Jack Ross, ed.: brief 29 (April 2004)
Graham Lindsay, Lazy Wind Poems. Auckland: AUP, 2003. ISBN 1-86940-285-5. 72 pp. RRP $21.99.
All of the books in this issue of brief deserve far more space than I can give them, but that goes particularly for Graham Lindsay’s latest. It’s nice to see the old master at work again, and to see assembled the inspired domesticity poems which have been appearing here and there over the last few years. I actually wrote Graham a fan letter when I read the painfully brilliant “ballad of Fanny Grace” in brief 16, but seeing it in context now makes me think even more of it: “Love your mother-in-law / when her daughter / (finally coming to bed) / tells you how she was / just tucking her mother / in for the night” [56-7] – it’s tempting just to go on reciting from this succession of mad, pointed anecdotes about senile dementia and the love and good humour that make it possible to endure it.
The book’s divided into four parts: “making love,” which takes us from an ultrasound scan of the new baby, through childbirth, birthdays, first words: “ ‘Bye bye dart’ . There’s a lot of babytalk in there, and a lot of household detail of the kind which I’d normally skip, but Graham makes it work in two ways: firstly through the sheer fervour of his surrender to parental love: “Close the little papa’s eyes / close’m eyes, close’m eyes” , and secondly by his skill in ambushing us with the disconcerting detail:
He’s the only
person in the world
I’d let use my handkerchief
then put it back in my pocket. 
The second section, “you are here,” begins with “cab dub,” a brilliant and disconcerting series of discourses from the backseat of a taxi-cab, then moves through rugby to a strangely dislocated local version of Peter Rabbit. “Big feet,” the third section, consists largely of family poems (including the mother-in-law one quoted above), and finally “swingdoor” takes us back around into the poet’s more conventionally introspective territory: “All this beauty fading away.”  This really is a book to die for.