Tag Archives: poetry shelf monday poem

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Harry Ricketts’s ‘For Lauris 2’

For Lauris 2

You had a gift for friendship.

When someone rang, you’d say,

“Ah, Liz” or “Ah, Murray” with a special

flicker on their name, as if the call

had made your day. Your first

collection came out when you were

fifty-one. You knew about grief,

pain, didn’t pretend to be young.

You knew all about “the small

events’ unmerciful momentum”.

You gained a readership as large

and loyal as that of a novelist.

(You’ll forgive me if I mention

you were a really lousy driver

and that your white cat sometimes had fleas.)

You treated other poets as pen pals

absorbed in the same enthralling enterprise,

not as rivals, threats or enemies.

It was a stiff pull up that path

to 22 Grass St – that rainbow

letterbox – but always worth it.

Harry Ricketts

Harry Ricketts teaches English Literature and creative writing at Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka. His Selected Poems will be coming out from Victoria University Press later this year.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Reihana Robinson’s ‘Not even hurt’

Not even hurt

We are wearing the t-shirt proclaiming peace

We are walking the talk in the street

We are over sung and under weight

We are procreating far too late

We are smug and deceitful

We are crippled and smoke-filled

We are ripe with forgiveness with

none to forgive

We even pray for a moment —

it cant hurt to imagine

some finer godly cerebellum

We believe we breathe sanctuary

We believe we live well—

our fingertips tell us what we

believe in is hell

Click-clacking click-clacking like the

click of a pen, only treacherous seas

threaten to bring all to an end

From water we sloshed with mud on our shoes

to water we slither leaving no clues

A species a family a swarm and a tribe

And now not an echo of heartbeat inside

A gaggle a tangle a sleuth and a web

amoeba and diatoms what’s left just a thread

And so it goes

And

What will be?

Philosophers, painters rolled into one

We try to hook on but our claws are too short

Pride is deflated our nestlings all caught

One egg insufficient to keep up the plot

Chemical peels too late give over to rot

We sing and we diet and we cannot keep quiet

Like the stone and the river a ruckus a riot

Glue and cement a tiny toehold

Now withered, a memory of once was so bold

So this is the tale of what happens when

stories of heroes parade simulacra of men

Without texture, delight, humour or spice

heads bowed, genuflect, try to make nice

What is left are the tailings, the shit heap the pile

Naked mole rats shuffle and eat all our bile

Ant pathways like accordions filter the dirt

We feel nothing at all, not even hurt

Reihana Robinson

Reihana Robinson: Starting out near year end of 2019 there was the beautiful volume Ko Aotearoa Tatou/We are New Zealand (An anthology) I had the fortune to join. Next up was Nga kupu Waikato Kotahitanga online, video and exhibition with creator Vaughan Rapatahana at the helm.

Love in the Time of Covid Chronicle of a Pandemic through the good graces of Michelle and Witi brought me to the surface of writing after a spell of painting. Astonishing art and inspirational writing from around the world.

The year of 2020 was a year of editing both a new volume of poetry and a collection of poems for young voices. The new volume is woven, not like tukutuku or taniko (no absolute pattern). There are beginnings and a few endings that bleed, come together and come apart. Poems stitched with threads of rural misenchantment, misplaced desire and simmering memories that hover just over the horizon. Characters fledge their wings and some fly, some die. Language both gentle and brutal.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Rebecca Hawkes’s ‘Poem about my heart’

Poem about my heart

you have one job
which is to hold this
disturbingly large moth
battering the woven
basket of your fingers

every instinct whirring
to close your fist and crush it
or open your palms
set the gross insect loose
free your hands for other tasks

but this is your job
the having and the holding
the moth fluttering scaly wings
into moon dust that stains your skin
ghastly silver as you do not ask

how did this thing even get in here
just maintain your grasp
on the fragile stupid alien
that flew to your light and would not go
until you caught it and it was yours

Rebecca Hawkes

Rebecca Hawkes is a queer pākehā poet, painter, and PowerPoint slide ghostwriter living in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara. Her chapbook ‘Softcore coldsores’ can be found in AUP New Poets 5. She is co-editor of the journal Sweet Mammalian and an upcoming anthology of climate change poetry, and is a founding member of popstar performance posse Show Ponies. More of Rebecca’s writing and paintings can be found in journals like Starling, Sport, Scum, and Stasis, or online at her vanity mirror.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Hana Pera Aoake’s ‘Going on strike’

Going on strike

Geographies 

of justice 

of gentrification 

of holiday destinations

of raupatu whenua 

of farmland stretching out and circling in 

of productivity

of 100% pure 

Fanon once wrote that “The Manichaeism of the colonist produces the Manichaeism of the colonised”

It means that we are conditioned to believe in 

categories

only ‘two’ genders 

capitalism with all the trimmings

that we have the right to speak for us all 

We are categorised and branded as one thing 

We cannot be another 

So we surrender to a position so futile in nature 

It cuts like obsidian 

It bleeds like the rata tree

While Taawhaki cries out 

In seeking vengeance we found only death 

Amongst other things we have forgotten

The numbing stench of rain 

The chance to listen

The gift of learning 

The ability to be humble 

The suffering of others 

The necessity of place 

We don’t know how to be complicated

We don’t know how to be nuanced 

We don’t know how to be wrong 

We don’t know that to be wrong is to be free

Freedom is conditional 

But it grows like Lichen 

It dries out in the summer 

And regenerates in the winter

We don’t see how we are the ones who perpetuate the violence 

We say I am right and you are wrong

It’s like George W Bush all over again

“Your either with us or against us”

I want to be the shoe that hits you in the face 

We run a gallery named after a slave ship 

But we want to give platforms to grave robbing as art 

But we don’t want to be told that we are the ones who need to do the work 

But we don’t realise that some of us never forget these things 

But we don’t realise memory is a stain that can only be undone through acknowledgement 

But we don’t realise we should heal ourselves first 

Here we are during this true blue kiwi summer  working our tan 

burning our skin 

not in communion with Tama nui te ra

while the world is dying 

while terrorists attempt a pathetic coup 

while prisoners drink brown water 

while the ice melts as we pillage 

Protecting our property we lock our car doors 

We accumulate and close ranks

We sell decolonize mugs for $70 

We sell decolonize earrings for $70

We sell and sell and sell and sell

We upset ourselves 

We upset each other

We doom scroll 

We don’t dream 

We don’t show tenderness 

We don’t take time be present

We don’t take time to be awake 

Under sheets of rain we watch the splitting of spaces into the interstices of empire 

Afraid of anything but especially ourselves 

But what other ways could they have possibly broken in two or is it that we broke into ourselves and revelled in the smell of salt that we can hear

Imagine just saying saying     no

I want it all to stop sometimes 

I think about the loops that the waves make as they lick the edges of the rocks 

I remember that plastic slowly disintegrates as it travels through the ocean’s currents 

Remember the Roman tar marking the roads across Europe 

Remember the asphalt on Jewish and Romani homes 

Remember Govenor Grey in the cape colony, south Australia and New Zealand 

Remember the gun holes in the wall on University property

Remember

Remember

Remember

The prisons on my ancestors stolen lands are of course deliberate 

The difference between protest and protector 

The difference between a riot and a protest 

The fall of empire 

The decline of the west

The beginning of the end 

Our lives are like raranga 

Rich fibres knotted together 

Through many bodies 

For which we must honour them 

We honour them through 

our complications

our flaws that we work to unlearn

our ability to show love even in the face of the wretched 

Hana Pera Aoake

Hana Pera Aoake (Ngaati Mahuta, Ngaati Hinerangi, Tainui/Waikato) is an artist and writer based in Te wai pounamu. Hana recently published their first book of essays and prose, A bathful of kawakawa and hot water with Compound Press. They currently co-organise Kei te pai press with Morgan Godfery.

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Tim Upperton’s ‘Television’

Television

Inside the television the tiny people

are moving and talking. Some of them

are falling in love. Some of them are dying

in exciting ways. The cartoon people

who fall off a cliff or are hit by a train

get up again, scowling but unharmed.

There are also tiny animals.

They live in documentaries.

They hunt and fall in love and die.

They do not get up again.

At night the television is turned off

and all the people and all the animals

lie down and go to sleep.

The people sleep in tiny houses.

The animals sleep in and under tiny trees.

It is crowded inside the television,

but they are all used to it

and they make do, they settle down

under their tiny night sky,

with its tiny stars.

Who would not wish

to join them there?

A young woman with wet hair

climbs out of the television

into a living room,

her long hair and sodden dress

are dripping water on the floor,

and that is a horror movie.

But more and more of us

are going into the television,

and the young woman will soon

be alone in the world.

She wanders from empty house

to empty house, testing the abandoned

appliances. She picks up the remote

and switches the television on,

but then she is bored

and switches it off.

There is nothing to be afraid of

inside the television. It’s quite all right.

Good night, we tiny people

say to each other.

Good night, the tiny animals

growl and squeak and purr.

The television is dark now.

Good night.

Tim Upperton (an earlier version of this poe appeared in takahē 98)

Tim Upperton lives in Palmerston North. His second poetry collection, The Night We Ate The Baby, was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016, and he won the Caselberg International Poetry Prize in 2012, 2013 and 2020. His poems have been published in many magazines including Agni, Poetry, Shenandoah, Sport, Landfall and Takahē, and are anthologised in The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (2011), Villanelles (2012), Essential New Zealand Poems (2014), and Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century (2014). His poem “The truth about Palmerston North” was recently recorded by Sam Neill here.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Sam Duckor-Jones’s ‘The Embryo, Repeated’

The Embryo, Repeated

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

ripe & pumping giddily

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

present & unasked & ready

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion    

precise as mathematics

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

shoulders up against the wind

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

peace be upon the lion

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

& everyone always says how glamorous

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

as a prize

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

& how is this manifestation distinguished from all the other animals?

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

I said how is this lion distinguished from all the other animals?

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

a toll, a shimmer, a serious cloud, valuable, brief

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

behold, my lion

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

l’chayim     l’chayim

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

it is beloved

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

in the kitchen

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

ah thunder!

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

& the urge for daylight is real

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

& a stag rutting in a meadow

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

a rare nocturnal lion

I know that I look the same / but I have manifested a lion

ta for noting how this lion is distinguished from the other animals

I have popped it into a segmented tray

I have left it to set at optimal temp

*

& bloody etcetera!

gawd

I owe Cath a letter

she wrote in April & now

it’s almost September

I should phone Pam too

phone Pam write to Cath

tell them I’m moving

to latch back onto the hopeless dresses of

Sde Boker with my goy ex, or

to Whanganui, maybe

What is the time?

Sam Duckor-Jones

Sam is an artist and writer from Wellington. His first poetry collection People From The Pit Stand Up was published in 2018 (VUP) and his second Party Legend will be published in June 2021 (VUP). He has exhibited widely and is represented by Bowen Galleries. In 2020 he bought a church near Greymouth that he is turning into a sculpture.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Chris Tse’s ‘Identikit’

Identikit

when asked to explain the lines that lead to now, you describe / 

the shape of your body as it hits water / the shape of cold water

shocking muscle / the shape of fleshy chambers forced to loosen

and acquiesce / the shape of your grandparents in their coffins /

the shape of coffins that are too small to contain entire lifetimes /

the soft and hard moments we can’t forget no matter how often we

turn our backs to the light / [you write this poem out of love / but

even love can be a blindfold] / the shape of you and your parents

standing in your grandparents’ driveway / after being kicked out

for talking to your aunty’s white boyfriend / your hand reaching

out to someone you don’t recognise in a dream / their silhouette

branded upon your brain / [you’ve tried to swallow the night and

all its inhabitants / but they weren’t designed for consumption] / the

night standing in for doubt / as you argue with your own memory /

waking up to the smell of 皮蛋瘦肉粥 / the shape of a bowl designed

to hold love / love that is never spoken of because to do so would

silence it / the shape of silence when you tell your parents you’ve

fallen in love with a white boy / the shape of that white boy pressed

against your body / both your hearts / shaped like hungry mouths /

the shape of your mouth biting into the world’s biggest egg / the

shape of years spent running before walking / your knees shredded

and bloody / even after you grew the thick skin they said you would

need in this lifetime / the years pass like a watched pot / but you imagine

steam rising from its wide open body / flashbacks to the shape of air

being forced into a lifeless body / some incisions are made to clean

blood, others to fast-forward a certain end / when your grandparents

spoke of life it was whatever came their way / no one back then had

time to hide behind the sky / to pull strings / to taste control / the shape

of control does not fit with the shape of effort / a grounded bird tries

to climb an invisible ladder to heaven / to correct a path the world

wouldn’t let it look upon / in case it traced a line too close to comfort /

we all fear the shape of comfort when it belongs to someone else /

forgetting that we all look the same buried six feet under / both your

grandparents appear before you on the night you learn how to take off

your blindfold / when you finally recognise the shape of acceptance /

and how it might fit among the ruins of your rejections / it goes like this: /

the fights, the kisses, the direct hits / unfolding yourself into a shape

the world doesn’t know how to contain / what doesn’t fit / what doesn’t

hold true / the shape of your name / the shape of a bowl that never

empties / all of these things fit together if you turn them the right way up /

you run your finger along the lip of the bowl and remember / what it

means to be laced in time and not know how to use your hands to feed

yourself / you count the years / you feel their shape flooding your

throat / making a noise / making a space for what’s to come

Chris Tse

Chris Tse is the author of the poetry collections How to be Dead in a Year of Snakes and HE’S SO MASC. He and Emma Barnes are co-editing an anthology of LGBTQIA+ and Takatāpui writers to be published by Auckland University Press in 2021. He also edits The Spinoff’s Friday Poem.

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Ruby Solly’s ‘Pōria’

 

Pōria

 

A Judas bird

is the first bird you trap.

Not for its meat,

or feathers,

but for its song.

 

The Judas bird

has its foot folded by its captor.

pushed gently through the pōria;

a ring that it can put on

but not take off.

This is it kare,

you are wearing this pounamu

for life.

 

The Judas bird

cannot help but sing.

Sings for her supper,

sings for her sleep,

sings for her sisters,

sings for you,

sings for me.

 

The Judas bird

sees its sisters fly closer

and closer,

as they fly from the mind’s eye into her vision.

The singing growing more frantic,

higher and lower,

bigger and quicker.

Then the pull of the snare, the thud of the rock.

The tiny sound of air passing through vocal chords

not meaning to sound

but doing so against their best efforts.

An accordion pushed closed with none of its keys down.

We call it a last breath, but really it should be called

a last exhale.

 

The Judas bird watches

its sisters be eaten

and she tries not to sing.

Every bird sound is singing,

a scream is singing, a warning is singing.

She holds it in, the notes rising to her throat like a vapour.

Her mouth full of pitches,

that can’t help but spill from the corners of her beak.

 

The Judas bird wishes

the dawn would not break.

But every morning she finds herself singing.

Small arrows of notes pierce the air

as she releases more and more from her quiver.

Even a cry is song.

 

The Judas bird

sings true and long.

But she has learnt to lessen herself,

to bow to not just the loftiest mountain,

but the smallest grain of sand,

to the dirt under the fingernails

of those who tether her.

She is teaching herself

to song without resonation.

With no harmonics,

no above or below.

Like dropping a stone into a pond

and having it sink with no ripples.

No evidence of its movements

to tell the land

that it is gone.

 

Ruby Solly

 

Ruby Solly is a Kai Tahu musician, taonga puoro practitioner, music therapist and writer living in Wellington. She has played with artists such as Yo-Yo Ma, Whirimako Black, Trinity Roots, and The New Zealand String Quartet as both a cellist, and a player of traditional Māori instruments (ngā taonga puoro). She has also worked as a session musician and recording artist with groups such as So Laid Back Country China, Jhan Lindsay, Strowlini Orchestra, and many other artists around Wellington. In 2019 she completed a Masters thesis in the therapeutic potential of taonga puoro in mental health based music therapy, while working in schools, hospitals, prisons and with private clients from iwi around the motu. She also has experience as a composer with pieces commissioned by the New Zealand School of Music in association with SOUNZ, as well as in film work in association with Someday Stories, and the Goethe Institute with Wellington Film Society.

Ruby is also a published poet and has been published in journals associated with many of New Zealand’s universities such as LandfallSportTurbine, and Mayhem. She has also exhibited poetry in Antarctica, America and New Zealand, and was a runner up for the 2019 Caselberg Trust International Poetry Prize. Additionally, Ruby is a script writer and has found success with her film Super Special which shares knowledge about Māori views of menstruation through narrative. The film aired on Māori TV, and will also air at the LA Women Film Fest.

In 2020, Ruby released her debut album Pōneke and in early 2021 her first book Toku Papa is being released by Victoria University Press.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Sue Wootton’s ‘At Moeraki’

At Moeraki

Midweek. Midwinter. The village

is pared back. At dusk

the houses on the hill go black.

Only here and there a window shines

and a slippered lighthouse keeper shuffles

between chair and cupboard, bath and bed.

In the bay the fishing boats lilt at anchor.

Beneath their hulls the ocean shifts in sleep.

Ale-bellied, full, we take our tavern talk outside,

searching for it on the stone stoop beneath the stars.

Still they are lost, the words we want

for that thing on the wall inside and what it did

although they knock and knock, these words,

behind the tongue. The boat ramp stinks of brine.

The moon rises slow and golden from the headland.

Old eye. The dock is matted with weed and slime. 

 

Queen’s shilling. Shanghai. Press gang. Cosh.

The words we’ve been casting for are caught.

Deckloads of the disappeared come up now on the hook.

The bay’s awash with them, awash.

Sue Wootton

Sue Wootton ( suewootton.com ) lives in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Her debut novel, Strip (Mākaro Press), was longlisted in the 2017 Ockham NZ Book Awards, and the following year her poetry collection The Yield (Otago University Press) was a finalist in the poetry category of these awards. She is co-editor of the e-zine Corpus: Conversations about Medicine and Life, found at corpus.nz


The poem ‘At Moeraki’ was shortlisted for the 2019 University of Canberra Vice Chancellor’s International Poetry Prize.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Lynn Davidson’s ‘They don’t know what is coming’

They don’t know what is coming

for the women of North Berwick 1589

 

Their tongues are behind their teeth.

Their thoughts are not elaborate.

Evening has come and they are in their gardens.

 

One is pulling carrots

Another stands between her arms

And still another adjusts her waistband.

 

They are in the ordinary evening

The way a cup is under a tap,

To catch ordinary water.

 

It feels good to be free of the house

Now that the storm has passed.

 

The women are in their gardens.

The women are in their gardens.

The women are in their gardens

 

And evening is a weightless place

Where anything can happen.

 

A three-days moon

Nicks the sky.

 

Lynn Davidson

Writer Lynn Davidson, after living in Edinburgh for the past four years, has returned home to New Zealand. Her latest poetry collection Islander is published by Shearsman Books in the UK and Victoria University Press in New Zealand. She had a Hawthornden Fellowship in 2013 and a Bothy Project Residency at Inshriach Bothy in the Cairngorms in 2016. Lynn has a doctorate in creative writing, teaches creative writing, and is a member of 12, an Edinburgh-based feminist poetry collective. Her website