Michael O’Leary is an artist, publisher, poet, novelist, performer, and bookshop proprietor.

O’Leary worked on the Railways with the S9 track gang north of Dunedin in the 1970s.

He helps to run Kakariki Books at the Paekakariki Railway Station.


Track Gang & Shunters at Paekakariki


It was familiar, the heavy workers
There we were replacing sleepers
The fish plates under re-laying rails
Tightening bolts with T-spanners

Trundling through tunnels now bigger
And deeper cuttings on our jigger
We heard the up-train whistle
Less than a mile off at Muri

As she passed our hut we smoked
Together we talked and joked
Our green bus waiting to take us
To the point between MT3 and MT4

Later, in the station waiting room
A fire burning hot in winter gloom
Goods trains lining up towards
The next roll on roll off sea lords

The hills outside are misty green
Closed in, closer than they seem
Their silence broken in regular
Rhythm of the rocking, shunting car



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