rae evans-pater


That is what employers want –

to have you jump and say, ‘how high’?

I have become a sponge

because there is no employment.

‘Post It’ lists of jobs applied for

flutter from my desktop.

I sit in my bowl and water, water —

liquid anemone,

small hands reached out

for sustenance.

The streets are roller coaster rides.

It would seem like fun, but is not.

We are sleeping in dust,

eating in dust, breathing in dust.

Rain brings it down on our heads,

washes it through our hair.

It rises from piles and settles on splinters,

and hills of rubble that rise like burial mounds

on ruined lots between silent streets,

where only the tinkle and graunch of masonry

sounds as it settles beneath the boots

of searchers and demolition workers.

Soldiers and armoured cars

block the way – every way –

and lock the city,
like sleeping beauty’s castle –
clocks stopped, buildings

fallen to pieces.

My whole life I’ve waited

for the sky to topple upon me.
Turns out, I should’ve been looking

for the ground to fall out from under me.

Even yet,

the bay curves like a clam shell
while the sun spins – golden pearl

on the liquid lip of horizon.
Mist accumulated overnight begins to disappear

the same way it does every day,
like silk scarves in a magician’s show.

The city rises out of it
full of possibilities.
I know you called me to you

because you need,

but I’m so afraid to come

because I’ll have to walk barefoot
across that field of broken glass

where lies the memory of my mother,
catching sparks of sunlight

as though there were never any sharpness
to slice me open.

Over Populated
Raspberry stamens nestle

in crumpled petals.
Roots trail and straggle

as foliage jostles
for a share

of the cloud-soaked sky.
Too many reach

for sustenance.

Table Service
Her smile is legend.
She will get your coffee

just the way you like it.
Go back for sugar -

not regular, the raw kind,
or maybe coffee crystals

would be nice?
She will take your order,

make your order,
change your order

when you change your mind.
Her smile remains the same.
Your food arrives, drinks arrive,

anything else you want –
conversation, tact, discretion,

strokes your hackles down.
Do your ears tingle to the tune

of what you want to hear?
Underneath the servile care

she’s always aware of the mean bone
that will complain about her service,

turn on her at the first slip
in the curve of her lips.


(The poem below was inspired by Penny Howard’s photo,
one of a whole series of amazing images that explore
the impact of European colonisation on the Pacific Islands,
specifically Samoa. Visit Penny’s work on FB.)

Pacific Maiden
She’s painted in the traditional pose –

an outline of cliché.
But within the silhouette

a whare burns on the beach,
bound with threads of red

from a missionary’s rosary,
beads of prayer to replace

korero of iwi.
Treasured stories of origin

evaporate like tea
from a broken porcelain tea service –

poor recompense for an acre of land.
Although you walk 

through the darkest of valleys,
you’ve dispersed 

into sparks of light

that dance over water.
No shape, just movement –

so bright and white

I can hardly bear it.

Dance with me –
soldier, sailor, tailor,

stitch back together

all my tatty ends.
Applique my heart,

it’s a start.
Stand to attention,

don’t mention

differentials –

we match in the essentials.

Dance with me –

a jitterbug of fireflies

beneath the trees

in February.
Fancy feet upon emerald grass
through all the sapphire dusk,

our diamond tears

from the past flung up

like water caught in sunlight.
The Peonies
Our cups are full of petals

from the peonies you brought me,
slow to bloom,

but opening into a ball
of pastel ballerina gowns –

globe of wonder.



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