Richard Langston

Richard is a tricky guy to pin down. Every time I send him an email he’s on the run. Not ‘on the run’ as in ‘from the law’ but just flying here and there. Tonight he’s on his way to Australia but with the wonders of technology he sent me his blog contribution via his phone. Brilliant hah!!


Richard Langston is a journalist who’s worked in newspapers and radio and television. He’s also written five books of poetry which have been  published by Fitzbeck Creative of Wellington. Richard is a music fan who has spent many hours in Dunedin pubs – including the Captain Cook. He wrote the poem about the power of Tongans singing in church on a recent assignment reporting on the ferry service to the island of Eua.

A Few Words on the Closing of The Cook

Goodbye to Tiger Taylor & his tattooed muscles
Guarding the door ,
Goodbye to your sweet under-aged self
In flight down the fire escape,

Goodbye to Heavenly Bodies,
& Chris Knox’s toothy snarl in your face;
Goodbye to those fresh faces & the boy
With the purple guitar,

Goodbye to the worldliness of those old faces on the bar
Who were not so old or worldly;
Goodbye to the guy in leather calling out at midnight
For an Iggy Pop song,

Goodbye to the mindless head-butts,
The cut arms, and the smashed-glass faces.
Goodbye to the Tuesday Morning Pool Players
& the poet rolling one between shots.

Goodbye to those who never made the last round
Who saw the afternoon light brilliant in a jug,
Goodbye to the wild electricity of youth
& our beginning hearts.

Sunday in the Islands

A rooster crowed – the villagers in their black dresses
and tata, their black suits, white white shirts,
the flower of their devotion.
A pig ambled in the rain.
Then they began to open their mouths
to listen and find one another,
they began to fill up the mystery,
to waken our souls.
This blending of human voices,
low and high and humming,
and lifting.
They sang themselves out of themselves.
They summoned their dead from under garlanded mounds,
the bright sails of their embroidered names.
They sang them out of the depths of their ocean –
from their watery wrecks.
They sang for our brief moment here,
offered up this,
this shattering blue cathedral of song.

Kevin Dunkley has chosen Richard’s, Smoking an Eel on Holiday, as his exhibition poem. The poem attracted a lot of positive feedback from our readers when it featured in our poetry cards. I’m wondering how Kevin is going to interpret the poem. I guess we’ll all see in…. just over eight weeks.

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