the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

our time is occupied by pointless or harmful activities while so much needs to be done

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

living costs are too high. translation: wages are too low.

Extrapolation: the wage system itself is oppressive

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

parents work to provide for their kids, but have no time to spend with them

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

friendships are held together with loose threads of “let’s catch up soon, I’ve been so busy lately” till infinity

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

hoarded wealth and mass depression grow hand in hand

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

student debt is the theft of your future wages

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

crime is falling while incarceration grows

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

people are over-employed and underemployed but no one is securely employed

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

some hoard houses and keep them empty

the old world is dying

while others can barely afford to rent them

a new world is struggling to be born

the government surveils human rights and environmental activists while white supremacists organise and kill under their nose

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

we are lonely but too anxious to overcome our disconnection

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

freedom is reduced to the ‘choice’ to buy something because it makes you feel good, never mind the propaganda that made you feel so inadequate in the first place

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

NZ’s tourism image and agricultural industry are in direct conflict with each other, are we beautiful? or are we rivers filled with shit?
a brand of happiness and beauty only for the screen

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

we are between feudalism and fascism

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

we need to figure out how to give birth to this new world
grit your teeth, clench and push
I know it hurts

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

mass production of barbed wire enabled concentration camps on a large scale

think of what our production and technological capacities are at now

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

can’t all this production be used to produce something other than human misery?

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

world war 3 is only guaranteed if you treat it like it is

the old world is dying a new world is struggling to be born

fascism is a technique, not just a policy or person

come on now push, push

there are more than two options

hold my hand

it’s not just capitalism or communism
socialism or barbarism
reform or revolution

just one last

the old world is dying a new world is ___________

About the author
Kyra Gillies is a queer pākehā poet of mostly Irish descent living in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Solidarity through art and poetry is important to them. Currently Kyra’s favourite quote is from the poet Benjamin Zephaniah who says “fuck power, and lets just take care of each other”.
[there are always two sides]

[p r e t e x t]

Power has a strange sort of duality to it. Initially, it comes across as quite strong. Noble; ringing us back to times of power which came with red velvet thrones, heavy gemstones and gold. The treasures of Kings and Queens who have come before us. It brings with it connotations of victory, domination and pride. All normatively masculine traits. However, this brazen initial impression of power makes it easy to manipulate. In the wrong hands, it can become insidious and fester. It can become tainted with evil as those who wield it do so without respect for its strength and without the necessary humility to exercise it responsibly. Many have been seduced by these masculine features of power. An interesting concept, as it is the female who is usually thought of as the seductress.

The duality of power comes when one considers the power that comes through openness, vulnerability or transparency. These qualities have a gentle, feminine strength within them. They are what make us wahine strong. We realise the strength that comes with brute force, yet we also understand the strength in what is seen as soft. Openness, vulnerability and transparency are the yin to the yang. They teach the more brash aspects of power modesty. While the power of strength and domination wither with age, the power of vulnerability, openness and transparency are eternal. They are less likely to tarnish. They are undercurrents which, like a current, intensify over time. Writing is one way such power may be gained. It is in part why people journal; write songs, poems, letters they do not send… to reflect, and become aware of what may only flow out through the tip of a pen. With awareness comes knowledge, comes honesty and truth, comes power, which in turn can be distilled back through to truth and honesty, back to knowledge, back to simple awareness.

Some may view this knowledge in its written or oral form as a weakness which can be turned against the individual. Yet the individual is already aware of this, of what they have manifested in the world. They are no stranger to what may be unearthed or used against them. The mere existence of the words in tangible form gives the writer power over whoever may seek to use them against him or her. For there is power in vulnerability and transparency, more so than there will ever be in strength and domination. Strength and domination are fallible: There will always be an element of human error that can bring about surprise. But in pure truth, there is no error. There are no surprises. There is nothing to hide thereafter, but one hundred percent responsibility.

It is with this in mind that I present the following. It is not quite a poem, not quite an essay. It explores the depth of this vulnerability; openness; transparency through the power of writing and through the power of love. Same-same, but different. If read using the little voice in one’s head, you may find the piece develops a type of cadenced momentum, a sort of swing-in-rhythm, or swingin’-rhythm (whichever you may choose). A lilt, a stepped pedal that you can use to gain pace and navigate within the words, around the punctuation, and in the space between all of that.

 

 

[r h y t h m i c ~ e s s a y]

leave it all out on the page,
leave it out for everyone to see —
that’s what this does to me.

it makes me transparent, an open book:
you know me, but i don’t know you.
you read my words i so carefully craft,

you caress the contours of my syntax, my sentences, my punctuation, my grammatical nuances that i weave from silken strands of thought that come out of my head.

it makes you vulnerable, this does.
and i swore,
swore
that i would never be vulnerable again, not after that first love.
it makes you weak, love does. it exposes you — your underbelly, your achilles heel, and makes you soft
pliable, malleable,
manipulable.

but as it seems, and alas, it does seem
that i have found another vulnerability;
another outpouring for my emotions
through words.
black letter/ white page;
ink to paper.
perhaps now i am more vulnerable than i ever was before
because, now,
privy to my thoughts, something far, far more intimate and inside of me than anyone could ever physically be. for when you read these words, you are me. you know me. you put my coat on. you see the world through my eyes. these brown-ringed orange hazel big wide eyes.

do we all need these outlets /
is it so essential /
to human life that we have these places, safe spaces, where we can put our emotions?

some of us are blessed with putting them into human shaped vessels.
and some of us make do with pen-paper, sending our thoughts into oblivion, getting them out there, somewhere, to no-one-in-particular.

but all the same
it makes us vulnerable.

 

About the author
Rachael Monkhouse is a law and psychology student at the University of Otago. In her spare time she enjoys writing for her blog, yoga, meditating and running. She is ¾ Chinese and attributes much of her hyper awareness of the society around her to this. It is hard to accept things as they are if you yourself are always different and feel out of place. She hopes that one day the world will change so people live with less expectation and judgement, and with more acceptance and compassion.
Transmuted Form

It is a figure of transformation. It is purposely ambiguous in its identity, as it is the inner ‘I’ realising its expression in the human form that resides in all of us. By becoming aware of our true self we can then shed the shackles that chain us to our physical forms into knowing that we are actually one with all. Moving from darkness into light.

About the author
Tania Browning has been painting and sculpting for many years. She is currently studying for her degree in Visual Arts in Auckland.
That’s What Good Worlds Do

Study hard so you can become a doctor. Help Baba bring in wood for the fire. Kiss that girl if you must, after all, boys will be boys, but only marry who we say is right. Because that’s what good boys do. Grow big – strong and tall. Chin up, stand straight and don’t you dare cry. Uphold the family name. Because that’s what good boys do. Go outside and play with the other boys. Only your sister can wear pink. And put away that nail polish right now. Because that’s what’s good boys do.

Say please and thank you, help Mamma make the cakes for eid. Kiss uncle on the cheek and always, always stay away from boys because they are not safe. Because that’s what good girls do. Skirts shouldn’t be shorter than your ankles. Learn makeup so that you can be beautiful for your husband. Fall in love but only with who we say is okay. Because that’s what good girls do. Make Baba tea when he comes home from work. Listen to your elders. Work hard and go to university, but remember: God put us here to carry children. Because that’s what good girls do.

That’s what good boys do. That’s what good girls do. Listen to us and you will be happy – you will be safe, they said. Only it turns out that the world doesn’t care if you are a good boy or a good girl, because I was, I promise you, I was. I did everything I was supposed to do but this world still crushed me, tore me till I was little more than specks, little more than ashes in the wind.

But now I’m 23 and my heart has beat 966 million times, some agonising, some blissful. Now I am 23 and I can make myself look like a different person with brushes, colour and ink. Now I am 23 and I have laid next to a man, felt his hands on my skin, and felt nothing but peace, but bliss, but hope in what so often can seem such an utterly hopeless world.

I have decided that I am not sure I care what good boys and girls should do, what this world thinks they should do, because why do they get to decide anyway? Why do they get to decide who the good boys and girls are? Because maybe there are no good boys and bad boys. No good girls and bad girls. Maybe there are just children. Children who grow and create their own hopes and dreams, needs and desires – the things that make us human. Humans that should be allowed to share their hearts and bodies with the people they love. Humans that should be allowed to make a living fulfilling their passion. Humans that should be allowed to be whoever they want to be and be safe. So maybe, just maybe, it’s this world that needs to undergo a metamorphosis, to change, to transform, to a place where girls and boys can just be children. Where humans can just be human. Maybe that’s what good worlds do.

About the author
Yasmeen Musa is a twenty-three year old Optometrist with a love of words. Born in Amman, Jordan she has lived in New Zealand since the age of five. She is a lover of fantasy and fiction. Poetry is her preferred medium, but she also dabbles in spoken word and opinion pieces.
Liminal Spaces

Transformation

at the edge of the world
I stand and take in
the spray of waves on my face
the expanding sky

at the edge of the ocean
I wait for a sign
while water licks at my feet
and my body of lead
turns to salt

at the edge of the sea
I listen to oyster catchers
peck at living rocks
as pohutukawa branches
bow in recognition

in spite of myself
I surrender
to the wisdom
of water

 

Late Love Letter

about you
i can only be silent
i heard you first
yet i can barely recall your voice

your music shaped me
before life took over
your thoughts cajoled
my body into being

about you
i have only dim memories
too much a part of me to see you
well

i kept no photo
nor painted your portrait
which would have been a bibelot,
a landscape, an image of a home

about you
i have now only stories
that I intone in silence
to while time away

late at night
when the ambers flicker
in the memory of a wooden house
on quiet hills

 

You
(A vivid dream)

You were there in our hallway
a liminal space between arriving
and departing, between being and
non-being, between being loved and
being missed
among an agitation of your folk
your daughters – coming and going
us, my tribe, neighbours passing by
and stopping to say, sorry for your troubles
how did it happen? was there a surgery? what?
just that? while I hugged and hugged you
your shape filled my arms again

and again.

every few minutes I’d return to the white-clad
torso wrapped in a white knitted pullover with designs
that reminded me of the tree of life and rhomboid flowers
your jet black hair waving each time I (re)turned to you
to hug you some more, as a long lost and now found beloved doll
while a neighbour whispered in your ear
but who are you?

About the author
Alexandra Balm (née Dumitrescu) is a teacher, writer and mother. She has a PhD in literature from Otago with a thesis about Metamodernism in Literature, and a Master of Creative Writing from AUT. She has published poems, short stories, and academic articles in journals in NZ, America, Australia and Europe: Takahe, Tui Motu, Exquisite Corpse, Noise Medium, Double Dialogues, Inter-textes, Echinox, Tribune and Brain, Cognition, Behaviour, as well as in collective volume at Rodopi, Facts on File, Napoca Star, Monster Fish. In 2000 she jointly translated with Ioana Nan, Romanians and Romania by, Ioan Aurel Pop (Columbia UP). She was the first to use the concept of metamodernism in Europe, New Zealand and Australia. She lives in Auckland with her family. When she grows up or wins the lottery, she hopes to be a full-time writer.
That Little Old Fear

There’s probably a word for this in German, she thinks. The relentless progress publicity that she knows, underneath the smiles, won’t happen.

New boots click across the office floor every few months, footsteps haunted by echos of change and culture and future proofing that somehow get lost in the hall between management and the rest of the office.

Yeah, na, she thinks, and flicks a dangerous look at her co-worker. It’s a fine blend of exhaustion, cynicism and fuck-me-what’s-happening-this-time.

This state can only be cured by one thing.

“White or red?” Greg asks her, face heavy with a tired grin.
__________________________________________________________________________

It’s fucking annoying living with an optimist.

Even an infestation of spiders somehow isn’t a downside to their flat.

“At least they’ll take care of the —”

She’d rather have the flies.
__________________________________________________________________________

She’s thought about going to therapy, but she’s terrified of being asked what she wants.

To be happy. To be hopeful. To have something to look forward to, beyond becoming blissfully unaware thanks to the multiple bottles of red.

To feel again. Like she used to be able to.

Yeah. No thanks.
__________________________________________________________________________

Greg betrays her on a Thursday, unearthing a bottle of gin to ease the blow.

“I’ve met someone,” he says, ripping at a packet of chips with his teeth, wincing when the vinegar seeps into his mouth.

“How’d you manage that?” She asks.

“Ha, ha,” he says, pouring her a generous gin and tonic. “On Tinder, like most freaks now days.”

“So she’s a freak, then?”

“No more or less than you or me,” he shrugs.

She swipes at the glass he’s slid across the table for her, clutching her fingers around the stem.

“Is this the moment when you tell me you’ve become an optimist? That love cures all?”

He laughs, mixing his own potent brew. “Hardly, but I have decided to finally get the fuck out of here. You know, we’ve both been stuck for too long. I dunno about you, but I’d forgotten the power of change.”

Somewhere, underneath all those numb and buried feelings, she feels the slight jolt of her heart falling.

“Bastard,” is what slips out. “Leaving me to destroy the children’s hopes and dreams all by myself.”

“Oh, come on,” he exhales, looking at her frighteningly, like he really means it. “They don’t need us to do that for them.”
__________________________________________________________________________

Time keeps ticking, even without Greg in the office to watch the clock.

Gone is the wine, the gin, the conspiratory looks when something goes belly-side up.

He sends her a few texts from his new workplace in his new city with his new girlfriend… And somehow, freakishly, it doesn’t hurt.

Surprisingly, it makes her feel like the office walls are a little less insurmountable. The footsteps in the hallway slightly more honest. The spiders in the house almost amicable.

All those years they spent together made her feel like they were in it together. The only two who understood each other and this job; self-sacrificing sufferers who had seen the reality of the world — and had settled for what they could hold in both hands.

But he got out; eyes wide, hands open.

Fingers tasting the corners of her half-full tonic glass, she wonders if this is what hope feels like.

About the author
Grace Archer writes marketing stuff for a living, but is keen to write other things.
Proof the Wind Is a Woman

Pull sound from the shape of the soil
push yourself into the earth’s crevices
join waves in the quest to break the cliff’s face

Do not be angry when they call you capricious
while your constant currents continue
unnoticed, they will notice your wild cries

Call them untamed child’s tantrum
when they say this, coil hair
into their open mouths

If, after years of relentless effort, you
drag down a tree and
they say the tree just fell

Do not correct them, let them feel
the turbulence of an airplane
rip receipts from fingers clasping

Hoist ship’s sails on your hips
drag them across the ocean when
their oars can only scrape the sea

If, after all that, you cannot push open the door
then press yourself into the key
hole and scream

About the author
Gabrielle McCulloch is a student at The University of Auckland studying English and Politics. She writes poetry, short stories, personal essays and whatever else she wants. After living in Auckland, Aotearoa her whole life, Gabrielle recently fell in love with her city. She is excited about discovering what New Zealand poetry and art is, and what it could be.
add water, add 10,000 metres of space

“Icarus” from the Four Disgracers by Hendrick Goltzius

 

To sever you from my life is a jolt. To fall from a great height is freeing. You move forward, becoming twisted. I lurch out from something at high speed, skinning my hands a little. I calm myself, I walk slower, I burn something unneeded to the ground. New.

 

About the author
Tybalt is from Auckland. Her work has appeared in the Poetry NZ Yearbook.
who were you, before they told you how to be?

who were you before they told you
how to slice onions
put lipstick on
tongue sugared sweets
how to be

there is a prison behind my eyes
and no map
save the grief language teared into my feet
a salted path along an edgeland no one names

but the baku are prowling below my bed

this poem is just a bar in the song/cell
keeping every dark day at bay
those dark days smile
they roar
in an echofield networked into every bone
calcium and dreamstuff

today there was an apple on every desk
reminding us to survey how much we hate
living healthily

this is the misery business
whatever makes us break we want it now
different brands different deaths
catered to our existential crisis
some may involve life

9 to 5 9 to 5
PIN numbers of zero possibility
we’ll get out alive

broken angels peering through the shadowed glass
into all brokered realities
how we ignore the dreams that
shaped the reality and the bars we sing
against

it is time to break out

relish

About the author
Haley Jenkins holds a Creative Writing Master's Degree (Distinction) from The University of Surrey and a Creative Writing Bachelor's Degree (First Class Honours) from The University of Roehampton. In 2016, Haley was awarded First Prize in the Elmbridge Literary Competition and in 2014 won Third Prize in the Hopkins Poetry Prize. She has been published in two anthologies by Fincham Press — The Trouble with Parallel Universes (2014) and Screams & Silences (2015) — as well as publications with Guttural Magazine, Tears in the Fence, and The Journal of British & Irish Innovative Poetry. Haley's first poetry chapbook "Nekorb" was published by Veer Books (August 2017). She is the founder of Selcouth Station Press, which has been in operation since 2017.
What the Future Looks Like

It was a perfect morning. The sky was singing its crisp blue melody, and the birds were swooping overhead, expending neat white pellets at the feet of the people who walked like they had nowhere in particular to go, because they didn’t, it was the beginning of summer, and the days were growing long, and the people were all so happy in a hazy, nostalgic kind of way.

Teresa woke early, made herself a pot of nectarine tea, and sat at the window of her flat. She stared out at the rows of houses, all narrow and tall with small white verandas out the front, where clean bed sheets expanded and contracted in the breeze. She listened to the humming sunshine, which in fact you could hear if you paid close enough attention, and said, ‘Hello Mr. Sun!’

‘Hello Teresa!’ The sun smiled back and stretched its beaming arms towards her. ‘Today is a perfect day!’

‘Yes,’ said Teresa, because the sun was right, everything was perfect — even the bees greeted the humans cheerfully as they passed, hovering around their shoulders, not to strike, but just to feel the goodness of their companionship.

‘I can’t believe it,’ said Teresa to the plants sitting patiently on the windowsill. ‘I couldn’t have asked for a better day on which to graduate!’ Her teeth shone white through a gap between her dark red lips.

Four years had passed. She was finally grown, finally almost free. She put on a green dress and her robe. She hung the hood over her shoulders, and pinned it into place. The gold satin shimmered. Everything was good and right. There was a stream of messages and notifications on her phone, and they were nothing but nice, encouraging, so many gestures of love. She took a moment and closed her eyes, thinking, this is the day I’ve been waiting for all my life.

 

A lonely fly buzzed its way into the room, admiring Teresa as she admired herself.

‘Hello!’ said the fly, ‘You look wonderful this morning. Would you care if I joined you on your walk?’

Teresa held out her hand and the fly landed neatly in her palm.

‘Of course, my friend. I would love the company.’

The fly flew to rest atop Teresa’s trencher as she went outside. Teresa chattered excitedly about the future, and the fly listened, feeling excited for her too. The past four years hadn’t been easy, but the girl had made it through and now she’d do such incredible things. The fly wasn’t the only one impressed. The houses tilted their roofs towards her as she passed and murmured their congratulations.

‘Thank you,’ said Teresa, ‘Thank you all so very much.’

 

There was a path laid out before her. She followed it faithfully, each bend and dip and curve, whistling as she walked, until suddenly a rat appeared.

‘Beware,’ the rat said, its voice unusually low for such an animal. ‘Today you must walk a new route.’

‘But I’ve always walked this way, every day for four years, and nothing bad has ever happened to me.’ Teresa took off her trencher to consult the fly, but it was gone.

‘Today isn’t a normal day, my dear girl.’ The rat appeared once more a few metres in front of her. ‘You must be wary of everything.’

Teresa felt a pressure growing in the back of her skull. She didn’t know what to do. She’d always walked the fastest way, but the rat’s warning frightened her.

She turned down the next street and found herself climbing a steep slope. Patches of sweat formed beneath her armpits and in the crevice of her lower spine. Her feet began to ache in the high heels she’d worn especially for the occasion. She bent down to remove them, but when they were off, she couldn’t pick them back up with her hands. Teresa slid her feet back in, but the shoes had shrunk tighter, and she deduced that if she took them off again they’d no longer fit at all. She kept both of them on and decided to bear it.

She kept walking up the slope until she came to an intersection. The traffic lights shone blue for go. She crossed diagonally, but when she made it halfway across, a car sped before her and she retreated from the shock.

‘Hurry!’ said the red man now, in short bursts, ‘Time is running low!’

She went to check her watch but realised that she didn’t have one. Her pockets were empty too, no phone. She ran forward again, dodging more cars and bicycles and telephone poles. The grasses were murmuring low, and she leaned in to hear.

‘The fountain, the fountain!’ they chanted. She saw a burst of light in the distance and knew where to go. Teresa charged up the hill, her shoes slicing into the backs of her heels. The satin cape hung heavy around her neck. It felt like she would choke. She lifted it from her neck and hung it from a nearby fence. Her trencher had fallen off somewhere. She didn’t have time to turn back and find it. The tarmac was yelling at her now to hurry, hurry, it was time.

‘Go faster!’ yelled a large dog from over the fence.

She sensed an urgency in the dog’s voice and broke into a run. She thought she had more time, but the sun was beginning to go down, and she hoped she hadn’t already missed it. Her feet were bleeding now and her toes had gone numb. Teresa tugged at the shoes but they wouldn’t come off. They’d somehow fused with her foot like a second layer of skin. She fell to her knees and began to crawl, grazing the heels of her palms as she went, the concrete tearing at her kneecaps.

‘You’ve made a terrible mistake,’ said the sun in a disappointed tone, before completely disappearing. The sky had turned red.

‘I only did what they all told me,’ Teresa cried, wiping the sweat from her forehead with the sleeve of her dress — makeup smudging off onto the green fabric, her eyebrows smeared across her face.

 

When she got to the top of the hill, the field was swarming with wasps. She couldn’t see the fountain through the black cloud.

‘I made it,’ she said. ‘Now show me where to go.’

‘There is nowhere to go.’ The wasps said, flying around her in circles. ‘There was never anywhere to go.’

And then they laughed at her. They laughed and laughed and laughed.

About the author
Sinead Overbye is a recent MA graduate from the International Institute of Modern Letters. She writes magical realist works that evoke what it feels like to be a young woman navigating a turbulent world.
All Good

Are you even trying? Get up, all good. Go to work, $18 an hour, all good. Better than most. Clean up after someone else’s old people, all good all good. Ladies with eyes full of the fifties, asking you where your man is, asking you where your babies are. Are you even trying? Didn’t do a good enough job for them, do it again, all good. Are you even trying? Call your father on your lunch break, no answer, all good. Voicemails enough just to hear his tone, bush in the background, cars on a dirt road. Try and work on your reo in the break room. K-e-i-t-e-h-i-a-m-o-e-au. Glazed over, aue aue, all good. We’ll do it later. We’ll make time. Are you even trying? Go home late, no overtime pay, all good all good. It needed to be done, can’t leave the old ones in a mess. Go to town to buy some pants you’ve saved up for. Are you even trying? Get followed around the shop, man waiting outside the changing room. Hear him breathing against the curtain. Breath dripping down the plastic like a waterfall. Sigh slowly so he can’t hear you. A slow breath is quiet, a fast breath can kill you, all good all good. Didn’t want the pants anyway, they never fit right across the hips. Put them back on the rack, bag check, all good all good. Ruffling through your bag, hands on your wallet, hands on your tampons, eyes on your chest while it moves up and down. Are you even trying? Home time, kaputi mau? What does that mean? Never mind, all good all good. Are you even trying? Look after someone else’s kids, playing on iPads, waiting for dinner. $30 a night. All good all good. Singing in the kitchen. Nga iwi e, nga iwi e. They laugh at you. All good, all good, they’re just kids I guess. Little and pale and clean and squeeky. Are you even trying? Their father gives you a lift home, puts his hand on your thigh. The lightest touch, but heavier than any other you’ve had. Feels like a lizard crawling out of the underworld, moving in slow motion. Look out the window, moonlight on your arm’s pulling you pale. Pull your skirt down. Cotton elastane blend, no rips. Are you even trying? All good, all good. Drops you home, gives you $50 instead. He knows where you live now, all good all good. Go to bed without taking your makeup off, all good. You shouldn’t have worn it anyway, didn’t get you what you needed. Didn’t get you what you wanted. Are you even trying? Lie awake in bed, five degrees in here, put an extra blanket on all good all good. How many blankets do we need before we’ve been paid correctly. You are a small green pea under thousands upon thousands of wool blankets. They crush you warm. Let yourself breathe out. Imagine your Nana’s voice it’s ok to cry, let it out. See her hands pulling you into her, kneading you like bread. Pushing and pulling you back to your original shape. All good, all good. Cry with the lights off, go under the covers, don’t disturb people, all good all good. Are you even trying? Wait for tomorrow. It’ll be different, then, so they tell me.

About the author
Ruby Solly is a Kai Tahu musician and writer. She has performed with artists such as Whirimako Black, Trinity Roots and Ariana Tikao. Her publishing history includes Landfall, Starling, Minarets, and Brief amongst other journals. She is currently working as a music therapist in Te Whanganui a Tara after completing a thesis on the use of taonga pūoro within mental health music therapy. Ruby is currently completing her first manuscript of poetry entitled ‘Toku Pāpā which explores how cultures is passed on through whakapapa despite all odds. She currently lives on an old riwai plantation that belonged to her tūpuna from Kati Mamoe. She sings with children every day and hopes that some day the children she sings with will be hers.
# Attempts at a Resolution in the Wreckage

Attempt #

watch manu swing
into bay salt
the splash
barely discernible
from flecks
white paint

 

Attempt #

there is power to ash as a metaphor                   but I just want us to win
for once and it only take one shot
they’re killing us with a gold chain
how much you bet it break before the skin does                  not much
and climbing a stairway of corpses                                        to god
but we could make a white christmas with their ashes
we just need the numbers and                                          one big
shotgun made                                                      of solidarity

 

Attempt #

tear up the lawn
for worms for crickets for wetā for huhu
to dance through
the new growth

 

Attempt #

Use the mechanisms of power, use the structures that power has created to fold them in on themselves. Get [insert political party here] into a position where resources can be redistributed. Make sure that the optics never give a hint of tyrant. Make sure the propaganda is on more often than it’s not. Debate empathy back into party politics. Continue to ignore history. They must be for the working class — it’s in the name!

Labour over the design of your posters until they melt right off the stick.

 

Attempt #

here is how we make everything better again                 sometimes the house is built wrong
take each plank of wood down                                 or better yet burn it
if the house don’t serve the people living in it                then what is the point?
we can’t use the master’s tools here                           we’ve got to make new ones
that which is born of the land                                 is the perfect antidote for that which
dominates it

 

Attempt #

view of broken arch
the big ben smote in two
greenwich means nothing now
my mokopuna sitting in the rubble of empire this slash and burn fiction become aspiration
become blueprint
would the more honest prediction be activist behind computer screen
while the USA dissolves behind a mushroom cloud
while the project of colonization becomes just fever dream of
the rich and powerful
i watch them move their shawl to shake off the dust
knowing they are truly free

 

Attempt #

                                                                         place rocks in my mouth
                                                                         and leave me to
                                                                         spit up an avalanche
                                                                         of stones
                                                                         my picture engraved onto every
                                                                         one
                                                                         my picture worn off by
                                                                         the blisters on my
                                                                         tongue

 

Attempt #

poor     whole        galaxies          through   the s i e v e                     what kind
universal
thoughts                             get stuck in the g r a t i n g
in the horse carcass longing of it

I will push a w hole population                   upstream to save the
cattle

to dream up a solution to not keeping the ground where
she wanna be

                 does it take that much self-control to want to save the world?

you couldn’t chalk                                                     it up to shareholders
or savages in jungles you cleared away
but what good is power when it does no good?

 

Attempt #

I’m feeling like shit today staying in bed
rubbing the raw end of a snotty nose on the duvet spread
will it dry in this damp house
will i die in this one bedroom unit

 

Attempt #

when it thinks in terms of violence / there is no evil here
just a race to design the biggest dollar sign over the largest mass grave
i repeat there is no evil here / cast a wig over the shoulder in front of the mirror
no just competing interests / just instructions on how to build ladders
made from walking/talking flesh

 

Attempt #

Marx in his analysis of class presents a rather dispassionate image of two groups that contradict each other by both existing at once

                 feather fluttering

The relationship between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie is one defined by conflict and exploitation

                 how could it not

                 it grips the branch

Communism is the resolution of this contradiction by the bourgeoisie’s removal from power

                 imagine a bird being free to come and go from the nest they have built

 

Attempt #

                                           D R A W                              T O G E T H E R
                                                D R A W                      T O G E T H E R
                                                    D R A W               T O G E T H E R
                                                        D R A W        T O G E T H E R
                                                          D R A W   T O G E T H E R

                                                                   AFFIRM!

Attempt #

                 A guillotine rusts in the field / the sun reflects off the blade / the size of a human skull.

 

Attempt #

  1. pile up the table legs haul a makeshift person into being
    one with enough purposeless support to last a lifetime
    give it a sense of pride hand it paintbrushes and just enough
    white to colour itself privileged give it the hair that was stuck
    down the drain pulled up in long Cthulhu tendrils
    give it the fear of the other and destroy every single mirror
    disturb the surface of the water constantly we wouldn’t want it
    to see itself whole
  2. give it tools to write with to build with to make itself
    feel like it has a whole world to give
    one full of language
    full of saltwater and orange peels
    collapsed lungs and broken arms
    peeling bark and the whine of tired greyhounds
  3. then break it down over rocks scattered in the backyard
    the neighbourhood cats all screeching at each other
    in this whirlwind of bestial find its humanity dashed to
    bits

 

Attempt #

a scarecrow wearing a suit            is just a man wearing fear
is just a capitalist wearing a cheque          an emperor that never had to attempt clothing
there is no evil here                                        don’t go looking

 

Attempt #

TIE THE TIGHTEST KNOT              ONE THAT CAN’T BE
REPRODUCED                                                        ON PAPER
MAKE SURE IT HOLDS            EVERYTHING YOU HOLD
DEAR IN ITS SPECK OF                                                   GAP

 

Attempt #

the targets are really easy to identify
[the crown hits the floor with a brittle clang]
it’s the execution that requires all the work

 

Attempt #

d r a w       o n        t h e           p o w e r             o f            t h e            e a r t h
P           A          P          A          T          Ū          Ā          N        U         K       U
f e e l      h e r      i n     t h e    s o i l    t h e    g r a i n s    o f    h e r    b e i n g

d r a w        o n        t h e            p o w e r             o f             t h e             s k y
R                A                N               G              I               N               U             I
f e e l   h i m     i n    r a i n   t h i s   v e r t i c a l    s t r e a m   o f   s h a d o w

w h e n    t h e y    c o m e   t o g e t h e r   t h e y    s o l v e   a    m a s s i v e

C         O       N        T        R        A        D        I        C       T       I       O       N

 

Attempt #

there is power
in ash as a metaphor
so let us wear it on our bodies
and get to work

About the author
essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Raukawa | they/them/theirs) if they die before the end of the settler colonial nation state of NZ you owe them a revolution [their first book of poetry ransack out from VUP in 2019]
Princess Casino

You, my sweet, are dripping neon
from the cherry red walls of the princess casino
reducing every moment like cream swilling in a bowl,
flaming in brittle bird memory.

There I am,
banging my body against the ceiling,
flitting and losing my down,
losing arc of wing and the halcyon hour.

Come to the princess casino,
come for the fluorescent shower,
my sweet is down below, stretching his neck
to watch winter’s chaos parade in my throat

‘You look lovely tonight, darling’ his words shaped like warmth.
‘Thank you’ I say when what I mean is
            ‘I’m sorry’.

Sweet’s shoulders bobbing, the machine bells and the coins collecting, soundtrack of voices dangling, the kiss of it I would lose, the kiss dangling and left to wound, the sweetness that drips from lovers’ chins, the foreheads pressed tightly in twos and words that dissolve terraces and dining room tables across cities.

Something pulls on the cherry red walls
and I do mean red -something heavy-
I will later tell it as a scene from a film I can no longer recall the name of.

Noise envelops like a wave.
I lose nearly all of it in the end.

The image laid bare on its back
the dutiful consumption and fatal bleeding out – that is to say –
the real thing is departed and my head turns but
only in slumber.

My sweet, nothing arrived guaranteed.

Time in throat and galloping now,
my damning metaphors come to claim
all I had gathered in hand, unfurling my fingers
and I begin to cry.

‘Let’s get you home’.

You, beneath the strips of light,
looking up and smiling at me.

 

About the author
Danielle is a poet and short story writer from Auckland, New Zealand. Her work ruminates on ideas of youth, family, romance and loss. Currently based in Paris, she is working on her first poetry collection.
Debris

 

DEBRIS

All you have to do is
squeeze
the littlest bit
pressure mounding in your fingertips.
The shell cracks open. Shatters,
glass into flesh
bone between teeth
salvage what you can.
Everyone you know lying scattered
ghosts from a past life.
There is a genocide on your kitchen counter
paw through the debris.
About the author
Pōneke based artist-poet-teacher. Co-editor and production manager of art/poetry zine Salty. Maisie also has work published or forthcoming by Sweet Mammalian, A Fine Line magazine, Flash Frontier, Overcommunicate, Anthropozine, ecARTnz and Salty.
Body, You Let Me Down

You closed like a tent,
I never heard the zip,
all darkness and humidity
as I waited for the shadow of the bear –
the one that comes down slowly to sniff;
its monstrous outline,
its nudge through nylon
at that useless shape.

Body,
where did you go you coward?
beneath the parapet,
the lip of the trench
all warm and silent, playing dead
is that what you thought,
to escape?

You cannot fool an animal,
they navigate by
the magnetism of the earth,
they see things we cannot;
in the dark we are hot shapes
beating out our pulse,
however still you keep your arms
and try to rein in your breath.

Body,
you let me down.

Body, I wanted you to fly.
Once you took me in an astral way
off a canyon
and we soared
and we were the eagle
and we were the largest bird
and we cast such a shadow
and we were together there feeling all the goodness
of the world –
I woke but we were left with it
in the fingers and the heart, in the barrel of the chest
and thread through our hair,
for hours we carried it.

You had my mouth,

why did you not scream
when the tent came down,
why did you not use our mouth,
why could you not open it,
why did you not make a sound?

You cut our vocal cords.

Now you cannot do anything but scream,
if the light from the window is not enough
or something resonates on TV,
you wake me into sweat and violence,
so blood-curdling
I’m sure all the neighbours wake;
lights go on,
and some may be sympathetic,
a pang to their own secrets buried.

Sometimes I stand and look at the lights in the valley,
how long they take to snuff out,
the poor children there wearing giant’s bodies
that betrayed them.

 

(first published in Body, Remember, Eyewear Publishing, London)

About the author
Wes Lee lives in Paekakariki. She has two collections of poetry, Shooting Gallery (Steele Roberts, Wellington, 2016), and a pamphlet Body, Remember (Eyewear Publishing, London, 2017). Her work has appeared in journals such as Banshee, Turbine, Landfall, Poetry New Zealand, Going Down Swinging, The Stinging Fly, Poetry London, The London Magazine, Westerly, Hue & Cry, among others. Most recently she was selected by American poet Eileen Myles as a finalist for The Sarah Broom Poetry Prize 2018, and awarded the Poetry New Zealand Prize 2019 by Massey University Press.