Post-weekend Poetry 047: Insincere by Sophie E Tallis

Post-weekend Poetry 047: Insincere by Sophie E Tallis.

Morgen Bailey has very kindly showcased one of my peotry pieces, ‘Insincere’,¬†on her hugely successful website/blog http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/! Yay!!!

A MASSIVE shout out and thank you to the erudite and simply astonishing Morgen Bailey, writer, interviewer and inspiration! ūüėÄ

Insincere

People thought I was being ‚ÄėStevie Smith‚Äô, very angst and prone to drama.

If you‚Äôre old you‚Äôre ‚Äėclinically depressed‚Äô‚Ķunderstandable really‚Ķall those wrinkles staring back, more years behind than in front, a slow decay of time and body.

If you‚Äôre ‚Äėmiddle-aged‚Äô you‚Äôre simply in a rut. ‚ÄúSnap out of it!‚ÄĚ they say, you‚Äôre not the self-obsessed youth you used to be, no time for such indulgences.

If you’re young you just can’t win. The loudest voice in the room but nobody’s listening.

Insincerity drips off the young who have a predisposition for blue‚ĶMy youth has flown away now, my student days a haze ‚Äď melancholic writings to paraphrase.

But then as now, my blue is simply a part of me, not showy, not angst…quite healthy now actually.

No longer just wearing black, colour creeps and leaves its residue, a hue to match my mood.

So no, I’m not waving or drowning, not making a statement, not needing help, quite happy, contented, as much as I can be, not full of old rage and hated resentments. Moving on, moved on… nasty neighbours but nice place, like the view…not insincere, not pretentious…simply blue.

Sophie E Tallis © 2003

New Zealand Odyssey Part VIII – Capital Blues and the Gateway to the South.

With a heavy heart, I dragged myself away from magical Lake Taupo and the wonders of the Tongariro National Park.

Leaving my rental car and the majesty of New Zealand’s active volcanoes behind, I grabbed a cheap bus ride and headed south towards the country’s capital, Wellington, the southernmost capital in the world!

Known as ‘Windy Wellington’, it certainly¬†lived up to its name! Situated in the latitudes of the ‘Roaring Forties’ and perched on¬†a range of steep-sided¬†hills that¬†run down to¬†the harbour and the sea beyond, Wellington is also particularly exposed to the coastal gusts that blow through the Cook Strait.¬†The city also¬†lies on an active geological fault line and has a high degree of seismic activity as a result, with several small earthquakes occurring every year, and was the sight of New Zealand’s most powerful recently recorded earthquake, in 1855, reaching a massive 8.2 magnitude.

Arriving, somewhat weighed down by my now massively heavy backpack, I got a room in a small B&B then set out to explore the wonders of Wellington.

I wandered amongst the harbour and quayside, a picture of city tranquility and civic pride. None of the dirt, litter and graffiti so prevalent in our own capital. Public sculptures and fountains jostled amongst neatly clipped lawns and perfectly manicured flowerbeds. Only the unpredictability of the sea reminded you of the wildness beyond the city fringes.

I took¬†the cable car and drank in the breathtaking views over the city as I passed Kelburn¬†cricket grounds and headed up the hillside to the botanical gardens above and the Carter Observatory and Planetarium.¬†Seeing the stars of the Southern Cross for the first time and a different night sky to one you’ve always known, is strange and thrilling.

The next few days whirled¬†by in haze of sightseeing, but there was always something dogging my tracks, like a whisper on the wind, a feeling of melancholia that I couldn’t shake…

Rarely in life do we realise that we are having the time of our lives while we are actually having them! Yet I was all too aware, as I reached the mid-point of my four-month odyssey, that I had never felt happier, freer and more contented, and that the experiences and memories I was making, would stay with me for a life-time and shape my life in ways I could never have predicted.

Booking my ferry¬†ticket,¬†I posted home some of the encumbering¬†weight of my backpack, before bordering the Interislander Cook Strait Ferry and saying farewell to New Zealand’s North Island!

93km and 3 hours later, for what has been deservedly described as ‘one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world’, I saw the stunning inlets and channels of the South Island’s Marlborough Sounds. A 4000km2¬†maze of coastal ‘sea-drowned valleys’, of heavily wooded hills and sparsely populated quiet bays at the far north of the South Island,¬†which evoke the best of ancient Scandinavian legends. A heady mixture of mystery, Maori mythology, spectacular landscapes and sweet solitude. Nature at her best!

I arrived at¬†the sheltered harbour of Picton, gateway to the South Island. Grabbing another cheap bus, I headed west through the glorious rolling¬†hills and vineyards of Marlborough’s famous wine region¬†to¬†the bohemian¬†city of Nelson, the geographical centre of New¬†Zealand. A small but wonderfully artsy feeling place, full of galleries, indie record shops and festivals, Nelson became my base for the next week.

Bathed in the highest amount of sunshine per year, making it the ‘Sunshine Capital’ of New Zealand, you can understand why it’s cerulean skies and dry heat are so perfect for making fine wines. And so, despite sadly not being a lover of wines myself (my immature¬†palate makes them taste as disgustingly sour, as when I tried sipping them at age 13), I¬†found myself getting lost down empty¬†country tracks,¬†picking grapes and macadamia nuts from the roadside! Bliss.

After happy days soaking up the sunshine and culture of friendly Nelson, I took my rental car and headed west, as I found myself aching once more for wild places. Branching off from the State Highway,¬†I took¬†the picturesque coastal road¬†past Motueka¬†and onto the pretty little town of Kaiteriteri with its sandy beaches and cafes…But still the wild beckoned me.

Following a twisting road, which can only be described as a single gravel track hardly wide enough for a car, with sheer drops inches from my wheels, I gingerly skirted the forested hills and cliffs towards my destination, Marahau, hoping against hope not to met a car coming in the opposite direction!

Crossing the Otuwhero¬†Inlet, I was¬†immediately amazed by the startling¬†azure of the Tasman Bay and the Pacific beyond and the almost ethereal white of the beaches. Sheer paradise. Marahau, a tiny inaccessible village, gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park and outpost for laid back beach bums, surfers, hikers, adventurers and those wishing to get lost, had the most magical feel to it. Artisan and bohemian in the extreme, with only one way in or out, its solitary grocery shop, cafe, post box and the few dotted roads, houses, caravans, water taxis¬†and kayaks, invited you to stay a while…and so I did.

THIS¬†was a place to live and breathe and write! Hemingway, Greene, Kerouac…if they knew this place existed, they would have packed their cigars, white shirts and shades and headed here on the first plane. Du Maurier too…but maybe without the cigars!

I splashed out, booking myself into the rather posh, Ocean View Chalets, self-contained wooden chalets perched on stilts and overlooking the sea. The view from my balcony was nothing short of spectacular. This¬†was the stuff of dreams. If you couldn’t be inspired here, then you couldn’t be inspired anywhere.

Wishing every minute would stretch itself and every hour would become a day, I spent the next three glorious weeks in a heightened state of happy delirium. No drugs needed, just utterly intoxicated on life.

Taking the Abel Tasman walkway and coastal track deep into the rainforest, I was astonished to see a passing group of little wild blue penguins casually crossing the path in front of me, as a cacophony of exotic birds cooed in the canopy above.

Abandoning shoes, I spent most of my days walking barefoot, hanging out on the beach as if it were a religion, beach combing, sketching and horse riding¬†along the surf…yes, as clich√©d¬†as it is, there is nothing like it! Writing for hours and hours as the sun hovered overhead, a guiding light for my imagination. Watching the sunset blaze into the ocean, or the drifting embers of a bonfire on the beach, sharing gentle conversation with strangers, all as blissfully happy as me.

Days were meant to be like this…

New Zealand Odyssey Part VII – Volcanoes, Fendellin and the Road Less Travelled.

I left the bubbling visceral wonders of Rotorua and headed south, deeper into the heart of New Zealand’s North Island. Driving on long¬†mostly empty¬†roads¬†in blissful sunshine with ‘The Cult’ blaring out of my rental car, I found myself with a constant smile on my face.

I headed towards Lake Taupo, a huge sunken supervolcano or caldera and not only¬†the country’s largest¬† freshwater lake, but the largest in all of Australasia. The 485-square-mile caldera itself, not visible due to the lake waters, was the world’s largest known eruption in the past 70,000 years and tends to blow every 1,000 years. It’s overdue.

Stopping off first, I came to the extraordinary Huka¬†Falls (Huka meaning ‘foam’ in Maori) and the Waikato River. One of New Zealand’s longest rivers, it suddenly narrows from 100m across to only 15m , as its squeezed into a granite canyon before dropping in a series of falls and rapids. The¬†last¬†waterfall being the most impressive, as approximately 220,000 litres per second tumbles over¬†the final drop.¬†Standing on a viewing platform perched just beside it, with the¬†roar of the falls in¬†my ears and the water vapour drenching me, was thrilling, but it was the astonishing colour of it which surprised me. The purest brightest blue.

I eventually left the falls, utterly soaked but gloriously happy and followed the highway south to the town of Taupo, nestling on the shores of Lake Taupo. The lake, more of an inland sea, is enormous, the town though, was small and welcoming. Cruising in an unhurried fashion along the lakefront and stopping for views, I found a cheap motel to call my base for the next few weeks. I dumped my equally enormous backpack, now getting almost too heavy with mementos to carry and checked into the Lakefront Motor Lodge. To my delight, my little room overlooked the lake and had the most stunning views.

I walked along the lakeshore losing myself in the¬†beauty of it all and splashed out on a restaurant for my first evening meal. To describe Taupo as picturesque, is to do it a disservice. Watching spectacular sunsets over its¬†shifting waters night after night, with the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park clearly visible in the distance, it became like a dream world for me and…a dream I didn’t want to wake from.

I spent lazy days exploring the town itself with its¬†marinas and harbours, little shops¬†and lack back bistros.¬†Venturing out I visited the aptly named, the¬†‘Craters of the Moon’, a geothermal and volcanic lunar landscape that brought to life once more, just how powerful mother nature is. Then I tried some of the¬†hot springs in the area. The sensation of having a very hot bubbling public bath, is strange to say the least, but oddly liberating (…no, I kept my bathing costume on at all times!).

But always, it was the volcanoes on the horizon that kept drawing me in. Packing some small provisions, I headed south, skirting around the eastern edge of the lake, towards the National Park.

Stopping halfway, I ventured off to the Kaingaroa Forest, the largest manmade forest in the world! Made entirely of plantation pines, with a few native ferns and species struggling to survive beneath the canopy, it was the strangest, spookiest forest I have ever visited. I loved the feeling of isolation but the silence was overwhelming, no birds, no animals. So alien to the rich diversity of the Waipoua Kauri Forest in the far north, or any of the woods I had wandered in.

Following the¬†State Highway south as it hugged the lakeshore, I passed through Turangi¬†at the southern most tip of Lake Taupo,¬† and entered the Tongariro¬†National Park, one of only 28 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Trying to keep my excitement in check, I left¬†the main highway or Desert Road as it’s known and¬†came to the much smaller Lake Rotoaira.¬†Sitting on the lake side I had a¬†picnic lunch, watching black swans glide effortlessly as the mountainside behind vented sulphurous steam into the air. Everywhere I went, I found myself saying the same thing over and over, “I’ve found my Fendellin, I’ve found my Fendellin, ‘Lost Kingdom of Dragons!”

“Pass now beyond the mountains white

Where frosted rivers leap and spring,

Amongst the golden grasses light

Where f√Ņrrens dwell and soar and sing.

 

A land as old and fair as stars

Of snowy peaks and moonlit seas,

Of darkling woods we travel far

To gaze upon its silvery leaves.

 

Far East beyond heart’s lost desire

The birthplace of the eldest kin,

Through rising sun on wings of fire

Lies forgotten Fendellin.”

As I travelled further south, nothing could have prepared me for the awe-inspiring spectacle of Tongariro¬†National Park’s crowning glory, its three active volcanoes, Mount Tongariro, the perfect cone of Mount Ngauruhoe¬†and the monstrous size of the explosive giant, Mount Ruapehu!

Leaving the State Highway, I took the road less travelled into a world of epic fantasy and landscapes on a grandeur I could never have imagined before. Raw, untamed, magnificent and the true stuff of imagination!

Climbing the lower slopes of Mount Ruapehu, still steaming from eruptions only a few months before, camping beneath the stars in a sea of yellow gorse as I watched the sunsets bathe the volcanoes in gold…I found myself profoundly moved and in tears so many times, yet I have never felt freer.

Little did I realise while I was immersed in the whole majesty of it, that only a few years later, a certain Peter Jackson would use the same landscapes¬†which had become such an¬†inspiration¬†to me and my¬†first novel, ‘White Mountain’. As I travelled around, I kept seeing real-life locations for my¬†‘Darkling Trilogy’, suddenly brought to life in front of me. Watching the ‘Lord of the Rings’, some four years later, was made even more surreal and magical as a result, not only by recognising places I had visited but by seeing parts of my Fendellin¬†used as their Mordor, my Kallorm¬†used for their Fangorn! Very strange but thrilling!

But my awe-inspiring and magical¬†odyssey was not over yet…

New Zealand Odyssey Part VI – Geysers and the Beating Heart of the Earth.

After weeks in the wondrous far north amongst the giant sand hills,¬†magical kauri trees¬†and golden¬†beaches of the beautiful Bay of Islands, I¬†left the car and took the bus, heading south to the pulsating heart of New Zealand’s North Island.

The landscape slowly changed from tropical to temperate, as I passed lush rolling pastureland, populated of course by lots of sheep! After a small stop near Hamilton to view the amazing glowworm caves, eerie and unsettling in equal measure, I continued on toward Rotorua.

Sitting on an intense geothermal ‘hotspot’, Rotorua is a sleepy kind of a¬†town with a relaxed atmosphere,¬†that¬†lies on top of a restless giant.¬†For someone who is normally so in tune with nature, I was utterly amazed and unprepared for what I saw – a living, breathing, bubbling planet, full of life¬†only a few inches¬†beneath¬†my feet!

I disembarked from the bus and explored the town on foot before hiring another car for exploring. The¬†smell of sulphur hung thickly¬†in the air, mixing with the exotic flowers that fill Rotorua’s many parks and its enormous pineapple shaped palm trees! I checked into the aptly named Tiki Lodge motel, and started my adventures.

First, a visit to the Whakarewarewa thermal village, a wonderful maori centre surrounded by hot pools, boiling mud lakes, lunar landscapes and shooting geysers.

Watching the maori craftsmen carving was inspirational but again it was the spectacle of nature that left me speechless. Travelling south to the Waiotapu¬†and Waimangu¬†valleys, I was faced by yet more steaming lakes, strange silicate formations, smoking vents and fumaroles¬†and the magnificent sight of Waiotapu’s¬†world famous,¬†‘Champagne Pool’, and Waimangu’s¬†amazing ‘Inferno Crater Lake’, apparently the largest geyser-like feature in the world!¬†I stood¬†at the edge of¬†the most¬†brilliant¬†ice blue¬†lake I’ve ever seen…but a lake made entirely of bubbling acid!

Waking¬†early on yet another gloriously sunny day, I strapped on my small day backpack and decided to go for some adrenaline thrills! Oh dear! Dangling from a chair lift some 100ft¬†or more off the ground, I¬†was hoisted up the side of¬†Mount Ngongotaha, giving the most¬†amazing views over¬†Rotorua¬†City,¬†Lake Rotorua and the surrounding area, including the distant volcanoes to the south.¬†Then, once I’d explored the summit, I found myself sitting on a piece of plastic which barely covered my bum, halfway between a sledge and a tray, and proceeded to throw myself down the¬† mountainside on¬†‘The Luge’! Whizzing down a twisting turning concrete luge track at startling speed is just about the most fun you can have…EVER! Suffice to say, I had to repeat the experience¬†quite a few¬†times! ūüėÄ

My next stop though was far more effort intensive, more contemplative and ultimately more rewarding.

Travelling south of Rotorua along the volcanic plateau I came to the dormant volcano, Mount Tarawera, which erupted in 1886 killing over 150 people and swallowing whole villages in its wake. Today, it was an uncharacteristically grey day. The mountain was shrouded in low hanging clouds which seemed to roll down to meet me as I nervously joined a climbing party heading for the summit. Lagging behind and gasping for breath, I used my camera as a good excuse to keep stopping for photos, but nevertheless, I pressed on.

Some 5 or 6 hours later, I eventually broke through the mists and reached the summit. Utterly exhausted but elated I took in the brooding atmosphere of the volcano and the breathtaking views over the Tongariro National Park to the south with its active volcanoes, Mount Ruapehu and the perfect cone of Mount Ngauruhoe in the distance.

With a mixture of excitement and a little trepidation, I followed the guide, from the summit down into the crater itself. Sliding down the crater sides, a mixture of scree and gravel, you could actually feel the heat of the volcano through your boots! I have never experienced anything so fundamentally powerful and primeval…a truly humbling experience.

After a few weeks around the wonderfully visceral Rotorua area, I continued my journey south into a whole new world and one which truly brought me to my knees…

Insincere

People thought I was being ‚ÄėStevie Smith‚Äô, very angst and prone to drama.

If you‚Äôre old you‚Äôre ‚Äėclinically depressed‚Äô‚Ķunderstandable really‚Ķall those wrinkles staring back, more years behind than in front, a slow decay of time and body.

If you‚Äôre ‚Äėmiddle-aged‚Äô you‚Äôre simply in a rut. ‚ÄúSnap out of it!‚ÄĚ they say, you‚Äôre not the self-obsessed youth you used to be, no time for such indulgences.

If you’re young you just can’t win. The loudest voice in the room but nobody’s listening.

Insincerity drips off the young who have a predisposition for blue…My youth has flown away now, my student days a haze Рmelancholic writings to paraphrase.

But then as now, my blue is simply a part of me, not showy, not angst…quite healthy now actually.

No longer just wearing black, colour creeps and leaves its residue, a hue to match my mood.

So no, I’m not waving or drowning, not making a statement, not needing help, quite happy, contented, as much as I can be, not full of old rage and hated resentments. Moving on, moved on… nasty neighbours but nice place, like the view…not insincere, not pretentious…simply blue.

Sophie E Tallis © 2003