Sunday, February 18, 2018


What do you seek?
asks Waipū Cove.
What's not in this
beach-outing snap –
rock pools
a plastic ship
wind in our hair.

What brought you here?
asks Martins Bay.
The picnics we had
on your shore –
races in sacks
three legs made from four.

What do you recall?
asks Mangawhai.
A badjelly sand dune
that ate kids alive –
the pipis we dug at low tide
a Tilley lamp, Primus
and tent.

Why do you still dig?
they all inquire.
To find what I lost
when I had –
     a mother and father,
a bucket
and spade.

This poem forms part of my next collection, No One Home (Mākaro Press), a boyhood memoir in poems and letters. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The new Minister's brief to the Head of Department

No leaping out
from behind hidden agendas,
no lining lame ducks up
for media pot shots,
no scaring the crap out of me
with revelations or defamations
and definitely no defecations
in my corner.

Hire the best spin doctor going -
one that will guild
your OIA gnome droppings
so they look like
unvarnished truth lollies.

Send your top policy wonk
to work in my office -
they can rewrite
your dreary drivel
to better reflect
what I told you to say
in the first place.

Absolutely NO surprises
or I will make sure you slide down
the gnome stud book
faster than Jack abseiled
the beanstalk when the giant
started fee-fi-fo-ing.

That's all for now -
drop by next week
and brief me on the cock-ups
you've had to cover up.

My apologies to anyone who has visited this blog during the last 18 months in the hope of finding a new post. I took a long break that was neither planned nor caused by physical ailment, nor did it result from anything as mundane as writer’s block – in fact, I have put together another collection of writing over that time. More about that in the next post (which I promise will follow soon after this one).

During the ‘between posts’ interregnum, I also had a poem published in an anthology of political poetry, ‘Manifesto Aotearoa: 101political poems’ (Otago University Press, Edited by Philip Temple and Emma Neale, 2017). The poem was ‘The Head of Department’s Prayer on a change of Government’. I wrote it several years ago and only sent it to the anthology to make up my submission’s numbers. The poem is a parody on the Lord’s Prayer and my thinking was that such writing is a bit naff these days, but what did I know. I had also previously posted it on this blog here, but if you like political poetry, I strongly recommend you take a look at Manifesto Aotearoa, available online at Unity Books and other good booksellers.

The reception the Head of Department poem received was very positive, so I have decided to develop a series of poems based on the departmental and political context that the Head of Department works in. The poem above is one of these. I will post more as they take shape. (An 'OIA' is an Official Information Act request, which anybody can submit to a department in order to gain access to specific information.)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Cartoon briefs - there was an old woman who lived in a shoe

  • A large octopus with the words "Housing Crisis" written on its body has one arm wrapped around John Key, Bill English, Nick Smith, Stephen Joyce and Paula Bennett. Bill's speech bubble says "Just wait, it has to let go eventually." The others have expressions ranging from terror to astonishment on their faces. The arm wrapped around the cabinet ministers has "political fallout" written on it. The remaining flailing arms each have one of the following sets of words on them: homelessness, first home ownership, street beggars, garage dwellers, slum landlords, unhealthy houses, land bankers.
  • The cartoon is divided in two diagonally. In the bottom left, there is a multi-level building with a sign on it - "Housing Crisis Casino". Glitter, fireworks, and stars surround the top of the building. On the ground outside, a small group of people with bows are firing arrows at the top storey. The words "Government Measures to Stop Crisis" are written above four or five arrows in flight. In the top right half of the cartoon, a group of cigar-smoking, opulently-dressed gamblers are sitting around a card table in a room. The dealer has dealt four cards - the words on the back of each card read: buy and hold, buy and do-up, buy and on-sell, buy and build, joker. A window behind the card-players has on its outside an arrow with a sucker head stuck to the glass and the word "thud" above it. The dealer is saying "Don't worry, they're not serious".
  • A group of four cabinet ministers wearing casual clothing is sitting around a table. They are wearing name tags - John, Bill, Nick, Paula. A sign on a door to the room reads "Potty Shed Retreat - Ideas Room". There is a whiteboard behind the table with the heading "Strategies for fixing the housing crisis". There is no other writing on the whiteboard. At the head of the table sits a woman wearing the name tag "Facilitator". A newspaper with the heading "WINZ implicated in garage housing scheme" lies on the table. The facilitator's speech bubble says "So Paula, this was your idea?". Bill is thinking "That's clever - it frees up cars for sleeping in". Nick's thought bubble reads "What about storage container houses?" John's thought bubble has a flag with a garage on it.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Cartoon briefs - hey diddle diddle

  • John Key, with a perplexed look on his face, and dressed in a frock and wearing rubber gloves, is standing in a kitchen with a large, half-empty plastic milk bottle in one hand. The milk bottle has a hole in one corner and is leaking a stream of milk onto the floor. An assortment of burnt cakes, spilt ingredients and torn up recipes litter the bench and floor. In his other hand, he is holding open a book. The title of the book is "NZ Economy Cookbook (Chinese Edition)".

  • The cartoon is divided in two diagonally. In the top left, a thin, black-singleted cow-cockey with his back to us is walking out a farm gate. He is carrying a suitcase with a label which says "Fonterra's Get Rich Poor Quickly Dairy Farm Package". A fat bankster dressed in a waist-coated suit is standing by the gate grinning from ear to ear. A "Farm Certificate of Title" document protrudes from his pocket. In the bottom right half of the cartoon, Bill English is speaking on the phone - "Don't worry John, they'll still vote for us." A book with the title "Great Political Con Tricks" sits on a coffee table next to Bill. 

  • A group of four cabinet ministers wearing casual clothing is sitting around a table. They are wearing name tags - John, Bill, Stephen, Murray. A sign on a door to the room reads "Green Brown Fields Retreat - Ideas Room". There is a whiteboard behind the table with the heading "Strategies for fixing the dairy downturn". There is no other writing on the whiteboard. At the head of the table sits a woman wearing the name tag "Paula Rebstock - Facilitator". A newspaper with the heading "Tourism overtakes Dairy in export earnings" lies on the table. Paula's speech bubble says "No Stephen, we can't make every tourist buy a can of milk powder as an entry tax". Murray's thought bubble reads "How about a sheep farm then?" Bill is thinking "We should make it 2 cans". John's thought bubble has a flag with a cow on it. Stephen looks as though he is sulking.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Guest Poet at the Fringe, Sunday 21 February

I will be reading from my latest collection, Felt Intensity, on Sunday 21 February. Come if you can. Location and other details are in this poster:

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A Post-Tuesday Poem Post: Conception

something almost always
follows a full stop

a hiatus
silence which is nothing

if not unrealised sound
there is present always

nature's abhorrence of nothing
the fragrance of latency

clefs prefacing
unborn sonatas

elemental matter
surfing the grandstands

of the universe
searching for seats

to the last Big Bang
or the birth of

the first letter of
the next sentence

Alas, Tuesday Poem as we knew is no more. The last post was played on the blog on 15 December last year, One of the founders of the blog - I am not sure whether it was Mary McCallum or Claire Beynon, wrote in the farewell post that "Something almost always follows a full stop". I liked this so much, I wrote the poem above.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Poem: Lament of a couch revolutionary

You are the new dangerous class, it is said.
Bah, you are whining pups
sucking on the paps of Mother Consumer.
You have the vision of a myopic meerkat,
balls of a gelded goat, solidarity of a cess pit.

‘Occupy!’ you cry. Que?
If that’s your mantra, you are truly clueless.
Where is your Manifesto,
your strategy for the long march,
your handbook of hand-to-hand?

Where are your precariat peons, your shirtless,
your barefoot, your les misérables?
Making shirts and shoes in sweat shops,
planting Monsanto’s seedless plants,
paying the mortgage, that’s where.

You picket buildings, but fail to spike the spokes
of those who peddle in your penury –
the poverty-trap profiteers,
the political-party pocket-liners,
the income-gap insouciants,
the bloated banksters and flash boys,
the obscene salary-packaged CEOs.

So, mobilise your brigades of bloggers,

your troops of tweeters, your para-hackers,
your financial system saboteurs.

Storm the trust funds and slush funds

of the feckless, taxless, cartel carpetbaggers
and their coat-tailers and gravy-boaters.
Siphon their vaults, hack their accounts,
unemploy them, evacuate their credit cards,
benefact their bonuses, perforate their perks,
axe their automatic cost-of-living adjusted,
non performance-related pay rises.

Sentence them to twenty year’s detention

in a slum landlord rental

doing crew work (plus two other jobs)

on a zero hours contract

all for the minimum pittance.

It’s time to sound the clarion,
beat your brass razoo cymbals,
exact your pound of carrion!

This poem is from my just released new collection, Felt intensity (Submarine poetry).

Felt intensity is being launched by Dinah Hawken at the New Zealand Poetry Society's Conference on Sunday 15 November (details are on the immediate past post).

Visit Tuesday Poem for more great poetry. This week features the poem That girl, by Heidi North-Bailey from her first collection Possibility of flight, which is being launched at the same time as Felt intensity.

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