Poetry Shelf connections: Benita H. Kape’s ‘Purgatory Doesn’t Say Do I Stop Or Do I Go’


an extract from

Purgatory Doesn’t Say Do I Stop OR DO I Go

(after ‘The Entrance to Purgatory’

by Ian Lonie)


Purgatory begins slowly, slowly.

We watch and wait for information

There is Purgatory One:

Then Purgatory Two.

And Spain was Purgatory Three.

Oh Purgatory, Purgatory we

cannot believe this.

Now here from behind a

desk as far as we thought

we could be (but there is

no escape).

Like a wartime announcement

Purgatory within the borders of our

own hills and valleys and cities;

streets and parks, the beaches,

the theatres, the meeting places.


Benita H. Kape


You can read the whole poem at The Gisborne Herald


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Benita H. Kape is Gisborne (Tairawhiti) poet with an interest in Haiku. As well as The Gisborne Herald my work has appeared in NZ Poetry ‘a fine line’: Kokaho, a NZ Haiku and short form journal, and in online websites including NZEPC: OBAN 06 and FUGACITY 05; Also Simply Haiku (a Haiku Journal). In 2003 I was invited by American academic William J Higginson to participate in a Kasen Renku, “On The Road To Basra” protesting the Iraq war. Again with haiku in 2002 I was awarded an honourable mention in Manichi Daily News a long running Japanese newspaper. My work has also appeared in Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 Political Poems and again in USA in Whitmanthology: On Loss and Grief. A short story appeared in New Women’s Fiction 3.
In truth, a purgatory of sorts began for my family and myself in April last year when my second daughter was diagnosed with meningitis. We lost her twice but she fought so strongly and came back to us; deaf in one ear, and with amputations to parts of some fingers and toes, she still suffers pain and some scarring but remains so uncomplaining and her same sweet self.
As Sandra came out of two weeks of comma and delirium I was admitted to hospital for a stent. A second small stent was found at the time and successfully dealt to but while doing the larger stent the inserting wires broke, not once but twice, necessitating a 4 hour emergency operation. At one time Sandra and I were in the same hospital ward.
One continues to write poetry even in such times. I included here the first poem I wrote when I returned home; Blue Moon.


Blue Moon

There are reasons singing is good for you.
I sing because it makes me feel good.

This is a story about
an ultra-sound; ordered
due to some post-op complication.

I went into the ultra-sound singing Blue Moon.
Don’t ask me why.

Halfway thru the ultra-sound
I thought why am I doing this
so I ceased singing at such
a strange time.

And then a voice; from where
I couldn’t say; not above, so
it wasn’t God. (And I wasn’t
that far gone though I sure
could have been – long story.)

The voice said “Don’t stop;
we were enjoying that.” (Truth being;
so was I, both the effort and sound.)

So I went back to the ward singing.

Now I read that singing
is good for the heart.

I’ll keep singing:
not the cure
but a remarkable tool.

Benita H. Kape (c) 12.6.2019

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