Mainly West of Queen Street - seen through my lens

Auckland — A Poem



Auckland by C. K. Stead and Askew One

Auckland by C. K. Stead and Askew One

Auckland’s tank farm in the Wynyard Quarter is a photographer’s delight (here and here and here and here and …), but there are good reasons why prime waterfront land should not be wasted on hazardous goods storage. But while we have the tanks (and that won’t be forever) we might as well decorate them. The Auckland art writer Hamish Keith is the driving force behind the Tank Art Project, in which five artists will liven the area up. The first of the five is Askew One (Elliot O’Donnell), four more are yet to be nominated. Askew One is a renowned graffiti artist, and his artwork on the tanks is inspired by C.K. Stead‘s poem Auckland. Two more tanks, hidden from view in these pictures were unfinished when I took these shots. It will be interesting to see the whole project evolve.

C.K. Stead’s poem was originally published in the volume The Black River (2007), and is also contained in his Collected Poems 1951-2006.

Tank Art by Askew One

Tank Art by Askew One

Auckland (C. K. Stead)

There are dreamscapes
                      and realscapes.

                  This one I suspect
                             is real
though the sun is walking on water
and the sea out at the yellow buoy
                             is silk.

            An orange container-ship
is rounding North Head.
                     Green Rangitoto
pictures itself
and is not displeased.
                   Moehau, deep blue
insists on distance.

                       Swimming back
on my back
                      I become again
the connoisseur of clouds -
feathers and fleeces.

                  A gull drifts over
                              a tern
                        a gull again
white on
on blue.

                      A low-altitude 
                         Exocet shag
                   (late for lunch?)
hurtles across.

          This is the life that goes
                        godlessly on
a poem without words
a gift without conditions
                           a present 
without a past.


  1. Nathalie, Provence

    Paul, what a magnificent poem Thanks for transcribing it for us since the original on the tank isn’t easy to read. I love this art project, thanks for reporting about it.

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