The Interpretation Of Silence In A Time Of COVID by Sia Figiel
Sometimes you are
Like a nocturnal plant
Whose flowers open
In the silence of
& the scent becomes
It drowns you both
& you float on
The wings of
As you meditate
On the memory
Of the time you met
In a room
Off the freeway
In a country
That keeps reminding you
You don’t belong
Where they don´t speak
So that when your eyes
And you heard
Each other’s name
Your feet tingled
& you talked ´til dawn
Had to leave
& yet all at once
As if transfixed
By some weird magic
Despite the knowledge
That you would not
See each other again
You found yourselves
The sounds of
& you danced unashamedly
To every groovy
Song on the radio
Even burnt eggs made
& you found yourselves smiling
Ever you saw a text
Or his name
Across your screen
And you imagined him
Blushing on the train
Like he said he did
Next to that older man
As he covered his phone
With that coy smile
& together you
Swallowed the whole of
Tasting its wondrous
Knows no boundaries
There is no between
Another silence descends
Heavy & dark
& thoughts that were once
& an ache starts
Devouring the joy
& the leaves of
The nocturnal plant
Fall, fall, fall
Your very eyes
Only this time
The magic has
And you find your
Self sulking on Venus
Nothing but plain
As you exit
Off the radio
Deaf to the wings
Dancing outside &
Fuck this traffic
& these traffic lights too.
the thing is by John Allison
it’s what we do to get a breather
pausing on a track to see the view
how far we’ve come and yet how much further
without distancing there
is no landscape because there is no scope
and therefore no escape
because getting it only comes with the territory
both the terra and our terror
that strict imperative to be lost to be found
seeing the lie of the land
seeing the truth of it laid out as it were
it is always what we have to do
seeing it just as it is and also as it was
seeing what remains
it is what we do with love
and it is always what we face with death
to see what comes close
and in the end just what it is stays near
there is the one beloved you’ve accompanied
that far and further
often therefore so much nearer
or your lover
left over ten thousand kilometres away
still muttering in your bed at night
the thing is that
a gap allows deliberation
intimacy is only what it is
through closing in on attained distances
the thing is every other closeness is suspect
even maybe a kind of cognitive closure
the thing is however that everything distanced
comes up close and personal
at 3am each night
asking its insistent questions
The Proximity Detector by Don McIver
For the last year, my smart phone has a dumb, if not annoying, malfunction.
The malfunctioning part darkens the phone while the phone is next to my ear
But doesn’t lighten it when I pull it away to hang up, access the speaker, or use the keypad.
The “proximity detector” is broken.
I didn’t even know that was thing when I started researching this problem,
And found that my particular brand seemed prone to this malfunction.
Oh well, I thought,
as I researched work arounds.
I can’t hang up, so one workaround was to leave messages,
which I almost always have to do, that tells people:
“Hi, long message, but the proximity detector on my phone is broken
so there is probably going to be a bit of silence on the end of this message.
I’ll tell you when I’m officially done leaving the message,
so you don’t have listen to a lot of silence.”
And then go on with the actual message.
Eventually, the voice mail will figure out that I’m not talking and disconnect.
For the last year, my father has been in hospice.
A cancer survivor he’s stopped all the unpleasant treatments
And is just waiting for his prostate cancer to do its thing,
which is basically kill him.
Still lucid we’d talk weekly and brighten each others’ weeks.
As the pandemic started he took a turn for worse
And got sick a bit more, started experiencing a lot more pain
And just moved into the next phase
where his body would just slowly die.
A waiting game, I’ve traded text messages and emails with my mom and siblings,
And left messages on his phone.
But today, I called and
seeing how he was supposed to wake up to take some pills,
got to talk to him a bit.
He was not very lucid and slurred his words a bit,
and I could tell he was really tired.
So I lied,
“I’m ready if you’re ready.”
I promised I’d check in with Mom,
then just said,
But he was too out of it to hang up,
and I couldn’t,
so the line stayed open as I put the phone in my pocket and walked on.
Finally my sister picked up and asked if I was there,
I was and explained my phone and how the better part of the last year
My father and I have been unable to hang up,
And even now with his death just days away,
We still just couldn’t hang up,
Just couldn’t say,
Maps by Joanne Durham
needs a map of the world.
Hang it by the entrance.
Bless it as you might
a cross or a mezuzah
when you come and go.
Trace your finger across continents
not your own.
Say names of countries whose sounds
tickle your throat and move your lips
differently from your own language.
Be curious about who lives there,
sharing seas and stars.
Hope to meet them,
all calling this planet
Sounds of Early Summer by Nelson Wattie
In the tree
outside my window
birds were singing
The sunshine sang
in broader tones,
like a canopious
Suddenly a siren
called two streets away:
suffered something wrong
or else, more simply,
The whisper of the tree
as wind invaded it
surrounded and restrained
the birds’ ambitious tunes.
John Allison lives in Heathcote Valley near Christchurch His fifth collection, A Place To Return To, was published in August 2019. A chapbook of new poems, Near Distance, appeared at the end of last October, also out of Cold Hub Press.
Joanne Durham is a retired educator living on the coast of North Carolina, USA. With the ocean as her backyard, there’s always a poem waiting for her to find. She was a 2021 finalist for the North Carolina Poetry Society’s Poet Laureate Award. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies including Flying South, Pinesong, Poetry in Plain Sight, and Your Daily Poem, as well as national teaching journals. https://www.joannedurham.com/
Sia Figiel´s poetry and novels have been translated to German, French, Catalan, Danish and Spanish. She is currently translating Robert Louis Stevenson´s novella ´The Beach Of Falesa’ to Samoan. Sia´s first novel, where we once belonged, was the winner of the 1997 Commonwealth Writers Prize Best First Book for the South East-Asia/South Pacific region. Other notable works include The Girl in The Moon Circle, They Who Do Not Grieve, To A Young Artist in Contemplation, TERENESIA amplified poetry with the poet and scholar Dr. Teresia Teaiwa and Freelove, a novel. She is grateful to the poet Vaughan Rapatahana for alerting her to this site. Kia kaha.
Don McIver is a six-time member of the ABQ slam team, the host/producer of KUNM’s Afternoon Freeform, and editor of A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene. He’s a teacher and administrator at Central New Mexico Community College.
Nelson Wattie was born in Napier, where he attended school before tertiary studies in Auckland, Wellington, Vienna, Cologne and Wuppertal. After a short career as an opera and concert singer, he taught at universities in Riyadh, Cologne, Frankfurt and Mannheim. For the past thirty years he has been freelancing as a translator and writer in Wellington.