The 2035 New Zealand Poet Laureate writes on the occasion of the election of the Tenth Term of the National Government

Let’s make sure this remains a morbid fantasy not a fact. Vote on 23 September. – VB

Fellow citizens,
we celebrate today The Surplus.
From all levels of the Survival Dome,
we gather in solemn appreciation
in a National Minibreak of Gratitude.
Could all digital devices
and personal teleportation equipment
be turned to apocalypse mode.
Decision making has been handed over
to an AI called Craigsy
who freelances as a virtual panelist
on a gladiatorial sports chat show.
Today his message to the nation
will be delivered by a cloned avatar
of Paula Bennett via hologram
from the inspiring venue
of the Sky City casino, rising above
Wellesley Lagoon as a symbol
of our freedom of choice.
Maintenance staff imported
on casual short term contracts
from the refugee fleets of the Pacific
are on standby in case of extreme weather.
A special shoutout to our peeps in the
Autonomous Economic Zone of Lactopia
(formerly known as the South Island,
and now under the joint administration
of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army
and Paypal.)
We celebrate how the perfection
of reverse ageing therapy
means the eternal rule of baby boomers
who have reclaimed their golden youth
in the legendary fountain of capital gains.
We celebrate the wonders
of fiscal stability and incremental progress,
of genetically enhanced cows expressing
coconut milk for the export market,
of beggars on Queen Street
collecting likes on social media,
of a twelve lane gigahighway
terminating on the cliffs 
of Cape Reinga.
The last Kiwi floats sedated
in a see through vat of nutrient soup
in the foyer of Te Papa,
the tourist dollar has become
the Revelations renminbi
and style conscious survivalists
tote Prada bags through the
priority billionaire queue at
Tauranga International Hoverport.
We take comfort that if our last stand
here on Planet Earth is in vain,
the future of humanity is secured
above us in the orbiting space cruiser Sir Max Key
with its precious cargo of retired Cabinet Ministers.

Outside, in the dead lands,
those who have made poor choices
reflect on their lack of aspiration
and shelter from the scorching sand storms
of our final years.

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Eastern Line to Manukau

Thanks to Jade at Books on the Bus NZ. Great idea for #NZpoetryday

Central Redux

Ranfurly, 2016

Photograph by V.Billot

 

Shadows flicker beneath the greenstone waters

where the past is inundated by a billion litres of unobtainium,

while a ghost road fathoms deep

leads through the drowned mountains of an inland sea.

 

Megafauna of state capitalist uberdevelopment

plug the valley’s neck below waving constellations of tussocks,

dusky anemones on a reef of ironclad ranges

and gravel berms beside ice blue streams.

 

Honest stonefruit and dust stained ewes crowded out

by vigorous hybrid forms of economic gene splicing:

self seeding boutique wineries spring from the grey soil,

bundles of fat grapes liberally irrigated by cashflow liquidity

 

while first world psychodramas play out

in skyscapes of high altitude vertical helitourism

where paragliding knuckle crunchers snap selfies

from mid point vortices in dice rolling death plunges.

 

Once a destination for steam powered diasporas,

Hibernian chancers and Cantonese exiles

are suspended in a hologram of alluvial gold flecks

and Victorian era get rich quick schemes.

 

Spindrift snowflakes scattered in a timeshare wonderland,

where scratchings and etchings on the hills

annotate a century of busywork by scrappy toilers,

their faded palimpsest of efforts now eclipsed.

 

A five mile tall nimbus sits on the horizon,

contemplating the innovation of gourmet stone baked pizzerias.

Zig zag peaks recede behind scenic double glazing,

slo mo freeze frames in the tuck and knead of the tectonic kitchen.

 

A grid subdividing the heart in an eternal revision

of the district plan, where high rolling global financiers

take time out to drop dark currency on rustic stations,

enduring frenzies of native replanting to achieve eco-purification.

 

Fine living features in pull out supplements

feed an arms race of aspirational overcompensation,

blonde enbobbed made it matrons wrestling power steering

in late model eurotrash SUVs the size of oxen.

 

A rubber tube steers away on glacial melt

before jet boat hearties short circuit the bay

shattering the crystal heat of the afternoon

with a rude burst of gurgling clangour.

 

Tag teams of blue arsed blowflies,

opportunists loitering on a sad lamb carcass:

pink blossoms hammered flat

by a cold front’s frigid grapeshot.

 

Fire alert on permanent high, Naseby’s sluiced and raddled clays

are colonised by the lime shimmer of exotic larches,

while an optimistic billboard counsels the weary

Avoid Fatigue – Stop At Ranfurly.

 

The silence of the Maniototo is a blank totality,

an inverse shock wave of nothing.

On the rise from Ida Valley, wild thyme sprinkles the dusty slopes

in a purple haze over rubble and bones.

 

A row of dinged utes cool off in front of rural pubs,

lonely as dead end roads, drinkers whiling the hours

hidden from the infinite heavens and day long tempests,

awaiting the postponed judgement of the long now.

 

Above Wakatipu, plastic bubbles ascend in parallel symmetry

to provide a ten dollar view of million dollar apartments,

lakeside gloom pooling in the lengthening evening,

as Airbuses touch down in a sweet end times aroma of peak oil.

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)

“ . . . brilliantly wry and trenchant observations of our contemporary political culture and its mediation by pop culture and social media.” (NB Dunedin Libraries magazine, July 2017)

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

Support independent publishing: Buy this e-book on Lulu. Ebook available online free for a limited time

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.