Thursday, September 18, 2008

Down and out at the Taniwha Bar

This is the pub with the deerskin wallpaper. This is where the sacred and profane meet on equal terms over a beer, a wine, a spirit. There's a glossolalia of mingled conversations between the hard-luckers leaning at the bar, slurring their sorrows to strangers. Far off in the corner, beyond the pool table and cigarette machine, a smoke-fugged cabal swap secrets and mysteries.

A couple of booths away, by the open fire, I sit with pen and paper in front of me. I ponder a bit, write a paragraph or two. I stare at the mangled thoughts and semi-coherent curses before screwing up the paper and throwing it on the fire. Take a sip of wine, roll a smoke. It'll come.

Over in the bistro, a red LED number 42 squeals for attention. There's a man and a woman having a heated conversation over their spaghetti. It ends with the woman throwing her plate in his face and walking off. The man sits there, strings dripping off his nose and chin, tears and bolognaise mingling.

Jordan Luck is banging a groupie on a pinball machine while yodelling "I don't knooooooow, why does love do this to me?" Paul Ubana Jones is strumming away on stage while Anika Moa and Jacquie Brown pash against a huge carved taniwha. A twinkling from some unseen light source ricochets off the wall, hinting at delights just around the corner.

I stare back at the blank page. I stare at the pen. I stare at the ink inside, a well of wisdom in a superposition of birth and the never born. I put pen to paper once more, but only venom and violence pours out. It sizzles viciously as it dies on the fire, ticking and spitting its defiance helplessly. "Here, stop that," sez Sally the barkeep. "You'll ruin the fire." She chucks a chunk of manuka on and it crackles with exuberant aromatics.

So I fold up the paper for another day. It'll come, but not today.