Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Bill Manhire’s ‘Topping’


The weight of the world continues to be exhausting for some of us, especially if you try to load it on to your shoulders. You need a lot of help with that sort of thing, several strong men and – obviously – a highly experienced person to direct them. This might explain why the weight of the world is not for everyone. I myself prefer the weight of a handkerchief, one you can keep in your pocket; or maybe the weight of a flower (I would choose a zinnia, the first flower to be successfully grown in outer space – I wonder how many of you knew that); or hang on, maybe best of all now I think of it a slice of thin-crust pizza from that small neighbourhood place whose name always slips my mind. It is not important to me which flavour if flavour can even be, where pizzas are concerned, anything like the right word. Well, I can see it is not the right word. Topping would be better but in this particular context it sounds far too heavy. 

Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire founded the creative writing programme at Victoria University of Wellington, which a little over 20 years ago became the International Institute of Modern Letters. His most recent book Wow is published by Victoria University Press in New Zealand and Carcanet in the UK.

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