Where we sleep by Serie Barford
when my marriage went west
I rebubbled in my childhood home
with two matriarchs
the dowager and incumbent
my father and sons
it was never going to be easy
bought a red chaise longue
too wide for 1950s door frames
it sat on blocks in the garage
displaced my parents’ car
these days I have my own home
French doors and a faded chaise longue
elderly parents bubbling on a peninsula
sons ensconced with flatmates
on the other side of town
one cooks and plays guitar
the other lauds Japanese joinery
has discovered carpentry
the wondrous feel of wood
the throb and thrust of tools
there is nowhere to store his creations
he texts a photo
My next lockdown project, Mum
I’m making you a table
Vulnerable by Piet Nieuwland
With morning stars shimmering in night blue filigree
A pianissimo of valley fog in slumber
The dew of daybreak sings songs without words
Beside the railway track at Mangapai station
A clear stream runs over grassy moss and stone
As the tidal river makes its move through mangrove margins
She arrived in the elementary hour anorexic as a photograph
In the microscopic light, with eyes of rouge
Cheekbones vivid as shadows
We did not know if she was infected, there were no symptoms
No coughing or sneezes, no headaches
Asking us to explore the illusion of individual freedom
And infinite possibilities
With night unfolding its dark cloak
And the blade of a new moon rising
We are all afraid of the same thing at the same time
The social amplification of risk
I loved lockdown by Laurice Gilbert
When I exercised, new pedestrians, families, dogwalkers,
and other runners smiled, waved and said hello
from two meters away, often the centre of the road.
We all agreed, without discussion, to keep left.
Of course it was troubling for some.
On Day 1 the local burglars,
populated out of our occupied homes,
turned their attention to closed businesses.
A police car appeared up the street.
Silver lining number one: no scam calls on the landline.
Grocery shopping was solitary, with much waiting and
only one family member at a time allowed a trolley.
If I was in a (rare) hurry I sent the other half –
technically a card-carrying Essential Worker,
in practice spending quality time
renovating the bathroom while someone
unqualified looked for a way to redeploy him.
People lost their jobs. Businesses folded.
I know, I know, many were doing it tough
while I had a loved-ones bubble of my own,
far beyond the need for home-schooling,
and welcome company during the day.
Silver lining number two: no new reality shows being made.
Our live-in student grandson, on early study break,
went stir crazy after a few weeks; started running
for four hours at a time ‘past’ his friend’s house.
I trusted he cared enough for his grandparents
to keep his distance while illegally socialising.
Supermarket workers and food distributors
became our new super-heroes. We queued
to have our brains tickled with swabs, grateful
to live in a country that cared. And 1pm
became an unbreakable appointment
with an unlikely duo of charismatic leader
and humble public servant; a merging of
aroha and science as we watched the cases
rise, peak, and slowly draw to a close.
Silver lining number three: the other half
learned to sneeze into his elbow at last.
Poem in a time of plague by Bob Orr
In a year of unprecedented crisis
I kept working –
in defiance of a pandemic
I wrote poems.
The smile of the girl
at the supermarket checkout counter
among other things
that poetry is also an ‘essential service’.
Serie Barford was born in Aotearoa to a German-Samoan mother from Lotofaga and a Palagi father. She was a recipient of a 2018 Pasifika Residency at the Michael King Writers’ Centre. Serie promoted her collections Tapa Talk and Entangled Islands at the 2019 International Arsenal Book Festival in Kiev. The Ukrainian translation of Tapa Talk was launched at the festival. Serie’s latest poetry collection, Sleeping With Stones, will be published by Anahera Press.
Laurice Gilbert has had poems published in many journals, anthologies and non-literary magazines across nine countries, having decided long ago that she hated networking and didn’t have the emotional resilience to join the NZ literary circuit. She administered the NZ Poetry Society for a decade, has had three Pushcart Prize nominations, published two collections and once won a competition (though being shortlisted for the Bridport Prize was equally exciting).
Piet Nieuwland lives near Whangārei on the edge of the Kaipara catchment. He previously worked for Te Papa Atawhai as a strategic planner as well as maintaining a creative writing and artistic thread throughout his career. His poetry and flash fiction has been published in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally in numerous print and online journals. He co-edits Fast Fibres Poetry, an anthology of poetry from Northland, and his website is https://pietnieuwland.simplesite.com/
Since working for most of his adult life as a seafarer on the Waitemata Harbour and Hauraki Gulf, Bob Orr has moved to live by the sea on the Thames-Coromandel Coast. At present he is working on a new collection of recent and selected poems, which will be his 10th published work. He was the Writer in Residence at University of Waikato in 2017.