Two Poems

Mister Morningstar

mister morningstar
how do you take your coffee
sitting on the back step next to the cat
the lemon tree is overswollen

mister morningstar
how do you tread in the cocytus
and wave away the buzzing droplets
of all the slighted furies

mister morningstar
you got a letter from the company man
saying he’d cut your pay
you took a stand and he beat you up

mister morningstar
you feel like you can’t love
you want to weave light into the world
but it’s all you can do to sit on the back step

 

for now

 

 

The Succour of Seven Friends

For Raphael
For taking me seriously
For dropping gentle words into my well of loneliness
For messaging links to ambient tunes

For Gabriel
For talking about animals when you didn’t know what to say
For wanting to come out to Kawau with me
For being my fellow nonboy-nongirl

For Uriel
For sharing anecdotes about David Byrne and talking meme-shit
For saying Lol good question
When I wrote Like, man, what’s the fucking point of it all

For Chamuel
For letting me know I’m not the only one who worries about the collapsing world
For being so wise
For agreeing that Paddington is the best feel-good movie

For Zadkiel
For saying I had the right to feel—even anger
For encouraging me to take a bath
For leaving candles burning there, next to the water

For Jophiel
For letting me know I’m not the only one who worries about paranoid delusion
Yeah man it’s like—what Tony Soprano said
I’m the reverse Midas—everything I touch turns to shit

And for Michael
For taking the hardest journey with me
For leaving memory on my lips
For needing space
And for playing Brooke Fraser

About the author
Erin Ramsay is a Pākehā nonbinary poet. She is currently working as a high-school librarian (and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to get paid to think and talk about books). Eventually she wants to have an academic career focusing on queer history, language and gender identity, but for the time-being is simply trying to survive the train-wreck of a year that is 2020.
Worrisome

I used to smoke
but now
while my daughter sleeps
I pull on a coat and sit outside: after all

it is nearly the same, to
quiet oneself and
taste the air
crisp and thick with resin.

There are bored ancients in this land,
sunk deep in cold pools and slumbering
under their mantle of fallen pinecones.
I sleep easy with them.
No, it’s other horrors:

the night before
I had dreamt every key
to the world’s doors had been thrown
into a jumbled clutch
and a great fire was burning
unchecked in the tundra. This second
part was true.

I don’t have any talismans left and
my open hands are empty.

About the author
Alexandra Hamilton is raising her daughter in the central North Island of New Zealand. She has been published in a fine line and has used lockdown to organise her bookshelves by colour.
Ephraeth

Once, as male, imperfect
I lay with you under animal skins

Our love was sad and sweet as New Year
sacrifice, rivered with wreathes and stories
pretty as pearls and as worthy

I lay with you under animal skins
and defiled you not, the touch of your
fingers secluded me

I was as brother to you, sister almost
my man-ness untended

Ephraeth was the song I knew from
my mother’s knee, the song I learnt fresh
each day, the song I never could sing from
myself nor she hear of herself, within our
places we smiled the knowledge

Once only we faltered, one Beltaine feast
as the great fires burnt low and men lay
well fed and fast-drunk, the women with
them, save the old and the young and the
crippled, and Ephraeth, who being not yet
wed, crept to where I kept my own counsel
and considered the singing of that night

She came to me and spoke her fear and I,
softened with songs and stars, stroked her
hair and laid my palm on hers and spoke
little, letting the waves and the night deep
ease her and perhaps the truth of friendship

We were not children then, nor have we been
for fourteen summers, Ephraeth mother six times
since and I with one hundred long songs held on my
tongue and more than I care to count in my hand
and always the knowledge a tie between us

 

As she crooned a comfort, she sang to me
When I told of brave hearts, the telling was for her

 

Ephraeth is long gone and I too
but the knowledge smiles on in your
gentle touch, in the ease of exchange
and soothing amity

 

My stories were strength to her
She is still the breath in my harp

About the author
Jenny Dobson lives in Central Hawkes Bay and took part in NZ Poetry Day with a lunchtime performance at the Waipawa Library. She recently had a poem about laundry highly-commended in the NZ Poetry Society's International Poetry Competition.
Two Poems

His Fall Was His Escape

Wax wings unstrapped/floating between the waves for the ocean to melt/Icarus crawls dripping wet/wax stuck in salt soaked hair/mushy hard sand clenched in fists/deep enough under his nails they start bleeding/where is he not bleeding/His chariot disappears onto the horizon/where is He/He has to come/back pressed against rough soft sticky grains/that shit really gets everywhere/chest heaving/lungs might burst into ashes/throat rough from coughing up sea water and consequences

Eyes begin closing/darkness rings the bell for tea/delicious spread laid out/cucumber sandwiches and mini macarons to name a couple/the King’s way of life/Thanatos is laying down white tablecloth/but before the bell can finish/glowing Hands cup mortal flesh/golden Hair tickles against his face/bread and butter is more Icarus’ vibe anyway/tender burning/scorching kisses over closing wounds/probably enough blood to invent with/Icarus can finally taste the sky/even when his feet are buried in mud/laughs larger than the Labyrinth/scares off wildlife by/stomping gallivanting frolicking/flattens fields of wildflowers with his dances/freedom all at once makes you lose your shit/Apollo sighs in adoration

Daedalus is/fake mourning a fake dead boy/so the other Deities can have a good laugh/something to bring up over the next decade at family dinners/curses his son’s cleverness/once held exasperated grins alongside Artemis at/late night meetings/chattering and tiptoeing past loud royal entitlement/mouths leaving hickeys to remember in the morning/Artemis tugs at Him when Her shift is almost over/Him insisting just one more song to serenade with/the Day could wait but His paramour should never/now he smears honey at the tip of the conch shell/Cocalus applauds in reverence/but where is his son/where where where/is he okay/probably keeps the ant as replacement/Moon the only other company/though the dust in sunlight does enjoy winking at him/wonders if Icarus is dead/if he will ever die/Thanatos sets up tea once more/bell finishes ringing for the sleeping inventor/no Icarus found on the list

 

We Were There from the Beginning

We were there when Ganesha’s head was lopped off/Shiva’s swagger for His soldiers to pray to/they’d bow their heads to the ground for Him/not for their wives/we fucking cackled on the sidelines/what a dumbass/Devi Parvati came outside/tension rolling right back onto her skin/identical to the way Her Son’s head rolled off His shoulders/agony on Her face as She wailed at/Her Shiva/only confusion on His face/so typical of a Man/we brought out the popcorn/reclined back on the celestial equivalent of a futon/Shiva scrambles for a solution/Parvati cries/it makes Him uncomfortable in that/I never bothered learning how to take care of others’ emotions and now I wish my snake necklace could just strangle me/type of way

we didn’t even know that Deities could cry/no tears/just weird pained sounds/They must’ve learnt it from the humans/Shiva’s men watch on in shrugging shoulders/obviously/no solutions/bet at least a few of them had found a way to fault Parvati for it/especially when grief turns into anger and Her power makes the men cower on the inside/Shiva at least understands not wanting to cause too much of a scene/enough to order His men to find another head/should have been a divorce somewhere there/killing Your Son kinda feels like a red flag/but we’re not Deities/anger management issues must be more excusable for those types/brings back an elephant’s head/you’d think if you’d already beheaded a Boy/beheading a boy wouldn’t be that hard

anyways/Ganesha came out all the better for it/no trauma to be seen/maybe shoved in another dimension/stashed in His pockets/next to His laddoos/kept a dazzling smile for all/an aching kindness that probably weighed heavy on His bones/tusk in one Hand/ridges inscribed with Parents’ Wrath/who does that to a Kid/never forgets His Beginning/fitting for the Deity of Beginnings/fitting that He watches yours

 

Notes

We Were There from the Beginning was first published in Salient

About the author
Atlas is a high school student who spends their days trying to tell stories, whether it's their own or others'. She hopes to one day have at least one book of her poems out in the world and until then and even after that, he will keep writing as much as he can.
One Would Imagine Sisyphus Is Actually Doing Something Incredibly Important

they  are  rolling        it around the lowest cave system

pushing this one     boulder                   up and up

and up           from below     u can see them       hustling for something

called eternity

 

it rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls

and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls

and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and

rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and

rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls

 

can see them make a difference            with every single rotation

as the boulder gains             mass     more and more and more

as they roll it          rolls and rolls and rolls

and the story gathers              steam oh

look it’s ole Sisyphus              ole getting-nothing-done

 

rolls and rolls and rolls and rolls and

rolls and rolls and rolls

and rolls and

rolls and

rolls

 

how quick the rest forget            how much  Sisyphus had already

accomplished                           how quick to underestimate

the change that              a big rock dropped from a great height

can facilitate                            once you’ve already stolen immortality

from the gods           then revolution should come easy

About the author
essa may ranapiri (Ngāti Wehi Wehi, Ngāti Raukawa-ki-te-Tonga, Te Arawa, Waikato-Tainui, Ngāti Pukeko, Ngāti Takatāpui, Na Guinnich, Highgate) is a poet from Kirikiriroa. Their first book of poetry ransack (VUP) was longlisted for the Ockham Awards 2020. They are the featured writer in Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2020 with their work ‘HAUNT|HUNT’. They self-released a chapbook titled POLEMIC in July. Currently they are working on their second book of poems tentatively titled Echidna. They will write until they’re dead.