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 —
small hands reached out
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.
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.
Raspberry stamens nestle
in crumpled petals.
Roots trail and straggle
as foliage jostles
for a share
of the cloud-soaked sky.
Too many reach
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.)
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,
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,
we match in the essentials.
Dance with me –
a jitterbug of fireflies
beneath the trees
Fancy feet upon emerald grass
through all the sapphire dusk,
our diamond tears
from the past flung up
like water caught in sunlight.
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.
© All material on these pages is copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without written permission from the individual authors.