Packer, Richard

New Zealand, (1935-89)

Circe boiling

  1. So that giggly bit Nausicaa’s got him, has she?
  2. Then good luck to her. She’ll surely need it. If you ask me,
  3. it will take more than the cool clippers of her legs
  4. to house-trim him. Man does not love by innocence
  5. alone, as she’ll soon find out.
  6. He’ll be off when he gets the first whiff of salt
  7. behind her musk; then nothing to be done except
  8. sulk among her father’s columns, and refuse
  9. to play ball in skimpy gauze for a month or two,
  10. insisting her handmaids snivel with her, bemoaning
  11. her wasted hymen. Small satisfaction that, if you ask me.
  12.  
  13. I remember crying on my own beach, a silly girl for the occasion
  14. of his red sail blistering my hope’s horizon;
  15. and what’s worse, I could see him and his mates frankly
  16. upending their damned wineskins only a few shiplengths
  17. off-coast (never mind my feelings) and staining
  18. the carefully laundered tunics I said goodbye with.
  19.  
  20. Oh, he was happy to see the last of me, though
  21. I’d done no more than peel them to the pigs they were
  22. under their skiting Greek, so he’d take notice and settle down.
  23. Yes: the company a man keeps is his woman’s woe. You should
  24. have seen their table habits: wiping their fruity hands
  25. on the brocades, if you please, while one even
  26. tossed his sucked bones on the floor. I’m not what
  27. you’d call a homebody, but there are limits. I wasn’t
  28. putting up with a whole stinking fowlyard just for one prize bantam.
  29.  
  30. It beats me why I tried so hard;
  31. swapping to a new face each morning, and pulling off
  32. tricks I thought would tickle his obvious appetite
  33. for the incredible-like olive trees dancing, myself
  34. unwinding snakes from a blank plate
  35. and crazing the air with all sorts of incense. Why,
  36. I once turned on a floor show of grade one nymphs, and
  37. as for loving, we tried everything from tiles to tigerskins.
  38. But he kept on grizzling
  39. about the boys in the stye, stubbing disgruntled feet
  40. on the shore stones, sighing: “Penelope, Penelope,” till
  41. I got absolutely fed up, gave him his friends and ship,
  42. then told him he could go sling his anchor.
  43.  
  44. What went wrong?
  45. I was bride to his every whim, as indeed a woman
  46. had better be, who wants a man to stick in one bed.
  47. After all, I am Circe, chartered witch, and top wet dream
  48. under the moonstruck eyelids of every youth from here
  49. to fastidious Persia. Nausicaa, Penelope-some chance
  50. they’ve got. It’s not really a woman he wants, if you ask me.

© Richard Packer. Being out of order : some poems and ‘The uncommercial traveller’. St. Lucia: University of Queensland Press (1972).

About the Poet:

Richard Packer (aka: Lewis Packer), New Zealand, (1935-89) was a poet, playwright, journalist and advertising executive.

Packer was a protege of the Wellington poet Louis Johnson and was one of three poets who caused a controversy around the 1964 issue of the New Zealand Poetry Yearbook. His only New Zealand book is Prince of the Plague Country (1964).

Packer travelled extensively and never cease to question the world and the role of man and womankind in it. He was a follower of the mystical Subud movement in Indonesia, and he described himself as ‘an existentialist with a religious bias’. He also showed some influence of G. I. Gurdjieff and P. D. Ouspensky. [DES-04/18]

A random image of a pig, hog, boar or swine from the collection at Porkopolis.