A poem for World Poetry Day, nominated by Sarah Jane Barnett

This poem was nominated by Sarah Jane Barnett
It is from Best New Zealand Poems 2009, please click through to find an audio version of the poem.

The starlings

Anger sang in that house until the scrim walls thrummed.
The clamour rang the window panes, dizzying up chimneys.
Get on, get on, the wide rooms cried, until it seemed our unease
as we passed on the stairs or chewed our meals in dimmed

light were all an attending to that voice. And so we got on,
and to muffle that sound we gibbed and plastered, built
shelves for all our good books. What we sometimes felt
is hard to say. We replaced what we thought was rotten.

I remember the starlings, the pair that returned to that gap
above the purple hydrangeas, between weatherboard and eaves.
The same birds, we thought, not knowing how long a starling lives.
For twenty years they came and went, flit and pause and up

into that hidden place. A dry rustle at night, fidgeting, calling,
a murmuration: bird business. The vastness and splendour
of their piecemeal activity, their lives’ long labour,
we discovered at last; blinking, in the murk of the ceiling,

at that whole cavernous space filled, stuffed like a haybarn.
It was like gold, except it was more like shit and straw,
jumbled with their own young, dead, desiccated, sinew
and bone, fledgling and newborn. Starlings only learn

a little thing, made big from not knowing when to leave off:
gone past all need except need, enough never enough.

by Tim Upperton

Tuesday poem: A Shout by Michael Harlow

That wakes the fine calligraphy
of trees; the dark-beaked birds
that have wintered over,
stitching up the air, waiting
for that shout of green; and here
this mariner’s star, rose of the
winds, bright flower of sun,
like a stunned bee, in the small
hours of your hand – waking
from its hive the gold the dark
has been keeping, the mind’s
tenderness to the heart, waiting
for that shout of green, we
are because love says as much.

From The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (page 1) by Michael Harlow
Published by Auckland University Press
Used with the permission of 
Auckland University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme

Tuesday poem: LOVE POEM FOR A VOLCANO by Airini Beautrais

To love a volcano is to love
shapes at dusk.
To love largeness.
It is a love seldom spoken of
but I have known men
to write furtively of sulphur dioxide
and utter words like ‘phreatomagmatic;.
Hands on pack straps.
Eyes into the craters.

From The Western Line (page 20) by Airini Beautrais
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme

Tuesday poem: At the coming of Spring by Kate Camp

At this time I am sensitive to creakings
sudden falling limbs and the breaking up of rivers.

I go into the streets wearing a false beard
and dressed in the style of an orthodox Jew
leave bread at roadsides.

Ah ha! You say, slapping your forehead theatrically
that is why hopeful birds follow you
and mice take your steps as their trail.

That is not the reason, but it will do for the likes of you.

From The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls (page 58) by Kate Camp
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme

Tuesday poem: Signs of Life by Airini Beautrais

Each morning I step
past the progress of disintegration
a whitened condom
melting into the growing grass.
Spring approaches the park
from many angles.

From The Western Line (page 45) by Airini Beautrais
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme

Tuesday poem: A Landscape Begun by Bill Manhire by Jenny Bornholdt

Hill with its slopes
Rain with its slant.
Earth with its grass and mud.

Goats with their horns
and cloven hooves
and deer with their antlers
could be mistaken –
by eyes with their squint
in the air with its mist –
for trees on an outcrop of rock,
their branches distracted
by something or other.

From The Hill of Wool by Jenny Bornholdt
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of 
Victoria University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme

Tuesday poem: Wawkward by Rachel Bush

In Morrissons this morning
meeting you is, well, awkward.
At first I wrote wawkward
but I changed it.
You see I like you,
your kind good will,
your questions:
my health (fine),
my kids (grown),
my plans (panic because non in words ready to parcel up and give you).

So smile and smile
(we both),
and have good will
and want to be friends
and want
and want.

From Nice Pretty Things and others  (page 13) by Rachel Bush
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem has been posted as part of the Tuesday Poem scheme