National Poetry Day Series
For the last poems in the National Poetry Day series here at Aotearoa Affair — which has included poets as varied Tim Jones, Iain Britton, Janis Freegard, Harvey Molloy, Sue Wootton, Siobhan Harvey, Helen McKinlay, Maureen Sudlow, Michele Leggott, Hinemoana Baker, Marino Blank, Moana Nepia, Reihana Robinson, Kawiti Waetford, Andrew Bell, Helen Lowe, AJ Ponder, Beate Jones and the Tuesday Poem Collective — we bring you poetry by the hosts of Auckland’s Poetry Live. These people dedicate a good deal of time ensuring Poetry Live is a tradition that keeps going.
Penny Somervaille, I want to be an old woman who crosses borders
(response to Its Weight in Gold by Jason Hall)
There is a heartline
on a white palm
a childhood memory of
graffiti on fresh snow
but look closer
this is my heartline
these are my footprints
when the snow melts
they will remain
Penny Somervaille is one of 5 MCs for Poetry Live the longest running Open Mic Poetry event in Auckland. She has been published in Sidestream, Blackmail Press, Live Lines and other zines. She is mostly a spoken word poet and has read her work at a number of venues – including Rhythm & Verse, Pah Homestead, Library Bar. She talks about publishing her work but has yet to do so being of an indolent disposition.
thursday morning @ 6.39 was looking every bit like a wet,
a surface to be discarded, burned
I would have counted the dots of rain on the window
or the number of cars surging up my hill –
just so many scuttling silverfish, under contract to
money really was standing up & shouting:
“Who’s your 1st religion, cog-man?”
I was feeling that ordinary!
my sacred coffee ritual failed to hit the target
& I felt like seizing the earth in both hands
& stopping the spin.
or at least – kicking the damn coffee pot
& starting again,
but I ironed my pants & shirt, like a good boy
& prepared to go to work.
there were a couple of compensatory highlights:
Tom Waits talking about Keith Richards
& my daughter’s request to hear Charlie Parker
on the stereo.
9 o’clock was a room full of school children –
a slowly melting, wobbly jelly
reuniting in crayon & dye.
I gave them my all.
at 3pm I flipped the switch
& felt the need to do something offensive.
you know: Fuck Shit Up!
in my mind, I said:
give me a good shot of tequila
& a weapon
& some originator of irritation is going to die!
at the very least, I felt like drilling a hole in the head of Gaddafi.
instead, there was a brief, café experience
which was mostly tit-gazing & overheard wedding plans
beneath fading, old photos of Turkey…
& through the front door
the noisy, sideways parabola of a yellow motorcycle.
but he didn’t lose it, or slide into a wall!
he rode carefully & made sure he got home.
& a lame, computer-enhanced pop vocal
blasting through a car window – which was just too much
of a Gaga moment to bear.
so I wished the singer & fan, intense ill.
at least my coffee –
my compromising, mind balm was served hot!
& with a nice, bitter aftertaste.
I finished that, over a few casual thoughts
about how you would justify 4thGenerationWarfare.
all 3 of us danced
through curtains shredded
you sang to me
_____________through the lips
of my lover
in the early hours
of a new year’s day
i sang your songs at the end of last century
little knowing the beauty
of your poetic voice
_________________would finger my heart open
you tried typing
let me be your diving buddy next time
i wanna celebrate
your favourite game &
i wanna thank you
up close & personal
for introducing me
to Lorca Layton & co
Priest & Prophet
leave no scar
___________on the mist of your voice
i will blacken the pages
Doncha just love apples?
Autumnal joy to pick, to rub against your shirt.
Each bite engages mouth teeth and chin
Ears, too, if you think about it.
New season’s apples are true loves far
above the slack dry sponges made
and sprayed and chilled in the USA
sent down the carbon trails to sit off-season in supermarkets
labelled with silly stickers with dental floss ambitions
polished to meretricious glow
packed with dry disappointment
Doncha just love the feel of an apple?
not quite round, but trying to be
Surface of a hundred hues and occasional bumps
not quite smooth but wanting to be
Inside pristine as an ice chamber
but not as cold
As easy to bruise as a teenage heart and soul
not quite tough but hoping to be
Doncha just love the juices of an apple?
Juices that want to fill and moisten a pie
Juices that linger on steering wheel after in-car munch
Juices that give unwiped lips
a gentle suggestion of ciderfication
Doncha just love the names of apples?
Galarina, Galloway, Gano and Garden Royale
Garland, Gasoyne’s Scarlett, Gavin, Geneva Crab,
George Carpenter, George Cave, Gernes Red Acre
Goodland and Green Sweet and even Goof
_________________and Granny Smith.
Apples for all the letters of the alphabet, except x
I love them all; want to sample them all,
want to have them in my garden
and let each one
_____________be the apple
__________________________of my eyeTim Heath had a long and happy teaching career until the vines of modern bureaucracy ensnared him and took away the joy and simplicity of working with children. Today, his main interests are spending time with his eight grandchildren, cooking, gardening, playing golf, blue water sailing, learning to listen and endeavouring to have a few more poems and stories published. All these things give him more than his fair share of contentment, as does the excitement of being able to hear, and have the time to obey, the voice that whispers writing ideas inside his head. *
___Bro, Roskill’s shaaaame after Big Wednesday!
Fresh bomb dribbles down the post box
We got post-apocalyptic streets, post-quake, post-Enola Gay
McDonalds sacks leave the gutter clogged
With dead dogs, and hedgehog guts evaporate.
___Picket fences shed their paint like snakes
Sewers puke soapy water. Each lawn
is strewn with Woodstock cans. Council grades
defame the curry shops; the best restaurant
is Mobil On The Run: Hygiene rating A.
___Busted bus stop glass, like Kristallnacht was yesterday
Junk mail dumped in the impotent river.
Insomniac airport traffic, sooty highway
Chinglish bakeries, misplaced refugees, lost shopping trolleys.
Alkies commiserate with their mates: Cody, Jack, Jim and Jose.
___Chapped-lipped bums, their work shirts greyed,
furgle in the bins, compete with hovering wasps.
WINZ has drawn its roller doors, a sign declaims
Closed: Saturday. We’re as trapped as a pot full of crays.
So, to the TAB, the boys, the race
___We dawdle on the crossing, huffing spraypaint.
In the pub haze we slap backs, swap disses,
wipe Lion Red from our lips, beeline straight
for the urinal, biff a cig butt in the foamy piss.
Zipper’s stuck? Fuck it. Horse ain’t won? Delay
___despair with 20 menthol Holidays.
In the Two Buck Shop, we nick a hi-vis vest. See,
Hirequip has us shovellin’ shit for minimum wage,
Like tweakers scrubbing windscreens for their grams of P.
For his aiga, a matai lugs Mad Butcher snarlers in a suitcase.
___‘Cause Maungarongo ain’t no celebrity volcano, no Surtsey,
but most of us are stuck here like stone bodies at Pompeii,
cast from many molds: Maori, Somali, Hindu, Honky, Haji, PI,
beanie, hardhat, turban, burqa, beret –
Bro, what’s your Community Services Card say?
___A burb bent as a boxer’s nose, Roskill wrecked and remade,
In alleyways, jandalled Mongrel Mobsters walk their pig dogs.
MAGS Boys and Baptist Killer Beez throw down in the Domain.
Our hood’s a fob watch running on rusted cogs.
___Mt Roskill: broke and rich. Where do YOU stay?
Maureen Sudlow said:
Thanks heaps Michelle for giving us access to all this great poetry!!
Mike Crowl said:
Really like Tim Heath’s apple poem.