Tag Archives: Monday poem

Monday Poem: Emer Lyons’s ‘Poison’



After Gwendolyn Brooks and Terrance Hayes



take to the drink, wanting real

life to dampen our tongues, cool

the shame we are forced to we-

ar with guilt built in, all left

to us from him. Dul ar scoil

to learn the church’s rules, we

learn to shut mouths, minds, legs, lurk

close to home, wait until late

in life to start living. We

protest against them. We strike

them down like they do us, straight




up get wasted. Hear our we-

ary mothers try to sing

songs that might free us from sin –

A-ma-zee-ing Grace. They we-

ep for us their kin grown thin

from not giving a shite, gin

our favourite perfume. We

think to join in, feel that jazz

of life again but them June

days are made for drinking, we

mute their sound, they turn to die-

ts of rosaries, T.V. Soon




we join the rest like us, we-

lcomed we are into the real

darkness of the pub, scrubbed cool

colours paint the walls, but we

don’t look at the walls, eyes left

downcast for fear that some school

friend’s dad be holding up we-

t edges of a stool, lurk-

ing for some young wan’s time. Late-

r when we’ve spent our lot, we

goes to the likes a him, strike

up some talk with tits out straight




under their noses, they we-

ak them eejits, we be sing-

le, we’re not patrolling sin-

‘s committed by men, we

too busy with our own thin-

clad secrets, like how the gin

at home is watered down – we-

eks of stealing dat took! Jazz

oozes from the jukebox, June

fades outside the window, we

stay until it starts to die

down, already Sunday, soon




Mass be starting, not that we

bother anymore, found real

religion that don’t play cool –

you’ll get what you’re given. We

grab the bottle’s neck, get left

in pools of our own sick, school-

ed to mind ourselves – coz we-

‘ve no time for all dat! Lurk-

ing Larry’s hide in the late

afternoon shadows to we-

t us between the legs – strike

all ya want girls! We walk straight




passed them, they keep trying. We

see some other girls get sing-

led out, get pregnant, the sin

dripping off them, we look we-

ll away when they be thin-

king to look at us. Begin

to think about things that we-

‘ve been told, listen to jazz

music in our rooms with June

next door shouting how we owe

her some peace – go way and die!

Her gob shuts as the bassoon




roars the devil’s music. We

develop our taste buds, real-

ise wine looks classy, the cool

kids be drinking it, so we

form fists around the stems, cleft

our insides, move like a school

of fish, joined at the hip we

be, until we go home, lurk

through our own front doors, dilate-

d pupils in heads, too we-

ak to take d’mother’s strike

against our faces, lie straight




down on the carpet. There we

sleep dreamless until the sing-

ing birds move our bleary sin-

ged bodies to mirrors. We-

igh ourselves (no shoes on) – thin

girls don’t hang onto virgin-

ity long. The fella’s we-

dge between us, shove their jazz-

ing hands down our skirts, the June

heat hot against our heads we-

lded to the wall, us die-

hards wanting it over soon-




er rather than later, we

don’t look into their eyes, real-

ly we’d rather catch the cool

stares of other girls, a we-

llspring of poker faces left

to drown outside of the school

system, taught us nothing we

could use against filthy lurk-

ers, or what to do with late

periods, or how come we-

‘d never be wealthy – strike

us down for we have strayed straight




off the path most chosen. We

won’t marry any man, sing

children to sleep or get sin-

gled out for promotion. We

will live backed against walls, thin-

king of dreams we had of begin-

ning again, all along we

knew we’d never see a jazz

band, another clear blue June

sky or hear our mother’s we-

ak, how sweet the sound. We die



©Emer Lyons



Emer Lyons is an Irish writer who has had poetry and fiction published in journals such as TurbineLondon GripThe New Zealand Poetry Society AnthologySouthwordThe Spinoff and Queen Mob’s Tea House. She has appeared on shortlists for the Fish Poetry Competition, the Bridport Poetry Prize, the takahé short story competition, The Collinson’s short story prize and her chapbook Throwing Shapes was long-listed for the Munster Literature Fool For Poetry competition in 2017. Last year she was the recipient of the inaugural University of Otago City of Literature scholarship and is a creative/critical PhD candidate in contemporary queer poetry.







Monday Poem: Essa May Ranapiri’s ‘To Get Out’

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©Essa May Ranapiri



essa may ranapiri | Ngāti Raukawa/Pākehā | takatāpui | they-them-theirs | has words in [Mayhem, Poetry NZ, Brief, Starling, Cadaverine, Them & POETRY Magazine] they will write until they’re dead













Monday Poem: Emma Neale’s ‘Called’





It is October in Dunedin.

Rhododendrons fan out flamenco skirts;

magnolias, magnanimous with their moon-cool glow,

light the path south so the sun stirs us early;

although the river, the creek boulders,

the city’s cinched green belt, still hold the cold

like an ice store’s packed down snow.


The days shiver with filaments

of ua kōwhai: soft rain that dampens paths,

shakes loose carpets of white stamens, yellow flowers

bruised and trodden like flimsy, foil cornets.

School holidays send out falling, silvery arcs

of children’s sky-flung laughter; our bodies drink it in

as if love’s parched ground sore needs this watering.


Yet the radio stays hunched in the kitchen corner,

hard grey clot in the light’s fine arteries

muttering its tense bulletins

and as if they sense this late spring still harbours

frost’s white wreck, or some despotic harm abroad

seeps too near, our sons more than anything want

their old games: secret codes, invisible ink, velvet cloaks;

hide ’n’ seek in public gardens’ clefts and coves—


and again, again, can we tell them again


the chapters of how they first appeared

in the long, blurred myths we are entangled in;

kingfisher-blue wells of their eyes a-gleam

as if they know how much all adults withhold.

They want us to go back deeper, to when

we both were star-spill, sea-flume, spirits,

only belatedly woman, man, climbing up from a shore

feathered in sand black and soft as ash,

driven by some gravid magnetism towards each other


in case we changed to birds, lizards, trees,

or back to sea-salt borne by wind;

an urge clear as hunger coursing the cells’ deep helix

to complete this alteration, half bury and re-germinate

the fleet molecules of self, so we could run our mortal hands

the right, kind way along the children’s plush skins,

learn, pulse on pulse, their true, human names.

Yes, we must go back and back; as if to swear

even to this dread epoch’s wild, original innocence.


©Emma Neale


Emma Neale received the inaugural NZSA/Janet Frame Memorial Award, the Kathleen Grattan Award for an unpublished poetry manuscript (The Truth Garden), the University of Otago Burns Fellowship and the NZSA/Beatson Fellowship. Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Sarah Broom Poetry Award and the Bridport Poetry Prize, and her poetry collection, Tender Machines, was long-listed in the 2016 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. Her novel, Billy Bird, was short-listed for the Acorn Prize in the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards and long-listed for the International Dublin Literary Award. She is the current editor of Landfall.