Tuesday poem: Three old women raking leaves by Rob Hack

Their dresses are bright.
They rake leaves from graves in a front yard
talking of friends buried, here and in New Zealand.
Their eyes shine like a church roof
like the gold earrings from a daughter in Gisborne.
One gives me her Watchtower here
waves the heat from her face with a fan
used to her many years in New Zealand
but, here now for good, for ever.
The others smile.

I lift my camera, they shuffle together
then laugh, doan forget to send one to here!

Lots of my Niue photos lie in boxes under the bed.
Not this one.
Three old women in bright dresses, raking leaves, laughing.

by  Rob Hack
from 4th Floor Literary Journal 2011
Published by Whitireia New Zealand Writing Programme
Used with the permission of  Whitireia New Zealand Writing Programme

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: Virgil at bedtime by Anna Jackson

There are glow-in-the-dark stars
on the ceiling which probably
won’t peel off. And yes, there are
two gates of sleep, sweet heart,
it’s not just in the morning
you have to be careful what side
of the bed you choose,
there are choices to make
day and night,
and for the rest of your life.
And the ivory gate is glittering
but not smiling at you,
it is just the way it is shaped
like the mouth of a crocodile
opening wide,
offering futures like vistas,
dreams that will
eat you up.
No, the other gate is the gate
To choose, sweet heart,
and your dreams, if you dream,
will be safe as houses
and won’t bankrupt you at all –
you just have to be dead
to go through.

by Anna Jackson
From Thicket (page 6)
Published by Auckland University Press
Used with the permission of Auckland University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: The Year of the Mountain by James Brown

for Dinah Hawken

It was the Year of the Mountain, and when Li Po realised there was no avoiding it he began to make preparations. He packed water, rice cakes and sugar cane. He visited his mother. Then, after waiting for nightfall, he set forth. At first nothing, then gradually the mountain began to rise up in astonishment until Li Po could feel its wonder beneath his feet and hands. Twice he stopped to rest and gaze at the stars. When the first shades of dawn began to ease open the sky, Li Po unfolded a black sash from about his person and bound it over his eyes. He hummed softly to himself as his hands sought out each new foothold. By now it was the Year of the Bicycle, and the following day it would be the Year of Unpopular Poetry. Li Po was already in training.

By James Brown
From The Year of the Bicycle (page 47)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: GO EASY SWEETHEART by Bernadette Hall

Hydrangea clouds are loosed and floaty
on the black pool. She’s making a hard job

of it, the little girl with the wooden spoon,
creaming the butter and the sugar. Go easy,

sweetheart. Little bubbles exploding soft
like years later when he licks and licks and little

bomb blasts like pain that must be entered
into, like delight. Her knuckles whiten,

her elbow is rigid with blessings: lavender shortbread
and honey ice-cream and all manner of berries.

I can only understand you when you speak with an American
accent. She’s watched it all before – flower,

fruit and fall. Aha, so that’s how it’s done!
Still wondering how on earth it is to be done.

By Bernadette Hall
From Settler Dreaming (page 44)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: Tincture by Helen Lehndorf

At eight I learned the word ‘tincture’. I carried
the word around on my tongue. I chanted it
like holy word, like spell. Before that, it was
just ‘potion’ or sometimes ‘perfume’. Flower
petals collected, leaves. Certain grasses would
bleed milk. Breath of Heaven for the scent.
Clings of spider web. An old cupboard door
for a chopping board. A river rock for pummelling.
Jams jars with creek water. I would cut and crush.
You had a gun and I had a knife. Chop and stir.
Mix it in with a stick until full
and frothy. The tang of damp nature.

It’s a tincture. It’s a potion. It’s special perfume.

Set free for whole mornings, whole afternoons.
Our house made of bamboo. Our tyre swing.
With our pockets full of crackers and boiled lollies,
we would go. Across the road, down to the creek.
Into the goat cave high up a mud wall. We’d scramble up
and sit, ankle deep in goat shit, on wooden beer crates.
Try to catch the fresh water crabs, belly crawling
along the creek edge. I had a knife. You had a gun.
Aged eight, aged six. Shimmying along
back fences stealing fruit. Acid stomachs
from too many sweets and apples. We stayed
until it got dark, or there was a call from home.

It is a tincture. It is a trick. It is a treat

It is a locket, for locking
and hiding down a shirt,
against a heart.

From The Comforter by Helen Lehndorf
Published by Seraph Press
Used with the permission of Seraph Press

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

Tuesday poem: Visiting Europe by Bill Manhire

We rush around and look at famous stuff.
Once in the Louvre, late afternoon with my six-year-old son,
— he has truly had enough — we meet the Mona Lisa.
It’s 1981. I lift him above the world’s admiring heads.
That lady, I say — we don’t know why she’s smiling.
What do you think she’s thinking about?
Money, he says.  Money.

by Bill Manhire
from The Victims of Lightning (page 82)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: Driving the bypass by Kate Camp

It was agreed the best thing for everyone
was that they cut my sister open.

I left the house after midnight
the warmest night of summer
the empty streets bursting
with green lights.

Outside Molly Malone’s
a girl was walking home
carrying her shoes.

When I drove home it was dawn.
On the new bypass
I was suddenly thrilled
by all they had destroyed to build it.

The past, relocated, waited for me at the traffic lights
and I drove at speed with everything
to be grateful for, the present minute
exploding and smashing
the past to dust.

I dreamed a red steam train
ran by my house
its cargo carriage upon carriage
of honeysuckle.

by Kate Camp
from The Mirror of Simple Annihilated Souls (page 42)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: Kiss by Rachel Bush

This morning my dad said
Who’s moved my bloody cellphone?
Christ why can’t people leave my things alone.
There was just the two of us.
I said I never even touched your cellphone
and my dad said Where the hell
is the bloody thing? Oh forget it.
Get yourself dressed. I’ve got to get to work.
Aren’t you dressed yet? Then he didn’t talk
till he dropped me at my mum’s and he said
Kiss.

by Rachel Bush
from Nice Pretty Things and others (page 38)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press
This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: DEAR SWIMMER by Bernadette Hall

Like the little black poodle gulping
on the polished floor, she is desperate for even angry

company. The news is all of drowning in rivers
and car crashes; the sky plump and rosy

like beautiful Chinese mouths. ‘My body,’ she says
‘now expects pleasure and without the mirror

in the room sex is definitely safer.’
So. She disguises her disguise,

writing it appropriately in a collection of short
fiction. ‘The map is not the territory,’ writes

Alfred Korzbysky. Dear swimmer, you could
go crazy thinking about things like this.

Better by far to steer clear.
Help Tejinder sand down the old car.

by Bernadette Hall
From Settler Dreaming (page 43)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme

Tuesday poem: Her Daughter Tames a Lizard by Dinah Hawken

Walking into her living room she finds a lizard and other reptiles
and insects there. She’s frightened of the lizard since it’s large
and still growing. So she calls her small daughter who comes with pleasure
to get the creatures out of the house: she treats the lizard as a pet
talking to it and stroking it while it grows a different head
brightly coloured like a tropical parrot, a wondrous thing.

by Dinah Hawken
From oh THERE you are TUI! (page 47)
Published by Victoria University Press
Used with the permission of Victoria University Press

This poem is part of the Tuesday Poem Scheme