Two Poems

dream futures from a plant placed beneath your tongue

 

skin

she crossed the ocean, held buoyant by the surface swell
shed her skin in each new land she came to
folded it neatly
into a locked chest
(or had it taken from her)

without her skin she could not go back to the sea

she left her words in the old land
tucked away the sruthán, the sionainn, the tír-dhá-ghlas
into hills and riverbeds

she grew accustomed to her new form
learned to exchange salt for soil, built instead

upon another’s ocean of grass, her brine beginnings
passed on through memory
and then myth

 

 

 

she crossed the haaf, shaipit by the waves
shed her skin upon the draa
and folded it neatly
into a locked kist

without her skin she could not go back to the sea

she grew accustomed to her new form
learned to exchange salt for soil, built instead
upon the body of a mountain
her brine beginnings buried in the earth

she locked her words away too
dialect smoothed like seaglass
into new vowel shapes
the shoormal, the skröf, the lönabrak
forgotten

 

 

 

she crossed the moana, motu to motu
i tīhore ia i tōna kahu kekeno
and stepped onto the shore
her kākahu kept close for safekeeping

she grew accustomed to her new form,
and held in an embrace between maunga and moana
she put down roots

until she was stolen away, and stolen again
and her words were stolen, too
kupu crushed like gravel into new consonants
the takutai moana, the paringa
(and her kākahu)
taken from her

without her skin she could not go back to the sea

 

 

 

but see, here is where her stories come together into one
selkie stories, seal songs, kekeno calls
for though they all shift in the how-where-why of it
and who was the betrayer and who the betrayed

in every telling I’ve ever heard

           every time
           every time
           every time

the story always ends
with her returning to the sea

 

 

notes

An earlier/different form of dream futures from a plant placed beneath your tongue was first published in Tupuranga Issue Lua: A Whole New World, as part of lyric essay/longform poem untangling the aho.

About the author
Arielle Walker (Taranaki, Ngāruahine, Ngā Puhi, Pākehā) is a Tāmaki Makaurau-based contemporary artist, writer and maker. Having just completed a Master of Visual Arts at AUT University, her practice seeks pathways towards reciprocal belonging through the intersections and connections between land, language, and craft, focusing on tactile storytelling and ancestral narratives.
Three Poems

Poem 64

Ariadne needed Theseus
like she needed an arrow through the head.
Theseus needed Ariadne
like the bow needed that arrow.
The Minotaur needed nothing but darkness
and they took that from him too.

Bloodied in the stone-echo battle dreams of his home,
he was left alone,
waiting for Charon.

Ariadne, under a wide moon, running, glistened in cool light
as night opened its wings around her.
Triumphant Theseus trudged,
a sweating, swearing, blood-stained mutterer saying,
lie down girl,
lie down here and sleep.
So she slept
lay way down, spread out under the stars,
poised to be painted.

Meanwhile her brother’s blood became a river,
and floating the Lethe coinless
his giant form clutched tight in its throat
a guttural vocative.

Ariadne awoke to silence, tepid heat, an early sun,
raised all the translucence
of her oil-rendered arms in stretch to the sky,
only to see the white wings of sails
saluting her from the horizon.

Theseus, sailing delirious,
guiltless, coinless,
over unobscured waters
rejoiced in the clear, and sped away
with nothing to say
into the glinting sunshine.

Behind him, a swirling gloom
enveloped the lunate coastline
where Ariadne cried; tore at herself until
exposed in dark waters, she sobbed darkly
for the wreckage of betrayal upon betrayal
begged guidance
down that blood-dark river
and was refused.

Each moment of the journey it was there anyway
created on Crete,
neglected on Naxos,
plunging from the Piraeus cliffs
death and all its children;
its miasmas; its stains.

 

 

Clytemnestra Takes a Bath

Woman — cast your tyrannical spell upon the water,
heart of red dwarf star, fizzing wonder,
and to the seething foam pour your oils, aromatic offerings,
libations of rose petals and candle-torches blazing in the dark,
a ring of ensnaring flame.

Woman — run the bath red,
drop by crimson drop, let the red tide flow
unsheathe the cold steel, let it slide in long strokes
and when it nicks, then oozes,
draw it quick down beneath the scarlet waters,
and keep it there.

Woman — I know you,
you own the distant scream or two of flesh
dragged against white marble,
the sound behind the door of a call:
in another life, you betrayed a kingdom of nothing,
wrenched off an eagle’s wings, sprayed its black blood wide,
assumed the form of a snake.

Clytemnestra — in this life, relax;
the day is beginning.
Untangle the net of your dressing gown from the bathroom floor,
wrap your blushed flesh in silk,
apply a plaster to that bright-ooze, shaving cut,
and let the crimson bathwater all the way out.
Breathe deep, dry off, moisturise.
Fish the rose petals from the teeth of the bathtub’s drain
with your hands.

 

 

CLYTEMNESTRA: You and I have the power now

Woman is prostrate on the shag carpet
candles around her are lit like beacons in the dark,
she is saying it over and over:
take it back take it back take it back!

Woman sits up, clasps the trembling moths of her hands,
all the is air heavy with scented-candle smell,
a thick perfume intoxicating the dim living room,
where she wrings those nervous hands, their crimson nails,
and lets loose a small whimper.

Woman knows she has committed murder.

She had prayed to the wrong god, the snake eater
who writhes and slides, a mother god ferocious
all filled with disasters. She had
called Clytemnestra from the confines of myth
for an act of vengeance.

Woman had never been religious, even as a child
no trips to church or mosque, but had always the sense of it;
something more that was there, maybe,
drew her to horoscopes and tarot cards,
made her trust in neck prickles,
avoid stepping on cracks,
to have an affinity for metaphor.

After the divorce there was no need to deny
this spirituality of sorts, Ex-Husband had always thought it silly, so
she got herself a holistic therapist, curated crystals, bought
a set of cards, and let the shape of her life’s actions
become predetermined and ritualistic, coloured more
by the shapes of her dreams.

It was Therapist who had suggested it, praying, of all things,
and Woman wondered: who to?
Therapist said: It doesn’t matter. Not even if you believe; it’s only about
letting it out, like writing a letter and burning it,
like yelling it off a mountain. All that anger inside;
let it ask for what it wants.

But when Woman tried, she found
she did not know how to pray, exactly;
it hurt her knees on the ground like that,
and she still didn’t have anyone to pray to
until her theatre group started their new play
and Woman met Clytemnestra
and Woman thought she will do.

Mistress of thunder she was the sort of woman
Woman thought she would like to be, easily
outsmarting anyone, filled with a quiet kind of laughter,
master inventor of flaming messages and vengeful in body,
awash in sunset pools of scarlet,
unleashed, unlike Woman who had
made a sheet of her anger and folded it tight.

Clytemnestra, well-known black widow,
wrathful lustful in a time before sin
had for several thousand years
committed the crime the same:
child-killing husband home from war lured
into the bath by her, and by her axe
the bath painted crimson.

Woman’s worship was less like a prayer,
more like a summoning,
in a room of scented candles
on the shag carpet chosen by Ex-Husband,
Woman would dress in a scarlet satin robe as if
ready to receive a lover,
but would be stern with concentration
like a student before an exam.

She would lace her hands, interlocking fingers pressing tight
and unfold the anger-pain like a wave;
call on Clytemnestra to
untangle the nets of justice
and cast them out towards Ex-Husband.
To lift the righteous axe, and with it aloft,
recount the wrongs: deep, often, unrelenting,
then bring it down
and let the red tide flow.

I did what you said she told Therapist,
Therapist said, And how did it feel?
Woman said, Angry
and wasn’t wrong.

It became weekly, this almost-prayer,
this unravelling of fire so tightly coiled
and sorrow so deeply swallowed,
Woman sat on her lounge floor and howled to her mother,
Clytemnestra, the one who understood the pact and price of
blood for blood and
flicker by flicker the candles melted.

Clytemnestra visited her dreams, too,
with an axe draped over one shoulder
casually, as if a cardigan,
all dressed in white robes, she was
spectral if not ghostly, partially translucent or at least
muted, tinged silver and blurring
but the blood dripping from axe,
the blood dipping and pooling and staining
was always clearly in focus,
so bright bright red it seemed
to be leaping out an extra dimension
as if it had something to say.

She was in the car when she got the call:
Ex-Husband. Found dead. In the bathroom.
Woman felt cool terror lick her throat, she
spluttered ice cubes into the phone before
opening the car door to retch onto the concrete.

So Woman is prostrate
on the luxurious carpet, she is
engorged with regret and belief,
tear-streaked and snot-fractured,
crying and begging with myth
for mythical absolution for the crime of
Ex-Husband. In the bathroom. With Clytemnestra’s axe.

The death was not suspicious she is no longer
privy to the privacy of how, his mother
won’t speak to her,
but in her dreams the bathroom will be red,
not splattered so much as soaked, dripping,
and not blood exactly, sort of
cheap horror movie gore
and it will be hard to ignore
in her waking
the image of Clytemnestra in white and crimson
walking from the scene of that
crime not crime,
that secret wish’s accidental accordance
with the way things are.

About the author
Hebe Kearney is from Christchurch but now calls Auckland her home. She currently studying to complete her Honours in Classics at the University of Auckland. She couldn’t stop writing poems if she tried. Her work has also appeared in Starling, The Three Lamps, and Forest and Bird.
Hekate

              For Jools

I invited them for dinner one Winter.
Hekate too,
even though
the others thought they didn’t know her.
The chatter died when She arrived.

*

My guests
found themselves each alone
at her crossroads
leaving I
lonesome at the table.

When they finally returned, one was pale
and said, “I couldn’t look at her.
Her necklace was dead animals.”
Another exclaimed, “What a nice old lady!”

But me,
I dreamt that I’d kissed Her face
twice.

About the author
Anita Mortlock is a lecturer and student at Victoria University of Wellington. At other times, she likes to write about the social and natural worlds with an eco-Pagan lens. She has been interested in Jung’s work for the past decade.
To the Woman I Will Become

you better have wings — great demon things
looming from your shoulders — you better be dangerous
ugly and sea-soaked and storming, better be the antihero
and unafraid of it — unashamed of it —
you better be stupid monstrous
dragonish in the jacket you bought for yourself —
your voice like Perseus’ shield — reflecting back
all the dastardly things in the world and how
to fight them — you better be
a colossal fuckwit creature
taking up space — you better be
giving no weakening phrases
no like or as, say no — leave no
distance between you and
tomorrow except for
your breathing —
you better never ever forget me
no matter what you say
i had a dream of you leaning over the
sinks pressing hands to my face checking
my temperature leaving imprint of wing-joints
between my shoulder blades —
come back for me someday

About the author
Pippi Jean played laser tag for her eighteenth birthday and her identity as a person is pretty much summarised by Pippi Longstocking. She was a finalist in the 2019 National Schools Poetry Award which was cool. You can find her most recent works in Starling, Flash Frontier, and Poetry New Zealand Yearbook.
Cymopoleia

I watched you, my daughter.

My daughter of the water.

Jumping the foam
                            as it pounded
              and roamed.

Squealing like gulls as
                                          you stooped
                                                        and swooped.
So safe in your body with its
                            strength,
              with grace.

And that look on your face,
              of salt              and sunshine             and sureness.

The waves will bend to your command.
The clouds will part, the earth will spin.
Because you breathe,
              because you laugh,
                            because you dream.

About the author
Katrina is a poet from Tauranga. She is interested in the space between hope and reality. She has previously been published in Blackmail Press, The Poetry NZ Yearbook, and Takahē Magazine.
Cancelled

We kill our gods
and eat them,
disembowel them with comments,
vicious and self-righteous,
feasting on shame and doctored photos,
consume them with a retweet –
satisfied only when the page
pulls up blank.

We are our own gods.
Proud and gluttonous,
hungry and snarling for disgrace
until someone eats us too.

About the author
Sophie Newton is a writer from Aotearoa (New Zealand). Her poetry and essays can be found in Starling Magazine and the NZ Herald. You can find her on Twitter @sophierownewton.
Two Poems

The Hesperides Sisters

From the promenade, we see the sunset sisters
shine on the parked cars, light up
a bumper sticker of their father Atlas,
who seems to endure
still
holding up the heavens, sweating
dumb sweet pheromones, like the boy beside me –
his flex of bicep crackling like lightening
as he swings my hand. Does he know
the heat of the sisters or,
does he think
they are cool as
the wishing star for twinkling
like a Roman Beauty over the sea? Or that
they wanted to pose in a garden
of flaming oranges that men must not pick
for fear of turning to stone?
Indeed
they are not glowing nicely here, they are not
lounging below the globe of a
Northern hemisphere setting
as painted by other men – they were never
erotic that way, but bored.
They are
the sooty shearwater eating
the light, the swooping up
of hands into water,
please
let them be the fire-
dance in his eyes.

 

 

A Line from Ulysses

Penelope swims in UV and flap-flap
air affliction, a veil awave upon the waves.
Tosh-tosh, she doesn’t weep while he’s gone,
she sleeps and looks after the bl—
blaring children, putting on
pyjamas, porridging them and
playing with yellow putty,
the thing she despises, his
home-coming; the weeping
when it comes will be furious, the hitting
upon his chewy chest she wants to, won’t
contain. It’s too hard being
a single fucking parent.

About the author
Gail Ingram is a New Zealand poet and the author of Contents Under Pressure (Pūkeko Publications 2019). Her poetry has been published widely, winning awards, including Caselberg 2019, NZPS 2016, third in Poetry Meets Politics UK 2018, among others. Currently, she is working on a collection of poems themed around women as birds. https://www.theseventhletter.nz/
Horses by Patti Smith

Glare at me from your photograph
So I can feel your eyes dark on me
And hear the music flow from your closed lips
Like a slow death, seeping out.

I often wish I was stronger, wish I
Could carry you easily, wish I could walk
Without this hissing awareness of my own body
And all it stands for, all it holds

In its echo chambers of contradiction.
Wish I could feel without planning first,
Without charting a map from myself
To the great happy that hovers

Just past the curve of my earth.
I listen to Patti Smith scream
And gaze into her eyes like a lover,
Like a museum loiterer, examining

A piece of art and extracting meaning
Like tree sap, viscous on all my cortexes,
The record skipping on ‘sins’, ‘sins’, ‘sins’
Over and over like a witch’s curse.

I want to let the threads of my clothes
Hang down, I want unwashed hair.
I want a school of wild horses to carry me
Into the countryside where I can live

In the empty, the nucleus of a large cell.
I want to be so solitary that I have
Nothing to compare my loneliness to,
No great landmark of womanhood

To mark myself with. There
I can scream as she does, about sins,
But all mine will be empty
With nobody near to die for them.

About the author
Maia Armistead is a 17 year old from Hamilton, and was a finalist in the 2019 National Schools Poetry Award.
Trompe-l’œil: An Ekphrasis of Hippolyte Flandrin’s The Young Greek Girl

she’s minding her own business
lost in thought as she heaves a sigh

a sigh that breathes through the paint
and slowly fogs up the glass

i like to think she does it on purpose
that she’s tired of being looked at

she’s being seen and she knows it
with a smart grin behind the canvas

look

looking for an excuse to gaze away
not even above me

like the busts of forgotten emperors
that neatly line vatican shelves

such modesty

she deserves better than them
i like to think she knows it

she reminds me of mrs woolf
not that i knew her of course

i know her just as well

she’s as pensive as mrs woolf
a similar nose even while lost in thought

perusing the values of life and art
believing hers unequal to my own

i like to think that she believes
i’ve nothing to contribute to her meditation

thinking

thinking that there’s no point
in acknowledging my interrupted presence

she’s disinterested in the cassat
and degas, and monet’s little technicolour

haystacks that decorate her living room
i like to think she chose them herself

to impress such guests as myself
who has sought audience with

her confident grace and contemplative
sensibilities i wish i could possess

i wish i had her neck of parian marble
like a petal of a christmas lily

her shoulder draped with chiffon sleeves
like parrhasius’ grand curtain

the small gold earring
like one of zeuxis’ grapes

i like to think

do you mind?

she whispers from the other side
of the glass like an emerald apple

floating between us breathing
ceci n’est pas une femme

this is not a woman

About the author
Charles Broughton is currently a Master's student of English Literature at Victoria University of Wellington. His creative work explores art, myth, and femininity.
The Weight of Divinity

I have grown weary of hearing my vessel be mislabelled as holy
Are only heavenly objects worthy of love?

Nothing about me is godly

This body is but the sum of fleshy sinew and tarnished bone
Divine femininity does not make me more durable or less revolting
I sweat, excrete, purge the same way you do
And I do not appear any more beautiful while doing so

I am no stronger than you because I possess the ability to birth another
I do not wish to create more life
Humanity will suffice without my half-hearted contribution
I wish to only sustain the small space I occupy
Foraging enough food for one

My nurturing womb is neither blossoming nor nurturing
It is dormant
And it will gather dust
And I will not apologise

When I am reduced to androgynous ash
Those who tether themselves to the idea of me will scarper
In search of new hobbies

And I will rest
Filthy, angelic, mundane, alone
Relieved of responsibility

Regretting your womanhood is a tiresome pastime

About the author
Janhavi Gosavi hails from Te Whanganui-a-Tara. She is in her second year of studying a Bachelor of Arts at Victoria University of Wellington, majoring in History, Anthropology and Theatre. Janhavi is the poetry editor and a regular contributor at Salient magazine and enjoys performing spoken word poetry. Janhavi is a proud Hufflepuff, a Netflix addict, and a bubble tea fiend.
The Field: Persephone

              For Eurydice Dixon

I am the girl led out into the field / The woman in the blue
business suit holding a paper coffee cup / waiting

to cross / Hit by a car and thrown in the boot / The woman forced
to dig her own grave / I lose my eyes to acid / I call 111

and say There’s an intruder inside the house / They tell me
Find something heavy… A golf club? Can you go to a neighbour’s

house? / They give out blunt knives / Advise a stab vest
beneath my clothes / I am in the bathroom when he decides /

When he puts on his trainers for extra leverage / In the dark,
I do not see that he has removed the passenger seat / I smell the chloroform

too late / I hear a careful step before I feel the blow /
I marvel at my wet, bloody hand as I move it along

the back of my head and bring it to my face / The moon shines
on his throat / The moon shines on the field /

I am walking with my sisters when the group of men appear /
I am the woman in the stadium / I feel the first stone /

It is the first time I am allowed to walk to the bus stop
alone / He says Women unconsciously long for a man to take

control / My body is found in the river / My body is found in the
alley / They think it is a bundle of rags at first / My face slowly

uncovered / The soil brushed away / My drowned hand
where the skin sloughs off like a glove / My skull waiting for him

to return / I am the girl in the dumping ground / The 1 in 4; 3 in 5;
1 in 10 / I am 18, 22, 46, 78, 14 / A mannequin this night / So still

in the moonlight / So quiet, then realising they are gone
something forces me to run / He puts a mirror underneath so he can watch

himself / He says I know what you are / The moon pools in his throat /
And all the time I am digging I am thinking I’m glad it is me

not her / I am cleaning the window outside the shop / Herding
goats when the men come / Hanging out the washing on the

line / Walking along the river with the dog /
I am the woman silent through it all / The girl

who screams / The woman who fights / I am the girl who travels
somewhere else / The out-of-body girl / The woman who dies

and floats to the branches of a tree / The girl who watches
while the paramedics try to bring her back to this world of mud /

And it is so cold here (in the field) / And it is so cold here
(in the tree) / So pure and cold and brittle with the breath of angels.

 

First published in Abridged

About the author
Wes Lee lives in Paekakariki. Her latest poetry collection, By the Lapels, was launched in Wellington (Steele Roberts Aotearoa, 2019). Her work has appeared in Best New Zealand Poems, Poetry London, Westerly, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, Turbine, The New Zealand Listener, Australian Poetry Journal, among others. Most recently she was awarded the Poetry New Zealand Prize 2019 by Massey University Press.
Two Pieces

A Tree Falls

I often wonder how Daphne felt
the moment she started changing
into the laurel
like when you were a child
and your body constantly
fought against itself to grow
I can imagine
Daphne’s toes stretching into roots
leaves springing from her ears
skin hardening into
a rough bark
her eyes forming into knots
her twisting torso
as she looked back
for the last time
at the moving world
before being fixed to her spot
unable to move except for the wind through
her limbs
through the canopy of her tree-hair
and only if the Gods willed it
and sometimes the rain falling
staining the dark bark of her skin.

Maybe Eliot had her in mind
when he wrote that line
what branches grow out of this stony rubbish?
But Eliot too left his wife abandoned.

And did he place her on a mountaintop
looking towards home tormented
or deep in a valley next to a singing
river with Peneus scolding her
Apollo staring mouthwatering
for what could have been
and I wonder if she ever had the chance
she’d rather stay like that
than be turned back into flesh
not that she ever had any say
in the matter.

 

 

The Revelation Myth

When I return, after a long, forced exile, entering into the silence just after the storm. When I can splinter with my fingers the woodworm eaten ark laying in pieces in the street, where once as kids we fought together until the cleaved rib gave birth to our division; after all this, I’ll tell them, finally, what I’ve seen.
              I’ll tell them how they set fires to deserts, razed mountains, bore holes through the sun. How boats with hidden eyes crossed horizons and tore through wave-breaks, hulls cringing, heave-ho and how they rounded the earth, tied chains to its circumference, packaged it up, boxed it, sectioned it, suffocated it, diminished it. And where their eyes were once are now gold pieces blinking in the light of dead stars a thousand, two thousand years old.
              An eclipse of seagulls strain their wings against a late-summer sunset. A cascade of palm trees, a drowned oasis, a bent figure that appears, briefly, on the crest of a dune, against the sun outlining a crucifixion in silhouette. A murder of crows; a discarded, blood-smeared dagger partially obscured in the shifting sands like the mute Sphinx, like the pyramids at Giza that keep all the secrets we will never discover.
              And I will tell them of the end first.
              But I know they will not listen, not knowing in which direction to pray like a cracked-faced compass blind to its points. In the aftermath I lay in an empty room somewhere. Deep in the bellows of the house, a clock strikes midnight. A floorboard creaks underfoot. A man clears his throat. I wait for the handle to turn but only the broken spine of silence seeps under the door; for I know this to be impossible, for everyone is now gone. This many-roomed mansion fallen into disrepair, a dilapidated delirium of twisted shape and shadow.
              The jaundiced skin of these walls I could slice with my sins. The moon feeds through its pale light and I write these final words in the blemished blue haze, knowing I shall never return, now that the sun is no longer so recognisable, nor so extraordinary.
              And if I have one last wish, I would ask you to find a breach in the wall and to take me through to where the wind lives. Promise, you will take me to where the wind lives.

About the author
Lincoln Jaques holds a Master of Creative Writing, where his exegesis centred on the noir fiction of Jean Patrick Manchette, Ted Lewis, David Goodis, and James N. Cain. His poetry and fiction has appeared in New Zealand, Australia, Ireland and the US, most recently in Tough Magazine and Noir Nation (forthcoming), Mother Mary Comes to Me: A Pop Culture Poetry Anthology, The Blue Nib, Mayhem, Shot Glass Journal, and Blackmail Press. He lives in Auckland.
An economy based entirely on Stolen Valour

If you summon a demon with brute material objects that are an affront to the Lord—if you are animal blood and grotesque candles in a geometry of horns—what happens to free and unsaleable prayer in the market world—if I am an open-source design and a book in the public domain for an altar—my edition of Shakespeare printed from a PDF at home an affront to commerce—who are the devils opposite the gods of capital to summon?

A moment of suspense in The Merchant of Venice: Bassanio—financed by Antonio’s gamble upon the mercantile ocean—gambles for the life and love of Portia—she would delay and distend his time between now and the bet and wait and draw out and yet forbear until routing around choice altogether—but being kept from a wager is

—in this world—torture…

              Away, then! I am enmeshed in it all:
              If there is hope, it will appear very dark.
              Freedom and the rest, stand all aloof.
              Let rain fall while we make our every choice;
              Then, if we lose, we make a cinematic end,
              Fading drop by drop: that there’s some measure
              Of our sick heavens stirred into the waters
              That rise to meet us. We may win;
              What is rain then? Then rain is
              Even as the overwhelming redistribution
              We must have killed for: such it is
              As the calm you feel wading into long grass
              Knowing there are no snakes. Here we go,
              With no less venom but much more breath
              Than smoke, when the technocrats did command
              Sovereign individuals shield them from
              Their own storms: you stand for sacrifice;
              The rest are the boards of directors,
              With nebulous charts, armed to proclaim
              Your world does not exist. Go, assembly!
              Live that you live: it’s true numbers do not
              Exist in the world beyond our thought.

Oh lines wrested from a text I didn’t pay for—as incomprehensible as any incantation—if you’re without a cost are you anything at all—our lives’ work but a little more entropy caused—priceless our very deepest and most productive contradiction?

A moment of resignation in The Tempest: Prospero reluctantly shelves his powers—in the end chiefly outsourcing and labour exploitation over wizardry—already a world where sufficiently great leaps in efficiency are indistinguishable from magic—a world that isn’t quite

there when we’re not looking…

              You sprites of arcades, life, flash games, and fields;
              And you that on the deepest sands lay down
              Your colossal electricity, and do remove
              The tops from mountains; you free thinkers that
              By night shift fill the rivers with metals,
              Until they turn to gold; and you whose sport
              Is that the world hallucinates, swallowing whole
              Your rules like their own blood; by whose example—
              Though incredulous as kin—I have dimmed
              The lights in my eyes, opened my heart to air,
              And with deep joy in both pixels and ink
              Written careless words: to the church of derivatives
              I have admitted, and rent out my whole self
              From the nib down; the fount and foundation
              Is in crisis, broken by the trees that
              Buckle footpaths: graves of capital
              Have become my breath, clipped, and so forced
              I have fuel for now. But this rough magic
              Is only now forever; and, though I may evaporate
              Without afflictions,—which even now I fear,—
              To turn power into just a dream, that
              Spell we all admit reality, I’ll blind myself,
              Never again take in a majestic panorama,
              And letting go the forces that bind all physics
              I’ll drown my book.

About the author
Chris Holdaway is a poet and bookmaker from Te Tai Tokerau / Northland. He directs the poetry publisher Compound Press, and his book Gorse Poems is published by Atuanui Press in 2021.
a couple was dancing

and I was the room, a cavernous audience. I was depositing things into the room, so many things that I seemed to be the reason they had no space to be able to speak. I can’t tell you what came over me that night but, watching them as I was, and feeling the lilting surge of their phantom conversation moving through me beneath the quiet light, I was moved to protect them. They never noticed me for a moment. I may have been the ghost, I may have been that swollen hum of time. I may have been the daybed in the old conservatory, I may have been his reading glasses on the open book, I may have been the pair of rainboots in the hallway with dried rings of muddied water splayed like earthly constellations on the rubber toe caps. I may have been the hedge of jasmine, or the sprig that she picked on that last morning and pressed inside the cover of his novel, I may have been the pair of crystal glasses with salted rims. I may have been the injured bird that she rescued and later devoured, or the handful of fur wrenched from her neck in an ugly argument. I may have been an old tin of hair lacquer in the bathroom cupboard, I may have been the time that tackied the rim shut. I may have been that single lightbulb dangling, crushed and sparkling, waiting to happen. I might have happened. I may have been their patience and their distance, their stubborn flight or the startled window left to frost over the next winter. I may have been the single dangling lightbulb, having already happened and yet happening still. I wonder if I wasn’t every piece of it. I wonder if I still am every outstanding bet, every orchestral swell, every backlit screen, every sideways haunting.

About the author
Danielle Todd is a poet and short story writer from New Zealand. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in titles such as Ink, Sweat & Tears, Foxtrot Uniform, Runcible Spoon, A Fine Line (NZ Poetry Society), and Little Stone Journal, and was shortlisted for the 2020 Sargeson Prize. She is currently working on her first poetry collection.