Tuesday, October 9, 2012

just a point man in the ocean by Vaughan Gunson

just a point man in the ocean
holding a piece of rope

which starts at one point
on the shore, arcs out towards

the black island rocks, their skirts
of white foam billowing up

like Marilyn Monroe’s dress
long ago, or yesterday

distracted by what’s beneath
the ocean, to go down diving for

                 screams of children

bring me back, a chorus
rising high with each wave.

I stand with my fellow guardians
staunch against the waves

breaking cold on our backs.
we speak, only about the ocean,

the next wave coming towards us,
reaching its tipping point.

the line holds, the children scream
claiming all the world.

I’m there to see it: a point man
in the ocean, going down.  

From this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level, Steele Roberts Ltd 2012
Posted here with permission from the author.

Vaughan Gunson lives in Hikurangi, north of Whangarei. He is concerned about the ecological, economic and political challenges facing New Zealand and the world, and has been active in a range of organisations and campaigns.

His poetry has been published in Blackmail Press, New Zealand Listener, Poetry New Zealand,
Side Stream, Takahē, the Lumière Reader, UNITY Journal, Workers Charter
and 52/250 A Year of Flash. "just a point man in the ocean" is from Vaughan's poetry collection this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level, published last month by Steele Roberts Ltd.

What intrigues me most about this poem is its movement and ambiguity. The poem follows the arc of the rope of the second line, out across the frivolous and nostalgic – "foam billowing up// like Marilyn Monroe’s dress" – and the dangerous “black island rocks." We seem to enter the mind of the "point man" as he contemplates "what's beneath" but are snapped back out, as he is, to the populated world.

There are ideas of protection here, perhaps against the unknown – “just” suggests the solitude of one man holding the fort against nature but “screams of children// bring me back, a chorus/ rising high with each wave.” jolts us into a much livelier situation filled with the rise and fall of voices; the crash of waves. Then “my fellow guardians” again populate the scene and we are witness to an unfolding world or uncoiling, like the rope that leads us. 

My favourite line is "the children scream / claiming all the world" which brings each image back into focus for that moment: the people, the rocks, the foam, the mysteries beneath before that final submergence.

this hill, all it's about is lifting it to a higher level has been described as “Poems about the beauty of the everyday, parenting and childhood, the creative process, death, moments of transcendence, social justice, and hope."

It can be purchased online from Steele Roberts or by sending a cheque for $20 (includes postage) to: Vaughan Gunson, 71A George Street, Hikurangi, Whangarei (with a return address).

You can read more of Vaughan's work at his website,  Falling Away From Blue and "like" his poetry on his facebook page, Vaughan Gunson: Poetry.

Now take a look at the Tuesday Poems in the sidebar here - written or chosen by our 30 Tuesday Poets from around the world. 

This week's editor is Wellington writer, Saradha Koirala. She is the author of the poetry collection Wit of the staircase, and has recently finished a second collection, with the help of some serious time away from teaching. SaradhaKoirala.com


Helen Lowe said...

I've very much enjoyed the poem, Saradha -- thank you for featuring it here today.

Harvey Molloy said...

An intriguing poem--I thought about the military meaning of 'point man': the soldier at the front of the patrol. So I see the poet as leading this patrol, with his rope, into the ocean and the waves are getting higher and higher. There they are, holding this line as it moves into the ocean with these screaming kids! They are doing this in some way for the ocean.

Michelle Elvy said...

I like the way this poem contains an entire intricate and scene, with sparseness and delicacy. My favourite image:

the black island rocks, their skirts
of white foam billowing up

like Marilyn Monroe’s dress

Nice to see this here. Vaughan's poems always interest me.

Madhusudan Mahawar said...

nice collection of poems here on tuesday poems....
well appreciated and considered...........