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The Game of TagAllen Curnow
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Vol. 16 No. 20 · 20 October 1994
Poem

The Game of Tag

Allen Curnow

255 words

AFRIKA POET HERO DODGER FELIX DEVOE CURSE EXIT CICERO BEASTIE SAINT THANKS FOR THE TAG AFRIKA POET ’93

Graffito, Lone Kauri Road

Seven thigh-thick
hamstring-high posts,

embedded two
metres and cemented

in, where the side
of the road burst

into bird space,
tree-toppling all

that plunging way
down. A clean-cut

horizon shapes
daylight. A gap.

Where the sea glares
back at the land’s

shiftiness. Hefty
planks mounted strap-

wise, post to post,
invite my spray-

gun-toting rival
to sign A-F-R-I-K-A

P-O-E-T-92
who will have caught

up with himself
at the next bend

where the road slipped
again, and again

tagged the white paint-
edness of a new

barrier A-F-R-I-K-A
P-O-E-T-93. The paint

is for the poetry.
And signed off. Skid

marks in the gravel.
And powered the old

Valiant around, like
a bat out of Hell. Gave

Death the fingers.
Shook the dreadlocks

from his eyes, for
his best shot. Darkly

incontinently
lets fly, spattering

name after name.
A crumbling road.

Where have they all
gone, with CICERO

BEASTIE and me
and which of us

leads the way down
post and plank not-

withstanding, car-
apaced in Korean

steel, to be wrapped
round a bole two

hundred years thick,
two hundred feet

below. One wild
wheelie and we’re off.

Rain-forest soon
repairs its ruins.

Dead men’s dental
records and cellphones

tell no lies. Rust
finishes the job

(almost). One chip
of red Perspex

under a stone
in the stream was

his (whose?) tail-light.
A-F-R-I-K-A P-O-E-T

writes, and I quote
THANKS FOR THE TAG.

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