Hagley Park by Michael Hall
The sun’s just another
in the morning
through the fog
still to resolve
in the quiet
of the world
And the kind
in the tidal
of the traffic
Professor Bebop advises by Claire Beynon
– Billy Collins’s Poetry Broadcast, Facebook Livestream, 10 September 2020
This morning, following his customarily cool jazz intro,
Billy Collins reads a poem that tells of a poetry handbook
he bought from an outdoor stall along the river. Its author
instructs poets to avoid using the words vortex, velvety
and cicada. Vortex and velvety—okay. But cicada?
I cannot agree. Even empty-bellied the word cicada
implies a vessel for song. My Google search confirms
there’s one exact anagram in cicada which surely suggests
a creature that is a world unto itself, drawing as it does
on tree roots, mathematics and the mycelium network
for inspiration. Ignorant of vortexes and velvet, oblivious
to poetry and poet laureates, a cicada is sentenced to seventeen
years underground before being called to the surface to sing
from dawn till death in the earth-warming sun.
Note from the poet: During lockdown, US poet Billy Collins (that country’s laureate for the term 2001 – 2003) held an almost-daily Poetry Livestream session on Facebook. These half-hour episodes were – and still are – attended by poetry and Collins’s fans from around the globe. Billy – affectionately referred to by many as Professor Bebop – begins and ends his poetry conversations with a short jazz interlude. Professor Bebop advises was written in response to one of these livestream sessions.
To This Point and Beyond by Brecon Dobbie
Pushing our way through the lush green
grass, we sink slowly into the wet soil.
The unrelenting star beams ricochet
around the darkened fields, dazzling and
dazing to the iris. The hibiscus flowers are so
familiar to the touch, swirling amongst
murky glitter potions, each petal
a recycled wish—just one dive from
the ripple. We all wash up on the forest
floor: rugged bones and just so
broken like do humans grow to
keep secrets? To cause earthquakes
before breakfast? The answer: it really
isn’t that simple. I mean, isn’t Alice
always rowing her boat through childhood?
She dares to pick the rushes, dares to watch
the wilt—leans into it. My head
is a capsized cloud, a maze of
good and bad neighbourhoods. I want
to stare life right in the eyes, want to
lay down amongst the dirt, feel the warmth
of my heartbeat, pluck a flower, know
death. I listen to the swish, swish,
swish of the tall grass, can hear
the all too familiar call
Birthday greetings to my niece by Michael O’Leary
Michael O’Leary reading his poem to his niece. In his words: to Tali, our niece who is locked down in London having planned to be home in Auckland for her 30th birthday before COVID-19 hit. The London bus is parked outside my house in Paekakariki which is very fortuitous.
9.0 by Phusathi Liyanaarachchi
These days, I often find my eyes reading your same-old worry lines
tired, they rest on the back of a milk packet
but expiry dates drive us mad
tired, they move onto a moving line that passes on the tv screen
to distract us from truth
tired, they ask what the cat wants for dinner,
it is obvious from its face
tired, I fish out frozen food
mad at some man reading clouds on the tv screen
to predict whether
you would feel
like we should talk
if it rains
just when I feel like reading too much into your silence
I take my temperature
and wonder if you could tell that
I am running on fewer
tired, I try to read a recipe again
to make sure I read it exactly right
but your agitated feet
knock on the floor
will you get the door?
not all of them made it today:
tired, but I am reading.
but you are reading.
till something shakes
the air between us.
Poet’s note: There has never been an earthquake that recorded the magnitude 10 on the Richter Scale.
Back Order of Enlightenment by Jenny Powell
Film Maker: Kerensa Clark
Music: Lily Grant
Stacks of plastic water lilies
are trapped in a floating garden of sea.
Parallel imports of boxed enlightenment
bound for mega mall outlet specials
circle darkness in lockdown fright.
Peace lights skirt new complications.
Container freight cancelled, channels
closed, ships mark time in a global line.
Warning. Not suitable for small children.
Allergy friendly, baby face pink,
tasteful shimmer of frosted glow.
Best placed on tables with sheen
reflections offer real tranquillity
without leaving your home.
Warning. Enlightenment floats
in a sea of uncertainty.
New complications circle darkness.
What if they aren’t pink water lilies?
Claire Beynon is an artist, writer and interdisciplinary researcher who lives and works on the Otago peninsula, Dunedin, New Zealand. In addition to her solo practice, she works collaboratively on a diverse range of projects with fellow artists, writers, scientists and musicians in NZ and abroad.
Brecon Dobbie has recently graduated from The University of Auckland with a BA in English and Psychology. Throughout 2020, she found words and poetry to be her place of solace. Some of her work has appeared in Minarets Journal, Howling Press and Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2021.
Michael Hall lives in Dunedin, New Zealand.
Phusathi Liyanaarachchi is a poet from Sri Lanka. Having graduated with Honours in English recently from the Department of English, University of Colombo, she works at the American Institute for Sri Lankan Studies. She also works as an independent translator and editor with the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Sri Lanka. She is currently seeking a home for her debut poetry collection, ‘Becomes Water’.
Michael O’Leary was born in Auckland in 1950. He has written and published in many genres, including non-fiction, fiction and poetical works. His ambition has been to write and research on historical, literary and Māori topics and also to contribute to the knowledge and cultural wealth of Aotearoa New Zealand as a poet, novelist and artist. He has performed his works as a poet and with musicians. His latest novel Apocrypha Scripta has just been released. He has a PhD from Victoria University. More here.
Jenny Powell is a Dunedin writer who has been involved in many collaborative projects. She is the 2020 RAK Mason Fellow. Her latest collection of poems is South D Poet Lorikeet. https://www.jennypowell.co.nz/
Kerensa Clark is a New Zealand photographer and teacher who lives in Fairlie. She enjoys exploring the experiential aspects of being in the world through her photography, and imagining potential narratives that arise from her work.
Lily Grant is a design student at Massey University in Wellington, where she majors in photography. She enjoys music and song-writing in her free time. This is her first collaboration.