Tag Archives: Monday poem

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: from Gregory Kan





Moving from one world to another

is like dying in a dream

of hands and water.

Nothing is forgiven because

nothing is remembered

but the desires remain the same:

to be in a room with others


tired of wonder

holding each other

with the good secret

of no longer having to insist on going

where we think we have to go.




©Gregory Kan

Gregory Kan’s work has featured in literary journals including Atlanta Review, Cordite, Jacket, Landfall, The Listener, SPORT and Best New Zealand Poems, as well as art exhibitions, journals and catalogues. His first book of poetry, This Paper Boat, was shortlisted for the 2017 Ockham New Zealand Book Awards. His second book of poetry, Under Glass, is forthcoming with Auckland University Press in 2019.








Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Heidi North’s ‘Piha Beach, Winter’


Piha Beach, Winter 


My feet punch bruises in the black sand

and I am back in the burn of childhood summers


the circle of sentinel gulls

their grey wings tipped to catch the light


warn me back

but I go down to the white foam edge


bluebottles boated with their pretty poison

yield to the sharp edge of my stick


I go down to the place

where the wind kicks holes through my heart


and there is a child down there

too close to the ribbony horizon line


holding his blue kite

towards the updraft


still smiling as it lurches

against the wide white blaze of sky –


and I smile and laugh and I run with him because how can I tell him

all the brutal things are yet to come


©Heidi North


Heidi’s poem was written during her Nancy King Foundation residency in Piha in 2017.

Heidi North’s first poetry book Possibility of Flight was published by Mākaro Press in 2015. Her poetry and short stories have been published in New Zealand, Australia, the US and the UK. She won an international Irish award for her poetry in 2007, and has won New Zealand awards for her short fiction. She joined the Shanghai International Writers Programme in 2016 as the NZ fellow. She was awarded the Hachette/NZSA mentorship for 2017 to work on her first novel. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from The University of Auckland and lives in Auckland with her partner and their two children.




Monday Poem: Steven Toussaint’s ‘The Neoplatonist Theatre’





In the neoplatonist theatre

audience exists, a couple


of victims of the new

conscription, waiving


all their outrage,

waiting in the cockpit.


One’s a former gallery

serf, feeding frozen


grapes to animals

not born to work


their mandibles that way.

One expresses gently


the gland whence prayers

discharge, a man


who sits and glares

at his companion, lost


in the foreignness

and novelty of names


his gland would praise

but can’t forgive.


Some overeager, out-

of-tune apologist


announces tea

and biscuits in the vestibule.


Neither budge, rooted

in middlebrow certainty


that a single righteous

and timely volume


of samizdat applause, lodged

like a socket wrench


in the uptake, would stay

the launch of a still


more secretive

and stylized soliloquy.


©Steven Toussaint


Steven Toussaint was born in Chicago in 1986. His books include Fiddlehead (Compound Press, 2014) and The Bellfounder (The Cultural Society, 2015). He lives with his wife, the writer Eleanor Catton, in Auckland.

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