Terra cotta terra incognita,
time’s brick-coloured country where the water
creeps on an interminable escape.
Enormous insects, one half leaf,
half-clay, with the ridiculous shape
of something thought up, and peculiar birds
all knees and neck, their cries like grief,
infest her drouth; while corpulent things
churn drowsily, becoming blurred
in last resorts of moisture. The explorer flings
his compass off into the sand
and enters on the last imaginable land.



Terra kotta terra incognita,
ziegelsteinfarbiges Gefilde der Zeit wo das Wasser
auf ein endloses Entweichen zukriecht.
Enorme Insekten, eines halb Blatt,
halb Lehm, in der lächerlichen Form
etwas Ausgedachtem, und eigenartige Vögel
ganz Knie und Nacken, ihre Schreie wie Leid,
übervölkern ihre Dürre; während korpulente Dinge
sich schläfrig drehen, sich auflösen
in den letzten Resten der Feuchtigkeit. Der Forscher wirft
seinen Kompass fort in den Sand
und tritt ein in das letzte vorstellbare Land.


“TERRA COTTA.” was first published in blackmail press 17.
Translation by Dorothee Lang.


Nicholas Messenger is a lifelong poet and story-teller, who grew up in the Bay of Islands, and has travelled and worked in several countries, in Latin America, Europe and Asia. He has been a seaman, security guard, demolition worker and various other things, and for many years a teacher of science, languages and art in high schools. His mountains are those of the West Coast of the South Island, but he has climbed those of the Andes and far and wide in Japan. He lives in Hokitika now with his wife Seiko.

Currently he focuses on the first draft of his latest novel, “The Upas Tree” and on his “Konuoi Imprint” printing project that offers thematic chap-books the author has been publishing himself, along with several illustrated childrens readers and traditonal-style fables. You can read more about the project, here: Konuoi Imprint.