Monthly Archives: September 2014

Auckland Poem


Bursting at the seams

You polyglot

Desires and needs

Thrash against each other

Like wind against tide.

Your burgeoning waters

Explode with many hues

From sparkling blue to muddy brown

They are coloured

Like the people that you encompass

Manicured streets

With emerald green lawns and swaying palms

Battle against the meanness of your grey neighbour hoods

Your dirty stories not so secret

Struggle to have their voices heard

Everywhere monuments

To unfettered desires pulsate in the street

Like flashing neons

Fast food, fast cars, fast women

Scream out their desires

Your promise of new hope and opportunity

Tantalises and lures

Like insects to a flame they all come

Some to die in fleeting flashes

Others lifted to the sky

Auckland you vagabond, jewel, and whore

Selling yourself for the price of another fix

Bigger roads, brighter shops, more cars

How much is enough

When will you be satisfied

(c) Paul Cronin 2010


Auckland Part Two

As I wrote before there are some things that I really like about Auckland, I love the cultural diversity, the choice of food and entertainment.  I enjoy the busyness most of the time however Auckland has some flaws and a disease that ultimately may be terminal, if not severely disabling.

Auckland like any community has its problems.  Continue reading

Auckland Part 1

I remember the sense of wonder that I used to feel as I crested the divide that marked the entry into the wonderland that I knew as Auckland.  Auckland was a place of magic, I remember a  song from Calamity Jane, “they’ve got shacks up to seven stories” springs to mind.  The magic started for me with the big wide roads that then led onto the motorway.  This winding piece of black that wound its way closer and closer to what for me was just the most amazing place, downtown! One place in particular.

We moved from the booming metropolis of Gisborne, somewhere around 1970, in Gisborne we did have one lift, ( I was terrified of lifts but that’s another story)and a magical vacuum tube system (A Lamson tube system to be precise)in a department store, The Melbourne Cash Department Store.  The store was devastated by fire, I can still remember to this day the smell of the wool that had been burnt  Downtown Gisborne seemed so huge, I had visited another big city, Christchurch but apart from memories of Tinytown I think in Christchurch or Lyttleton and a Magic shop in an arcade in Christchurch perhaps a function of my age.

Hamilton had DIC department store and a sprawling Farmers but two stories was as big as it got, Auckland however, well Auckland had neon lights, a cowboy, no less, twirling his magic rope,and drawing on a cigarette, that was exciting enough to an 8 or nine year old from small town New Zealand but wait there’s more.  Auckland had a Farmers store, it was this amazing cornucopia of everything that you could imagine a household needed, it had escalators, escalators, my lord, I could not believe it, freedom to travel up at speed without the terrifying, Tardis like lift.  This sprawling mini metropolis was an explosion of sights and sounds.  Its crowning glory was however the tea rooms, “Harbour View Tearooms” with attendant magical playground farmersplayground-300x164 and Hector the Sulphur crested Cockatoo.  Farmers and Auckland were synonymous to me, no visit was complete without a ride on the Farmers Free Bus and a trip to the top of the world.

The magic lasted till my early teens and then I started to notice some of the things in Auckland that were not so magical.  The first of these were the Iron Giants, the power pylons that I saw.  These pylons followed the Motorway but in places they were in peoples back yard, I asked my dad about it and he said that’s Otara, it wasn’t till later till my political awakenings that I understood what exactly that meant.  I remember thinking to myself I never wanted to live near one of those monstrosities, I knew nothing of EMF, links to Leukaemia, interference with TV  and Radio signals, I just thought they were ugly, sinister, things.  Grey sentinels, guarding just what I didn’t know, they were dark, scary portents of doom to me.  The other overwhelming negative experience was experiencing the brown fields of Mangere, a brand new suburb of houses and overwhelming nothingness, I was 15 at the time and had read about suburban neurosis and after a week in Mangere thought I understood just a little of the despair that the women of Mangere may have felt trapped in their homes without cars or public transport and vast tracts of red brown sticky clay.

These memories came back to me as I travelled through East Tamaki today, driving past the artefacts of civilisation, huge chimneys, huge pylons and greyness, as I reflected (hmm does curse equal reflection) on the traffic and my conflicted relationship with Auckland.  My relationship with Auckland reflects my life at the moment, I have an ongoing every workday relationship with Auckland at the moment,  I love the vibrancy, cultural diversity and opportunity that Auckland has to offer, I don’t like, actually I despise the vast disparities that I see in Auckland, the broken people and the so called elite.  They are all there.   Auckland is where the jobs are but not where I live… to be continued

Pulling the plug

I almost had a poem as I drove home today, it was pretty dark really, fields of broken dreams, dredging up the past, kind of stuff.  I thought I would start by throwing a few words on a line and then I realised I didn’t have the energy.  Just too tired, physically, and emotionally for poetry right now. Don’t feel sorry for me please, I do that well enough for myself at times.

The phrase” pulling the plug” has been on my mind lately.  pulling the plug means different things to people.  I have been present when the plug has been pulled on life support machines.  it is not as dramatic as that really, no-one pulls the plug, just a simple turning off off a machine, the the mechanical noises stop, no more beeping, release sometimes happens quickly for some it takes time it is different for every one I have seen.

Tonight I don’t want to talk about that I have seen death up close and personal enough.  I am writing about different plug pulling here.  I was reflecting over the weekend, I feel a little lost at the moment,  job is possibly the biggest issue, nothing on the horizon, not sustainable anyway as for the moment I am stuck where I am for a number of reasons, unable to shift.  I used to boast about my flexibility, if I didn’t have teaching work then there was always cooking, building, milking, driving mowing lawns, you name it I have done it or would have done it. But alas no more.

Since 1988 I have been fighting a narrative of pain in my life due to a back injury.  I made concessions to it for a couple of years but came to a point where I just decided to do it anyway, my back would be sore regardless, I have carried on lifting etc over the years with very few concessions, unfortunately no more, lately the problems I have been having with my back have forced a radical rethink about my life.  It is not just pain but physical symptoms that I cannot live with.  Unfortunately there is at times when I think I cannot even teach anymore.  The prospect of being defined by disability just eats at me in a way that is consuming and terrifying for me.

I have a plan to deal with it, one last shot with a different surgeon I will see what they have to say, I hope for an answer, but if not then it will be plan b.  Plan b is not, don’t think it for one second giving up.  I have pulled the plug on physical work, indeed if I get any worse it may be full-time work that I cannot cope with but I will not be defined by that which I cannot do.  I have been defined by what the world (and at times myself) sees as failure, a broken marriage, broken relationships a constant battle for employment but I am not ready to pull the plug on that which I know to be true.

I am a father,writer, poet,mentor and friend.  these things I hold to and have not failed at.  The rest well it hurts at time, tears have been close for a while, I think a function of tiredness and pain and change, not much I can do right now about those narratives.

I am grateful for those friends and family who have and continue to support me. You can shake me if I am too morbid  (or buy me wine or coffee), encourage me to have fun, don’t let me lift stupid things and understand me if I can’t or don’t do the physical things I used to do, I am not an invalid yet, I can’t walk very far,(I can cycle), I wont last the evening dancing and I am not up to concreting or digging holes anymore, but hopefully with what is left I can still support my friends and look after my family.

Well that is my day done, to those of you still up, sleep well, laugh loudly, and love abundantly.


Dirty Politics, School and Voting.

I have started a new job this week, leading learning at a School that is just 10 years old.  A modern design, shared teaching spaces, 100 minute learning episodes.  I have to travel to get there just over 110 kilometers.  It is good to be back in the classroom again, it is stimulating work,planning and prepping, then engaging with learners.  There are no students at this school and no teachers, learners and learning leaders, engaged in learning episodes.  it is at the  Continue reading