John Ewen

From Clifton Hill, Sumner

‘On a clear day you can see
South America,’ I say
to the folks from overseas.
They look out and turn away.

‘The man’s a wit or witless’
their eyes signalling as they
search my face for explanation
or perhaps another way

of meaning. None’s forthcoming.
‘It must be a clear day,’
I insist.’ Not in the morning –
the sun gets in the way.

‘Nor when the sea is misty’
(then all colour drains to grey)
‘but two or three times a season
there’ll be that special day,

a day of light and brightness…’
but they’ve already moved away:
‘The man is a real nutcase –
it must be ten thousand k.

plus there’s the curving of the earth…’
so as they decline to stay
again I ponder sadly,
looking down into the bay

that adults get too literal
they’ve all lost their sense of play
but not me and small children –
we see Chile anyway.

John Ewen, now Kapiti Coast based, writes short stories, poetry and plays as well as non-fiction. His work has been published in various anthologies and literary magazines, the UK online literary magazine Five Dials, and broadcast by Radio NZ.

Marisa Cappetta


From now on I will save
the thumbprints of my dead.
They come away clean and bloodless
when there is no pulse.

On days when grief is a wall
I bump into over and over
unable to perform even basic
tasks like mashing the strained potatoes

or pegging out the laundry in a high wind
I’ll press thumbprints of the departed
into the soap, the butter.
Coat them in oil and press them

against clean windows and tv screens.
Also bathroom mirrors, to be revealed
when I shower. Evidence that my darlings
were pinpricks of annoyance that I loved.

She cares for her mother

The daughter irons mother’s blouses
which are crumpled as a left-sided stroke.

Mother’s tongue is a seam ripper and unpicks
the daughter’s character and flaws.

Daughter takes up the hem of mother’s
forgetfulness and remembers her

healthy as a patchwork quilt
tones blended elegantly as an equation.

One day the sums don’t add up
colours grow rancid, measurements askew.

The last few quilt-blocks of mother lay unfinished
with edges raw and frayed so daughter tidies them away.

Mother strikes again like a needle puncture
and draws blood. Daughter puts a bit of thread

under her tongue and then rolls the tiny damp ball
of cotton over the droplets until they disappear.

Marisa graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Hagley Writer’s Institute. She has published in journals and anthologies in New Zealand and internationally. Her first book ‘How to tour the world on a flying fox’ was published by Steele Roberts 2016.

Chris Stewart


you are
sharp boiled water bubbles
scrape and puff of smoke
char in the pan
burnt fingers on elements
kitchen table smash within my fist
neck click and bloodshot eye
I singe the steam of your smell

in the backyard I see
the rusted barbeque rest
in crosshatched shadows of dew
your red juices spread to my edges
exhales dampen my lungs placid
I touch the chill of your calm

at the letterbox you talk to Reason
the way summer footpaths listen to rain
your close breath now
a southerly moon wind
there is the shift of flax

Chris Stewart completed the course in 2015. Since then, his poems have been published in places like Aotearotica, Catalyst, Snorkel, Sweet Mammalian, Blackmail Press, Brief, Takahe, and Mimicry.

Victoria Broome

How We Talk to Each Other

Dad talks through the vegetables in the garden.
Every house he lived in he made one. Onions hung
in mum’s old laddered stockings in the garage,
scarlet runners, new potatoes and shelled peas for Christmas.
Then Mum would spend the end of summer in the kitchen
preserving red tomatoes, claret beetroot, gifted fruit,
setting wax into jars of chutneys, jams and sauces.
All year we ate them and apple jelly from the Irish Peach tree in her father’s yard.
He sawed a branch off and painted the stump white to stop it bleeding.
Years later when I was a grown up, still creating distance from the past,
plastic bags of broad beans, silver beet, carrots, parsnip, tomatoes, basil,
courgettes, rested against the door when I got home.
And I stood at the sink, peeling, boiling, freezing.
Eating the unspoken messages.

The Maori

In the dark we drive through the bright tunnel
to the ferry terminal. It’s very exciting.
There are crowds of people and we buy
tightly rolled packets of streamers.
It’s cold out on the wharf, our breath
is steamy. I feel as if I am in a movie
and will see myself at the pictures.
I hear the slap of water from under the wooden planks
and the deep pulsing hum of the ships engine.
There’s Dad at the railing with his wavy hair.
He’s laughing and waving and we throw
the streamers through the air and the long striped strips
pull tight and we run along beside him until they break.
I am shouting – Bring me back a tiki.
Victoria Broome was one of the inaugural Hagley Writers’ Institute students. She has been published in various journals and anthologies in NZ, and in recent years was twice highly commended in the Kathleen Grattan poetry award. She is a mental health worker in primary care in ChCh.

Leslie McKay

Good Friday 2017

Anointed with raindrops
caught in blades of mountain grass
and contemplating Christ
she who at school scorns the Jesus freaks
as she is seduced by revolution
worships in a raincoat Russian red
her tartan umbrella a nod
to the family tree
To grieve for one is to grieve for all
and today is and isn’t about
who’s ego still sucks
Leslie McKay is a poet/writing tutor. In 2016 she won the Caselberg International Poetry Prize. Originally from Bishopdale in Christchurch, she now lives on the West Coast.

Nod Ghosh

Bhagubhai’s Thumb

When Bhagubhai cut his thumb off, my grandmother scurried upstairs and locked herself in her room for fear of being contaminated by his blood.

Ma tut-tutted and dressed the man’s hand in one of Dipok’s clean T-shirts, whilst I stood in the doorway biting a hangnail, praying under my breath.

Turns out Bhagubhai hadn’t cut half or even a quarter of his thumb off whilst adjusting the lawnmower. The emergency department had examined the gash, Ma told us, and then stitched the thing together. I asked whether Bhagubhai had cried, but Ma said grown-ups didn’t cry at such things.

There were other things grown-ups didn’t do that Bhagubhai did do though, things that Ma, Baba, Nani or even Dipok knew nothing about.

Our house had many rooms and corridors. You could lose yourself in its spires and mazes. You could hide for a whole day, and no one would find you. It never occurred to me as a seven-year-old that the reason no one found me on those hot days was because nobody was looking.

Dipok and I roamed free. We crawled through junk-filled rooms where Baba stored chairs, tables and wardrobes he’d bought at auction. Then Dipok would lie with Nani for his afternoon nap, and I would sneak away and tap on the back window.

No one noticed the man-child employed to mow the lawns, clean the car and scrub the toilets, when he crept into the pantry to play house with me.

Bhagubhai brought treasures down from the top shelf. He poured pretend tea from Nani’s long-spouted brass teapot. I watched his gap-toothed smile fold over his goblet’s rim as we drank cupsful of syrupy air. We cut into imaginary sandesh and giggled until we heard Nani on the stairs.

He’d slip away before we were caught.

Sometimes we played hide and seek in the park across the road.

Sometimes we played counting games.

Ikri mikri chaam chikri…

No matter how often he showed me, skirting his fingers over mine like he was playing a musical instrument, I couldn’t capture the moves, or learn the words of his song.

When Bhagubhai injured his thumb, I’d already sensed things were changing.

Baba said the car didn’t shine enough. Nani complained about unclean spirits. Nothing was fast enough, clean enough, short enough or long enough.

They questioned me. I was made to place my palm on Nani’s, to swear to tell the truth.

Did you play together, just the two of you?


Where did you play?

What did you play?




I tried to give the right answers, but the wrong words jumped out of my mouth.

We played Ikri mikri.


He touched me with his fingers.

When Nani invoked the names of several gods, I knew it was over.

Sometimes I can’t sleep. I feel Bhagubhai’s fingers dance over my own.

Ikri mikri chaam chikri…

I drift off, and ask him to teach me the words.

But he never does.

Nod Ghosh completed year two at Hagley Writers’ Institute in 2014. Nod’s work features in Landfall, JAAM, Takahē and various international publications. Thanks to Morrin, all tutors and editors. Further details on her website.

Raina Kingsley

At the River

another day at the river
dust thrown up
by cars driving on
to a better spot

heat waves dancing
on the scorching stones

they need the sun
after an ice cold spell
in the fast flowing water

laid out on their towels
tingling warmth
turning to burning

for a laugh
she flicks river water
onto his sizzling back

his reaction swift
only half expected

up and striding
toward her
he sweeps her off her feet

“put me down”
obediently he lets her fall

not into the river
but onto the stones
the hot, sharp stones

Raina Kingsley is of Ngai Tahu, Ngati Mamoe, Ngati Kahungunu and Rangitane descent. This year she is a student at the Hagley Writers’ Institute. Her poems are published in Quakes and Community, Leaving the Red Zone, Poetry NZ.

Philomena Johnson

Wild Mushroom Picker

 the wild-mushroom picker steps
     into the dew-wet grass, bows
      	as if practising tai-chi
 in slow motion, she scoops the grass
     raises a large white mushroom
      	to the goddess of morning


 	In the right light
the light speckle of wings
 	turns blue from bronze,
hangs in the air
 	like a kāhu
ready to close in;
 	each sweep of slow
quartering flight
 	each disappearance
as she moves sideways
 	into the light
 	in the placid
waters of the estuary.
Philomena Johnson lives in Christchurch. She completed her studies at The Hagley Writers’ Institute in 2017 and is continuing to work on her first poetry collection. She has previously had poems exhibited in On Islands Eramboo in Sydney.

Tracey Peterson

Aloneness Has A Taste

In the way kitchens
and conversations go together
he said do you turn together after sex
or away?

Looking back
this was the beginning
of their absence
and wilderness

They straddled a fine line
while serpents rose
from the dust

Wanting cake
and eating her too
hardly something to immortalise
in a poem

Aloneness has a taste
Not one to savour
Its sound, the hollowness
of her laughter

Tracey graduated from Hagley Writers’ in 2015 with distinction. She has been published by London Grip (2015, 2016, 2017), The Christchurch Press (2015), in “We” Society Poetry Anthology (2015), in Leaving The Red Zone (2016), and was longlisted in the National Flash Fiction Competition 2016.

Stephanie Grieve

Tomorrow, Wendy

In this house of stone, the windows are open.
She waits in half consciousness
composing moonlight
the toss of possibility
the turn of the past.

Night air on her cheek
a final push to leave their bed
just the smallest leap
and it is done.

Out, across the rooftops
she is dashing white water
in a swollen river, her own protagonist
at last, the freedom of telling:
escape or abandonment
chimney sweep, pixie or reindeer.

Arriving at an opposite house
there’s a fire in the grille
an apple tree in the yard
guilt, and sugary desire.

The choice is already made
The bridges no longer exist.

Time passes, asterisks on a page
and in the next chapter
ordinary ornaments appear
a toilet brush and a rubbish bin
the creeping threat of routine.

Circumstances change, the candles
are lit less often.

The season is shifting again
like the weight of consequence
and suddenly there it is
Autumn coming ‘round
that vague flavour of dissatisfaction.

In the cool night
the ache of indecision
either side of midnight
and windows, always windows.

Stephanie is based in Christchurch and was an inaugural member of the Hagley Writers’ School. She finds time to write occasionally in the space between her day jobs as a lawyer and mother of three. She has had poems published in various journals and publications.