The man with a sore throat
and Annotations towards the abolition of men

Poems by Tony Beyer

The man with a sore throat


pilots and their brides
in wartime
married in uniform

perms and lipstick smiles
our mums and aunties
wore so well


the sparrows in the trees
in Willis St at dusk
aren’t the same sparrows
as forty years ago

but sound the same
their plainly spoken language
passed down intact
through generations

recalling by name
from their country of origin
the martyr Chidiock Tichborne
many voices all at once

at Pegasus
I buy Saki
Turgenev and Bob Orr

separate tracks
that coincide for now
in the erratic traverse

of my reading
that has sought out 
so many destinations

this city under cold blue Saturday light
beautiful as the colours
in Milli’s paintings

in the gallery
Peter McLeavey still haunts
in his hat

city of part of our youth
only partly forgotten

even the beggars
offer to tell us


the man with a sore throat

is an agent
unaware of who
controls him

through the city
unaware too

that his touch
momentary and insubstantial 
as an ant’s

may ignite
destabilising consequences
a spillage

of the usual
into chaos

on the bus in a mask
in the pub
with a glass

he is indistinguishable
and deadly


up Holloway Rd
the focus of protest has shifted
from Yanks out of Vietnam
and French nuclear testing in the Pacific
to environment and gender concerns

some of the old signage is still visible
faded or obscured by new plant growth

on the weed-governed banks
goats radiate at the ends of their chains
and gaze down disinterestedly

a boy with red hair
dribbles turns sets up and shoots
clattering the hoop on the long path
to representative selection

everywhere damp and secluded
the houses are yet a community

the right to park cars
is a big issue


in the hotel 
watching the ABs v Tonga farce
which did nobody any good

a training run for us
and an embarrassment
for both teams

a lot going on in town though
parties dressed up for this
and other occasions

free for an infinitesimal pause
from business and government
viral peril and restraint

except for the ones who bed down
in sleeping bags in city corners
and know all too well 
what tomorrow will bring


sadness of the Sunday father
dredging the recent past
for common ground

the son sits very upright
while the daughter tends
to twist and fidget in her chair

they have no friends
their own age here
and are too polite to resort to their phones

(though he would be too polite
to upbraid them)

the museum was last time
the zoo before that
in either case too much reality


now nearly everything
     hamburgers beverages

taxi or shuttle rides
     is channelled through

the anonymity
     of the electronic ether

a live human voice
     advising me on the phone

to have a good day
     is almost comforting


Unity Books
staunch as ever
pillar and defender

of all that is currently correct
in terms of identity
stance or ethnicity

where my son felt
almost intimidated
purchasing a title by old

white anglo Graham Greene
a favourite undiminished
by fashion or time


a lot of girl students
come up the lift from town
then through the hotel lobby
to their hostel across the road

huffy as if everyone’s
trying to hit on them
or in groups
giggling about men

often they are far from home
lonely for a word
or touch
that compromises nobody


René Magritte’s boots
have waited so long for Godot
the feet have worn through

two sets of pale toes
on the gravelly ground
among matchsticks

a flattened cigarette end
coins paper scraps and the artist’s name 
in black like a misplaced shoelace

Annotations towards the abolition of men


sperm can be frozen
to be used later
or harvested fresh
in future
from adolescent males
before elimination


heavy labour
with the exception
of childbirth
becomes the province
of robots
from a feminine
point of view


leaders will
assert themselves
on the basis of merit
as is the case
in natural matriarchies


other than incapacity
there will be
no restrictions
on the right
to bear or
not to bear children


the term gynaecology
is to be replaced
by the terms health care
or medicine 


no war so
no warriors
heroes or martyrs


love which was anyway
a male myth
invented to control women
need never have
entered into it

Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki, New Zealand. His print titles include Anchor Stone (2017) and Friday Prayers (2019), both from Cold Hub Press. Recent poems have appeared in international online journals: Hamilton Stone Review, Meniscus, Molly Bloom, Mudlark, Otoliths and Tarot.

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