Author Archives: Howard Gaukrodger

The Silence of Forbidden Rapture

The Silence of Forbidden Rapture
Howard Gaukrodger 25.02.14

She appears before me, lithe and relaxed,
my eyes are fogged by insecurity.
I penetrate her mind longingly, lustfully,
as the air becomes heavy with silence.

I stand unashamed for I know her truth.
“Quit boring me with platitudes,” I urge
her head towards mine, our loins on fire,
in this endless pain of silence.

A tender embrace, we seek to become one
as she presses my cheek to her breast.
While my heart shouts “I love you”, I whisper
lest I break the necessity of silence.

When she doesn’t respond
my desire burns ardent, lips too parched to protest.
“Patience”, she breathes, “our time will come,
and with it my breaking of silence.”



Are wavy
And salty
And fatty
And unhealthy
I eat crisps.

Sine curves
Are wavy
And smooth
And informative
And comforting
I’m fascinated by sine curves

But the sea is different
It breathes
And changes
It appeals
And threatens
I respect the sea

So, what can we do
With the crisps and the curves
And the undulating sea?
I think we should celebrate
And eat the crisps
Admire the curves
And ride the waves of life.

The speed of darkness

The speed of darkness

Light is as slow as the mind goes as the darkness grows
Where we wish we could see in the fog of insecurity.

Light shines on the wisdom of mothers and helps us discover
How little we know, yet wish to bestow on the lives of others.

Happy we are, and as a star, can endure
The pains of growth, though nothing in life is assuredly good.

But travel we do, whether I or you, and as light to the mind
We struggle to find, a path, a need to rebuff

The speed of darkness.

Dawn Redwood – a tree poem for Light Nelson

Dawn Redwood

Hey there! Watch out for my toes! And don’t pull on my branches!
I may not have eyes, but I can see.

So what do you call me? Do you really want to know?
Glyptostroboides is my first name, and Metasequoia my family.

But my friends call me Dawn Redwood – most appropriate I find,
as the sun rises and illuminates my crown and rusty tints.

My parents come from China: “shui-shan”, I heard them call me
but I’m a local now, rooted in the community.

To save our threatened species, they sent their children to
foster around the globe, and several here in New Zealand.

I was born in 1951, planted beside the eel pond in damp, mulched soil,
ideal to avoid ageing skin and threadbare branches.

As some relish a suntan, so I enjoy my autumn coat of copper,
before I shed my finger-like foliage to wallow in winter’s sleep.

Fast growth is one of my attributes, and I’m aiming for 23 metres.
My girth keeps me rigid in the cruellest of storms and measures one fifth of my height.

But in these tranquil gardens where all people can find peace,
it’s not my size or skin I’m proud of, but my symmetry and grace.

The veneer of human evolution – a found poem.

The veneer of human evolution

Citizens, unite, the culture war
Is an Oscar.
Boycott this struggle,
for what can be
less consequential?

Conversations with mother:
Viagra for women.
The political divide
crossed within the family;
she was my first mentor.

The ink-stained wretches of Wall Street,
unseen by the media.
The watchdog
did not bark:
Crash! Advocacy gone bad.

Twelve years a slave,
mining the experience of life.
What is its legacy,
unflinching and brutal?
A glimpse into the black.

Soul food’s contested history,
the recipe of rhythm redrawn.
The culinary temple of all things soul,
hot sauce and a suspicion of spice:
concoctions of original thought

Short Story for North & South

Phantasm, by Howard Gaukrodger

January, 2014. 300 words. Any topic.
Entered for North & South Magazine contest, Bauer Media Group, NZ.

“Scott! Call everyone in! And get Defence.”

A new dispatch hit the PM’s desk. That’s it then, he thought. It’s gone.

“I’ll cut to the chase. This meeting will end in 15 minutes. By then, you will know what I know, and I will know what you’re going to do about it. We’ve lost Phantasm.”

“The laser we’re funding for the health sector?”

“Not quite.” sighed Greg.

“Damn it, Greg! Tell them!”

The Defence Minister hesitated, “Phantasm is an array of miniaturised, helium-neon lasers capable of projecting multi-directional, 3D, scalable images… of tanks, planes, infantry. They..” “Thank you, Greg. The point is gentlemen, and lady, the Aussies inadvertently picked it up during a drugs bust, and it was stolen from them en route to Gurney Airport, PNG. It’s now in the hands of God knows who.”

Time stood still. Minds reconfigured to images of war. In turn, they each assumed a role:

“I’ll get onto the High Commission, Canberra.”


“Greg! Airport, port… Hell! Every landing strip in PNG!” said the PM.

The team broke up. If Phantasm fell into the wrong hands, combat strategies would have to be rewritten.

“Sir, London – Line 1.”

“Hello, Godfrey. Your carrier pigeons have been rather quick…”

The prime ministers gnarled at the crisis. London promised assistance; Wellington promised a solution.

Three days, four days…

Armed police descended on a fisherman at Alotau Wharf, eastern PNG. Fingers pointed. Items exchanged hands. Within minutes, a military helicopter lowered two NZ scientists.

The punctured inflatable aboard the fishing boat bore signs of a struggle, and there, wedged into the transom, was a small, titanium bracket displaying the unmistakable logo of Aerospace NZ.

It was only on closer inspection days later that blood was found. DNA tests identified it as that of a UK SAS officer.

The Tree

My escape lay at the bottom of the garden. A concrete path, narrow as the wheels of my trike, led through the vegetable patch to this Eden. Here I would pedal whenever I was sad, or happy.

The tree beckoned in spring with white petals and pink flowers, tinged with yellow, like miniature stars twinkling in the sun. I would stare, mesmerised by the humming of bees seeking their nectar.

The years passed, and, like the tree, I grew. Old enough to climb the tree that had been my haven for so long. Shinning up the trunk, I perched on the silvery branches, observing the house on the horizon. At the right time of year, when the blossoms had matured into fruit, I picked an apple, or two, savouring the still-bitter taste.

The taller I grew, the smaller the tree seemed to become, and the less important it was for me to climb it. But I always visited its umbrella, protecting me from the sun, pacifying me with the gentle swish of its leaves. I think of this tree even now when I’m stressed, and even now find peace in its memory.

Impeding our own progress – a sestina

Impeding our own progress
by Howard Gaukrodger

Like a piece of a jigsaw, we aim to fit,
yet we know there’s an issue – we’ve seen it before.
How can you tackle it? My job is too precious.
Oh, the bosses will deal with it; they’re paid for that here.
E-mails are sent, discreetly of course, to convene a new meeting.
The manager arrives and reveals the quintessence of mediocrity.

You learn to excel, igniting emotion, illuminating mediocrity.
So scoffing begins, then festering gossip – fit
only for the contagion of meaningless meetings.
The manager stubs the insinuating ink before
her: “We don’t do things like that here”.
Feeling their knife in your back, you had thought integrity precious.

The clients are happy and chorus their precious
thanks for your outstanding work that overcomes mediocrity.
Yet, we see in this fragile hierarchy here
vociferous protest that does not befit
those with now blemished records. The fiction before,
now failure, can hurt on their meeting.

Technology drives are fuel for anger. The meeting
of wisdom and youth must blend in a precious
mortar of corporate skills before
damage is done by management mediocrity.
Our sight is impaired by stubborn behaviour unbefitting
the goals and aspirations of enterprise here.

Appraisals and improvisation of quality controls are well known here –
stifling innovative thought like meandering meetings
that foster processes aimed only to fit
the requirements of public obfuscation, devoid of precious
endeavour. Accountability is blasphemy in the world of mediocrity;
taxpayers will foot the bills, but this has been said before.

The wonderland of politics prevails before
Finance or Popularity raises its head to influence here
and there the apathetic, soon punished for their agenda of mediocrity.
The cauldron of life expounds our myths, while the meeting
of virtuous minds struggles for recognition of precious
values and actions, often mocked and concealed by the unfit.

Precious human progress capitulates to the stampede of technology, fit
for the computer-literate alone. Seduced by money, we now live here
before our screens, meeting remotely – the art of communication reduced to mediocrity.

Journal Poem

A six-day journal poem


With a thunk and a clack
the glass-panelled door
unlocks the stuffy air.
The scented morning
rushes to entice us
to its ephemeral garden.
The white agapanthis
and hydrangea compete,
my colours – what colours? – are scorned.


Some people call it a drudge,
but there are those that believe
it really depends on what you see:
your journey to work.


I sit at my desk, in my room;
she silently, stealthily finds me.
It may be my scent, or the creaking old chair,
but friendship we seek, and affection.
The rhythmical tap of the keyboard
interrupted by her tinkling bell
are welcome sounds that fuse our thoughts.
No words need ever be spoken.


Embarrassed at first, I talk to the screen,
dictating as clearly as possible.
The text I see is encoded in French,
but turns like magic to English.
I dally on thoughts that have nothing to do
with the task at hand for the day.
Yet, isn’t it strange and wondrous, too,
the brain, its function, and skill?
Now, where was I, yes, the job on my desk,
the deadline is just round the corner.


Today is cold; summer is fooling us.
I raid the wardrobe for winter clothes.
The heating is on, and windows are closed,
be patient and calm for a while.
“Bonjour”, we shout, as the sun lifts its head,
over the hills and trees afar.
The misted glass refracts the light,
so rainbows and prisms abound.
So simple a thing, but glorious too,
the dawn, the light, and awakening.


The soothing sound of the hands of the clock
soon signalled the end of the day.
I longed to behold him and give him a hug
this child, my life, and our future.
The school bell rings and parents approach,
my eyes are fixed to the door.
The children fly out, school bags flailing,
my heart is pounding and impassioned to see
his beautiful smile and boundless love,
the day, the week, is ending.

Found Poem

(US journals Feb 2014)

Citizens, unite, the culture war
is an Oscar.
Boycott this struggle,
for what can be
less consequential?

Conversations with mother:
Viagra for women.
The political divide
crossed within the family;
she was my first mentor.

The ink-stained wretches of Wall Street,
unseen by the media.
The watchdog
did not bark:
Crash! Advocacy gone bad.

Twelve years a slave,
mining the experience of life.
What is its legacy,
unflinching and brutal?
A glimpse into the black.

Soul food’s contested history,
the recipe of rhythm redrawn.
The culinary temple of all things soul,
hot sauce – a suspicion of spice:
concoctions of original thought.