Tuesday Poem

Belated Tuesday Poem: a voice that’s not the same as hers by Maria McMillan

Tuesday, 13th September, 2011

As a follow up to this morning's post here is a mix & mash entry by Maria McMillan:

a voice that’s not the same as hers


Under the trees in Victoria Park certain grasses

bleed. I shave parts of my skull to the scalp.

My old woman loses speech. The morning’s tai chi

moves like seaweed as we move our pockets full


of river rocks and jam jars our house made of bamboo

you fill it up and it fills up and you’ve filled

it up. And there it is. Whole mornings whole.

Afternoons. Cut and grow. Cut and crush.


I had a knife and you had shoulder blades and

a hollow chamber making dream words making

tyre swings and fresh water crabs, crackers and

boiled lollies. We scramble into the goat


cave and sit on wooden beer crates. We stay

until it gets dark. It takes two years. The rain

rattles. I press my ear to the smooth sodden

green turf. The goat shit. I see all this from the link


bus window. You go away and come back

different people. None of the hair I have now

knew you when you still knew me.

There’s a call from home. Shadow stands up.



Uses Helen Lehndorf "Tincture", Ian Wedde, "Shadow Stands Up" and Emma Barnes, "Don't Lean Away"


All made available through Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 New Zealand License.


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Tuesday Poem but not here...It's not too late

Monday, 12th September, 2011


Ok, so this isn't a Tuesday Poem but it's pointing you to one. It's not too late to enter this year's mix & mash.

Check out Sarah Jane Barnett's amazing entry on her blog. 

Also just up is Harvest Bird's entry.

In the Literature Remix category you take two or more creative commons works listed on the page and rework them into a new piece. You could win $2,000 and be published in an ebook by Mebooks.

Go on, have a go! 


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Tuesday Poem: Years with a Husband by Tim Jones

Monday, 5th September, 2011


Men Briefly Explained

Years with a Husband


Stone to her water

his edges eroded slowly

leaving the core in place.

He was immovable

from desk, chair,

or opinion,

the slave and exemplar

of routine.


If she let him

he would wear those clothes —

scuffed fawn trousers,

frayed blue shirt —

till eternity,

till kingdom come.

He would vote the same way,

express the same


lawn bowls, modern art, the very thought

of a Pacific holiday.

Their son

she now saw

was growing stony too.

She blamed testosterone

and private schools.


Still, there was this:

that as she stretched and changed

rode the courses of her life

her husband would always be there,

blunt, imperceptive, abrupt:

her rock.


"Years with a Husband" is included in Tim Jones' new poetry collection "Men Briefly Explained", published by Interactive Press (Brisbane) and now available from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle ebook. "Men Briefly Explained" will be launched by Interactive Press in October 2011, together with Keith Westwater's debut collection, "Tongues of Ash". Details of the launch events will appear on Tim's blog. 

Tim last appeared here with a Summer Poem. He has a gentle sense of humour and his work really feels true.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.

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Tuesday Poem: Lagoon by Rhian Gallagher

Monday, 29th August, 2011




A navigation has been made,

black swans and spoonbills

come back through all kinds of weather.


Harvest done. Soon they will start again,

rounding the plough, dry summer clods

buried in new dark furrows.


The bristled hills reach for each other

across the gully, creek makes its way there

ends in a pool with this after-sea.


Lagoon is a gathering place, waters

merge; birds find their float

and hutch and settle,


return is an instinct. Things I’ve known,

hair cut close on a woman’s neck, and how they vanish

and how they leave a touch in memory.


Return is an instinct or else it’s a wild dream

bending me to this slow water,

scud of foam and kelp,

long flying days unwind


come down. This summer

with its un-companioned course

steers me in.



Rhian Gallagher’s first poetry collection, Salt Water Creek (Enitharmon Press, London, 2003) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for First Collection. Gallagher received the Janet Frame Literary Trust Award in 2008. Gallagher is also the author of a non-fiction book, Feeling for Daylight: The Photographs of Jack Adamson, (South Canterbury Museum, 2010).

'Lagoon' comes from Rhian Gallagher’s second collection Shift (forthcoming from AUP), which, as the blurb says - "encompasses a departure from London, where she lived for eighteen years, and a return to the pines and paddocks of the South Island. This mid-life shift involves acts of retrieval, confrontations with loss and movements towards renewal"

I find this poem very sensual, melancholy and almost electric with anticipation underneath the gentle language. I'm grateful to be sharing this preview of the collection with you and looking forward to reading the whole collection.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.



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Tuesday Poem: The Economist by Aleksandra Lane

Monday, 8th August, 2011

Aleks Lane

The Economist


The Economist is bored by Brussels. Green sprouts

out of his mouth; he is forgetting his roots. Jesus

said teach the poor to fish. Garnished they look

much better on his plate. They trust but make military plans.

Soldiers in his son's hands. In his wife's fair hair.


The first person had four children and the next had five. Fish fingers

every Thursday is when they get paid. Atrocities on remembrance

day, the day after and the day before. If I spent all my time popping

out babies I would be poor: poverty is a condition, a state of mind.

Anyone receiving assistance should be limited to two children max.


The Economist grazing is an insult to the intelligentsia at large.

Who milks the cows in Cambodia? Show me your frequent food miles.

After your second child forced sterilization is required. These World

Bank measures judge a person to be poor if his income falls short

of a given level. The first person had three children and the next had four.


In principle poverty rates based on these measures count the people

lacking resources to buy a notional basket of goods. The real winners

are the creditors, with ears of tin. Sardines fly in and get dropped

on the heads of unsuspecting passers-by. Third World measures

judge a person to be poor if his heart falls short of a given level.


The first person had two children and the next had three.

The Economist had Weet-Bix for breakfast. It takes a poor

to understand another poor. It is necessary to keep your money

to yourself; there is a need to be labour market aware,

but many poor people aren't. The first person had one child


and the next had two. Put another way, greed is good.

The Economist is sleeping with the lefties, it smells of Chinese

takeaways in there. The rich aren't like you and me. The first person

has no children and there is no second opinion on the market share

of the heart. Forced sterilization is required; do not go on giving fish.



Aleksandra Lane completed her MA in Creative Writing at the IIML (Victoria University) in 2010, and was awarded the Biggs Poetry Prize for her portfolio. Her poems have appeared in various online and print journals, as well as two poetry collections in Serbia, and some of her work will appear in anthologies in NZ and overseas. Her book Birds of Clay will be published by VUP in 2012. "The Economist" was first published in Takahe 72.

This poem is so surreal yet very real at the same time. I love the way it surprises and takes a stance. I'm really looking forward to seeing Aleks' collection come out next year.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.


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Tuesday Poem: Nan by Eden Tautali

Monday, 25th July, 2011




At the funeral

we sang beneath

high-beamed ceilings

in yellow light filtered

through a stained glass jesus.

I whispered to a bent microphone

of fish bones and sick days

of hot cocoa rice and

early morning mutterings of prayer

and of you.

But when I stood above you

eyes cast down

fixed on your cold cheek

I couldn’t bring myself to

touch you.


This week I'm delighted to reproduce the winning entry of the National Schools Poetry Award for 2011 by Eden Tautali. Eden is also a talented singer and songwriter who in May won the inaugural Matariki songwriting competition for Auckland secondary school students.


Here's a little from the award site:

 ‘A difficult, honest admission of grief, written in restrained, effective language’ – that is how judge and current New Zealand Poet Laureate, Cilla McQueen, describes the winning poem in the National Schools Poetry Award for 2011.

Eden Tautali from Auckland’s St Cuthberts College won the Award with her poem ‘Nan’, addressing the death of her Nan and the experience of speaking at her funeral. While it has the hard bits about loss and regret, it also has the comfort of warm memories.


For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.


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Tuesday Poem: Theory of Light by Joan Fleming

Tuesday, 19th July, 2011

Joan Flemming




Andy goes craving all over the beach

with her red grip and her red grapple.


A red apple after dark isn’t red,

it’s a black apple.


She says she’ll black up if she doesn’t have salt.

She finds a sea urchin full of holes.


What’s a blue sea after dark?

Are these the spaces where breath goes?


I find a gorgeous gold-yellow branch,

a colour, a describable friend.


We carry our findings, our branches

and urchins, from end to end.


The blue and red and yellow everywhere

is our theory of colour, of light.


Young salt-footed fools, you know there are no ends,

only ends in sight.


Joan Fleming is a Wellington-based poet at the moment who usually lives in Golden Bay. Her work has appeared in Sport, Hue & Cry, Turbine, Moving Worlds, Takahe, and, The Lumiere Reader. Joan completed her MA in Creative Writing through the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2007; she received the Biggs Poetry Prize and co-edited Turbine that year.

The Theory of Light originally appeared on The Best NZ Poems 2008, you can read about how it came to be here and listen to Joan read it here, which I reccomend because it has such lovely sounds in it. Joan's first collection of poetry will be published later this year by VUP, keep an eye out. This poem also made the cut for The Best of Best NZ Poems and I can see why.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.

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Tuesday Poem: Badly stuffed animals by Ashleigh Young

Monday, 11th July, 2011


Badly stuffed animals



I knew these people who loved their pets so much

they had them put to sleep and stuffed

and mounted in the living room

because they couldn’t bear

the grief of losing openly.

Filled out with wood and wool

articulated with wire

eye sockets packed with glass:

death’s only a pause.

They said don’t be scared

it’s something to share, something

for the visitors.


I knew people who stuffed their pets so badly

that pictures of their loved ones

went up on a website called Badly Stuffed Animals

a place where pets became fixed stars.

Cast in the stone

of their own skin and hair; there the animals were home

in their wrong eyes

and buckled teeth

and skin with old air rumpling through;

with nonsense postures to have and hold them.


There was a farming family I knew, had

a blonde fawn in their living room. There it lay

with legs curled under its body.

Like a houseplant it had been placed

at the foot of the piano that was never opened.

There was something funny about that.

A fawn with a piano for a mother.

The farming family laughed about that.


I once had a lamb. Its mother had died

and the farmer had too many orphans already. Such is life

when life comes too early.

I kept him in the shed. Gave him a cardboard box, stuffed

with towels for a bed. I fed him from a bottle

and visited him at night when I worried

he was scared. When the light came on he ran to me.

His bleating was broken and ridiculous. Of all the lambs

to need a mother! When he grew up the farmer

took him away. You weren’t supposed to be sad

because lambs are for eating

so I sat on the swing and forgot him.

But I cried when we buried our dog in the garden.


Being dead is too easy. You have to remake it.

This owl has a self-conscious look.

That leopard sinks its teeth into a monkey’s head.

That stag’s head lolls its tongue. This little donkey

has a Dali crutch

in place of front legs. That chimpanzee wears

long strings of white pearls

and clutches a sculpture of Jesus on the cross.

Their nonsense postures have and hold them.



Ashleigh Young is an expat writer and editor living in London. Her work has appeared in Booknotes, Turbine, Sport, and Landfall. She is currently finishing a collection of poems. 2009 was a big year for Ashleigh, she was the winner of the 2009 Landfall Essay Competition and the recipient of the 2009 Adam Foundation Award in Creative Writing. Ashleigh also appears in Best NZ Poems 2009 and this year in The Best of Best New Zealand Poems. This is far from overnight success though, Ashleigh has been working hard behind the scenes and has been appearing in print since 2003 with a poem in Sport. She's been a regular contributor to Booknotes since 2005. Ashleigh started blogging from London, it a great, curious, read.

This is a new poem from her forthcoming book of poetry, it's classic Ashleigh - beautiful and disturbing and awkward all at the same time. Ashleigh had a poem here last year too.

For more Tuesday Poems go to the Tuesday Poem hub.

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Tuesday Poem: Spring by Tim Upperton

Monday, 4th July, 2011

Tim Upperton



Is coming. This is a poem about spring,

which is too much. Everything is too much.

This is a poem about everything.

I ruin everything I touch.


I ruin the jonquils, the daffodils.

I ruin the I love you.

I ruin the blue remembered hills.

The apple-trees vomit blossom. I ruin the morning dew.


Mine is a peculiar badness.

You are reduced to the smell of your hair.

Mine is a peculiar sadness.

You are almost not quite there.


Which is to say, I am terrified.

Meanwhile the grassy goodness, the lengthening day.

It’s not as if you died.

You come closer and closer away.




Tim’s poems have appeared in AGNI, Bravado, Dreamcatcher, Landfall, New Zealand Books, the Listener, North & South, Reconfigurations, Sport, Takahe, Turbine and Best of the Best New Zealand Poems. A couple of poems are forthcoming in New Zealand Books and an anthology of villanelles. His collection, A House on Fire (Steele-Roberts), was published in 2009.

This poem was originally published in Sport 39. I love that this traditional form holds untraditional content. 

For more Tuesday Poems vist the hub

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Tuesday Poem: B tries to tell me something and I am only half listening by Maria McMillan

Monday, 27th June, 2011

Maria McMillan

B tries to tell me something and I am only half listening


Well, it was just that I held him under.

I found him at the Sanctuary,

tripping about, clumsy, poisoned

most like. And I took him and

took him home and held him under

the water. Only I didn’t know he would struggle

and his little heart. I thought it was

the best thing for it, wrapped my hand

around his body and held him below

the surface of the water. I didn’t know

that under the pad of my thumb,

I would feel his heart drumming,

little heart, like fingers against glass.



Maria McMillan lives, works and writes in Wellington. She mostly writes poetry, press releases about things that make her grumpy, and overly verbose Facebook updates about the cuteness of her two small daughters. Her work will next appear in issue 3 of Enamel, due out in a month or two.

When I heard Maria read this poem at an open mic session I couldn't stop thinking about it. I had to see it in writing so I begged her for it. Maria really should be getting more attention, I hope we see a chapbook from her soon.

You can read more Tuesday Poems at the hub, including another by Maria.


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