Bill Manhire — Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon, Whakamana Hiranga

Congratulations to Wild Bill, who last night was given an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Award.


I was riding one of the best-loved horses in the world.
Hither and yon, we went, here and there,
in and out of the known universe.

'There goes Wild Bill,' people said.
'Look at that varmint go!'
There I went.

I went straight to the dictionary
and looked up varmint.
'What's it say?' said a friend. 'What's it say?'

I thumbed through the pages.
'Vermin,' I said, 'vermin
with an excrescent t.'

'Well doggone,' said someone,
and it's true, the dog was gone,
lost in the gulches and the sages,

leaving just me and the horse,
a couple of ornery critters
who might just as well mosey along,

crossing the ford by starlight,
and miles away, the woman –
lonely and beautiful – waking to find us gone.

from Selected Poems by Bill Manhire