Poetry Shelf connections: two poems from Eliana Gray


Regent’s Canal


We push a trolley

Into the canal

Just to watch it sink

Slowly, then all at once

Like they talk about love:

Swallowed, completely

Clear toxic liquid



Both the nature of desires

And love, yes, love is viscous

Festooned with trash

Bumping up by the locks

In the waterway

Single use plastics

Brushing hands with

Twist ties, bloated crusts and


Isn’t it interesting?

How we’ll steal something

Just to break its purpose

Hoarding mentality

But sideways, emotional


The thrill of a sharpened crayon

The compulsion for bluntness

For rubbing, hard

On a perfect ending


Are we trying to make ourselves soft?

Trying to fit

The world to our curvature?

Action’s nothing more than a

Mechanism of coping


And what does that say about Romance, hmmm?


Supermarket nightwork:

Pigeons looking fat and sensuous

Moonlit tension

Pilfered fizz and roses

Stolen, from a discarded bench

In Victoria Park


Push me dangerously

Close to the water

Make me believe

You’ll tip me in


We’ll laugh a little too

Tight, too high, too fast

Like, of course we know

You don’t mean to hurt me

But the back wheel

Has always been faulty

(as stolen trolleys tend to be)

Seems like it’s locking

Skidding, sideways, again


What if it flies out of your hands?

What if it just . . .  keeps skidding

And my feet, stuck under

Crossed legs, my scarf, my

Jacket too bulky for sudden moves


What if I try to jump

And it just . . . .  tips?

Crack my head against the metal

Concrete, what if the wheels

Are already over the edge?

My centre of gravity not heavy enough


What if it teeters, expectantly

On the edge of the canal

And you’ve finally decided

To reach your hand to steady

But your balance is off and

You push


How long would you stand?

Watching. My head, my

Hands, beneath the water

Viscous fill my lungs

Swallow me like the trolley



All I want is to be absolutely perfect forever


I want to live like an ornamental apple

Protected from consumption

Slick plastic blush red perfect

Looking so delicious

Resting, in a crystal bowl


Beautiful and

An irresponsible use of plastic

Something that could be art but isn’t

And not in the sense that ‘everything is art’

Because it isn’t


A perfectly useless representation

of something so cliche

It feels almost overwhelming


A stand in for temptation

with no intention or ability

To be so desirous


No perfumed smell

no golden hanging from the garden

no pollination no rotting no flies


Is it still stasis

if you’ve reached your final destination?

And how long exactly

Is a sense of finality satisfying?


Anticipation and anxiety are a Venn diagram

with approximately one circle

The only way to soothe them

is to complete the task


I want to live like an ornamental apple

Slick red plastic constant state of blush perfect

The promise of forever

A lifetime sabbatical

Researching absolutely nothing


Eliana Gray



Eliana Gray is a poet from Ōtepoti, Aotearoa. They like queer subtext in teen comedies and not much else. They have had words in: SPORT, Mimicry, Minarets, Mayhem and others. Their debut collection, Eager to Break, was published by Girls On Key Press (2019) and in 2020 they will be both a writer in residence at Villa Sarkia, Finland and Artist in Residence at St Hilda’s Collegiate, Ōtepoti.





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