Tag Archives: poetry shelf monday poem

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Jessie Puru’s ‘Milk’

Milk

Gumboots squelch across the paddock
it’s still dark and she’s making her way
over to the milking shed
a coat covers her to her knees
and tents over her growing belly

I imagine her working like normal
using her knees to lift
to carry the bucket home for breakfast
creamy milk, unpasteurised
perfect for porridge

trek back across the paddock, Tama-nui-te-rā
has begun to poke his head above the horizon
to warm the back of her
her belly starts to stir
then greet her with a few kicks

then she can get ready for her job
at the shop in town
or the mill,
whichever came first
and clean or cook
right up until the very due date

that week she will have her first girl
at eighteen
and a few years and girls later
she will marry down at the courthouse

then years later she will have 13 grandchildren
of course she will have favourites
and she will continue to work
and work and work
right up until the very last minute

and Tama-nui-te-rā will greet her
one last time
then farewell her not long after

*

her heels click across the footpath
it’s dusk and she’s making her way
a few streets over to the bus stop
a coat covers her to the ankles
it tents over her entirely

 

Jessie Puru

 

 

Jessie Puru, Ngāti Te Ata, Tainui,Ngā Puhi, is a Māori/ Pākeha poet and mother of one daughter living in Auckland. Her work has been published in Ika, Blackmail Press, Landfall, Poetry (US), and she was runner up for the Emerging Poets Competition in 2019. Jessie is currently working on her first collection of poems following the life of a young wāhine trying to find her connection with Te Ao Māori. She also has a Bachelor of Creative Arts from MIT and Master of Creative Writing degree from AUT.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Ruby Solly’s ‘Dedication’

 

Dedication

 

This one’s for the aunty

that taught me

how to knead bread

properly.

Not with love,

but like you hate it.

The warm skin

of someone whose skin

doesn’t deserve it.

The aunty who calls out;

Beat it down girl

when the air bubbles

gasp through the dough.

And so you beat them

so far down

that you beat them

all the way out.

 

This one’s for

the girl in the tutu

and gumboots.

Shit covered

and tractor riding.

Pāpā doing her hair in loose braids,

those old farm ropes

swinging.

Tug of war fighting

to the sugar plum fairy.

 

This one’s for

the boy who thinks himself magic

then throws himself off

the top of the monkey bars

then doesn’t fly

but falls.

For the smashed nose,

for the freckles falling

from the face

in patterned rain.

Salt water cleaning the eyes

of a not special boy.

 

This one’s for

the girl with white skin

but black everything else

Pig dog! Pig dog!”

They say,

pulling her hair

until she barks.

Reaching out

from behind black eyes

to find nothing.

The ladder out

already pulled up

to a light that emanates

from everywhere

but below.

 

This one’s

for the man

who speaks not with words

but with hands in the soil.

Roots coiling down

towards magma core.

Digging to Rangiatea,

he knows he’ll get there

if he just digs and digs.

 

And now

you are all here

and we are ready

to begin.

 

Ruby Solly

 

 

Ruby Solly is a Kai Tahu / Waitaha writer and musician living in Pōneke. She has had poetry and creative non-fiction published in Landfall, Sport, Poetry NZ, Starling, Mimicry, Minarets, E-Tangata, The Spinoff, and Pantograph Punch amongst others. Victoria University Press will be publishing her debut book of poetry ‘Tōku Pāpā’ in early 2021. Ruby is also a scriptwriter and her film ‘Super Special’ which aims to share knowledge around traditional Māori views and practices around menstruation has been featured in film festivals within New Zealand and the US. As a musician, she has played with artists such as Yo-yo Ma as part of his Bach Project, Trinity Roots, Whirimako Black, Rikki Gooch, and Ariana Tikao. Ruby is a taonga puoro (traditional Māori musical instruments) player and therapist with a first-class master’s in music therapy where she conducted kaupapa Māori research into the use of taonga puoro in acute mental health.

 

 

Ruby Solly premieres a video for her new album Pōneke and a wānanga with essa may ranapiri

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Tim Upperton’s ‘Nobody knows’

 

Nobody knows

 

Many things make me sad these days,

the days make me sad, how they fade

into night so soon, how today

becomes yesterday, and then

last year, then seven years ago

when my mother died. She never

minded the passing of time,

getting old. Such a beauty she was.

Divorcing at seventy was a surprise.

She used to sing, sometimes, in a high voice,

‘Nobody knows – the troubles I’ve seen,’

and towards the end she’d sing,

‘Nobody knows …’ and then trail away,

and we knew and didn’t know.

 

 

Tim Upperton’s second poetry collection, The Night We Ate The Baby, was an Ockham New Zealand Book Awards finalist in 2016. He won the Caselberg International Poetry Competition in 2012 and again in 2013. His poems have been published in many magazines including Agni, Poetry, Shenandoah, Sport, Takahe, and Landfall, and are anthologised in The Best of Best New Zealand Poems (2011), Villanelles (2012), Essential New Zealand Poems (2014), Obsession: Sestinas in the Twenty-First Century (2014), and Bonsai (2018).

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Simone Kaho’s ‘Crane Fly’

 

Crane Fly

 

I’ve been in the bathroom with a flying daddy-long-legs thing locked in a battle for its life.
I saw it on a shower floor tile when I was showering.
A leggy bug fossil, squashed flat by water.
I told myself it was dead but couldn’t resist checking and it grabbed the toothbrush handle I held over its body.
So, I flicked it out of the shower and told myself It’ll sort itself out.
I checked when I got out.
It was lying in a wing and leg jumble, glued together with an iridescent water drop.
Still alive though, because it grabbed at the toothbrush again.
So I lifted it up to the windowsill, and it staggered upright-ish.
I saw it only had one back leg on the right, jabbing down to steady itself.
Three legs in total. It should have six.
But its struggles made it seem saveable, so I ripped off a single toilet paper square and touched the wings lightly and quickly.
That sucked the wetness up, but they were stuck together along its back, like wet cellophane but infinitely more fragile.
It wiggled its abdomen and wing joints like it was trying to fly.
That made me sad, that it wanted to fly, and couldn’t, and didn’t know why.
So, I separated the wings by running closed tweezers between the veiny transparent panels, then gently letting them open.
Oil glistened in my fingerprint troughs, which were larger than the wing veins.
If you try this yourself – don’t grab and pull the wings with tweezers.
I never closed the tweezers on a wing – it was all very indirect and slow.
After a few passes, its wings sprung apart.
It buzzed them and flew haphazardly back into the shower.
Which was clearly not a safe space.
So I walked it onto some toilet paper and put it on top of the mirror cabinet to calm down.
Later, in the middle of the night, I checked, and it was gone.
I bet it’s flown into a spider web I thought and looked in a corner of the room.
Sure enough, there it was, hanging in a web.
I counted the legs to be sure. Two fronts, one back.
There was no spider in the web so I pulled it out and laid it on the window beside the toilet in a cobwebby pile.
My cat thought about eating it but didn’t.
Its legs were stuck together, so I got the tweezers again and separated each leg, pinching cob web strands and slowly pulling, aware the web may be stronger than the legs.
Each time I pulled, I thought This leg might snap.
It’s not like there were legs to spare.
We got lucky.
After several minutes of tweezing the legs got free and it could even lift them and they didn’t stick to the window ledge.
I set it on a piece of toilet paper outside the window – thinking – Hey man, the bathroom isn’t safe. Go die outside.
It was pretty cold outside.
After I did my business, I noticed the toilet paper had blown away.
So, I mouthed Goodbye and Goodluck.
But when I went to shut the window the dude was quivering there, on the window frame, standing the right way up on his front two legs, the back one propped under like a lopsided tripod.
I shut the window and left him there.
Maybe he wants to die and I’m getting in the way.
Maybe none of the ways he’s been dying has been fast enough.
There’s too much waiting to die in an awkward tangle, so he battles to live, to find a better, quicker way.
Or maybe this is just how life is for a flying-daddy-long-legs in the bathroom.
How could I know?
I know I felt great success each time he made it through.
He’s a tough little bugger, although unspeakably vulnerable, directionless, and with no clue how to stay safe.

 

Simone Kaho

 

Simone Kaho is a Tongan / Pākehā poet who writes discontinuous narratives in poetry. She has a Masters from Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters. Her first book, Lucky Punch, was published by Anahera Press in 2016, The second will hopefully arrive in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Serie Barford’s ‘The midwife and the cello’

 

The midwife and the cello

 

I was perched amongst pīngao
contemplating a paragliding instruction

Don’t look at what you want to miss

when a woman sat beside me

pointed at the lagoon’s mouth
breaking into hazardous surf

crooned I’m a midwife
sing and play cello

I observed her eloquent hands
sand burying sprawling feet
lines networking a benevolent smile
dreads tied with frayed strips of cotton

remembered you returning home
buoyant with the miracle of birth

the baby with omniscient eyes
you eased into this world

how she lay within your arms

didn’t cry

 

Serie Barford

 

Serie Barford was born in Aotearoa to a migrant German-Samoan mother and a Palagi father. Her latest collection, Entangled Islands (Anahera Press 2015), is a mixture of poetry and prose. Serie’s work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She was awarded the Seresin Landfall Residency in 2011 and is a recipient of the Michael King Writers’ Centre 2018 Pasifika residency. Some of Serie’s stories for children and adults have aired on RNZ National. She has recently completed a new collection, Sleeping with Stones.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Emma Neale’s ‘Wanting to believe in the butterfly effect’

 

Wanting to believe in the butterfly effect

 

I collect a box of groceries from cold storage,

take it to the drop-in centre, break open bread rolls

 

fill them with salad, cheese, mayonnaise; leave goofy notes

about extra cucumber for beauty treatment, or vegans,

 

in the hope that giving migrates invisible currents

to distant continents, pollinates oil barons’ and despots’ hearts —

 

They feel their hearts!

 

Yet our children watch polar ice-caps collapse on TV;

learn to say sixth mass extinction with furious fluency,

 

choose to walk to school all weathers, forego meat and dairy food,

their eyes the soot of burnt-out stumps.

 

Other days, they kneel with us, postures half hopeful, half bereft,

to press electric-white seedling roots, skinny wires

 

into the rich, dark sockets of a field’s edge, to try to light

cool lamps of leaves, to banish the creeping dread

 

that even planting trees might be as impotent

as fingers kissed to magpies, green forbidden on first-time brides.

 

Our young sons help us squash the sluggy pearls of grass grubs

that would eat the seedlings in their new-born cribs

 

but as the news reports that fresh forest fires blacken

the planet’s treasure map, one boy asks, in a toneless blank,

 

‘Why do people even have children?’

The other hugs me, his body’s slim shuttle

 

shaken with the gravity of the mind’s strain.

‘You shouldn’t have had us, Mum.’

 

But we had you because we loved the world.

 

Stern young faces gavel-blunt, their twinned silences

sentence me as yet another militant of double-speak:

 

In order to show our love for the planet,

we wanted children who could grieve for it.

 

Emma Neale

 

 

Emma Neale is the author of six novels and six collections of poetry, the most recent of which is To the Occupant (OUP, 2019). She works as a freelance editor in Otepoti/Dunedin, where she also occasionally teaches creative writing. This year she received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award, a prize given biennially for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand poetry. She is the current editor of Landfall.

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Chris Tse’s ‘Ghost poem #3—The other side of the glass’

 

Ghost poem #3—The other side of the glass

 

I was working a sausage sizzle fundraiser

on the day George Michael died. His ghost

sat with me in my car while I scrolled through

social media exploding with grief and links

to his greatest hits. George took my hand

and told me not to cry before asking why I

smelt of burning flesh. Are we in hell? he asked.

Lower Hutt, I replied. My sunburnt neck

pulsed with residual heat or perhaps it was

the spark of a memory of watching him

perform at Sydney Mardi Gras in 2010 flanked

by shirtless cowboys, leather daddies and

policemen in latex pants. I think about it

all the time. Every now and then I crave to

feel that night again, slick trepidation running

down my spine every time I locked eyes with

another guy, hoping my smile would be returned

favourably. A certain beat can unlock the body

heat of that glittering night and all the other nights

of careless yearning since then tumbling

from limb-crushing dancefloor into the crisp

3AM air with his voice still ringing in my ears:

You’ve got to go to the city.

You’ve got to reach the other side of the glass.

Some of us are neither sunburst nor shade

but a symptom of formative summers caught

somewhere in between like hands pressed against

the edge of the rest of our lives. The glass was

my own making and all my future wonders were

one swift and decisive thought away. I wrote all

my desires in my breath for anyone to read them.

 

Chris Tse

 

 

Chris Tse is the author ofHow to be Dead in a Year of Snakes and HE’S SO MASC. He is co-editing an anthology of LGBTQIA+/Takatāpui New Zealand writers due to be published by Auckland University Press in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Ash Davida Jane’s ‘undergrowth’

 

 

undergrowth

 

at dusk the birds by the road

are loud as a fire                      so much noise

from such small lungs

we say

it seems impossible but what’s worse is

we should be able to hear this anywhere

the branches

always ripe with nests

in spring

 

birdsong so big

we could almost dance to it

but the next day

we’re overheating in the park

& everyone’s too busy worrying

to notice our spot under the trees

I’m imagining a giant ballroom with

this leafy canopy for a roof

the floor a pool of cool green light

 

nobody’s been here for centuries &

most of the birds are gone too

but an ant crawls

across the cracked marble

& somewhere in the silence our buried

forms turning

back into earth             are still

in love

& the flowers pick themselves

up & carry on

 

 

Ash Davida Jane

 

 

Ash Davida Jane is a poet and bookseller from Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She has a Master of Arts from the International Institute of Modern Letters. Some of her recent work can be found in Peach Mag, Turbine | Kapohau, Best New Zealand Poems, and Scum. How to Live with Mammals is due to be published by Victoria University Press in 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Fleur Adcock’s ‘Island Bay’

 

Island Bay

 

Bright specks of neverlastingness

float at me out of the blue air,

perhaps constructed by my retina

 

which these days constructs so much else,

or by the air itself, the limpid sky,

the sea drenched in its turquoise liquors

 

like the paua shells we used to pick up

seventy years ago, two bays

along from here, under the whale’s great jaw.

 

Fleur Adcock

 

 

Fleur Adcock was born in New Zealand but has lived in England since 1963, with regular visits to NZ. She lives in London, and has dual British and New Zealand citizenship. She was awarded an OBE in 1996, a CNZM in 2008 and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2006. Her poetry is published in Britain by Bloodaxe Books and in New Zealand by Victoria University Press. In 2019 her Collected Poems appeared from Victoria University Press, and later that year she received the Prime Minister’s award for Literary Achievement in Poetry.

Fleur: I wrote this poem when I was in New Zealand late last year. It feels unbelievable that I should have been able to walk freely along the coast of Island Bay basking in the sunshine and the wind, just because I felt like it; things are not like that here, and may never be again for someone of my age. But at least it’s spring, and I have my garden, and am allowed to go for walks in the local woods as long as I don’t travel on a bus to get there, or risk doing anything so audacious as my own shopping.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poetry Shelf connections: two poems from Nicola Easthope

 

Unessential kiss

 

I thought we’d meet in Island Bay

on a park bench facing the sea.

Well, you two on it, in your safe bubble

with us three standing, two metres away.

 

There’d be coffee poured from the flask

steaming against the strait’s new ice

and muffins with feijoa’s soap-sweet grit.

We’d inhale the aroma, lift our masks.

 

In lock down, I can’t mistakenly slip

on the mussel-kelp-anemone rock

and the soft creased surface of your cheeks

cannot be surprised by my bursting lips.

 

 

Numb and Absurd have morning

love children

and there is small relief.

 

Boris has gone to hospital.

Donald is lost, will lose.

Scotland’s chief medical officer,

 

Catherine and our Health Minister, David

have apologised for breaking

their own rules. The Queen, Elizabeth

 

calls for stoicism and self-discipline.

The iwi from Uawa are dancing

on the checkpoint line, in rainbow chiffon

 

wings, totally winning.

Craig from Solly’s lorries says all loos

are closed on his route from Mataura

 

to Ashburton but he makes it in time

yet the journo presses him – just take us

through this – what did this feel like?

 

I am looking in the mirror at the small

purulent pimple on my chin

wondering why on earth at my age?

 

I am thinking of people with nothing

in the fridge and no safe haven.

I am loading the dishwasher too unlovingly

 

and chip the willow-green bowl my mother

made at a pottery nightclass way back

when all we ever caught off each other

 

were colds, mumps, chickenpox, headlice

and it was wickedly easy

to make ourselves burp, or cry.

 

Nicola Easthope

 

 

Nicola Easthope (Pākehā, tangata Tiriti) is a teacher, poet and cheerleader for teen activism, from the Kāpiti Coast. Her two collections are leaving my arms free to fly around you (Steele Roberts, 2011) and Working the tang (The Cuba Press, 2018), and individual poems have been published in Aotearoa, Australia, Scotland and the U.S. She was a guest of the Queensland Poetry Festival in 2012, the Tasmanian Poetry Festival in 2018, and a couple of very cool LitCrawl seasons in Pōneke. You can find more of her work on gannet ink