Tag Archives: poetry shelf monday poem

Poetry Shelf Monday poem: Rachel Lockwood’s ‘Water Ways’

Water Ways

I have bloodied and been bloodied,

I have been rivered and streamed away,

I have been forest, honey, and I have

been dirt drawn beetle, honey, and

I have been mud. I have been

lung smoke, throat clearing,

menthol rasp, honey.

I have been liar and bullshitter,

I have been the round pot of tallow, honey,

and I have scraped. I have been

oceaned and rivered away.

I have been deep ravine, baby,

I have been gully, I have been fog.

I have been mirage darling,

I have been cowboy antithesis.

I have been shadow hungry, honey,

I have been fern, and salmon, and bird.

I have been runt of the litter, honey,

I have been fed fat on cream.

I have been love lettered, been Dear John lettered,

I have been written to ask to leave

and leave and come back again

like some migratory sea bird

to the winter. I have been soft-held,

honey, I have been soft-held by you.

Rachel Lockwood

Rachel Lockwood is Hawke’s Bay born and bred but now living in Wellington and studying a BA at VUW. She was a 2019 National Schools Poetry Award finalist, and has previously been published in Starling.

You can hear Rachel read her poem in Starling 10 here

Rachel muses on essa may ranapiri’s poem ‘she cut her face shaving’

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Emma Neale’s ‘The First World Hotel’

The First World Hotel

You’re quite some guest, you know, buddy. Wet towels tossed in loose crumples like botched thank-you notes; toast crumbs Hanselled in pockets of your room; thoughts and plans kept schtoom behind that door-sized don’t disturb sign. The other occupants only ever hear you from behind the clam-shell of your walls; as if your murmured conversations always hide private, no-tell pearls.

Sometimes, true, they glimpse you in the front foyer as you knock storm-strewn camellias, tea-bag brown, from your shoes; shake rain, wood-smoke, and leaf-lint from your lapels. Or with their arms laden with laundry, linen, they might pass you in the corridor’s electric fritz and hum, where your fleet nod and smile flash up like ID, for security scans that you hope run glitch-free, let you back into your own hushed interior.

They carry on: attend to quiet comforts. Not after-dinner mints on pillows; white cloths folded into mute swans; not single malt, strong, campfire peaty and dry, in doll-sized phials. They store and preserve the apple-fall of small realisations. Such as, when you leave, how polite this son will be, as he acknowledges transient strangers in the world’s anonymous spaces.

Emma Neale

Emma Neale is the author of six novels and six collections of poetry. Her most recent novel, Billy Bird (2016) was short-listed for the Acorn Prize at the Ockham NZ Book Awards and long-listed for the Dublin International Literary Award. Emma has received a number of literary fellowships, residencies and awards, the most recent of which is the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for a Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry 2020. Her first collection of short stories, Party Games, is due out late 2020/early 2021. Emma lives and works in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, and she is the current editor of Landfall, New Zealand’s longest-running literary journal.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Mohamed Hassan’s ‘Heaven is a window you can climb through’

Heaven is a window you can climb through

From the top of the sky-

tower we watch lovers

uncouple against

the sunset, red and screaming

light across faces of buildings

unbent by time, everyone belts

romance and the band plays over-

produced pop songs, a girl weeps

in disbelief, a boyfriend begs her

to calm down, two strangers long

for each other’s bones, a boy made

of scruff dances for every lost

night of wild, his heart unnerved, a hurt

like a heaven on his chest, we eat burgers

by the wharf, I make conversation

with people I’d rather not, practice my best

fake smile, the train smells like the morning

after, the earth is a flat plane, an endless reel

spinning on a loop, what if I never leave?

Mohamed Hassan

Mohamed Hassan is an award-winning journalist and poet from Auckland and Cairo. He was the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion, a TEDx fellow, and represented NZ at the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2016. In 2017 he was awarded the Gold Trophy at the New York Radio Awards for his RNZ podcast series ‘Public Enemy’. His new collection of poems ‘National Anthem’ will be released in October by Dead Bird Books, and is available for pre-order.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Pippi Jean’s ‘What We Owe to Each Other’

WHAT WE OWE TO EACH OTHER

Is teething at the river mouth. Burrowing down.
Between the dirt and wild things. Frozen breathing, rain,
this place, is smoking from the mountainside.
Is setting bush on fire.
Is suspended by wire pins. Browning alpine sunshine
slunk onto muck. Sky and the sailing moors,
all bright descended pictures,
falling on the roof.
Is passing under cars.
Is passerby. Non-belonging. Beating trails
where the road hitches and pulls from
snow, matted scrubland, country laid
in bird formation. Is burnt-out
with believing. Festering.
Splintered. Usually
self-inflicted.

Pippi Jean

Pippi Jean is seventeen and has yet to decide on a music taste. Her work has appeared in Signals, Starling, Poetry NZ Yearbook, Overcommunicate and Toitoi. Last year she was a finalist in the National Schools Poetry Award.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Alison Glenny’s ‘Notes on The Nocturne Tradition’





Notes on The Nocturne Tradition

By the end of the decade the song is said to have lost most of its charm. This did not diminish the vogue for delicate compositions, likened to albums of fragrant leaves or to finger bowls in which reveries drifted among the reflections.

A preference for ornament over direction led to a confusion of jewellery boxes. The greatest treasures mingled with trinkets of lesser value, or were lost against the velvet lining.

The expressed aim of the cantilena was to drown the world in night.

The enigmatic nature of beauty is said to have inspired his phrasing of the portamento. At its most lucid moments a slight staccato, almost a stammer, conveyed the vague sensation of a serenade.

The belief that the action of the wrist was a form of respiration gave rise to experiments with breathlessness. Audiences likened the experience to diving into a deep lake, or being smothered in song.

Each charmed moment coaxed a new loop of melody from the shadows. Also her hair, which he compared to a curtain made of silk and embroidered with tiny stars.

Although the modulations were described as ‘tormenting’, this did not diminish the rapture that greeted the appearance of the sub-clause.

She compared the delicate figurations in the left hand to an attempt to conceive of a vaporous machine. Also a pattering of raindrops, or the sound of a bird tapping its beak against a shell.

By wandering into less dominant keys, he hoped to reveal a gender that slipped through minor modulations like water, and had no name.

Likened to a failure of the symbolic code due to an exhaustion of available resources. For example, the disappearance of the object, or the composer burying himself in a large white handkerchief.

Alison Glenny

Alison Glenny’s Antarctic-themed collection of prose poems and fragments, The Farewell Tourist, was published by Otago University Press in 2018. She lives on the Kāpiti Coast.

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Michele Leggott’s ‘very fine lace knitting’

 

very fine lace knitting

 

this is a picture of my house

wallpaper silvery with birch trees

covering the workbook

the stories and the pictures

red and yellow blue and blue-green

the smiling suns

jack in the box on the window sill

see Sweetie run

the high shelf in the toyshop

I want to be a ship

the umbrella poem

the oak tree and its acorns

the blue eyes that wouldn’t

the bar of chocolate and our mother at a high window

angelic openings in the calendar

circus elephants on the road at Waitara

hot black sand and the donkey rides at Ngāmotu

 

 

but we came ashore after the others

Mama still pale and no baby sister

though we begged her to tell us

when we might see her again

hush darlings she said

look at the tents and the lovely black sand

we will camp out until there is a house for us

but that house burned down right away

and Papa had no watch

or any instruments to make drawings with

and all of us felt sad

because the ship had gone

perhaps with our baby sister hidden somewhere inside

crying to us but we couldn’t hear

now Papa must cut the Sugar Loaf line

now Mama must tell us a new story

and when the earth shakes and the rats run across our blankets

we will not think of her

our sister outside in the dark

beside the rivers and wells

that wait to drown children less wary than us

 

 

when my mother was a girl

she thought all grown men had to go to jail

and feared to find her father one day

among the figures working in the prison gardens across the river

under the watchful eye of Marsland Hill

how did she know

afternoon sun slanting through eucalypts

stream curving or carving the valley that divides

here from there, us from them

now from then

or not at all

how did she know

that her grandfather was locked up

for three months pending trial

for the attempted murder of his wife and child

on the farm at the top of Maude Road

and that she, our great grandmother

would drop the charges, needing him

at home and claiming he would often shoot at her

going down the road, for target practice

he was cautioned against excessive drinking and released

to lose the farm and start over

as a teacher in country schools

how did my mother know

that her father, a young man in a country town

was put in the lock-up for two weeks in the year before the war

for sending indecent literature to the girl who jilted him

two postcards and a photograph

he is named but she is not

in the police report that went to the local paper

he was in the second draft

leaving for Palmerston North

dark hair brown eyes five foot seven

oblique scar on left forearm

August 1914

 

 

We were too small to remember

the trouble that took Papa to prison

for losing all his money

were we there too we ask Mama

did you take us did we all live in prison for a while

she will tell us only

that it wasn’t so bad

that everyone helped out and soon

he was home again I cannot now recall

how long we were away

but I was glad enough to leave that place

though I was not in favour of the long voyage

to the other side of the world

and dreaded confinement at sea

Well that is another story

now your father ties off his lines

for the company and remembers Cornish hills

Somerset hills and Devon hills under his pencil

he sees the nature path in the valley of the Huatoki

and knows it will take him to slopes covered in red and white pine

rimu and kahikatea

where a house may be built or brought

on land bought with remittances from England

 

 

the small child in the big photo

dark hair dark eyes pixie face

is my mother’s sister

they share a middle name

the child in the photo could be a year old

she is holding onto a stool with baby fingers

her feet are bare and she wears a dress

of soft white wool knitted by my grandmother

in whose bedroom the photo hangs

above the treadle sewing machine we are pumping hard

for the noise it makes up and down up and down

up and down and we are never told to stop or be quiet

we know the child in the photo died long ago

before she had time to become my mother’s sister

but we never ask our grandmother

about the very fine lace knitting

of the photo that hangs in her room

 

when at last we go looking for

the child who would have been our aunt

the trail is cold the dates stones or tears

Date of death: 20 September 1923

Place of death: Stewart Karitane Home Wanganui

Cause or causes of death: Gastroenteritis 2 1/2 Months, Exhaustion

Age and date of birth: 19 Months, Not Recorded

Place of birth: Stratford

Date of burial or cremation: 21 September 1923

Place of burial or cremation: Kopuatama Cemetery

 

we see our grandfather thrashing the Dodge

between Stratford and Whanganui

and the journey home with the little daughter

he will bury next day at Kopuatama

was our grandmother there

in the car at the Karitane Home at the graveside

the two and a half months of sickness

the birth of a second child

our Uncle Jack

8 July 1923

 

up and down up and down up and down

noise to cover a heartbeat under soft white wool

 

 

I look upon these letters and do not like to destroy them

they are a house of memory and when I read

I am my mother on deck at last

searching for a ripple on the flat Pacific Ocean

I am my father making delicate waves

around each of the Sugar Loaves on the map going to London

I am my brother in a choir of breakers

that bring his body to the landing place

I am my sister in the boat

outside the orbit of the moon and the orbit of the sun

I am my sister a bell-shaped skirt

between ship and shore

I am my sister painting a rock arch

that became fill for the breakwater

I am my sister exhausted

by travelling and the house to clear

I am my sister writing poems

that lie between the thin pages of letters

I am my sister singing

ship to shore choir of breakers alpine meadow

I am myself on the other side of nowhere

waiting for a knock on the door

 

 

my mother is taking a photo

of herself and our baby sister

in the mirror on the wall of silvery grey birches

it’s summer and she has propped the baby

between pillows in the armchair

holds the Box Brownie still

leans over the back of the chair smiling

into the mirror

she and her baby by themselves

reflected in silvery light

not for a moment aware of the child

whose passing long ago

mirrors to the day

the arrival of our sister

whose middle name my mother took

from the light of Clair de Lune

 

 

and so the daughter library

remakes itself and is not lost

though great libraries burn and cities fall

always there is someone

making copies or packing boxes

writing on the back of a painting or a photo

always there is someone

awake in the frosty dark

hearing the trains roll through and imagining

lying under the stars at Whakaahurangi

face to the sky on the shoulder of the mountain

between worlds and mirror light

 

***

 

Michele Leggott

Michele Leggott was the first New Zealand Poet Laureate 2007–09 under the administration of the National Library. She received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry in 2013. Her collections include Mirabile Dictu (2009), Heartland (2014), and Vanishing Points (2017), all from Auckland University Press. She cofounded the New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre (NZEPC) with Brian Flaherty at the University of Auckland where she is Professor of English.

Auckland University Press page

Poetry Shelf review of Mezzaluna

Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Anuja Mitra’s ‘Polaroid’

 

Polaroid

 

there we are — lost

in a thicket of murky lines,

faces swallowed by lack

of light.

 

she waves the picture impatiently

coaxing us into view.

I think I have questions

about polaroids,

 

like why do we romanticise

our parents’ relics

and who knows to pull us

from that milky dark?

 

the last summer of my saviourhood

she leapt from the dock at low tide,

water closing over her

like it might never give her back.

 

after her other friends deserted her

she bought the camera

to salvage us.

the first shot developed slowly,

 

our figures fading

into sight.

there we are! she yelled

like we were terra nova.

 

the second was blurry,

our bodies smudged

and slightly ghoulish.

she tore it in two

 

and gave me her half.

keep it, she said,

we’ll be each other’s

ghosts.

 

Anuja Mitra

 

 

Anuja Mitra lives in Auckland where she is finishing a Law/Arts degree. She is co-founder of the online arts magazine Oscen at oscen.co, and more of her writing can be found in Signals, Starling, Sweet Mammalian, Mayhem, The Three Lamps and Poetry NZ.

 

 

 

 

 

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).