My friend likes to find things in skip bins. I don't have time
to list all the things he has found. Put it this way - when
you drive past one, you have to stop.
The story, as I have heard it, is that he once found a
girlfriend in a skip bin. She was scrabbling around looking
for things, and when he climbed in, they met. This was
before she met the banjo player and the drummer. But this
is just the story as the drummer tells it, and he may not
necessarily be trusted. He has this way of smiling when he
talks that suggests he could easily be lying. And he has been
known to eat daffodils. The truth doesn't move people to
do things like this.
I was one of the first readers of this poem ever, and for most, if not all, of the poems in the Montana award-winning book Secret Heart from which A Good Story comes. The collection was published in 2006, the year after Airini and I each completed an MA in Creative Writing at Victoria University of Wellington. Secret Heart was Airini's thesis and I was lucky enough to be in her tutor group.
Airini listened interestedly to all our feedback but made very few changes - except to play around a little with form and deciding on the prose poem. Later, her marker commented favourably on 'the casual tossed-offness' of the poems, and that is certainly it. They have a cool, wry, downbeat kind of feel to them, as if someone's just at that moment tossing words over a (leather-jacketed) shoulder or, as in one poem, spitting them like toothpaste out of the car window.
There is enchantment in these poems too - whether it be a guy finding a girlfriend in a skip bin or sisters walking through Cuba Mall with a full-length mirror or trees 'turning folktale' as dusk falls. This is Wellington 'off-centre' (and the South Island, too, in a road trip sequence) and it's a nice place to be. The truth is, as Airini read out her poems in class, we all sat there smiling and then scrabbled round for useful things to say. They are what they are. And we loved them.
[Google books insert with more of Airini's poems removed ]
A science teacher, Airini is currently on maternity leave caring for her new baby and working on her second book of poems. She's given me permission to run this poem on my blog.
Do try more Tuesday Poems. Bryan Walpert is the editor this week.