Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Now on at a court/house near you

Act I

After the man moved into the home
the boy’s toilet behaviour regressed.

The man was twenty-five years old.
He flushed the boy’s head in a toilet

carpet-burned his face
bruised his ears by twisting them

stuck a drawing pin in his penis
inserted a pen in his anus.

The man was sentenced to
six years nine months’ in jail.

When the offending took place
the boy was three and a half.

Act II

She had a call from school to say her son
had kicked a hole in a toilet door and sworn.
When they got home she bent him over the table
and gave him six whacks with a bamboo cane.
She said he apologised for his behaviour
said he wouldn’t behave like that again.

Later, when the boy was asked to help
he swung a baseball bat at her husband’s head.
This time she gave him a sharp lesson
hitting him with a small riding crop.
She denies she assaulted the boy.
He’s been removed from her care.


The couple went for a drive
to Titahi Bay Beach where
he stabbed her to death.

The pathologist said
stab wounds to her front
punctured her heart.

Stabs dotted her back.
Her hands were crossed with
defence-type cuts.

A defence of provocation
would be put forward
said his lawyer.

She had thrown down
the bunch of flowers
he had given her.

This poem was published in Landfall 214 in Nov 2007 and relate to actual events reported in the media that year.

Visit Tuesday Poem for more poems this week.


  1. This is exactly why I try to avoid the crimes in the newspaper, and exactly why I find it impossible not to read them. Depressingly familiar at the same time the details are acutely individual, Keith.

    1. Thanks PS. I try to limit my reading of the reports that lead to this poem in case I become a) inured to their content, or b) remain depressed.

  2. I like the objectivity of the writing in this poem. It serves to make the topic more horrifying.

  3. Thanks Helen. Distillation of the events to their bare facts can have that effect.

  4. It is depressing stuff of the kind that makes you wonder about us as a species. But definitely material for poetry.


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