Night of the Realm

Arise Sir John. For services to Christendom
and sticking it to Kim Dot Com,
for being you – a Kiwi bloke who likes a joke
and ponytails to grasp and stroke.

You saw us proud and reflected our ambition,
a mirror held to our 21st century condition,
an amiable void encased in a suit
performing your role for a nation of mutes.

A state house boy who sold off the state housing,
who smiled and shrugged off all the grousing
as you parachuted in from Merrill Lynch,
and made sure Paula took the part of Chief Grinch

and as the arse fell out of the Kiwi Dream
(as it has been doing since ’73)
you soothed and sedated and said “Actually…”
and so we remember this man they called Key.

You knew how to play this funny old game.
You played it well until the time came
to move along before the housing market tanks,
and receive queenly honours and your noble rank.

Maybe out there somewhere questions remain,
to this prize, this silver bottle top that you claim
affixed to the pinstripes of a merchant banker
but ignore all the haters who call you a canker.

A vision came before you, our anointed nobleman
and like an angel gazes on the Promised Land,
so does a Five Eyes high altitude drone
carry out surveillance of our South Pacific home.

Far below trail limpid cool streams of green!
The channels of bovine shit and rock snot stream
towards the ocean blue, where reefs are crowned
with container ships wrecked and run aground.

When mines blew up due to corporate negligence
you fixed on a face that showed deference
to our feelings, but made sure no one referred
how health and safety had been kicked to the kerb

by your National Party, the very same sombre crew
who turned up in Greymouth that day looking blue.
But let’s not dwell on these sad past days
and instead let us remember your smile and your wave

to the capitalists who made their bread
on the bones of the entombed and silent dead,
let us hear the cough of a child who sleeps in the dark
with her parents in hock to the local loan sharks

and all of those things that don’t seem quite right:
but these days we have lost any fizzle of fight
to stand up in the herd and offer dissent
because most of us are too busy paying the rent,

or a mortgage with its boot on our throat
wondering whether it’s worth it to bother to vote
as each borer spotted weatherboard of old
is now worth three times its weight in gold.

In our dominion, far flung, distant, antipodean,
where the paranoid Yankee billionaires now come fleeing
you welcomed all, at least those of means,
to buy their way in for a crack on our greens.

Your innovations were many, your vision bold
you reintroduced the knighthoods of old,
so the better class can still grab a gong
from the dead Empire to which we still cling on.

Arise Sir John. For services to Christendom
and sticking it to Kim Dot Com,
for being you – a Kiwi bloke who likes a joke
and ponytails to grasp and stroke.

Covfefe – a poem

 

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Meta Mnemonics help him recollect his nuclear codes
jammed in somewhere behind his twitching frontal lobes.

His fish eye lens compulsively filming the inside of the zoo
as he dials the Kremlin hotline to ask what should I do?

A pumped up alpha politico steaming with roid rage,
his fingers tap compulsively before his mind’s engaged.

A meme war erupts between the two sides of the brain
in this planet of the apes anomaly that they forgot to train.

With Bannon as his vector infecting the current state of play,
a unreality TV imposter hamming in this sick masquerade.

He flushes another tweet down his all nite data feed
but his fat digits just keep squashing all the wrong keys.

Ambient Terror available now

Ambient-Terror-coverReleased 10 May 2017 at the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival, Ambient Terror is the third volume of poetry from Dunedin writer Victor Billot.

Refusing to be confined into one stylistic box, Ambient Terror is propelled forward by a sense of urgency reflecting the compressed reality of the 21st century. It is poetry that is equally up to the task of attacking socio-political themes or experimenting with language. It ‘takes in the world’, whether discussing depression and anxiety (Ambient Terror and Ghost Beat), mortality (Voice in Darkness and Selene), contemporary political topics (The Oversharing Economy and Beast of the Hour), or personal relationships (Congress and Monsoon Season).

“Billot can be compelling and punchy. He is an exciting, wild noise, yet one supported by genuine imagination and ingenuity.” (Otago Daily Times review 6 May 2017)

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu. Available online or at University Bookshop Dunedin.

DWRF17

Massive week at the Dunedin Writers and Readers Festival 2017. Launched Ambient Terror at Chain Reaction, a multiple book launch with fellow Dunedin Writers Peter Olds, John Gibb, Paddy Richardson and Huberta Hellendoorn, at the Athenaeum on Wednesday night, followed on directly by MCing the launch of Manifesto: 101 Political Poems at the Leviathan. Friday night was back down to the Leviathan to discuss the End of the World with Toby Manhire, Jean Balchin, Craig Cliff, Lucy Hunter and Joe Higham.

Pirate Sessions #2: The End of the World


Friday 11 May 8.30–9.30pm at the Leviathan Hotel, Dunedin – entry by koha

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Writers get together with host Victor Billot and share a mix of theories, essays and stories about life at the End of the World, over a beer. A recent New Yorker article titled ‘Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich’ revealed that wealthy Silicon Valley doomsdayers are looking to far-flung Aotearoa as the favoured spot in the event of a cataclysm.

pirate-and-queen_1-1Where our isolation was once considered a major flaw, it’s now one of our greatest assets. But is it – or will it really be – so safe down here at the end of the world? Join us for a close consideration of our slice of paradise and its merits … or lack thereof. Featuring English student and writer Jean Balchin; 2017 Burns Fellow Craig Cliff; Critic editors Lucy Hunter and Joe Higham; and Spinoff political editor Toby Manhire(pictured).

Please note that space is limited so admission cannot be guaranteed.

​Curated by Pirate & Queen. Sponsored by the ​Department of English and Linguistics, University of Otago. 

Chain Reaction: Book launch

writers-readers-logo_1A group book launch to celebrate a goodly crop of new publications: Peter Olds’ poetry collection Taking My Jacket for a Walk (Cold Hub Press); Paddy Richardson’s novel Through the Lonesome Dark (Upstart Press); Victor Billot’s third volume of poetry Ambient Terror (Limetone Singularity); Huberta Hellendoorn’s memoir Astride a Fierce Wind (Makaro Press); and John Gibb’s poetry collection Waking by a River of Light (Cold Hub Press). 
Wednesday 10 May, 5.00–6.30pm 
Athenaeum Library ​(Free), The Octagon, Dunedin