Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Kate Camp’s ‘The law of expressed emotion’


The law of expressed emotion

The law is, that those who love you
will not help you get better.

Yes, they will sit next to you in a car
and take you through space

both moving forward at exactly the same speed
showing your profiles to each other

which are ageing rather more cruelly
than the fronts of you.

They will do things like park their car on the footpath for you
leaving only a card on the dashboard as a plea for clemency

and they will do explaining for you
when people do not understand your language

because you appear absolutely fluent while in fact
you are somewhat on fire.

They might take you to the monastery
with its not very important frescoes of Jesus

faintly visible and let you look down into valleys
that literally never see the sun.

They hope you will find this soothing
but perhaps it will be terrifying, the train of marvels

with its gorges and viaducts
and the medieval villages it passes though

on its way to the coast.
Maybe better to take you to the wardrobe

the armoire, where all the sheets and towels are
and where there used to be stickers of the Incredible Hulk

which glowed in the dark.
Except we gave the wardrobe away

left it out on the street with a sign saying

and when we woke up
or when we looked around

it was gone.


Kate Camp


Kate Camp is a Wellington-born essayist and poet, with six collections of poetry published by Victoria University Press. She has also written essays and memoir. Unfamiliar Legends of the Stars won the NZSA Jessie Mackay Best First Book of Poetry Award (1999), and The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls won the New Zealand Post Book Award for Poetry (2011). Snow White’s Coffin was shortlisted for the award in 2013, and The internet of things was longlisted in 2018. She has received the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writer’s Residency (2011) and the Katherine Mansfield Menton Fellowship (2017). Her essay ‘I wet my pants’ was a finalist in the Landfall essay competition in 2018.

















Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s