In The Beginning by Rachel Smith
That afternoon, when we walked
a careful one metre apart
watched those slippery-skinned kids fly
from branches into Waimakariri,
stepped careful through wandering barbs to find
berries, better than last season,
sun-warmed taste of summer stained
our fingers & teeth,
trees moved restless, touched
with oncoming colour.
And later, when we left,
the size of our unknowing grown tall
as the stretched-out shadows
we followed back to the carpark,
goodbyes a press of phantom cheeks
a bodies’ shape unremembered.
Living in the Entropics by James Norcliffe
We love it here,
on our entropical island.
even though the leaves are brown and shrivelled
in the unreasonable, unseasonable frosts.
I used to walk in the city
until my soles fell away,
and now I hear the city itself
has fallen away.
Still we love it here on our island
despite its growing smaller as the tides encroach.
Luckily, we can no longer see the tides;
in fact we can no longer see the sea
because our hedges have grown so high
since our shears disintegrated and our ladder collapsed.
I don’t really worry about the ladder –
it was getting hard to climb anyway
and the shears were blunt
and increasingly stiff and hard to grip.
Also, I rather like the height of the hedges
although, as noted, their leaves have shrivelled in these weird frosts.
There is talk of a disease. Another one.
There us always talk of another disease.
They say that love, though, is erosion free,
that love survives all.
We don’t really know that that is true,
but we like to believe it.
Seen by Phoebe Rolfe
weekly screen time
up from last week
love in lockdown
creased hearts on the
centre | fold
old phone chargers
fall asleep on
night time kisses
shout over stuttered
heart / / beats / /
bare skin fetal positions
share skin through iPhone cameras
insert :heart eyes emoji:
Drowning in Air by Andrew Bell
A man can drown in air.
This may seem counter-intuitive,
an outrageous fallacy.
Slowly, the world encroaches,
its relentless demands,
its empty glittering prizes
steal the lightness from his footsteps,
the crinkle from his smile.
He becomes a traveller who,
setting out with bold heart and carefree manner,
finds himself lost in a darkening forest.
He stumbles on, clutching and clawing
for a chink of light through
the web of branches and leaves
until, exhausted, he crawls
among the exposed roots
of an ancient, magnificent tree,
seeking solace in precious sleep.
As the dawn seeps into his bones,
but all knowledge of his destination
Minding the Gap by Elizabeth Coleman
Was almost about to hug her
Was almost about to move in close
clasp her hands
Almost about to forget
when I remembered
A major danger
forgetting to remember
Hoping we’re nearly there
anxious to cling
when forgetting to remember’s
te huaketo tika 2020 [the true virus 2020] by Vaughan Rapatahana
25 kms through congealed mist,
like a pearl diver
too far down the murk,
the sole supermarket
aloof, doors sealed.
the carpark chained still,
a discouraging bulwark.
fresh-daubed lines outside
separated like hopscotch marks
in a kid’s playground.
there we stationed ourselves,
a scruffy trickle
of small-town shoppers
desperate for some long-savoured item,
a few unable to sleep the early hours,
others, pensioners with first tilt
at what might remain inside.
as we stood by s p a c e d apart
we created an allegiance,
a harmony in discourse and jest,
our respect for one another
to thaw the chill
and melt the indurate minutes
conspiring to forbid impetus.
eventually the cue
for the s t r e t c h i n g queue to progress
came from a staff member
lumbering a sign and sprays of sanitizer
while carrying a smile
that denied their labour.
we filtered in – the first wavelet
before the levee crashed –
smiling quickly as we stole the portico,
grinning in glee after our purchase,
as we bent back into the carpark
to sight an anfractuous array
d i s t e n d into the distance,
yet still steadfast and patient
to wait their turns.
the only contagion we witnessed
was our regard for one another,
our pledge to overcome
through our own rapid virus:
some would label altruism.
I would call it
Andrew M. Bell writes poetry, short fiction, plays, screenplays and non-fiction. His work has been published and broadcast in New Zealand/Aotearoa, Australia, England, Israel and USA. His most recent publications are Aotearoa Sunrise, a short story collection, and Green Gecko Dreaming, a poetry collection.
Elizabeth Coleman lives, writes, walks and gardens in Waikanae and has been actively encouraging poetry in the Kapiti Coast district for some time. Some of her reviews, short stories and poems have featured in publications such as takahē , Dear to Me, Swings & Roundabouts, and heard on RadioNZ.
James Norcliffe is an award-winning poet, educator, editor and author of books for adults and children. He was the 2018 Creative New Zealand Randell Cottage Writing Fellow, the 2012 University of Otago College of Education Writer in Residence, the 2006 Fellow at Iowa University and the 2000 Robert Burns Fellow at Otago University. Hie most recent books are the poetry collection, Deadpan (OUP, 2019), and Mallory, Mallory: The Revenge of the Tooth Fairy (Penguin, 2020).
Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between Hong Kong SAR, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand – when COVID allows! He is widely published across several genres in Māori and English and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin and Romanian. He is a Contributing Editor to this project, and more about him can be found here.
Phoebe Rolfe is a recent university graduate who is now learning how to be both an adult and a poet. Her poems have been featured in Signals, ANNEXE and the upcoming edition of blackmail press.
Rachel Smith lives in Aotearoa New Zealand. Her writing has been published in journals and anthologies, including Best Microfiction 2019, Bonsai – Best Small Stories from Aotearoa New Zealand and Best Small Fictions 2020. She placed second in 2017 NZ National Flash Fiction Day. More here and @rachelmsmithnz1