And here is the second half of the poems. All from living poets from NZ and around the world. Buy poetry and support these poets!
While we drink strong coffee on the lanai Reina and I are again cocooned in
the rich throbbing chorus of cicadas that will continue late into the night
It’s been like this all summer and we sleep with it lacing our dreams
While it was still dark this morning Manoa as usual jumped onto my chest
woke and shepherded me to the kitchen where I poured food into her dish
As I opened the back door so she could later wander into the garden
the cicada chorus invaded the kitchen and I fled back to bed
What are they called in Samoan? Reina asks
Alisi I reply and at dawn they welcome the day with their singing and
as the sun drops sharply into night their chorus laments the end of the light
We always anthropomorphize don’t we? She laughs
Otherwise cicadas and other creatures and things won’t have meaning
in our search for metaphor and design in the mess of our lives! I reply
Isn’t it enough just to enjoy their compelling sound? She sighs
Albert Wendt [Samoa] from ‘From Manoa to a Ponsonby Garden’ (Auckland University Press, 2012).
Articled fa’a samoa
arrows kanak art
– snarling intelligentsia.
Arson flagons aerate
– simnel incense.
Asteroid factotum asphyxiate
– siphoned inanga.
austere karmic authors
avatars and kaumatua
abridge skulduggerous ichthyology.
Awaiting false awakenings
alarm sloven idols.
– aphrodisiac’s smorgasbord ignite.
Anklet, fertile anarchy
– soothsayer’s infidel.
ambivalent kia oras
air- soar intimate.
amid kudos acolyte
filthy abstemious knoll,
acacia’s sole invective.
abnegates kumquat abodes
awaken Kiwis –
agile sine qua non inter-islanders.
Selina Tusitala Marsh [Samoa] from ‘Dark Sparring’ (Auckland University Press, 2013).
A Walk on the Beach
Rasing of the ocean’s tentative hands, waving hello, goodbye and whatever.
Sand offers no press releases about the whirl and heat of infinity.
Walking the talk, talking the walk on a beach without memory or future ecstasies.
Any narrative is false; lit side of the coin, the coin being phenomena.
Nothing to be earned from the coastline, except the currency of time consuming its pliant side,
where sandcastles are but wishful thinking. Waves throw up innumerable caps to the present.
Clouds impress then leave no trace. The silent music of birds across a stave of sky.
Footprints puddle again without invective. Insight: rearrangements of foam, sand and light
distilled on a day like today. Rocks and shells have little to report. Why not pay attention anyway.
Cyril Wong [Malaysia]
Stand there by the polar bear.
Closer. I know he’s touching you,
it’s only for a second. Just ignore him.
Oh for Pete’s sake where’s that kid’s mum?
Wait guys until he moves. Now smile. What? I
don’t know what sort of polar bear it is. Come, on,
we want to see Phar Lap before this place closes guys.
Don’t even think about touching. Yes, he’s stuffed. Hah?
His heart’s in Canberra & Te Papas got his skeleton.
I’ve no idea who has his kidneys, does it matter?
Now stay put. I’m just going to dive into that
shop, they’re selling Phar Lap scarves at
half price. And so they should cos we
saw less than half of him eh.
Ruth Arnison [NZ]
Abandoned poem titled ‘Magnificent Moon’
It was coming up my parents’ big anniversary.
They were going to fly over.
All week long a southerly was hamming it up in the bay.
Anyone who wanted to fly was turned sideways.
We have had the most ferociously unflyable skies
said my mother. We have not
been sleeping well
as if we sense that all is not well with the land
despite a magnificent moon tonight.
Ashleigh Young [NZ] from ‘Magnificent Moon,’ (Victoria University Press, 2012).
all the gurus
the gurus have been hiding
from you all this time
you listen to a quiet morning
the television is blaring
you know when to turn on the music
you know when to turn off the music
you know you don’t want to throw darts at the wall,
when you are wandering.
you rarely realize the depth to
the touch of a button
Orchid Tierney [NZ]
The eye is the light of the body
– Matthew 6:22
we see only objects, not light
let the light into a room too long
shuttered like an outhouse
interior ocular fire: you must burn in order to become
the only one in the red room who knows
how to blush, you know
another: nostalgia for the emotion of the moment
we don’t need to see each other to be
in love, that the idea of cleaving can
transform the scent of the nor’westerly
into sweaty flesh, and that you were
to come: nostalgia for the words ‘I expect you’
moved like the cumulus in my direction
now this house cannot hold our breath
and that is not the half of it (exhale)
blue sky offsets the coming dusk in your eyes
but I’ll recite the spectrum into black
a flag hangs like a widower’s declaration of love
and white my back turned to
you, you’ll fondle my favourite scarf as if
oiling my skin with a smile finer than myrrh
it was borrowed from your drawer
‘How long has this been going on?’
you remember the cicadas last spring shrill as metal
move to the doorway
eyes touching every thing except my
expectation of rain running along
outstretched arms: lips slightly
parted, startled, leaving the blue sky to sunset’s gull
the surprise of sunshine in tractor-track puddles
you are that heroic nude attended by a feminised youth
who is neither noble nor savage: your desire
mechanistic rather than spiritual light
recedes like an old queen’s hairline – while hope
withdraws with your Lord from Gethsemane
the sun becomes a lioness in the eastern mountains
where melons burgeon, olives
drop into the mouths of apostles who cannot remember His name
where fires are fed by incense and animal fat
and condemned leaves curl up their noses: you step
into the blue-collar universe: these fruit trees
in Plato’s world of number, ratio and geometry
overflow flies (those minor gods multiplied
like motes from a single teardrop)
how come the material world is spent light, Son?
your Father sleeps in the bed of a river where countless
tourists hiccup like drunks into eternity, learning
‘If thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be
water is not holy until it is swallowed
the dawn star is a cartographer’s nightmare
full of darkness.’
David Howard [NZ] from ‘The Incomplete Poems,’ (Cold Hub Press, 2011).
This place of sip and crack This place unable to falter outside of the water This place where sons cut their teeth on the drupes of ice peaches, on the drupes of nectarines where sweet blood is This place where mothers and sons with sunburnt legs stop coolly beside the torn wallpapered swallows This place of letters This place where ice letters from half-dissembled loves are sent where the ink bleeds coolly in the storm This place where storms are sweet like stone fruit where the lake could be just past that ridge or it could not be This place of the speckled mother with her legs tucked under the tree that fell in the storm This place of the son with a sent sweater made of water This place where we learnt how to press our several faces against the doors as they were opening where we found our faces were made entirely of opening doors This place of transparent syllables This place where we might have been torn paper where we might have been doorstops where we might have been the lake’s best secret oldest secret dark and willing This place of spent mother spent son This place of the lake’s spent secret where money is a kind of alphabet we learnt the sound of before we learnt to fracture and marry its small black shapes with our chosen hand This place planting weak cellophane gestures inside our transparent ballrooms This place still learning how to walk of rubber in the shapes of fish their tails stippled so we can hold on when the slickness comes This place of single scales placed over our eyes to keep back the blinking This place of wanting us to see it This place of the exquisite fish bone in the throat of the lake
Joan Fleming [Canada/NZ]
You hold grandmother’s pyrex dish to the stars
hoping to catch signals or sign. Some word
regarding what to do, or how.
A yelp carries from the next ridge.
Crackling steps in the alley. Dark matter
coats the sides and bottom of the pan
between glowing puddles of ambered grease.
What say these stains?
We know they are small hints
of the tangible impacts of our words.
Each morning we go back to the spring.
Our neighbor a shadow behind the hedge.
Born muddled, we can make a new lasagna
of flax and hand-dug sediments.
Carry it on our heads to the farthest corner of the city.
Cut fair portions and blindly share.
Wash yourself in the gutter and keep moving.
Our deep hungers drive us on.
David Kelly-Hedrick [USA]
Now bending now falling now eagerly
with a whole fruit in the mouth. Turn bitterly
and swaggering toward sodden and crawling
becoming more violent and grasping the torso.
Tomorrow tomorrow narrated today.
There is a scent of Hare Krishna doughnuts
and a woman calling us ‘blossom.’
But narrate this today. Chalk smudges the event
like rain making a path of clouds.
Our bodies are disobedient
to the seasons they have learned.
Buds now that tremble
with a memory of opening.
A sound that patiently breaks apart a sky.
We were swimming through the forest and couldn’t have said how.
We have shed our names and embody them.
You are not destitute. Describe this again.
Loveday Why [UK/NZ]
I can’t think straight
my words spin off
in sugar and spice
god you’re nice
I’ve got a running filmstrip in my head of you
every time I close my eyes
I close my eyes quite often
I feel so good
I feel like morning
a kiss on a ferris wheel
in a tunnel of love
I’m not quite sure what is happening
but your image is in me like a scent
all the roses in the garden are opening up at once
it’s raining big round drops
of extraordinary sweetness
let me be serious
I’m in love with you
I think of you
your eyes your hand
do the washing
dream on the doorstep
clean all the windows at high speed
stare into space
amazingly fine silk
to let himself down smoothly
from the very top
of the tree
Cilla McQueen [NZ] from ‘Axis’ (Otago University Press, 2001).
Ways of Making Love
Like a metal detector detecting another metal detector.
Like two lonely scholars in the dark clefts of the Cyrillic alphabet.
Like an ancient star slowly getting sucked into a black hole.
So hard we break winter, leaving the conveners of the Olympics
with a serious rebranding challenge.
You are a denim tree and I’m the world’s fastest autumn.
I am the Atlantic Fortress, and you are General Sherman taking me from behind.
You stride up the cold stone steps of parliament, waving a petition to orgasm.
A lip of cloud brushes the roof of the barn.
The pale trees curve around the eye and back into the brain.
It’s like watching porn through a kaleidoscope.
or a slow wind in a kite factory.
It’s like dogs trying to do it people style, but failing
due to the inflexibility of their anatomical structure.
A cloud of bats float slowly up into your brain rafters.
You roll down my stockings, like the sun peeling ocean from a soviet globe.
I want you in the red shade of a mammoth in the Natural History Museum.
In a seventeenth century field, tilling the earth like flesh tractors.
In the airlock of a space station, my heart shaking like an epileptic star.
Between the plastic sheets of a lobotomy table
because writing poetry about having sex with someone
when you could be having sex with them instead
is the last refuge of the stupid.
It’s like getting three wishes and wishing for less wishes.
It’s like inventing a flag the exact same colour as the sky.
It’s like crying over spilled milk before it’s out of the cow.
It’s like breaking into a field at dawn with a flamethrower
and fireballing the cow so you can get your crying over and done with
and immediately begin adjusting to your new milkless existence.
But loving you isn’t really like killing cattle
no matter what poetry wants you to believe.
The day is a vault the sun has cracked open
money flying everywhere like really expensive leaves
and here I am always, begging you to come back
as if you were somehow already gone.
Hera Lindsay Bird [NZ]