from the temperate house, Auckland Domain Wintergardens.  The iMovie starts with a drawing I did over a Victorian photo of a family, for our Family of Artists book and CD. The sequinned artwork, (pinks and golds) is by Julie Tersigni, NYC. Here are pictures of her recent exhibition opening in the Lower East Side, NYC.


I read this poem below on a video of an iMovie here

New York City's the Place where

a vampire dressed as a ten year old

drank cider in a blue neon bar

this corporate pilot used jet pix for bait

while the barmaid once from Waitomo

pogoed the length of 100 + years

streets roar all evening with unknown names

leave your origin at the train station

the crowd may call you anything

yellow taxis swarm for money

faces float by with such geography

the hotel front desk guy in lavender

pedestrians with one eye on the trash bins

Soho red pistol earring boutique

bookshop cafe with the smallest tables

my accent provoked socialising

this city swallows every morsel offered

digested NYC condoms and pistachio pastry

Chinese restaurant pushing drunks out the door

a Lower East Side lawn caged fear

cafe doors the yawns of monsters

(he warned me I'd be eaten alive)

post office queue woman chewed gum

black sass in all-white stretch dazzle

over a hillock in a sidewalk garden to eat

I mailed creatures to my friends
bulged the cardboard box a little
perspex shields opened and closed
outside the blue post-box and graffiti
homeless people draped in utensils

taxi driver with his tongue between his teeth

MOMA fed me revolutionary paint
sculpture of a woman falling into water
'I kissed a man
during Andy Warhol's Kissing film,'
someone wrote with felt-tip pen

a cafe couple fired soft questions at each other

bright pink cattle pasted up the stairs
nine statements chalked by people
from a country at war - on video
the dark room besides full of screens
nonchalant walls as ready as not knowing

hunker down banks with wrap-around dark windows

a rabbit-man met by Grand Central's clock
made me a local with a subway ride
punk rock history unreeled behind us
deli food and a discussion about guns
lost then found our way to Strawberry Fields

the rickshaw driver bargained with using silence

glitter paintings appeared holy
in an artist's 72nd St railway apartment
lantern flames outside the Dakota
overlooking Imagine Circle and guitars
Central Park a mecca of walking

moved the hydrangea to see a brass plaque

Isaac Newton's portrait in Pete's Tavern
the oldest NY bar black and white
poetry luncheon sat beside a geneticist
cried later to hear the Brownings
recorded by Broadway stars with music

the cold counter plastered in curved posters

discovered a Jack Kerouac school
disembodied poetics on yellow and red
in the Bowery Poetry Club
thought about Miles in France emailing
'everyone's insane there as far as I know'

cab drivers dither as if they're the strangers

a Russian manicurist didn't take cards
one taxi nearly drove off with my bag
I smacked his boot and swore murder
people across the way in cafe sunshine
bundled the street into our pockets

ATM machine shuffles money into a stack

hailing a ride from the roadside
discovered a spiked leather creature
kindly nodded - back seat of a cab
while Chinatown held slower directions
then a golden bank foyer on Park Avenue

a pizza box can get some people in anywhere

tall New York Times bought on the corner
took home sections to give away
left a bag of change and lilies in the room
dollar notes strewn on the bed
air conditioner's rattle silent

carpeted hotel corridors lit out

when departure descended like a bat
so many said to stay with them
I was offered a job in a city garden
then cave walk and wheel to the bus
cellphone died on the ride to Newark

pooled places wide with railings and windows

leaving NYC the finish and a start
contradictions in the way of the view
enormous grey bridges and stretched water
a roll of knowing too much to say
kept in the dark of my skull camera

wake a talk while the sighs play shoo ba doo honey

                                                 - title a line from the Lou Reed song, Walk on the Wild Side

drawing by Raewyn Alexander 2012

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