Tag Archives: Monday poem

Monday Poem: Fiona Farrell’s ‘Photo opportunity’



Photo opportunity


As we approach the river of

forgetfulness, you will notice a

slight acceleration. On your left,

the garage and the motorcamp.

On your right, a thicket of

blackberry. (The berry’s blood,

thorn under the skin.)

Do not adjust your headset.

Do not open the windows.

(Grey braid of river silt, the

lupin’s yellow throat.)


Take out your cameras now.

There will be an opportunity

as we cross the river of

forgetfulness. We will pull

over. On the south bank,

shadows cluster. On the

north bank, bone and

rubble. Upriver, the lips

of the gorge, the narrow

source. Downriver is

dispersal and the dump

and seabirds weeping.


There are exits here.

And here. They have been

sealed for your security.

Do not adjust your aperture.


And now we are on our way.

We have crossed

the whatchamacallit


and we are heading

fast toward




©Fiona Farrell



Fiona Farrell writes poetry, fiction and, occasionally, fact. After 25 years living in a remote bay on Banks Peninsula, she moved last year to Dunedin.




Monday Poem: Ian Wedde’s ‘McCahon’s Defile’



McCahon’s Defile

For John Reynolds


And so Colin I cast off in my frail craft of words

my craft of frail words of crafty words

into the defile of Three Lamps where

struck by sunshine on the florist’s striped awning

and the autumn leaves outside All Saints

as you did before fully waking in Waitakere

to look at the elegant pole kauri in dewy light

I defile my sight with closed eyes

and so see better when I open them the Sky Tower

pricking a pale blue heaven like Raphael’s

in Madonna of the Meadows or the scumbled sky of

Buttercup fields forever where there is a constant flow of light

and we are born into a pure land through Ahipara’s blunt gate

a swift swipe of pale blue paint

on Shadbolt’s battered booze bar where bards

bullshitted among the kauri.


Gaunt cranes along the city skyline

avert their gazes towards the Gulf

away from babblers at Bam Bina

breakfast baskers outside Dizengoff

some pretty shaky dudes outside White Cross

beautiful blooms in buckets at Bhana Brothers

(open for eighty years) Karen Walker’s window

looking fresh and skitey across Ponsonby Road

my charming deft dentist at Luminos

most of South Asia jammed into one floor at the Foodcourt

Western Park where wee Bella bashed her head

on some half-buried neoclassical nonsense

the great viewshaft to not-faux Maungawhau

and then turn left into the dandy defile of K Road

where you make your presence felt yet again

Colin through the window of Starkwhite

in building 19-G_W-13 where dear John Reynolds

has mapped your sad Sydney derives and defiles

across the road from Herabridal’s windows all dressed up

in white broderie Anglaise like lovely frothy brushstrokes

or the curdled clouds and words you dragged into the light

fantastic along beaches and the blackness that was all

you saw when you opened your eyes sometimes

like the bleary early morning Thirsty Dogs

and weary hookers a bit further along my walk.


I love the pink pathway below the K Road overbridge

a liquid dawn rivulet running down towards Waitemata’s riprap

but also the looking a bit smashed washing hung out

on the balcony above Carmen Jones

and over the road from Artspace and Michael Lett etc

there’s El Sizzling Lomito, Moustache, Popped, and Love Bucket

the Little Turkish Café has $5 beers

it’s like a multiverse botanical garden round here

you could lose yourself in the mad babble of it

like the Botanical Gardens at Woolloomooloo

with the clusterfucking rut-season fruit-bats

screaming blue murder.


But it’s peaceful again down Myers Park

the mind empties and fills like a lung breathing

the happy chatter of kids swinging

and my memory of you Colin

sitting alone and forlorn on a bench

must have been about 1966

contemplating the twitchy cigarette between your fingers

as if it divined the buried waters of Waihorotiu

or the thoughts that flow beneath thought

in the mind’s defile at dawn when you open your eyes

and see that constant flow of light among the trees.


©Ian Wedde





Ian Wedde is an Auckland writer and curator with sixteen poetry collections, seven novels, two essay collections, a book of short stories, a memoir, a monograph on Bill Culbert and several art catalogues. His multiple honours include The Prime Minister’s Literary Award for Poetry, admission to The Order of NZ Merit and an Arts Foundation Laureate Award. His most recent poetry book, Selected Poems, appeared in 2017.

Auckland University Press page
















Monday Poem: Helen Rickerby’s extract from ‘George Eliot: A Life’




  • From ‘George Eliot: A Life’
  1. On screaming

12.1.    In March 1840, during her puritan phase, Mary Ann went to a party given by an old family friend. Presumably disapproving of all the dancing, laughing, flirting and general fun-having of the other guests, or perhaps attracted by them, she first retreated to the edges and complained of a headache; but then she started screaming hysterically. One biographer suggests it was because of an internal war between piousness and music, which was making her want to get outside of herself and dance. But perhaps she just didn’t like loud music and crowds.

12.2.    Another occasion on which she is reported as screaming hysterically was on a trip across the alps on a donkey – she was terrified of falling off the mountain to her death. Her travelling companions found her outbursts upsetting. What the donkey thought is not recorded.

12.3.    A search of the Complete Works of George Eliot on Google Books reveals that the word ‘scream’ occurs 15 times and ‘screaming’ 16 times. There are also 12 occurrences of  ‘screamed’ and seven of ‘screams’. This seems quite reasonable over seven novels, five shorter stories, quite a lot of poetry (which no one now reads), a couple of translations and some non-fiction.

12.3.1. Most of the screamers are women and girls, but men also scream, as do geese, guinea fowl, water fowl and violins.

12.3.2. The humans’ reasons for screaming range from seeing their child covered in mud, finding their money stolen, a runaway monkey, revealed secrets, discovering a dead body, thinking their husband has died, and with rage while dancing.

12.4.    When George Lewes died, Marian broke down, screaming.

12.4.1  I hope that, in similar circumstances, I too would be courageous enough to let go.


©Helen Rickerby




Helen Rickerby has published four books of poetry, most recently Cinema (2014), and she is on the home stretch with her next collection: How to Live. In her work she is interested in genre-crossing and exploring themes and ideas such as film and film-making, biography and philosophy, often with an autobiographical thread. She is the managing editor of Seraph Press, a boutique publisher specialising in high-quality books of poetry, and was co-managing editor of JAAM literary magazine from 2005 to 2015. She has co-organised conferences and literary events (usually with Anna Jackson), including Truth and Beauty: Poetry and Biography (December 2014), Poetry & the Essay: Form and Fragmentation (December 2017), and the wildly successful inaugural Ruapehu Writers Festival in 2016. She lives in Wellington and works as a web editor.








Monday Poem: Louise Wallace’s ‘How to leave the small town you were born in’



How to leave the small town you were born in


First you must demonstrate your ability to count your age on an abacus or use a telephone with a rotary dial. Acquire your badge in either synchronised running or raking leaves in an apron. From then on speak only in morse code. Should you become trapped inside a cactus or a fleur-de-lis, you must draw the Air New Zealand logo from memory to be freed. Should you have forgotten your wool cap or clip-together cutlery set, you will return to the small town you were born in. In your darkest hours shout I will do my best! and recite prayers old and new. The mere thought of the small town you were born in will become repellent, like kissing your cousin or spooning out jellied meats from a tin. When you make it to the outside you may write back home to tell younger siblings of your great odyssey – how you swore allegiance to god and country, and demonstrated great physical and mental skill.


©Louise Wallace


Louise Wallace now lives in Dunedin and is the author of three collections of poetry, the most recent being Bad Things (Victoria University Press, 2017). In 2015 she was the Robert Burns Fellow at the University of Otago. She is the founder and editor of Starling, an online journal publishing the work of New Zealand writers under 25 years of age.








Monday Poem: Nina Powle’s Styrofoam Love Poem








my skin gets its shine from maggi noodle seasoning packets / golden fairy dust that glows when touching water / fluorescent lines around the edge of / a girlhood seen through sheets of rainbow plastic / chemical green authentic ramen flavour / special purple packaged pho / mama’s instant hokkien mee / dollar fifty flaming hearts / hands in the shape of a bowl to carry this cup / of burning liquid salt and foam / mouthful of a yellow winter morning / you shouldn’t eat this shit it gives you cancer / melts your stomach lining / 99% of all this plastic comes from China / if we consume it all maybe we’ll never die / never break down / and I’ll never be your low-carb paleo queen / I’ll spike your drink with MSG / find me floating in a sea of dehydrated stars / on the surface of my steam shine dream / my plastic Chinese dream / lips swollen with the taste of us











©Nina Powles

Nina Powles is a poet and zinemaker from Wellington, currently living in London. Her debut poetry collection, Luminescent, was published by Seraph Press in 2017. She is poetry editor of the Shanghai Literary Review and was the 2018 winner of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize. 








Monday Poem: Albert Wendt’s ‘And so it is’



And so it is


we want so many things and much

What is real and not? What is the plan?


Our garden is an endless performance

of light and shadow  quick bird and insect palaver


The decisive wisdom of cut basil informs everything

teaches even the black rocks of the back divide to breathe


Blessed are the flowers  herbs and vegetables

Reina has planted in their healing loveliness


The hibiscus blooms want a language to describe their colour

I say the red of fresh blood or birth


A lone monarch butterfly flits from flower to flower

How temporary it all is  how fleeting the attention


The boundary palm with the gigantic Afro is a fecund nest

for the squabble of birds that wake us in the mornings


In two weeks of luscious rain and heat our lawn

is a wild scramble of green that wants no limits


Into the breathless blue sky the pohutukawa

in the corner of our back yard stretches and stretches


Invisible in its foliage a warbler weaves a delicate song

I want to capture and remember like I try to hold


all the people I’ve loved or love

as they disappear into the space before memory


Yesterday I pulled up the compost lid

to a buffet of delicious decay and fat worms feasting


Soil  earth  is our return  our last need and answer

beyond addictive reason  fear and desire


Despite all else the day will fulfil its cycle of light and dark

and I’ll continue to want much and take my chances


©Albert Wendt

March-April 2017


Albert Wendt has published many novels, collections of poetry and short stories, and edited numerous anthologies. Last week, along with four others, he was recognised as a New Zealand Icon at a medallion ceremony for his significant contribution to the Arts.












Monday Poem: Jack Ross’s ‘My Uncle Tommy’



My Uncle Tommy



‘In the end they had to put him

in a home 


Tommy had grown too heavy

for Dad to carry 


Dad worried about it

till he went to visit


tried to hug him

Tommy didn’t know him


was not aware

of where they were


it was my mother

I was sorry for


she thought she was to blame

for having him


my brother shared a room

with him


all night he’d rock

inside his cot


one winter he got sick

and never spoke





could visit us



of Tommy’


©Jack Ross 2018



Jack Ross is the managing editor of Poetry New Zealand, and works as a senior lecturer in creative writing at Massey University. His latest book, The Annotated Tree Worship, was published by Paper Table Novellas in 2017. He blogs here