57 Willis Street
No one home The boy he’s flotsam on a lake The boy he cannot sow or reap The boy he’s flayed by rage and hate The boy he cries himself to sleep And Maw she is a preying mantis And Maw she’s cut his father’s hair And Maw she’s signed the dotted line And Maw she’s a lone press gang And Maw she plots and cooks and schemes And Maw she pries and lies and spies And Maw she beats him with her words And Maw she beats him with her stick And Maw she’s fit him up The boy he is a small ball in a ruck The boy he sups and eats alone The boy he daily weaves and ducks The boy he knows there’s no one home
No One Home tells the story of Keith Westwater growing up in 1950s New Zealand. At age seven he loses his mother to a botched operation and with her death loses a place to call home. So Keith and his brother take to the road with a gambling father, staying with relatives when their father can’t have them and enduring a stepmother who, like a fairy-tale witch, ‘disappears’ the boys when she’s had enough of them.
As the boys make their way through ‘the motherless woods’, Keith draws mental maps of all the places they call home, from Oruru in the Far North to half-way down Auckland’s Dominion Road.
In No One Home Keith draws the maps and writes the poems to open up the memories he locked away as a boy to stop himself feeling sad. An unsentimental collection that tells a story steeped in the people and places it comes from.