poems

Poems by Renée and guest poets.

The Lemon Tree

Posted on Jun 10, 2015 | Comments Off on The Lemon Tree

She remembers him waving.
He fixed the lemon tree with salt,
carved his name on the wooden spoon
she used for mixing pikelets. She said
she’d wait. This was before.

Now the Band packs up her troubles…

The club went south to tramp.
One day the boys played bulrush.
She made scones and apple shortcake.
He whipped the cream, sneaked a lick
from the beater. This was before.

In her old kitbag…

The Lieutenant-Colonel sings,
the minister prays – reads a poem,
talks about sacrifice. She smells
mint, remembers the tomato sauce.
She’d sterilised the bottles.

Now there’s a Lucifer to light your fag…

It all got spilt, the spoon was broken,
the bottles, her arm. He got a warning
from the constable after he chopped down
the lemon tree, the frame on the photo
of him smiling. This was after.

And the band smiles and smiles and smiles

This is after of course.

Renée

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The knock…the cop calls

Posted on Jun 3, 2015 | Comments Off on The knock…the cop calls

The cop
tall, dark,
irksome
notes the bottle
the glass
Want a drink, officer?

Not drunk but affected
he tells his iPhone 6 plus
no record –
he’s disappointed.

A serious offence, Ma’am

setting fire to articles

in a drum
in this heat.

Need a statement.

Station tomorrow.

And go easy on that.

Okay.
No driving.
Okay.

He goes
Uneasy

I get the keys.

 

 

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What fresh hell is this?

Posted on May 27, 2015 | Comments Off on What fresh hell is this?

Storm Leaves

She met someone else
Tried to fight it
Couldn’t.

Last night, she’s so sorry,
They went too far.
She’s very upset
She loves me really

She had to tell me
We agreed we’d be honest
right?

I don’t say don’t go
I don’t say let’s discuss this
I don’t say please
I’m a block of pounamu
In very deep water
Just go, I say. Now.

After

I put the sheets
crazy patchwork quilt
pilllows
track shoe
dirty socks
in the old drum
pour petrol
chuck a match

I find the Allen key
break up the bed
lug the remains
to the drum

the room is empty of her.

my mother
on my shoulder
I polish
scrub wipe
rub sweep
vacuum
wash
her out of here

I stand in the shower
for an hour
fuck the environment
new clothes
new shoes
new bottle
glass
I’m clean.

I’m okay.
I’m okay
I’m okay

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The plot thickens…

Posted on May 20, 2015 | Comments Off on The plot thickens…

Gabriel

Maine Coon Cats are (allegedly) cuddly
but Gabriel missed that gene. He’s a
medium –size tiger in a cat’s body, sly,
cunning, thinks he’s smarter than me.
He’s right.

How he got to Levin is his secret
but while I’m sniffing that teal shirt
he ducks out from behind a shop
door and wiggles his ears in a way
that says, Gotcha.

I shout, ‘There’s a Maine Coon Cat
called Gabriel in your shop’. I charge
over to the window but – you’ve guessed it –
big shit Gabriel has scarpered. The woman says
now she’s heard everything.

‘Get back home Gabe,’ I yell.  I feel a fool
Not unusual. To hell with him.  I only look
for Gabe in the mornings. Clint is afternoons.
Gabe’s owner has offered a large reward
plus a good retainer. I’m broke.

Maine Coot Cats are large and friendly
the online site says but there’s a comment
from someone who says my Coon Cat
Caesar is snarly, bit my hand and ate my
canary. I showed him the door.

Enough.  Bugger Caesar. Bugger Gabe. 
Think of Clint. Where do you hide a body?
A river? The sea? Why does the shirt
smell of Little Sister’s perfume? Why
was it in the opshop?

Little Sister likes opshops. She likes
The opshops along the Coast. She never
buys new. She buys a dress or shirt
wears them for a few months then
recycles them.

Has she recycled Clint? Or simply
his shirt? Where the hell is Gabe? I need
the money. His owner says he can’t live
without Gabe.  Gabe’s his life. Jaysus.
But beggars can’t be choosers.

Then –
something moves on the back seat…

Renée

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Menopause (inspired by an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin ‘The Space Crone’ 1976)

Posted on Dec 3, 2014 | Comments Off on Menopause (inspired by an essay by Ursula K. Le Guin ‘The Space Crone’ 1976)

Ursula urges me to
become a Crone
to not bemoan
my declining hormones

to wear grey hair
catch a space ship
somewhere out there
so I can share

my wit, my wisdom
my years of fertility
raising children
(ensuring my humility)

so the fourth planet Altair
can learn about the human race
from a woman (once a virgin)
and now a Crone (on loan)

But I’m all for my inner space
and I won’t go grey
well, not yet, not today
there’s plenty of time

because I still want to play
to flaunt in the twilight
my age now my highlight
on the cusp of something

almost a Crone – not quite
ready for Ursula’s throne
but not afraid either
thumb out – hitching a ride

not looking back, nor
particularly forward
pausing as they say – oh,
but not for men

for me!

Maggie Rainey-Smith
(First published, New Sealand Book, Vol 17, Issue 78, Winter 2007)

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Lilith sings

Posted on Nov 26, 2014 | Comments Off on Lilith sings

Once upon a time when the earth was blue
and the cross turned over and the grey stars sighed
I played Etta James and I thought of you

how we dived for love and for wreckage too
how we stamped and sang and waited for lies
once upon a time when the earth was blue.

Why do the songs always come on cue?
Why do the words slither and sigh?
I played Etta James and I thought of you

I was told that a garden only grows rue
when the memory of laughter lies fallow and dry
once upon a time when the earth was blue.

There’ s a house on a hill where the rent is due
it’s the place that the flesh and the fires deny
I played Etta James and I thought of you

here where the bread and the heart balance true
here where the blood and the body cry
once upon a time when the earth was blue
I played Etta James and I thought of you.

Renée

 

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By a Window of Trees

Posted on Nov 11, 2014 | Comments Off on By a Window of Trees

We do yoga together

You stretch your arm carefully
so as not to pull on your scar

I fight gravity to stay upright
Create will from firm flesh

You brittle and folding easily
Me bulky with new growth

We make a strange pair
in the tiger pose.

We breathe calm breath in a steady stream
Inside us cells are busy multiplying

Mine the blurprint for a life
Yours the army gathering

Sarah Delahunty

We end cross legged
and talk of exactly what there is to see

In this room, in the quiet, by a window of trees
Without lifting our eyes rto the hills

 

Sarah Delahunty

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A baby at six months

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 | Comments Off on A baby at six months

Just before locomotion
you are the fattest cherub
on the tallest ceiling
in the best basilica.

Wings would fold themselves into your folds
which in themselves are honey
you are flesh run to laughter
and promise in a small compass

which will never be repeated.
Already you are raising yourself, straining
to use one leg as a prop.
The folds will fall from it

as you rear up and crawl
you will walk and they will fall like silk.
All this manna gathered together
cherubs with wings and arrows

in the gestures of your hands
your beaming expression
your taking everything into your mouth
honey to honey, to make honey.

 

Elizabeth Smither

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Statuette

Posted on Oct 22, 2014 | Comments Off on Statuette

My Asherah, I made a shrine for you in the old fire pit under the tree
but I did not leave you. I wasn’t sure how you would weather
and the red ants were unwilling to share their lawn. I placed flowers
in clam shells, took swift photographs. Snap. Snap. Snap. Asherah

you stand-in for deity, you looked stunning. Later I returned you
to your altar laid with a violet cloth, candles, red hibiscus,
the Three of Wands and The Lovers, a string of tiny shells,
a silver chalice with a smoky quartz wand in place of the god.

Your nose was chipped and grey against your black fired
Ganges clay and resin face. I still love you I said. You are still
the woman you were this morning. Perhaps in time we won’t see this
as disfigurement. Four days, and now I sing you

a Michael Jackson hit. Here, I have a fine-tipped Vivid.
I can restore your beauty, Queen of Heaven. It will be our secret.

 

Sandi Sartorelli

 

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A Marriage of Sorts

Posted on Oct 15, 2014 | Comments Off on A Marriage of Sorts

There was a billionaire
who appeared as a dazzling series of zeros.
He placed coins on our tongues.

There was a poet
lying on his back in the grass
his eyes eaten by clouds.

There was a woman
stitching a novel on the walls
of her heart.

There were two young people
rubbing an idea together
& producing light.

There was
the wind & farcical sunshine
on the green brow of a hill.

& perched
on the edge of the stage
two women in wheelchairs

who were delighted
by the man going by
on a unicycle.

 

Richard Langston

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Homeland

Posted on Oct 8, 2014 | Comments Off on Homeland

The road continues on
but here’s where we turn
left over the railway lines
Beach Rd

Speed drops away
through shops, people
then up the rise
The Parade

The front line of the ocean
houses hunched in
perpetual standoff
Kapiti Island etched
like a graph
wind clips out ears
The Sand Track

My mind rolls out the map of it
stretched out streets take shape
Henare Horomona Haumia

Shells bite under feet
sand infiltrates, heaped in
corners, Norfolk Pines head
north in giant strides

My mind calls out the chant of it
Tarawa Te Miti Tangahoe
The hills press close

We inhabit the edge
the sea and shore
their endless exchange
again
again
again

Sarah Delahunuty

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Gum Tree

Posted on Oct 1, 2014 | Comments Off on Gum Tree

It will have to go, they said,
as if it could pack up its roots
and move to another country
where the landlords were kinder.
Once, I saw a flock of herons
settle in that tree,  wind
fingered its branches like a lyre.
 
All yesterday the chainsaws bayed
and bit into the bark
and the gum tree
knowing it was cornered
shuddered.
They cheered when it fell.
 
Now the trunk lies, segmented
among its own broken branches
a wooden caterpillar
with a monstrous head.
soon dentist bulldozers
will extract even the stump
and there will be more space
to plant kiwifruit

Carol Markwell

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The Dance

Posted on Sep 24, 2014 | Comments Off on The Dance

O how we dance, O how we dance
round and round and round and round

we dance by the lecturn dripping with fire
past the camps, the ghosts, the hands on the wire
we skirt past the thorns and sidestep the stones
our ears turn away from the chorus of bones.

the dry cliffs hiss warnings a cyclonic chime
the black ice moves closer – the Maestro is Time
we stop and see clearly the chains on our hands
we stumble on iron waves collapse over sand

our song is salt seaweed the dead fruit the bells
measure our footsteps and muffle our calls
we fall and we stagger we cling to the sea
and there are the crossroads and there is the tree

but O how we dance O how we dance
round and round and round and round
O how we dance O how we dance,
round and round and round.

Renée

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Box

Posted on Sep 17, 2014 | Comments Off on Box

She wants to go out slanted
with her feet in leaves.
She looks through her stringy hair
at the children. She has no idea
how old she looks.
She feels young, nothing changed.
She doesn’t want them to bring apples
or cute drawings. She wants to box
with them. She lifts her fist
to challenge them. And one fights back.
‘Okay Nana.’ He has one hand up
to protect his chin, the other
a balled fist. ‘Ready?’
 ‘Yep.’ She takes her stance.
Harder when you’re sitting down.
He has a height advantage but not much.
He’s nine, or is he ten, she’s not sure now.
He jabs a fist, she fends it off
with hers, then jabs right back
and lightly clips his cheek.
‘You win.’ He doesn’t hug her,
he rubs his hand roughly through her hair.
 He’s the one. He’ll make sure
she goes out slanted, feet in leaves
not stretched out straight and boxed.

Adrienne Jansen

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Cordelia

Posted on Sep 10, 2014 | Comments Off on Cordelia

I’m thinking now, I shouldn’t have
been so forthright. I should’ve
simpered out my love like my
sisters did – those two stupid girls
with their names like diseases.
‘Course it all turned to custard
in the end. I might’ve stopped it
from happening if I’d been less
mouthy. I get it from him you know,
that pig-headed stubbornness.
You should have heard him roar.
I’d been his darling, the one he
doted on. I think now they were
jealous. He wanted everyone
to jump when he said jump. No
wonder he booted me off to France.
I held my head up high then, proud
that France still wanted me, without
a dowry. But my face was burning.
I never even looked back – till now
He’s changed. The storm sucked
it out of him, what my sisters
hadn’t already stolen. He’s on
his knees now, wittering on in his reedy
voice about birds and a cage and something
about singing. But it doesn’t look good.
Sometimes the things you do for the best
turn out to be the worst, in the end.

Carol Markwell

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Rain

Posted on Sep 3, 2014 | Comments Off on Rain

Below me, cars do their morning run,
ambulances practice scales,
buses meditate on tourists, tour guides,
and the way luggage takes off
without even leaving a note.

On the balcony parched pots
mint sage thyme chives parsley
geraniums begonias succulents
all plead for water.
Wellington’s winds show no mercy
and neither do I.

I have a play to finish, a poem,
a monthly progress report, a book review,
journal entries, guests to dinner, no food.
I’m on a marathon, out of steam
and losing it.

I fill the watering can, race smooth-footed
through the space between the windows
out to the space in space and tip. It’s ok on
mint sage thyme chives parsley
but at the geraniums it turns nasty.
From below I hear, ‘Fucking hell –
was that rain?’

I creep backwards
through the space over space and,
tea-towel over my giggly, snorty,
five-year-old response, reflect on guilt
and how rain falls on the just and the unjust
and, it seems, the just passing.

Renée

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Jars

Posted on Aug 27, 2014 | Comments Off on Jars

Our mother would say,
‘The blessed thing is stuck,
could you open it?’

He made a particular sound
a particular grimace,
our father opening jars,

he would say, ‘only
a circus strongman or I
could’ve opened it’,

which I just said
after my wife handed me
a jar. I opened it

with a particular sound
a particular grimace.
Out popped our father.

Richard Langston

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The Lesson

Posted on Aug 20, 2014 | Comments Off on The Lesson

I walk where embers hiss and sigh
I hear the voices call of theft
I see the bird rise in the sky

Crimson roses lean and guide
weave the thorny warp and weft
I see the bird rise in the sky

There is a dance to learn and I
dream of masks which hang bereft
I walk where embers hiss and sigh

Morning sings its swift goodbye
doubts wind back to lands I left
I see the bird rise in the sky

Where sunsets end and searchers cry
Above the stone-filled river bed
I walk where embers hiss and sigh
I see the bird rise in the sky

 

Renée

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With the blackbirds

Posted on Aug 13, 2014 | Comments Off on With the blackbirds

Mountain, I sing that my place to stand is
defined by your shadow and your rising
is a natural boundary to my world.
You stand tall over the land of my life

where Te Awakairangi flows. I ride
State Highway 2, drive the summit over
to other world Wairarapa where you
sit familiar, siding another face.

Your wind-smothered road, its winding trek through
kahikatea, beech, gorse and totara,
the deep drop to unseen resting places
draws my respect. I drive through the draped clouds

and sing with the blackbirds. In my mihi
I say Ko Remutaka te maunga.

Sandi Sartorelli

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5am

Posted on Aug 6, 2014 | Comments Off on 5am

Please,
she whispers
to the Universe.
Help her go to sleep

I take reusable bags to the supermarket
I Party vote Green
I give drunk girls taxi fare –
to the Hutt.

Please.

Papatūānuku,
voice like honeysuckle and bees
whispers in the baby’s ear

“Love,
listen to the rain on the roof
give in to the gentle rock of your Mama
close those beautiful eyes”.

The baby looks up
“27 minutes of rocking and I will do it”

Deal.

You got this Mama
Papa says

A drop of rain falls though the roof
lands on the woman’s cheek
its salty.

I got this
the woman says out loud.

Naomi Taylor

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