Tag Archives: New Zealand poetry

National Poetry Day and Broken Egg

26 Aug

Today is New Zealand’s National Poetry Day. There have been heaps of cool events this past week, and still a few more still to come. You can check them out here.

In celebration of the day, I thought I’d share one of my poems, titled Broken Egg. I wrote it in 2013, and it was published in the February 2014 edition of Writing Tomorrow. I hope that you like it.

 

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Broken Egg

1

They come bounding at me bow-legged,

expecting beaks like upside down spoons and brass eyes unblinking.

Oi, get off, I skip backwards, I gave you the wheat!

Don’t you remember pecking my hand and hearing me squeak?

 

I check for eggs inside the roosting shed, poke my head in,

perceive a hen-like shape and beak swiveling my way.

Oops, sorry – I say, retreat, retreat.

A rock in your place, a sleeping cat, even,

so stuffed with shadows, I’d think it a hen.

 

Sometimes I hear you wailing all the way from the front fence.

With misshapen eggs, I wonder why you lay.

Maybe because, secretly, you enjoy the quiet, dark,

the rustle of your feathers in the straw,

the curve, the release.

 

2

My mother owns sixty-one eggcups

though seldom eats her own eggs.

They sit in a brown cabinet

beside the lamp whose height hides a layer of dust.

The rest of her house is spotless, of course.

She’s a short woman, it’s not her fault.

 

She tried to have more kids but was stuck with just the one,

then my dad won big with the bonus bonds and moved away

with the lady who cut all our hair.

Two of the eggcups were wedding presents.

They sit front, centre, polished brightly.

Mum doesn’t receive many gifts.

 

In the early eve she’s sleeve-deep in the garden

speaking to her hens, upturning rocks.

Beetles and millipedes have no safe nooks.

I’ll never understand the pleasure she gets, digging potatoes,

wrenching sticky weeds from the mischievous earth.

 

She lays her carrots with care,

side by side on the lilac rug we used to take to the beach.

It’s covered in holes, I don’t know why she doesn’t biff it.

I sit with her till dusk while she shovels compost, full of broken shells.

She told me once that when hens eat a broken egg they get a taste.

 

3

Dad could catch a wave with his body, like a rocket,

arms stretched straight in front, strong legs kicking.

Mum and I skulked beneath the parasol, watching him.

I hear he has three kids now – probably brown, and fit, like him.

 

As a teenager I hated this farm.

I’d climb the overgrown rhododendrons,

perch like a pissed-off gargoyle, listing unfairnesses.

There’s nothing fun about being a kid.

When the doctor told me I couldn’t have any I was glad.

 

Dad sent me a postcard once, from France,

wrote it like he wrote them every week.

I didn’t recognise the handwriting

till Mum pointed out his name at the bottom.

I remember she cried.

She told me once she would’ve liked grandchildren.

 

Sometimes I see you running wide-armed at me,

scabby knees and bright eyes unflinching.

I’ve seen plasters with pictures on them, at the supermarket, just for kids.

Oi, get off, I tut, holding you at arm’s length

and poking your tummy till you squeak.

 

For a downloadable copy, click here.

 

JAAM 33 – Small Departures

3 Jan

On New Year’s Eve, one of my best friends introduced me to one of his other friends as “a philosophy major, and a writer of short science fiction stories”. It struck me how weird it is that we do that – that we categorise people, choosing a few attributes and defining them as a combination of those things. Probably they were the most interesting attributes he could think of (you don’t want your friends to seem boring, do you?), and I guess it would have taken him too long to list everything he knew about me… “She’s 165cm tall, which you can see, she prefers peanut butter without added salt or sugar, she’s allergic to the powdery stuff on the skin of grapes…” Luckily our friends also miss out the embarrassing stuff when they categorise us for the benefit of a stranger.

Where was I going with this? Oh yes. I apologise for the small departure from the real topic of this post, which is my newest publication. My poem ‘Across so much water’ has just been published in JAAM 33, Small Departures.

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It’s a very non-sci fi poem, based upon my experience as a child when my mother told me she was leaving our family and moving to the United States to be with an unknown man whom she’d met on the internet (which was a lot less common over twenty years ago). This was a traumatic part of my life – and I spent nearly two years off school, recovering. The poem means a lot to me – as my poems nearly always do. Writing them is a whole different experience to writing my speculative fiction stories, which are more about the weird ideas I have in my mind, rather than the feelings and memories I want to try and make sense of. If you’d like to have a read of this poem, here’s a link to bookshops that sell JAAM’s publications.

I received my copies only a few days ago, and haven’t done much more than flick through their pages. But I’m thrilled to see my name alongside some of New Zealand’s great writers.

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