Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Emma Neale’s ‘Fresh’


I open the door to the deck to get a little fresh

rooster crow / blackbird song / power saw / cat meow/

child’s lilt / father’s laughter / late autumn cicadas

ticking like they’ve all thrifted

matching gold fob watches

from a fancy second-hand store/

in absentminded rapture

at the sudden busking backyard orchestra

I pour luke-yikes! coffee down my sky blue T-shirt

as goof-struck at this thunderclap

of unlikely love for the bunged-up world

as that teenage boy who cycled past me once

in the briefest time I was green and goldening:

he smiled as he turned around to see

whether my face agreed

with his behind-view reckons

then hit the fender of a parked car

so I could just keep

awkwardly walking and blushing on

confusingly new with happeous pity,

piteous happy.

Emma Neale

Emma Neale, the author of six collections of poetry and six novels, received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for a Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry in 2020. Her most recent novel, Billy Bird (2016) was short-listed for the Acorn Prize at the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Her first collection of short stories, The Pink Jumpsuit (Quentin Wilson Publishing, 2021, was also long-listed for the Acorn Prize. She lives in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, New Zealand, where she works as a freelance editor.

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