Tuesday Poem: Down George Street In The Rain

Down George Street In The Rain

I talked to the shop signs
down Cuba Street
down Cashel Street
down George Street in the rain.

I sidestepped the shoppers.
Take that, Phil Bennett!
Take that, old lady with a limp
and orthopaedic shoes.

We were as Gods
as eighteen-year-old Gods
who wore our Gore High jerseys to the bottle store —
they wouldn’t let us in.

We smiled upon our people.
People, we said, we walk among you.
Don’t bow, don’t scrape, don’t even step aside.
In gratitude, in wonder, let us pass on

to our destinies, our mortgages
down Cuba Street
down Cashel Street
down George Street in the rain.

Tim says: “Down George Street In The Rain” was first published in broadsheet 3 and is one of the poems included in my forthcoming collection, “Men Briefly Explained”. As the notes to that collection explain, Phil Bennett, the No. 10 in the 1977 British Lions rugby touring team to New Zealand, was famous for his sidestep.

I turned eighteen in 1977.

For non-New Zealanders: Cuba St, Cashel St, and George St are central city streets in, respectively, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin.

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9 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem: Down George Street In The Rain

  1. In the rain… so timely. I love this angle on being a teenager, it's not all angst but also so much swagger. Being turned away from the bottle shop in your Gore High jerseys cracked me up.

  2. Feel tempted to write one from the female perspective… I remember walking down Cuba Street with a friend – giggling so much, being so loud, calling attention to ourselves, as if to say 'look at us, we are the stuff of this world, you are but shadows…' oh how I cringe to think of it now…

  3. Thank you, Vespersparrow, Meliors, Mary, lillyanne and Janis – I'm glad you liked it!Meliors, it never occurred to me, until the (nice) man behind the counter pointed it out, that wearing a high school jersey to a bottle store might be a bit of a giveaway.Janis, I do think it's one of the more musical of my poems (erm – perhaps my only such poem), so thank you for mentioning that!Mary,I'd love to read your female-perspective equivalent of this poem.And, just for the record, I'm reasonably sure that I wrote this poem before I first saw this little snippet.

  4. This is really fine, Tim, Bennett was good. That whole 'Invincible' Lions Team, headed by Willie John, was something else, JPR, Mike Gibson, Edwards, etc.But nothing to Tim Jones on George Street. Has a Van Morrisson feel to it as well.

  5. Thanks, John! The funny thing is, I'm much more of a football than a rugby fan these days, but I still remember those teams fondly.For those who haven't seen it, this famous try from 1973 shows Phil Bennett's sidestep at its best.My view of Van Morrison wavers between \”great singer/songwriter\” and \”grumpy curmudgeon\”. But I'll take it as the former. \”I heard Leadbelly and Blind Lemon/On the street where I was born\”…

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