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.