ReadingRoom

A poem for .. James Shaw

New Zealand's unofficial poet laureate Victor Billot pens topical verse every Sunday. This week: the co-leader of the Green Party.

The Shawrax
 

I was milking a herd of ten thousand brown cows

or at least watching someone milk them for me,

my accounts were chocka, the banks were happy –

I think they are all run by some guy called Key.
 

Despite a few problems with this COVID-19,

my return on investment was almost obscene.

The dividend from dairy, from curds and from whey,

was as creamy as fluff on my cafe au lait.
 

Then a strange creature popped out of the mud.

It said, hold on a second, just a moment there, bud.

My name is James Shawrax. I speak for the trees.

I speak for the rivers, the birds and the bees.
 

Now these heifers from whom you extract white gold,

are fucking the planet if I may be so bold.

And your mates are building highways like no tomorrow,

which there won’t be at this rate, I say in great sorrow.
 

I said now hold it there, Shawrax. Let us just see.

Voters want to accumulate rental property.

They are wanting a plasma screen and a phat SUV.

(And when borders are open, a week in Fiji.)
 

And furthermore, Dad, I said, pressing my point,

you may have just misread the mood of this joint.

If you look at this poll from last night at six,

at 4%, Mr Shawrax, you will be out of the mix.
 

The Shawrax he turned a pale shade of green.

He went spearmint, then lime, then a sea-sickish sheen.

He said look at this graph! Siberia is smoking!

Nature is dying! It’s no time for joking!
 

I laughed and turned away to my screen

and pressed the full tilt button on my money machine.

Save your tears, dear old Shawrax! These tears that you shed.

In the long run, you and I will both be good and dead.
 

Then the Shawrax he picked himself up by the tail.

And with a sad backward look, to the sky he set sail.

He disappeared through a hole in the smog,

high above the wetlands that Judith calls useless bogs.
 

That was the last that we saw of his kind.

His footprints in the mud were all he left behind.

The numbers on my screen went on biggering,

until they were so biggerish, I gave up my figuring.


Now in my underground bunker, I sometimes feel a bit blue.

The future the Shawrax raved about has sadly come true.

But my plasma screen has a nice computer made view

of the planet we had, and the chance that we blew.
 

Victor Billot has previously been moved to write odes for such New Zealand luminaries as Garrick Tremain, Todd Muller, David Clark, and Winston Peters.

*Made with the support of Creative New Zealand *

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