Tag Archives: Monday poem

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle’s ‘From the discomfort of my own home’



I had a brief period last week where I didn’t hate everyone. But now I’m back to hating everyone. Someone from an online dating website asks me if I am going to this music festival because everyone he knows is going and he feels left out. I’ve never heard of it, I say, I don’t even know what that is. I say I don’t have any friends though so maybe that’s why I don’t hear about these things. He says, everyone loves to say they don’t have friends when they actually do. I say, Yeah, and everyone loves to say to people who say they don’t have any friends, that they actually do have friends because they’ve never been in a position where they haven’t had friends so they can’t actually imagine it. Well, your negative energy is probably putting off potential friends right now, he says.




Woke up to a message from someone I haven’t spoken to in a while that said “hey so if u could send me nudes that would be appreciated, I’m going to jail soon for 2-3 years.” The only thing I have going for me right now is that I have good nipples and good eyelashes. On the train on the way to a job interview I’m looking at my own nudes to build my confidence. The interviewer asked me what I was doing between 2013 and 2015 and I didn’t feel like I could say debilitating depression and poor physical health so I said I worked as an English tutor for an educational company, but then she asked for a reference from them.




Is the noise I can hear coming from the inside of the building or the outside, I can’t tell. No one is replying to any of my messages. Last week I was supposed to go on a date with someone who already cancelled on me twice. The first time he said he was too tired, the second time he said the weather was too warm. I said to him, look, if you have changed your mind about meeting, that’s ok, let me know, otherwise we could do Thursday. He didn’t acknowledge the part of the message about changing his mind or not, he just went ahead and made a third plan for Thursday. But when I woke up on Thursday, there was a message from him at 7.50am that said he couldn’t meet up. He said he’d gone to his therapist and realised he wasn’t in the right state to meet people at the moment. Well, I could have told you that for free, I wanted to say, but I didn’t reply.



©Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle


Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle is from Auckland, NZ and currently lives in Melbourne. She is the author of Autobiography of a Marguerite (Hue & Cry Press, 2014). Her chapbook, nostalgia has ruined my life, was recently a finalist for the Subbed In Chapbook Prize 2018. You can donate to their fundraising campaign here






Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Frankie McMillan’s ‘In Mama Mancini’s guest apartment, two racquets above the bed’


In Mama Mancini’s guest apartment, two racquets above the bed


What travellers would gleefully arise

from their beds, seize the wooden racquets

to wander through narrow alleyways

stumbling over the detritus, the restaurant rubbish

past the legless man, now sleeping across

his home made trolley, to search for a court —

whites whiter than white, the promise of fair play

the powerful Medicis on either side of the square

aced out by love

a back hand, a double fault, an under spin.

What fancies, what flights of imagination

possessed Mama to furnish a guest

with such pursuits? We do not ask and if, late at night

a tennis ball comes softly thudding though our open shutters

we will know it is only the previous travellers

foot weary

returning from their wondrous sport.


©Frankie McMillan


Frankie McMillan is the author of four books, the most recent of which, My Mother and the Hungarians and other small fictions ( Canterbury University Press ) was longlisted for the 2017 NZ Ockham awards. In 2005 she was awarded the Creative New Todd Bursary. Other awards include winner of the New Zealand Poetry Society International Poetry Competition in 2009 and winner of the New Zealand Flash Fiction Competition in 2013 and 2015. In 2014 she held the Ursula Bethell writing residency at Canterbury University and in 2017 the University of Auckland/Michael King writing residency. Her latest project is Bonsai: best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand ( CUP, 2018) edited with Michelle Elvy and James Norcliffe.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Bill Manhire’s ‘He Loved Her Lemonade Scones’



He Loved Her Lemonade Scones


They fell in love between the end of the footie season
and the start of shearing. Sheep gazed, bewildered.
The paddocks stretched up into the hills,
mostly scrub and a few old stands of bush.
‘Now listen here,’ he said, and that was it really.







©Bill Manhire

Bill Manhire’s most recent poetry collection is Some Things to Place in a Coffin. His new project with Norman Meehan, Bifröst, is now in the studio.







Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Holly Painter’s ‘Cryptic Crossword XLI’


Cryptic Crossword XLI



For a short agony, icy needles

strain. Hush, I say, accepting bold


crystalline pollen, each intricate

crown, impress, hollowed lace, or ruffle,

every second darned together with

cold spell, a photograph


of the white season, when crisp noises –

broken jars left ragged – slice

down with unending savagery.



Hoarfrost lullaby

Cellophane crinkle and snap

Winter’s jagged fur


©Holly Painter


Holly Painter is the author of the poetry collection Excerpts from a Natural History (Titus Books, 2015). Her work has appeared in Sport, Landfall, the New Zealand Listener, JAAM, Arena, Barrelhouse, the Cream City Review, and others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Canterbury and lives with her wife and son in Vermont, where she teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont. Holly is currently working on a non-fiction book on obsolete jobs and a poetry collection based on cryptic crosswords. Find out at Holly’s website.


My review of Excerpts from a Natural History






Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: an extract from Lee Posna


The problem, everybody’s problem, is myself. Which is neither mine, nor self, but what of that? (I have no self-control: there’s nothing to control.) The more I work at it, the deeper it gets. In this it’s like a hole or a painting. It being me. There’s no law that binds depth to beauty. Some bind it to horror, they shadow me like imperial clouds. Mom’s the concubine. The sky’s like a painting over a hole in which one finds an empty vault steelier than angels. ‘The sky is blue, no?’

The problem gets deeper. I stare at a bald patch of lawn where a black seething mass resists my visual cortex. I bend down toblindside emerge ants = fire. I put out the fire. Then everything’s made of fire (not the logic of a bad dream, but the truth of an ancient fancy). The garrigue burns, the house burns, the urethra burns, the universe pounds with voids so cold they burn like ice on flesh. The twitter of a chaffinch burns in the olive.

I’m calm now. I can reason. The scream barrelled like a train through a dead station. Another won’t be long. Its echo pulls my face a bit, I’m calm now. I can reason. I can reason a little way. I stack my reason upon its twin till it starts to gain some ground from the dust. I’m always screwing around in the dust. This is how all babels are made, one stone upon another. They stretch across the peneplains of hidden hominid. The sky has room enough for every end.

The problem is the solution (like divine speech): death. Not to take the shortest path to it, but rather to fight against traffic up the road leading from it. Just as the litter-bearers of a certain dying pope did summer of ‘64, working toward the holy land:

Pius II set out for Ancona to rouse a late crusade, 200 years after the age burnt out. Deserters filled the road overlapping like ghosts. His men drew the litter’s heavy damask curtains despite the violent heat to spare their swimming head the heartless tableau. He arrived in time to see the late Venetian fleet dock, and soon after died.

A good solution to a bad problem, which always already contained defeat. Defeat is part of the larger plan. What kind of plan is this? Not the right one. And worse, not the wrong.

See how this plays out for a planet, a people, a family, another? A little shoot squeezes through some barren peneplain; the shoot grows into a forest; the forest into a house; the house into fire; the fire into words; the words into swords; the sword like a clock’s hand never stops turning; the clock like a star’s engine–.

While I am my blind spot: for myself I can only infer its operation, as one infers the presence of dark matter. I believe in my defeat – I feel it happening, I see it in my beard, under my eyes, in my way, that is my pattern, in my work, which increases order, a kind of order, whose growth is outpaced by disorder – which makes my reality, giving ground for belief: an elegant feedback loop. What do I believe? What I’m forced to.

I see the end of my life many years from now, or else two, or it may be six weeks from Monday. In the manner of light, which illuminates, but hardly penetrates (at most it reaches a thousand metres into the sea), I see from one end of the universe to the other. I see and note the faces of all who have never lived, and will one day remain unborn, from Eve’s aborted sister until the end of time. I smell the rock, and paint the rock’s sex, and paint the nude’s sky, and render great walls of galaxies to hide your eyes. The matter is limited, and it contains defeat.

He’s not me. The Provencale painter, not me. What is true for you in your private heart is true for all men (thank you 19th century). I bow to the 19th century, I crawl into the 19th century as into my mother’s slack womb, as this fully unfurled genotype starting to decay. I burrow into pillows in the corner of this warm room. I squeeze them to force the door of innocence, to strangle Adam and ride him into the brane of myth. This is neither his voice nor mine, I like to think it’s both (though it’s neither). I make no space for his spicy fire, voice, temper – I’ll tell you about that soon, it’s part of this hateful experiment. I like to think I can undo a gross of years, expiate the omnipotent violence of ‘it was’ and animate Cezanne at thirty-something, year of the hanged man. There’s his corpse, thirty-something years before the decay begins in earnest. He’s sleeping, an empty bottle of Cairanne at the foot of his easel. I slither along the floorboards (we’re in his atelier), shoeless, shirtless, sweating in moonlight. My underwear stinks. The crickets swell the night thick with rosemary. Crouching next to his crumpled beard (where’s his pillow?), his face turned toward me, the miasma of wine, fougasse, tobacco clouds me in rank heat: corruption enters the saint. And so I solemnly open his mouth, which makes a sticky sound, allowing the corpse to speak. That is, my corpse.


©Lee Posna from ‘Completely Supportless Blue’


Lee Posna lives in Wellington and works at Pegasus Books. Books he’s recently enjoyed include Hill by Jean Giono and Difficult Loves by Italo Calvino.




Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Lynn Davidson’s ‘Leaving Bass Rock gannet colony ‘


Leaving Bass Rock gannet colony


After skypointing to show

it’s ready


after one last dive, shorting the sea

(the crack, the pressured current fizzing)


after one last moment of great aloneness: a fleck

in oceans


after the last fish in its gut –

the fin and skin and bone of it – tears apart


it takes a final flight, blowing

Bass Rock into the feathery pieces   we call


aura or

atoms    we called


father or



©Lynn Davidson


This poem was was published in New Writing Scotland 35. Bass Rock is a rock/island in the Firth of Forth. It’s a huge gannet colony and has a long and interesting history of human habitation too.

Lynn Davidson writes poetry, fiction and essays. Her latest poetry collection Islander will be published by Shearsman Books and Victoria University Press in 2019. Lynn currently lives in Edinburgh.










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.








Monday Poem: Anahera Gildea’s ‘Ahi kā’



Ahi kā


At the top of the road

there is wind,

railways crossing at the corner,

of an old wooden prefab where

wine gums and popsicles, and

our feet in jandals fill

the one room dairy that is decades gone


toward the motorway

past the tree where Uncle hung himself,

is the highway

the marae-way.

Eels peg the line, and

Chip-dog is lazy barking.

Over the split verandah, you cross

the musty lounge, dark with the 70’s

squeeze down the hall past rooms so

clumsy you can smell the cob


out the window, into the land

blazing beneath this ancient copper;

we scrub on the washboard

of someone else’s clothes,

the broken down wringer where

this Auntie’s house is on the left,

that Auntie’s house is on the right;


the whole damn road is a gauntlet of aunties.


©Anahera Gildea
Anahera Gildea (Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-tonga) has worked extensively as a visual and performing artist, a writer, and a teacher. She has had her poems and short stories published in multiple journals and anthologies, and her first book ‘Poroporoaki to the Lord My God: Weaving the Via Dolorosa’ was published by Seraph Press in 2016. She holds a BA in Art Theory, Graduate Diplomas in Psychology, Teaching, and Performing Arts, and a Master’s degree in Creative Writing from Victoria University.





Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Tracey Slaughter’s ‘it was the seventies when me & Karen Carpenter hung out’



it was the seventies when me & Karen Carpenter hung out




me & Karen Carpenter

blu-tacked heartthrobs

to the hangout

wall & laid down

under our own gatefold

smiles. The ridges of our mouths

tasted like corduroy & the hangout

door was a polygon of un-hinged

ultra-violet. We stole lines from stones

& rolled them like acid

checkers on each

other’s tongues, testing

the discs of our tucked spines as we

swallowed. We rippled all through

the magazines: there were morsels of cosmetic

Top Tip to live on. We loaded our skin

& rubbed in the limits like cream, microscoped

for layouts of handbag & muscle. We could

not switch off the mirrors: it turned out

since me & Karen C

were kids we’d sucked on dolls cross

legged & shaved their limbs

to size with the

zip of our teeth. Somewhere

our mothers had bleach

dreams. We lay & grinned

on the oblong of leftover

shagpile. The seventies tasted

like orangeade, like groovy wars & honeybrown

explosions in the wallpaper. Karen

Carpenter held my hand & walked me

through the detonating spirals.

She showed me where

we could feast

on tangerine horizons


©Tracey Slaughter


Tracey Slaughter is the author of deleted scenes for lovers an acclaimed collection of short stories (VUP, 2016). Her poetry and prose have received many awards including the international Bridport Prize (2014), two BNZ Katherine Mansfield Awards, and the Landfall Essay Prize 2015. Her poetry cycle ‘it was the seventies when me & Karen Carpenter hung out’ was shortlisted in the Manchester Poetry Prize 2014, and her poem ‘breather’ won Second Place in the ABR Peter Porter Poetry Prize 2018. She teaches at Waikato University where she edits the journal Mayhem.




Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Kerry Hines’ All-day Wayside



All-day Wayside


He walks in, takes a seat,

eats his pie.


He smiles but doesn’t speak

until his farewell thanks.


He looks like someone off TV,

but they can’t agree on who.


Did you see how quick he ate it?

She shakes her head, disbelieving.


Nothing to drink, just pie

and free tomato sauce.




Not yet half-way,

a family squares off.


Soggy chips, nachos

missing a couple of ingredients.


Forbidden phones, the kids

play with their food.


An unhappier couple sits

at the next table.


The father sighs; the mother

brightens, and tunes in.




They closed the café

half an hour early.


The traffic had been quiet a while,

and the sausage rolls had gone.


Finding the door locked, he turns

and pans the street.


It’s the service station, then, packet of chips

and a chocolate bar.


He parks himself at the picnic table,

but the view doesn’t satisfy him.


©Kerry Hines



Kerry Hines is a Wellington-based poet, writer and researcher. Her collection Young Country (poems with photographs by William Williams) was published by AUP in 2014.