Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Anna Livesey’s ‘Little words’


Little words


Dear heart, a word —

which word? Shall we choose something

secret and unexpected?


Don’t say ‘moon’, everyone knows

that code of longing. Don’t say ‘talk’, the running sound

of every banal conversation.


Don’t say ‘bread’ or ‘wine’ or ‘salt’ —

those easy gestures towards

humanity and history.


Don’t say ‘love’ — that hollow ‘o’ so easy to look through.

One might say ‘bird’ or ‘house’ or ‘hand’ —

nearer sounds to the one we are looking for.


There is always ‘silence’

or ‘question’ — don’t say these words,

too large to qualify.


Let us sit quietly.


Let us shape a small word that holds us.

Let that little word

be ‘name’.


Anna Livesey



Anna Livesey is a poet, corporate strategist, stand-up comic, policy analyst, literary curator-at-large, podcaster, shouting yogi and early morning raver. Born and raised in Wellington, Anna studied at Victoria University where she completed a BA in English and an MA in Creative Writing. Anna also holds Masters degrees in Public Policy and Business Administration.

Anna has published three poetry collections to date: Good Luck (2003), The Moonmen (2010), and Ordinary Time (2017). She currently lives in Auckland with her husband and two children.








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