Saturday, April 24, 2010

Berlin Zoo

This morning’s papers make depressing reading. Most of the issues circle around questions of governance and finance.

The recession chickens are coming home to roost. Property tycoon Tere Serepisis owes the Wellington City Council $2 billion in rates. He also owes sub-contractors large amounts. He claims a cash crisis because he is also owed a lot.

Council staff are negotiating with him. The fact he has pumped $5 million into the successful Wellington Phoenix soccer team is being held up as the reason for their leniency. Fine! If the Council wants to subsidise a sport let them do it honestly and openly. I have a vote. But my rates are paid - why should others get away with not paying their fair share.

The people of Canterbury have lost a vote with the appointment of commissioners to control water use in the province. Apparently Justice department officials spoke against the use of commissioners.

Apparently also Lindale tourist centre just north has fallen foul of the economic times. It was a good place to take out of town visitors too. The paper contains claims of mismanagement. Rights and wrongs are hard to separate from brief accounts. But it’s a shame.

Arizona has passed tough new state immigration law. A failure to carry immigration documents will be a crime. Police have broad powers to detain anyone suspected of being an illegal immigrant. The New York Times has an opinion piece denouncing Senator John McCain for supporting the measure. He is engaged in the fight of his life to retain the Republican nomination. Sometimes Democracy brings out the lowest common denominator. Still it's the best form of government we've got. Two cheers for it as E.M.Forster said.

So much for the human zoo. The final bit of sad news is personal Three rare white tigers have gone on display in a small Taranaki zoo. Their presence has upset resident lions and monkeys. I’d love to see them. Alas, I cannot travel. I’ve always adored tigers. Here’s a poem I wrote about them in my 1994 visit to Berlin

Berlin Zoo

Tigers awe children everywhere,
always, they never fail. Families on

display in front of such dominion,
sinew under fur begging to be stroked.

A thousand year Reich, he claimed.
Without regret it is not so, but these

are under threat. A three-year old
retreats in tears before the teeth.

History condemns, admires, laments Potsdam.
Across the way, haughty giraffes contemplate

the crowds, the clamour; and in their pool
polar bears titanic a plastic ice-cream container.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding your poem:

    I read "Berlin Zoo" in the Listener years ago, cut it out and taped it to a journal I kept at the time. I think the journal may have been lost or "stored" somewhere "safe", but this has remained one of my favourite poems. I loved finding gems like this in the Listener every week.

    Glad to have found it and enjoyed it again.

    All the best.