Tag Archives: Chris Holdaway

Poetry Shelf celebrates the Ockham NZ Book Awards poetry longlist: Chris Holdaway’s poem for Jackson Nieuwland

Greetings cards for Jackson Nieuwland

I light a candle and vines of blood

Run down in place of wax as if

The experience of transubstantiation

Were being drawn towards the grave

Centre of the earth by the weight of

Your own iron content. Ever found

Yourself on a throne whose arms

And legs are wired to crosses like

A marionette? You’re no puppet and

It’s all the universe in a pocketwatch

I’m afraid. My heart on fire under

A bell jar and that’s just how it’ll stay.

Getting into keeping fish as a hobby

Hoping to use my own body as a tank

Until so filled with water I gain imm-

Unity to drowning and companionship

All at once. The deeper I go the more I

Feel as though falling from great heights.

My open palm broad enough to form

Plains on which tornadoes arise like

Spring clockwork before the lines turn

To river deltas so blue I can’t imagine

Ever having had veins in my hand.

Amongst the sunflowers the scarecrow

Is king. I have the first successful mono

-culture fields of carnivorous plants

That eat every new seed right as you

Sow it. Knock off and pitch a ladder

Against the clouds to paint them like

A weatherboard house or chip away at

An ice sculpture. Lay down on the Gulf

Stream like Michelangelo on scaffolding

Painting the dogmatic ceiling. As if

The compass woven into paper maps

Could spring to life like a computer.

I woke inside a lightbulb holding

A candle slowly consuming all the air

Like the sweetest dream of being a star

Calculating orbits in the different twists

Of screw and bayonet fittings the kind

Of knowledge that can never survive

A trip to the store. An alley so dark I

Instantly become an orphan and have

The shadow of a wolf in passing head

-lights. Fallen leaves and playing cards

And receipts curl into being on the wind

And take a hike into rolling hills.

Chris Holdayway

Chris Holdaway’s Compound Press was established in 2013. It publishes poetry, other writings along with Minarets, a journal of poetry and poetics. The books are printed and bound in their Auckland workshop. Jackson Niuewland’s I am a human being (2020) is longlisted in the Poetry Category of the Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Last year they also published A bathful of kawakawa and hot water, a selection of writings by Hana Pera Aoake.