Poetry Shelf fascinations: M Hughes’s horse power





The End


I look at the clock and expect to see something fantastic like a

man in a hat yelling “Great job!”



A slender chapbook arrived in my mail box – the cover is printed by Brendan O’Brien at the Fernbank Studio, Wellington. An object of beauty. Ah I treasure these arrivals.

The poetry is by M. Hughes and was launched at Book Hound in Wellington in October.

First I pivot on the title – I can’t help myself. I am thinking of movement and momentum and energy and then horse play and then poetry power and then horse poetry and then poetry play and then a poetry horse and then I am ready to start reading.

I adore this book.

horse power is lace-like, textured, tactile. The poetry surprises you with its abundance of strangeness and plethora of heart. You move through an empty house, into a kitchen or bathroom, elsewhere there is an abandoned hat and a fur coat, there are tigers and possums. Poems address a mother, a father and enter childhood. You move through glorious thickets of fiction, fable and real-life with the light spiking though.


Dad was always making toast, a tea towel

slapped over his shoulder. My mum spent

fourteen years trying to plug the holes

with her fingers, her toes, her tongue, her

nose. (…)


from ‘My Childhood in a Leaky Boat’


horse power is also the body: lungs, mouth, flesh, breath, illness, recovery, scars, sex, desire. Words become warmer, heated by breath. Flowers are carried down the street to be held aloft and then to wait ‘for when I open my nose from sleep’. The poet muses that everywhere she goes her vagina goes: ‘Most of the time in disguise / listening, breathing, waiting.’ The exquisitely sensual tactile surface of the poems gives me goosebumps.


You follow your breath through the house

to the bathroom.

You have come to close the window.

But the window has other ideas.

You reach your hand out

onto the black coat

of the night and stroke it.


from ‘sehctiW’


horse power blows a warm poetry breath on my skin. It feels strange and surprising and uplifting. This poetry glows.





PS: Only thing at my age I am squinting at the small font through my reading glasses and it is like I am chasing print confetti.



1 thought on “Poetry Shelf fascinations: M Hughes’s horse power

  1. Pingback: Poetry Shelf Monday poem: M Hugh’s ‘Understanding Transactions’ | NZ Poetry Shelf

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