Tag Archives: charlotte simmonds

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Charlotte Simmonds’s ‘Kirsten’




Says she has a small dog.

You would like a small dog.

Will Kirsten let you walk her small dog?

Will she let you play with it?

But what if Kirsten’s small dog doesn’t like you.

What if it rejects you.

Rejection is so painful and hard to bear.

It feels like you are dying.

You are dying.


If you were in ‘the wild’, ostracism would mean certain death.

If you were in ‘the wild’, it would be hard for you to feed and shelter yourself adequately.

If you were in ‘the wild’, and then you got an injury, you would be really screwed.

If you were in ‘the wild’, no one would be able to help you.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you would be dead by now.

If you were in ‘the wild’, wild dogs who were in the wild would feed on you.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you could productively give back to the wild.

If you were in ‘the wild’, you could help everyone.


You could help everyone except the runt of the litter.

The runt of the litter is too small to feed on you.

His elder siblings shove him rudely out of the way.

His mother no longer loves him because she does not buy into that sunk cost fallacy.

The runt of the litter is excluded, cast out, ostracised, just like you.

He never meets another runt of the litter.

They never hump, conceive, give birth to even runtier runts.

All the small dogs of the world die out.

In the wild, all the small dogs are dead because your body was too small, there was not enough to go round, they could not feed on your body.

You’d think Kirsten’s small dog would like you, because it, too, in the wild, would know the pain of rejection, like you.

But it doesn’t. It blames you.

Kirsten’s small dog thinks this is all your fault.


©Charlotte Simmonds





Charlotte Simmonds is a (currently) “autistic” Wellington writer, translator, sometime researcher and intermittent theatre practitioner. Her fiction, non-fiction and poetry has appeared on stage at BATS Theatre in Wellington, in New Zealand podcasts, on New Zealand poetry blogs The Red Room and Poetry Shelf, in New Zealand literary journals Landfall, Hue & Cry, Sport, Turbine and JAAM, in Usonian literary journals The Iowa Review, Mid-American Review, Painted Bride and Broad Street, and in the UK journal Flash. She is the author of one published collection of poetry and lyric prose, The World’s Fastest Flower, a finalist in the Montana Book Awards in 2009, and was more recently shortlisted for an Australian short story prize.







Poetry Shelf Monday Poem – Charlotte Simmond’s ‘Teach Me, I Will Execute’


Teach Me, I Will Execute


Insert some sort of political comment here

about privilege and perspective and 1st wrlds and then

insert an uplifting hope inspo to combat fear


or else you’ll justify all the retiring folks who leer

that these tiring millennials are entitled ignorant young narcissists, so then

insert some sort of political comment here


that shows off all the things you care

about: communism, class, colour, climate, conditioning, but then

insert an uplifting hope inspo to combat fear,


and to validate why this collection deserves a share,

why it is relevant and should matter to humen,

insert some sort of political comment here


about the woes of the world and the villainies we [bare/bear]

and the news of the day, but bait the next click by then

inserting an uplifting hope inspo to combat fear.


You dried up old fruit! You withered old pear!

Complaining that hair doesn’t rhyme with beer! Okay then,

I’m inserting some sort of political comment here

but insert the uplifting hope inspo to combat yr fear yrslf.


©Charlotte Simmonds


Charlotte Simmonds is a Wellington writer, translator and, until the end of this year, also a historian of medicine. Her goals and aspirations are forestalling homelessness and escaping poverty.








Poetry Shelf Spring Season’s poetry fans: Pip Adam picks Charlotte Simmonds


Giant Invisible Grandma God


God enters the room as a grandma, a Southern Jewish grandma.

His grandma aroma fills every space.


God enters the room as a grandma and His heavy weight fills the corner

with a wide whump! God is large after all                          these years.


When He is around there is so little room in this place for anyone else.

He takes up all the space but you can hear the swish from the corner seat


that calls all the grandchildren chicky, pats their heads while saying,

There, chicky, there now, chickling chickpea chickaree-dee-bee,


and the click-click of the crochet needle against the knitting loom

as He clicks out hats for all the grandkiddies and I am not


one of those feminists that writes poetry about the goddess within

and ruptures up all this performance art from my menstruations,


no, this is the same patriarchal God you’ve always railed against,

except today He is a grandma and His grandma perfume fills the room


and he says to all His granddaughters,

Chicky, what colour yarn you want for your hat? You choose, dearie.


and when they tell him what colour yarn is them most preferable,

He smiles,

takes a different colour and goes on calmly knitting hats, and


now the granddaughters begin to rail against Him, and

with them, me, and all the feminists too,


we all rail and everyone is crying, yelling, all at once,

No, Savtush! No! I didn’t want the blue one!


I didn’t ask for that! Saaav-TUSH!

I said a yellow one! You’re not listening to me!


You’re not listening! That’s not what I told you,

Savtush! You never listen to me!” and


while the railing rails on, Grandma God is calmly

clicking out hats, smiling sweetly from His corner chair and

His grandma perfume is warm and comforting, and


when He clicks out your hat, chicky, why, isn’t that just

the darlingest hat you ever set your head beneath and


doesn’t it just look so much better than the yarn that was you preferable and

aren’t you just so peacified to be sitting on God in the corner chair


there, your head inside His warm grandma perfume sniffing

His large breasted chest instead of kicking in the middle of the floor and


His smile never changes, it’s the same smile he clicked out his hats with and

He’s calm and warm and Savtush and He never changes because


He’s your great big giant invisible Grandma God.


©Charlotte Simmonds




Note from Pip: Charlotte Simmonds is one of the funniest people I know. I always laugh heartily when we are together. One of her super-powers is puns. For me, puns work because I have to hold two ideas in my head at the same time and there is something destabilising to reality about that state – the horse has a long face and a long face, the socks are holy and holy, the man who swallowed the eight plastic horses is in a stable condition and a stable condition. I have this theory that only language can do this, because a lot of other art forms (film, theatre) unfold in a particular order – one thing following another. But language has this ability to mean two things at once and cause this shimmering effect as the two things come in and out of focus. Which is a long-winded way of saying, this is what I love about ‘Giant Invisible Grandma God’ by Charlotte.

Throughout the poem I have to hold the two ideas of God and Grandma in my head, so it has this volatility to it, this energy. God is knitting hats, grandma is knitting hats. So I find it a very funny poem. I get a lot of joy out of it and that joy opens me up to the ideas in it. The idea of the way God takes up so much space that there is not a lot of room for anyone else. Also, the child in me loves the idea of a huge grandmother squashed into a regular sized world. Another amazing artist Rachel O’Neill once raised the idea that humour is cultural, that it’s one of the ways we enact cultural belonging. Charlotte speaks many languages and I often think that her writing and her sense of humour has this kind of multi-lingualism to it. That it can call on many places and languages for a laugh. That it is performed from a comedy club in the multiverse.


Pip Adam‘s second novel, The New Animals, was released this year. Her debut novel, I’m Working on a Building appeared in 2011, and her short story collection, Everything We Hoped For, won NZ Post Best First Book Award for Fiction. She makes the Better Off Read podcast.

Charlotte Simmonds is a Wellington writer, translator and PhD student who spends her time reading the news and her tears on the elections.