what I mean is love by Kyra Gillies

I asked: is there any connection for you between spirituality & politics?

what I mean is

the only thing I love as much as
the land, sea and sky
is people (is peoples)
is art

what I mean is

sometimes a song feels like a prayer
sometimes a walk feels like a meditation
sometimes a talk with a friend feels like a poem
and ALWAYS dancing is pure joy:
ecstasy crystallised
a smile on legs.

what I mean is

a meal feels like a ritual
a gathering feels like healing, nourishment

simple. humble.

I mean nothing more or less than love.

image by Kyra Gillies


Auntie Matatau by Miriama Gemmell

wanna live at your skirt hems
drive you up town
hear your whakataukī        in my head
use your dialect        idiom
do a bomb harmony of that wai

you sing

auntie – tell me
o       leaves for that ailment
o               bones of that ridgeline
o                     taniwha in the bend
how i hono       to that whānau
o        & that whānau

wanna follow your lead
o      know how to care for my ikura cloths
o        murmur your moteatea by neat repeat
o          build the rewana bug
o  while you put your feet up
with gumboot tea, ngeru & infomercial
o      help you make doughboys & trifle
o      tītī & quince jelly
see your tikanga
o   in its taketake habitat

o      be
o          useful at your side
o nurture without money
ocollect kawakawa & kai
learn to call by eye & waharoa whispers

auntie matatau – where are you?

o      saw you in that insurance ad
o    heard you in a short story we read at school
o  watched you in that home town film doing so well
you were so good


Love In The Time of COVID by Rachel Goméz

Sleep defies my weary lids
Your arms, so far away
My fingertips reach for you
Run along your spine
Through lengths of fibrous cable
An optic illusion, of oceanic proportions
Alphabetic intimacy
The tsunami of emotions

A Morse code
Of love
Competing for space

We Twitter, as if beaked
Wings clipped
Banded wrists
Who were we to think the earth belonged to us?
Even now, I rely on her briny depths

The world’s a ship without captain, my love
No steadfast course
The modern watch keepers too busy listening
For heartbeats

Jonah’s gaoled in the whale, filled with our plastic offspring
And we live the same day over
Except for the messages, bottled and corked
Thrown into the sea –
A lifeline
Of love


Amor en tiempos de COVID
Translation Cristián Goméz

El sueño desafía mis párpados cansados
Tus brazos, tan lejos
Mis dedos te alcanzan
Corren a lo largo de tu columna
A través de tramos de cable fibroso
Una ilusión óptica, de proporciones oceánicas
Intimidad alfabética
El tsunami de las emociones

Un código Morse
De amor
Compitiendo por espacio

Enviamos Tweets, como pájaros
Pero de alas recortadas
Muñecas prisioneras de pulseras conectadas
¿Quiénes éramos para pensar que la tierra nos pertenecía?
Incluso ahora, dependo de sus profundidades saladas

El mundo es un barco sin capitán, mi amor
Sin rumbo firme
Los vigías modernos demasiado ocupados
Latidos del corazón

Jonás encerrado en la ballena
Llena de nuestra descendencia
Y vivimos el mismo día otra vez
Excepto por los mensajes, embotellados
Arrojados al mar –
El único salvavidas
Del amor


Coracle at a confluence by Sudha Rao

The first time I saw
a coracle was the last
sight of my father
sliding off a river bank
in a small elegant box.
  Shouldered by his sons’
calm and focused grave faces
the boatman pushed off
a river bank glistening
dark below the coracle.
Water a-swirling
green silk saree, unfolded
a climbing ancient
certain sun over grass
losing dew by sun rising.
The monsoon had gone
leaving a wake of flora
like a ritual
path slow and deliberate
for my father turned ash.
  My father’s journey
was his last with family
on a coracle
to join his parents at the
holy rivers’ confluence.
  The photograph showed
a simple box paddled down
a silent river
leaving my mother behind
but not captured by the shot.
  There are no pictures
of my mother on the day
my father journeyed
leaving her banked alone
edged by the fright of it all.
Thirteen years ago
she was at a confluence
standing on her soil
harnessing timidity
to rise from his ash new born.
A tiny beast brought
her world to a standstill
as an invasion
on boundaries she called
calling on her loved ones.
Thirteen years later
we crossed the air between us
on a flat screen
to unwind her history
on her coracle for me.
Confined by her space
my ninety-year old mother
nodding with white hair
spoke like a black bird at night
waiting to rest at sun up.
From her envious
Wellington harbour outlook
tides glistened and peaked
shadow free from shipping boats
but bearing daring sea gulls.
An accidental
storyteller displays her
open memory
pad with magical wonder
as the sun dapples her walls.
Mother mother
She, of her mother says
Eshtu chenage idhlu*
Sudha, when she died
I was second-time unmoored
from my umbilical cord.
Composed again now
she becomes that precious stone
in a black and white
picture framed by her white hair
transformed into a young girl.
Here she is singing
long plaits pale face hesitant
eyes looking into
her deprivation, her void
“Oh Mother! I bow to thee”.
Her song celebrates
a gathering of warm smiles
draped in sarees
an ocean of recipes
an invocation to life.
Here she is married
a punctuation altered
by a new goodbye
bucketing expectations
when a red mantle turns blue.
She watches herself
opening a locked door
for unfamiliar voices
to surround and bind her path
to mothering and loving.
When she breathes
Bound for New Zealand
a cyclone hit the east coast
before she left home
the wind whistled adventure
and the forest was damaged.
Her tales are many
with commas falling as leaves
for the wet soils torn bark
growing children losing tongue
while she breathed out her joy.
Our genealogy
she recites back urgently
wrapped in silk thread
the flat screen vibrates felling
words yet freedom comes skipping.
Her lifetime weaving
carried by ether, carries
her song to bury
deep and play with memories
dropping unearthed gold stars.
How was I to know
this was a curtain raiser
on my mother –
she was plaiting for me
a coracle for our births.
At the confluence
she took me into a time
where time stopped for her
and I blinded and muted
connected to her big smile.
She made me see youth
before unexpected loss
sowed a deep sense
of longing for her mother
who dared the river crossing.
How this drives her
ferocious love for her four
how she feeds talk
with a banquet of spices
celebrated vanished.
When she speaks of us
we become her extensions
but she is computing
our paths away from struggles
she cannot bear to grasp.
This is my mother
emerging from a screen
talking laughing eyes
appear on screen as if
for the first time she breathes.
My mother floats above
the currents of her long life
I turn into a
parallel conversation
she, herself I inherit.
I am two women
one-time child one-time awed
by a small beast
unravelling yet binding
us, spinning silver thread.


*In my mother tongue, Kannada, literal translation is “How beautiful she was, Sudha”



Kyra Gillies is a poet of Pākehā (Irish) and Romani descent, born on the lands of the Whadjuk people and living on the lands of Kāi Tahu in Ōtepoti. She writes poetry for the people. Kyra loves birds & bannoffee pie. You can find more of her poetry at Oscen & Awa Wahine and in her forthcoming Fringe Festival show ‘Fierce Love & Fresh Air’. She is excited for the Love shortage to end.

He uri tēnei nō Ngāti Pāhauwera, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu. Miriama’s poetry has been published in Te Whē, Landfall, Wasafiri Magazine, Sweet Mammalian and other places. She washes yoghurt pots and feels closer to her tīpuna. Miriama lives in Te-Whanganui-a-Tara with her hoa rangatira, Richard, and two tamariki, James Rewi (6) and Hana Tirohia (4).

Chilean born Cristián Goméz is an international expert in telecommunications policy, currently working from Aotearoa. Cristián is also a doctoral researcher of Political Science and International Relations, focusing on human rights issues in cyber space. Nevertheless, Cristián found time to translate his partner’s poetry into his native Spanish, for this collaboration of love.

Rachel Goméz is a freelance writer and poet, dividing her time between New Zealand and Hong Kong. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Journalism Studies, from Massey University, Wellington and writes on a broad range of subjects. Believing poetry is a unique language, bridging the gap between self-expression and our common bonds, Rachel’s writing often explores current affairs and the fragility and strengths of the human condition. She is currently working on her first anthology of poetry.

Sudha Rao’s poem ‘Coracle at a confluence’ portrays her relationship with her parents, landscapes and emotional-scapes. She explores her South Indian heritage and weaves it into her story about getting know her mother. Sudha grew up in Dunedin after her parents migrated from Karnataka and became connected to the Dunedin dance community through her own training in Classical Indian dance. Sudha has been writing a number of years. Her work appear in several publications and anthologies, including most recently in Ko Aotearoa Tatou. In 2017, Sudha completed her Masters in Creative Writing from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington, and is focused on writing and performing her poems.