Wednesday, 10 July 2013



Standing naked in his Hopper sunroom
Snow clouds glaze northwards across the city
Bitter fruity cocktail comfort shower
Avoided sinking himself in sadness

Seventeen more minutes till closing time
Tom Waits still howling from some distant plain
Cold tiles make skin a nasty place to be
Shoes not quite healthy enough for the gym

Not a woman, not even circumcised
Still less of anything than ever yet
I miss the taste of someone else’s tongue
Their timidity often gets to him

Guilty solace in being a white man
Friendliness and comfort exchanged both ways
Overheard stories, a trip to China
Feigned safety in foreign buddy circles

A travelogue I haven’t written yet
All life reduced to some crayon drawings
Losing yourself in the beat, waking up
And discovering your wallet’s missing

Your cuteness is something he might despise
As he picks up your smaller, slender frame
In brief nostalgic bliss; an addiction
Picked up from a half-remembered past life

by Campbell Calverley


Only dirty
From a lack of decoration
The house seems a mess
Whenever he’s there
And he’s always there

The kids don’t want to see him too often
They’ve got their own friends
Their own time
Their own skin
With an over-exposure to art
But that’s okay

Staying for the embarrassment
Separate rooms
Stonefire in only one
I slept there once
Woke up to the sound of birds
They like to have sex in the morning

Showers together
Amuse yourself in the meantime
Writing in someone else’s chair
Waiting for something that isn’t even there
And won’t be for a while

Her mother talks about her
Heritage worth living for
Self-sufficient meanderings
Through an erudite familial division

Saw half a brother lose
A part of himself
Out of a divine love
That he didn’t know
How to return

Not divine at all
Not divine enough
Living for laughter
From another pipe
An entertainment wire
A pack of pills
And a row of bottles

Others come over uninvited
With pleasantries
And fresh bruises
And fresher clothes
And rings around their eyes

No driver’s license yet
Too much time and money
So the journey between each house
Is that much longer

The windows stay closed
The curtains stay pulled
In keeping with yesterday

by Campbell Calverley

The Transformation

First, a lonesome rider comes gently
murmuring in the dark,
riding a white stallion into a bang.
Second, the sweet chaos of quarks… 
play fighting like children 
on a trampoline.
Third, the life and the love
of unthinking minds, and of molecules meandering
along our DNA, adapting.

Then the sensing things
find their place; crafting geology,
time and taste, into a land of empty waste.
All impressions teeming, ideas wild, dressed
in sterile suits, this is the reaping 
upon the fearing eyes.
Mirror, mirror, on the wall, 
Mirror, mirror, on the wall…
I ask you, one who knows them all
who walks like Jesus, bathed and masked
into the cave where upon we ask
Who is the fairest of them all?

And in these moments of ferocity,
bright like burning Pohutakawa trees,
I cower beneath the fury of the sky.
In the timeless and fragile imagination, 
I ponder teething things, creeping 
and making their way to Matilda’s
earthly paradise. Take me now;
oh raise me, spirited Fig,
to enlightenment.

Though in my awakenings, whilst light 
finds entry to the eyes
through a liquid sand,
I wish all the treasures of the lands
ka whawhai tonu ma¬tu, 
ake ake, ake!
I wish to find a nightingale 
with its blood drenched upon a rose,
staining my withering suit,
as I pass from fascination
into gentle death.

By Jonte Marshall

Not a Love Sonnet

I’ll tell you what you were: you were a lie.
Your fingernails were scraping down my back.
You fucked me raw; you fucked me til I cried;
you shattered my defences and I cracked.

I’ll tell you what this was: a big mistake. 
Your clever fingers twisting through my hair.
My skin was bruised; you bit me til I ached.
As if you’re sorry now. As if you care. 

I’ll tell you what I am: I’m insecure.
Your words were poison, whispered in the dark.
"You ugly fucking bitch. You stupid whore."
And now I know my place. You left your mark.

Your life goes on; you’re laughing in the sun.
I’m on the bathroom floor. I’ve come undone.

by Mairead O'Neill


My flatmate raised his voice
and slammed the door
and curled in bed, I suddenly
felt very small.
When I was little, my father
left me in the car, the doors unlocked
His parting words:
“I hope someone steals you."
When I was sixteen, my favourite uncle
kissed me on the mouth
and told me I was beautiful
and the same bile rose in my throat
when my boyfriend struck me across the face
when another told me
that i was a freak
when the last one slept 
with another woman
and then called me by her name.
And no matter how many showers I take
their handprints, invisible, are still on my skin
their voices still ring in my ears
and I cringe at the sound
of slamming doors
my brain is wired to think
I’m always a victim.
by Mairead O'Neill

When You Were Mine (for Lee)

I liked you best when you were mine
you were so lovely that first time
your swollen eyes, your teeth, your lips
your tear-stained voice, your fingertips
and you were sad, but full of light
your thoughts they whirled at awful heights
I think I loved you better then
when you were hurt and mine to mend.

by Mairead O'Neill

Some Days I Can't Smile For Joy

i met joy walking on a wintry evening 
coming back from the factory she was carrying 
a basket over one arm and on her feet 
slippers small as summer, warm as kindling. 
she said nothing as she reached me 
dipping her head in courtly greeting 
her eyes were smiling. i was weeping. 
we paused on the roadside briefly meeting 
and then she left me. i was smiling. 
behind me stretched the cold road, dwindling.

by Sarah Reese

Tectonic Shift

Some nights, the mountains walk from island to island as homeless old men.
Aoraki unfreezes; leads his brothers out of the waka and walks, grey-headed,
rivers worn in his many faces, down to the Tekapo to bathe the dust
from his feet. Ruapehu, that venerable giant, murmurs ominously at Taranaki
over the fire, and Tongariro between them, as she has always been,
combing the knots from her beautiful hair.

by Sarah Reese


  1. Wow, totally blown away by all of these pieces. Really, really, really good stuff.

  2. Lovely words! I especially love Reese's style.
    Quality writing here, great to see such talent at Otago.