Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Reihana Robinson’s ‘Not even hurt’

Not even hurt

We are wearing the t-shirt proclaiming peace

We are walking the talk in the street

We are over sung and under weight

We are procreating far too late

We are smug and deceitful

We are crippled and smoke-filled

We are ripe with forgiveness with

none to forgive

We even pray for a moment —

it cant hurt to imagine

some finer godly cerebellum

We believe we breathe sanctuary

We believe we live well—

our fingertips tell us what we

believe in is hell

Click-clacking click-clacking like the

click of a pen, only treacherous seas

threaten to bring all to an end

From water we sloshed with mud on our shoes

to water we slither leaving no clues

A species a family a swarm and a tribe

And now not an echo of heartbeat inside

A gaggle a tangle a sleuth and a web

amoeba and diatoms what’s left just a thread

And so it goes

And

What will be?

Philosophers, painters rolled into one

We try to hook on but our claws are too short

Pride is deflated our nestlings all caught

One egg insufficient to keep up the plot

Chemical peels too late give over to rot

We sing and we diet and we cannot keep quiet

Like the stone and the river a ruckus a riot

Glue and cement a tiny toehold

Now withered, a memory of once was so bold

So this is the tale of what happens when

stories of heroes parade simulacra of men

Without texture, delight, humour or spice

heads bowed, genuflect, try to make nice

What is left are the tailings, the shit heap the pile

Naked mole rats shuffle and eat all our bile

Ant pathways like accordions filter the dirt

We feel nothing at all, not even hurt

Reihana Robinson

Reihana Robinson: Starting out near year end of 2019 there was the beautiful volume Ko Aotearoa Tatou/We are New Zealand (An anthology) I had the fortune to join. Next up was Nga kupu Waikato Kotahitanga online, video and exhibition with creator Vaughan Rapatahana at the helm.

Love in the Time of Covid Chronicle of a Pandemic through the good graces of Michelle and Witi brought me to the surface of writing after a spell of painting. Astonishing art and inspirational writing from around the world.

The year of 2020 was a year of editing both a new volume of poetry and a collection of poems for young voices. The new volume is woven, not like tukutuku or taniko (no absolute pattern). There are beginnings and a few endings that bleed, come together and come apart. Poems stitched with threads of rural misenchantment, misplaced desire and simmering memories that hover just over the horizon. Characters fledge their wings and some fly, some die. Language both gentle and brutal.

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