Poetry Shelf connections: 4 poems from Tony Beyer


Loose leaf


hard to tell if the rain

enhances or limits contagion


its voice in the night

calms the anxious world


the dog involves himself

in a tighter knot of sleep


surprising how the mind

almost emptied of hope


is also empty of fear

unless concern for everyone


not just one

is not love but fear


dawn and birds return

and the dog wakes expectantly


my neighbour over the fence

lets me know how they’re doing


nothing dramatic

but nothing as usual either


and in the bare streets

maybe hope too will return



Mourning the normal world


a café table

or on the back porch at home


a hug from a friend

or seated alone


leafing through new books

just bought from Unity


a grandchild conversing

earnestly with the dog


frisbee or touch in the park

with brothers and their sons


wives of both generations

shaking their heads


at immemorial

masculine folly


a cousin from the UK

staying for a week or a month


vegetables exchanged

garden to garden


shared home baking

and home preserves






yet the wind still

dries the washing on the line


and the sky intermittently blue

over Taranaki


encourages us

grizzling into the garden


voices on the other side

of fences are reassuring too


already halfway

through Zola’s Earth


which took some exhuming

from dust on the shelf


the message is it’s really

the planet and our attention to it


that matters

and like frost on winter stubble


or deceased parents

spared all this by chronology


we are useful

and expendable




Black hat


the virus rode in

from points north

on a sickly horse


it was worse

than politics

or target practice


it stole conversation

and book shops

and football


it stole lives too

each of them



days like a tide

receded after it

leaving sadness bare


explaining to

children and old

folks was difficult


something we’d

done or not done

something shameful


Tony Beyer


Tony Beyer writes in Taranaki. His recent work can be found online in Hamilton Stone Review, Mudlark and Otoliths; and is forthcoming in print in Kokako and Landfall.

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