Rock garden, photograph by Sophia Wilson
 
Featuring Emma Neale, Mark Pirie, Terry Locke and Sophia Wilson 
 
 

Metamorphosis by Emma Neale  

Lockdown, and the world’s fevered sleep means days constrained

to this tight, silent circuit: emptied neighborhood streets,

a wooded tract, a golf course mock-locked with a single chain

 

that we stumble over, sick-of-ourselves, craving novelty, change, succour.

Demonic clots of toadstools beneath blue-gums, beeches and birches

serve a kind of answer: little shocks of sculpted matter in ruby, bronze and silver.

 

Some cluster like butterscotch dripped from a witch’s eaves.

Bright herds glisten, the colour of horses’ sweat-soaked flanks.

Others swell, red candy-apples; tempt the tiny Eves of our teeth.

 

Yet someone here before us has smashed apart a shining colony,

scattering shapes like single wing bones, or bird-light skulls in white felt shreds.

As if there are cold omens in this petty tyranny

 

the tall, moss-skimmed trees shiver and shape-shift with dread:

in their skins, knots and whorls, are mouths, cocks, vulva, legs,

as if an entire people chokes inside the sea-green flesh

 

and we spook, we run, as if from some Cassandra’s prophecy,

conscience asking on leaf-dry tongues, You: perpetrators or survivors?

Myth’s ancient feeder-roots tighten the tripwires of history.

 

*

 

The world by Mark Pirie

After Clark Gable

the world

is very grim

today

it’s all in stats

and numbers:

infected + recovered +

deaths,

simple tolls

and frankly

my dear

I give

a damn,

before

it’s

gone

with

the

wind…

 

*

 

The crowning by Terry Locke

At the age of nineteen

I edited the seminary magazine

Maria Corona.

It was the music rather than the myth

            in the title’s cadence:

The heave of rising

            The ease of downfall:

Maria Corona

            Bologna Verona

                        Ferrara spagetti.

 

And so to the virus corona

            its crownlike virions

and attendant diseases:

            virus, viral, virion

the booted march of cause and effect

            the moral landscape blotched

with market stripping &

            hoarded islands.

 

But see,

            There is another outbreak:

Cantare  amore  volare

            the rise and fall of the body breathing

the appeasing stillness

            the hand extended

to the old and infirm:

            The reassertion of neighbourhood

in the contagion of music

            growing resistant strains

more powerful than any vaccine.

 

*

To Be Okay by Sophia Wilson

unsettling cases on the rise. unsettled skies, oceans.

unsettled borders, quarrels. unsettling escalations of violence,

 

and we are needing to settle down, reconstitute okay;

the sunshine for instance, glorious just now- summery warm, at winter’s midday.

a candle spitting, the hum and convenience of washing machine,

gumboots running up the deck, a child’s sweet voice,

                                               us here together, words at our fingertips,

 

thoughts dialled towards kindness;

fertile moments, at times pouring out of the air, exhaled by foliage;

the rise and fall of light, delicate cloud drift,

                                               a husband carrying an armload of wood.

 

the mutabilis has bloomed prolific, now, a solitary rose, bowed by window,

hues of violet and gold, new buds-

                                                green capsules, genomic promises.

 

we’ve come around, vented mountainous anxieties, emerged at the bend

to notice small things, hold them up; brief, acknowledged, ordinary things-

                                                tender circumstances.

 

Terry Locke lives in the Ngongotaha Valley with his wife, Millie. He has recently retired from the University of Waikato, where he was a Professor of Arts and Language Education. He has published five books of poetry and has edited three. His most recent collection is Tending the Landscape of the Heart, published by Steele Roberts in 2019. In conjunction with colleagues from Mad Poets Rotorua, he is currently work on a collection of young people’s poetry from the Rotorua area, entitled I Am From…..

 
Photo credit Caroline Davies

Emma Neale is the author of six novels and six collections of poetry, the most recent of which is To the Occupant (OUP, 2019). She works as a freelance editor in Ōtepoti/Dunedin, where she also occasionally teaches creative writing. She recently received the Lauris Edmond Memorial Award, a prize given biennially for a distinguished contribution to New Zealand poetry. She is the current editor of Landfall.

Mark Pirie (b.1974) is an internationally published New Zealand poet, editor, publisher and archivist for PANZA (Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa). In 2016, his selected poems, Rock & Roll, was published by Bareknuckle Books, Australia (available from the publisher’s website). Other books include Gallery published by Salt, England, 2003. He is a former founder/editor of JAAM, 1995-2005 and publisher for HeadworX 1998-, and he currently edits broadsheet: new new zealand poetry, 2008-.  www.markpirie.com

Sophia Wilson’s poetry/short fiction recently appeared in StylusLit, Not Very Quiet, Ars Medica, Hektoen International, Intima, Corpus, Flash Frontier, Australian Poetry Anthology and elsewhere. She was placed in the 2019 Robert Burns Poetry Competition, in the top ten for 2019 Green Stories Competition (UK) and winner of the 2020 IWW Flash Fiction competition. She is based in Aotearoa, New Zealand with her husband and three children.