The First One

for Rachel

I am waiting and

watching from the house, and

there is one. I can tell

by the way she frets

and walks, and sits and

twists. I go away.



The water’s spilled down

her back legs. I watch.

She twists, paws the ground, frets.

It’s been all day.

I bite my lip. “Here we go,” I say.

I go through the wooden gate, call,

“Here, Girl.”

She won’t come.

I hold out my hand, show her

the sheepnuts.


I have her by the neck. She’s breathing

hard. Her nostrils flare, in-out in-out.

How do I get her to the ground?

I twist her. Her legs give. She shows

the whites of her eyes. I sit

on her stomach. “It’s all right,” I say.

In the pines across the paddock, a starling

sounds an alarm. “Okay,” I say.

I look at the place between her back legs.


Her vagina is red and stretched.

There’re two soft cloven hooves

in the opening. I push up

my sleeves and lean across her side.

Between the hooves I can see

a black nose. I touch a hoof.

I have to see if I can get my

fingers around it.


I have my hand inside—

around a leg. It’s soft and

wet, and bone. I must pull it.

I am pulling. I am

breathing hard.

The ewe groans.

It could be me


I am pulling,

pulling with both arms. Pulling

on both legs. I am using

all my strength. My thighs

are warm against her flank.

I am pulling. I feel the strain

across my shoulders. I doubt

my strength to hold her

down and pull.

She is struggling.

I am pulling.


Her haunches give.

I am pulling.

The flank heaves.

I am pulling.

The ewe pushes. Something pops

– a soft pop – and releases. And

I think,


Have I broken it?

I am not pulling.

There are wet black eyes…

… a head

in place of the stretched black rim.

There are ears—black-tipped ears, a film

of slime—slimy wool. Did I say eyes

—black shining eyes? Two legs. Two hooves.


She grunts and shudders. The rest slithers out. It is still.


I’m beside

the lamb. It’s alive

but tired. Bone tired.

I think, Shouldn’t it get up? I

slap it.  Once.  Twice.

It lifts its head—just a little.

My hands encircle its slimy yellow

girth. I place it

beside its mother’s head and

she begins to lick.


I lie down on the grass on my back.

I am bone tired.

A starling calls out in the pines

across the paddock.


an extract from ‘Matakaea : of sea and stone’

Bernadette Hall  2014

as for the ship-wrecked sailors

they punched holes in zinc with a hammer and a nail and so wrote down
their names and the name of their ship and the date of her sinking

they hardened points of karaka wood in the fire to make a meat hook
for smoking mollymawk and fulmar and penguin and seal meat
they never let the fire go out (they had 20 matches)


Thin water fans out like roots through the sinking sand. How deep?
Too late to think about that. Her boot sticks. She wrenches it out.
Not all that deep. But good to clamber up onto the gravel mound,
to stand there, the sea tilting in around her. The big heavy swells,
the jumpy little breaks as the wavelets turn, running out of steam,
each bright peak splashing and leaping, the way the painted horses\
jumped up and out and down on the carousel at the bottom of the steps
in Montmartre. The little wavy horses running back now to the sea.


there’s a log washed up on the beach and someone, a child perhaps, has stuck
slim stones into the splits in the timber … there are shags flying low over the water,
a pied oyster catcher is calling pipit pipit, pipit, a tern is wheeling like an axehead,
showing off its white brilliance (how simply KM would write the finer details)
and I’m thinking about the thinking of the maker, the one who set the stones here,
the tall ones at the front, the short ones behind, each stone turned in the hand,
weighed in the hand and inserted into the log, the impulse behind that simple pleasure.


Viv Smith 2014

for Susa

Within your softness this

small enormous mass becoming

a difficult bugger, all consuming,

while part of me jangles

diverted by car keys ― I am

a friend with a towbar and

Richard needs to off-load.


You never could handle unnatural

holes unleashed by metal piercing

flesh, removing forks from your table

as if a natural spoon curve would

be enough to protect. Today

I can’t countenance the savagery

of knives. For you, I set my table


with wooden spoons and meditate

with keys like mala beads. I calm

my skip-squeaky fantail breath

to light down on the branches

of my lungs, my chest full of slight

touch-point slivers, gentle clawing

for core wood. A careful adaption


to hold as one would implements

that carve a heartful breast away

this mastectomy day. Testing metal,

tasting base, the unsteady knock and

grasp on wood ― I am a friend

clinging to attachment too

damned scared to off-load.


Recycling love

Bronwen Jones 2014

one – he always leaves dishes in the sink
two – never closes the fridge
three – burns holes in the bench
four – leaves tops loose on jars
five – noisy TV
six – sex
has become an obligation.

he is always
– there.

She twists like a fish on a hook,
bursts out in grief
Why can’t I be nice?

A woman past a certain age,
says the counsellor,
must live life how she wants.

Time drags in the rehash
yet he cries as he goes,
We never talked!

She breathes in the space,
uncorks the wine

And counts the ways:
one – she leaves dishes in the sink
two – buys an auto-shut fridge
three – gets a new kitchen
four – leaves tops off jars
five – buys a huge new TV
six – nix.

Kimono papers

Lesley Mckay  2014

Wearing the kimono

her grandmother chose

for her in Japan

she stood on street corners

on Friday nights

selling communist papers

When people spat or argued

her eyes rose to the cross

on the cathedral steeple

See the world

you wont change it

her grandmother said

And as she fingered

the flawless kimono

she felt only silk

Melons for jam

Lisa McKenzie 2014


half drowned he bows his head

prays before a dead dog

curled in the sand


he had cried in the hold

as The Gannet foundered

watermelons rolling free

green heads bobbing in the waves


  1. Kirkpatrick’s jam factory

where blades wait

and stirrers lean on hot metal

with melon juice stains


they break open on Ngaio beach

pink mouths choke with grit

wasps chew on the sweet flesh

their wings a thrill of sound


the man brushes them aside

places melon pieces around his friend

black eyes in red cups

like the poppies above his brother’s bones



Before the snows

Colin Basterfield 2014

For Tom Brandt

I walk to quiet them—the voices
But with every pause for breath
they catch up

to needle, disrupt, confuse, to amuse themselves
they’ve even convinced my bones
to adopt a different point of view

Hide they say, you’re known, to those that hunt
prey, like elk, because you’re weak
the straggler fallen away from the herd

I pray for them to stop, preying on me
Cross the river, lose the scent
and hurry, before the snows

Shut up,
I know what I need to do
Toss the phone and stay on the right

Look, who’s in charge here?

That’s you. We’re only here to provide choice
Unless you mean Him, of course
He always listens
Always forgives

Pray more, pray harder
Pray you’re not prey
Keep walking

Cold now,

and dark
Yet still the chatter
Still the thought
Distill the thought
Die, still the thought

Quieter now, down at the river
Even flow, ripple over rock
leaves moss damp
Smell the air,
winter’s foreshadow
Snow’s cloak,
deadens sound,
absorbs voice

Silent now, they seem distracted perhaps
With elk that walk beside me seeking water
Trees that tower, seeking light
Blackberries yield under snow’s weight
Perhaps they’ll let me rest up a while

Warmer now, close my eyes
Hunker down between leaf and stream
Wait for the snows.

Talking (a love poem)

Victoria Broome 2014

My great nephew phoned Estonia
when he could barely crawl.

We decided he had a girlfriend
we knew nothing about.

Those late nights when he was crying
he must have been aching for her voice.
Across all those miles
how did he sound to her?

Mellifluous and rich, a pour of warm milk
across a dark, dark sky?

Or deep and gurgling, as if he spoke
through great miles of ocean,
bubbles of his love drifting towards
her mysterious surface?

How did she receive him?

He meant no harm, driven by the urgency
of his growing heart, to tell her everything
he so far knew, his wide dark eyes
roamed the universe as he spoke.

Sight and sound flew through him,

I think she woke
to a summer deciphering static.

It followed her lovesick, dumbstruck
getting lost in the branches of trees, in the
wind that filled them, in the humid air.
in the stars above.

The Bombardment

Victoria Broome 2014

She didn’t mean to bombard him with poems, he must have imagined her as an enemy plane, a low drone in the night disrupting his sleeping, surreptitiously dropping propaganda at his door.

Writing often fell from her when she least expected it, she might be walking to the letterbox and a poem would float from her wrist, a white feather, she might sense relief, she might feel exalted, it didn’t seem up to her.

She might be sitting in her office at work involved with a patient’s emotional complication and an epistolary moment would escape from the keyboard, she would flick away the pain, a repetitive strain.

She might be at home sitting in the deepening dusk listening to music and a sheet of words would materialise in the space in front of her, she would write it down
and take it to heart.

The poems pulled up from the deep, having moved through tons of pressure to get here. Breached, as a whale does, with a great exhalation.

What were they, literary bombs of feelings, explosive explanations ? She hadn’t thought, before she sent them, how it might feel to be on the receiving end.