Sir David Merritt the poet of Lyttelton (C) GREENPEACE / Sharomov
Sir David Merritt the poet of Lyttelton (C) GREENPEACE / Sharomov
We had some interesting encounters at the Port of Lyttelton last night. Soon after we arrived we had Tim Barnett (Labour MP for Christchurch Central), Brendan Burns (Labour’s candidate for Christchurch Central this election), Nicky Wagner (National MP and candidate for Christchurch Central) on board for dinner with the rest of the crew. We tucked into many of the magnificent array of tasty delights that Babu whips up every night, and made a massive dent into the gigantic punch bowl of tiramisu that Tim’s partner kindly made for us (we’ll now be eating both pumpkin AND tiramisu at every meal).

Over dinner we chatted about the ship and her crew. We also waded into a discussion about climate change and the need for a 30% by 2020 emission reduction target and policies to tackle emissions from the agriculture sector. It was great to have them on board with open ears. And they seemed pretty stoked to be here, even taking photos with Dave, our wooden dolphin, at the bow.

After waving them goodbye we were keen to disembark from the ship (most of the crew hadn’t touched land for 3 days) and catch up with the Esperanza crew docked along side us. So we all put on our best pair of pants and headed to town for a night out at the infamous Wunderbar.

There we came upon poetry reading by a marvelously eccentric poet: David Merritt. On his flyer, David describes himself as a Landrover farmer (he converts Landrovers to biodiesel, owns 15 at present, and lives in one of them), an open source geek, software evangelist, powerbook goober, and standup poet. Each of these elements were apparent in his performance. He shared some of the 654 poems he wrote about the break-up of his relationship, which he admitted were essentially the same 10-15 poems repeated. Poem #225 claims that good gardeners making nurturing partners, and says of his ex’s new partner:

From the look of the white car in the driveway and the pile of bricks and weeds it looks like you’re after a winner.

His series about dogs includes a poem titled ‘Ralph’:

Ralph Please don’t stroke that dog it only makes him psychotic and sexual
On toilets:
When you urinate for longer than normal, you wonder if it’s the garlic.
And from his geek series:
Geek prayer #13 Lord, may we successfully reboot the gateway and restart the TCPIP shaping script and lord, when I use Emacs, make my cat and grep scripts work fine and lord may I never have a kernel panic over PCI resource allocations and lord, when I ping I’m able to later SSH tunnel and through a pinhole port in the firewall, lord, I can see the router and lord, if I mount dev/hda3 as /home then lord, all the chom permissions will work fine. Amen.
One of his most eccentric sets had to be the series of poems printed with his set of rubber alphabet stamps. He was missing many of the key letters, including A, E, I and C, but this didn’t deter him and he proceeded using only the rubber stamp letters available to him. The $ symbol was perhaps overused. “Bonk” and “root” were also favourites.

I’m not sure the poems were all supposed to be funny, but the laughter was appreciated. Looking in my direction at the end of the gig, David gave special thanks to the “laughing woman”. I even got to take some of his poems home with me. What a grand night out in Lyttelton!

- Susannah