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.

Her name is Atela

Lisa McKenzie 2014

I don’t know what it means in English. It doesn’t really exist in Samoan. But in German, it means Eagle. Adler. Atela. The proud, imperial eagle of the Reich. Gold, shiny. Before it got painted broken black, white and red.

It is my aunty’s name and probably never anyone else’s. Her mother made it up, staring out into the hazy blue of Apia Bay. I can see her there, stroking her rounded belly. Out on the reef lay a ship.

Samoans do this, don strange names upon innocent babes. They make their own rules. My mother’s name is Societe. I found out it meant Society when I was 12. Her other sister’s name is Limasene. Five Cents.

And the story goes the Adler lay broken for years. A German man of war, trailing ripped sail cloth and sharp tooth spars with a snarl on its belly. I wonder if Grandma was sorry she named her daughter after this defeated ship. Gunboat diplomacy quashed by an island cyclone.

My husband’s family don’t say Atela, they just say aunty. Perhaps their mouths forget the lumpy Samoan sounds that don’t quite belong. Like a crooked pe’a tapped upon the pale buttocks of a sailor from Dusseldorf. Or perhaps they just enjoy the feeling they get calling her aunty.

I call her aunty. I always have. Warm, intimate. Like a dusty-skinned hug that smells of coffee and bread. Atela is cold and distant, like the faint call of drowning men, broken heads and graceful fingers, floating in the water.


Orange and White

Melanie Dixon 2014

We used to jump fences. Me and the cone collector. Climbed into people’s gardens in the middle of the night. Sat in their spa pools. Naked. Didn’t do anything. Just sat and talked. Looked at the stars if there were any. First to spot a satellite. If a light came on inside the house we’d scarper. Never went back to the same place twice. We worked our way around neighbourhoods. He had a map, pinned to the wall of his studio. Night by night, we made our way up and down empty streets, ticking off the houses. We knew we’d scored if we found a pool. Then we’d pull the cover off and swim lazily up and down. Blissful on our backs. Has to be some way of having fun in this busted town.

On the way home we’d pick up a road cone. Seemed harmless to start with. He said he was collecting them. We took them back to his place in Brighton. Piled them up in the living room till you could hardly move for the orange and the white. It looked weird at night, with glimmers of headlights bouncing off the reflective strips every time a car drove past. Ours was a torchlight love, a relationship of illicit 3ams.

Until he was caught.

Truth be known we were both caught out, but he was the one who got it in the neck.

It was in Merivale, one of those posh streets where every house has a pool and a spa. We didn’t know we’d been sussed until it was too late. Word must’ve got out. They knew exactly where we would be. 2:30am on a Wednesday. Everybody should’ve been asleep. The fence was easy to jump. Then there it was, 10 metres of bliss, empty and sublime. We pulled the cover off , rolling it silently into a long blue sausage. I was first in. Stripping off and diving from the side, breaking the water softly. I relished in the cool silence as it closed in around me. My moment of euphoria. Then he jumped. Bombing from the side. Splash. Must’ve got a bit cocky, jumping in like that.

Game over. Lights on. People appeared from everywhere. Out from behind the pot plants, under the outdoor furniture. I legged it. Didn’t stop to look back for him. You’ve no idea what it’s like running through Merivale, starkers, in the middle of the night. Lucky I’m a good runner. Must be all that swimming I do. I was the one that got away. He wasn’t so lucky.

So, that’s how it ended.

A couple of months later I spotted him, in one of those magazines. Turns out he’s a bit of a name. In the photograph he’s standing in the garden of a fancy looking house, with his wife. Yeah, that bit surprised me too. There they are, smiling, standing next to the swimming pool. Behind them towers a huge orange and white elephant made out of road cones, with a torch shining out of its trunk, lighting up the treetops. Triumphant.

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.

Glossary of birthing terms

Marisa Cappetta 2014

Her foot is a page in an atlas,
a map of her birth road.

She is slung in a hammock oriented
between theodolites of twin aunts.

Her grandmothers harvest
long grass along the shoreline

and weave a cradle, dolls with
downy hair, and a birthing blanket.

For the first nine months her father
is a whisper in her ear,

her mother a thunder of heartbeat.
When she is nursed and nuzzled

she sees them as an aerial survey,
or nine patch quilt blocks.

She is a transparency of veins, like roads
overlaid on the contours of her parents.

She was there in the room

Marisa Cappetta 2014

She was there in the room, and in
the petri dish, when they were made.

Her first child, a daughter, is red dirt.
She blew away in the easterlies.

Her second child, a son this time,
is fog bound. He scurries in the valley until

the sun burns him away, drives him into
the hills. He chases wallabies with fingers of mist.

Her third child is a black cygnet.
It paddles up river before it can be sexed.

The fourth child is knitted by her sister.
She splits a stitch and one becomes two.