Love in the Time of COVID

A Chronicle of a Pandemic

Poetry

A Recital of Poems – Diane Brown, Robert Beveridge, Pris Campbell, Iona Winter & Vaughan Rapatahana

Owning It by Diane Brown

i

Seagulls squawk their claim
over this unfamiliar patch of coast
oystercatchers utter small cries
of alarm at our invasion.

Sandflies, usually absent from the beach
we like to think of as ours, are here
and happy to extract my sweet blood.
I squash them flat, no hesitation.

Joy puts her nose into my business
reading the novel of my trousers,
news of the dog I’ve left at home.
I move my feet disturb

something rotten and slimy underneath,
the stink tempered by sea air.
The ocean is flat calm but liable to boil up
any moment. The sky is threatening.

Below us the Akatore fault line
active but maverick seismologists say
meaning there’s no telling
when it might rupture.

ii

There’s nothing blocking the way
to the horizon but even if I were
to set sail I would not reach
my son, landlocked in China.

He says I’m not bright enough
to understand his research
calculating the amount of water
embedded in the earth’s mantle

though I’m the one who taught him
to count, he could never countenance
the existence of the unknowable.
He has another language now

and I cannot tell him
he has set himself an impossible task
has forgotten the way the sea
always broke down his sandcastles

how he couldn’t count
which way the tide might flow.
How we cannot see
what is beneath us or before us.

 

 

Two poems by Robert Beveridge

The Life Eternal

They only call the piano smoky
in places where you can fill your
lungs with atmosphere.

We can wait forever to learn
the secrets to human reproduction
but rest assured, bucko, it all
starts with a D minor 7th.

 

Preserves

It is never too early
to quarter the pears
then quarter again
add sugar and vanilla
and stir, stir, stir

if you lack pectin
two drops of heart’s
blood will thicken
the mixture, imbue
it with darkness, love

 

 

Second Base at the Monroe Drive-In by Pris Campbell

Paul Newman fills the screen,
that Mt Rushmore for beautiful faces.
His head is taller than I am.
His eyes are lakes.
I could climb onto his lips and live there.

He looks embarrassed clutching a chalice
in Roman robes, glances over the fin-tailed
chevys, makes his escape.

Bigger than life Paul is coming my way.
The car is a sauna.
It shakes in time to my heartbeat.

He sweeps me away from my friends
into the shadows behind the refreshment stand,
hands slipping beneath my blouse.
He unhooks my almost-bra,
covers my mouth with his,
tongue exploring new spaces
until I swoon.

Pier Angela stares blank-eyed
at Paul’s empty space on the screen.
The movie stops. Search lights flare.
He rearranges his robe, rushes back.

We never made it past second base, but
my smile overflows with secrets
and silver memories to replay each night
on my most treasured moments before sleep.

 

from the poet’s chapbook, Paul Newman Blues

out in limited copies in 2014

 

 

Book of the dead by Iona Winter

III         Sidpa ~ transmigration:

flocks of moonbirds called you home
to the infinite universe you’d longed for
and our ephemeral insignificance
became such a stark contrast
to this truly ātaahua thing

II          Chonyid ~ profound peace:

after fibromyalgia broke your bones
came a surreal acceptance
“I’m not afraid of dying anymore Mum.”
and when you left me
I witnessed a luminosity
that offered up an embrace
for your final inner breath

I           Chikhai ~ the moment of death:

strange states of consciousness
like between sleep and awake
this wairua-buzz
is our new tūrangawaewae
free from pain and overthinking
we can reverently reconnect
in a loving and undisturbed interchange

* Italicised words borrowed from media interviews Reuben did between 2012-2020. Three stages from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and as recorded for Reuben’s Totems album Bardo Thodol (2013)

A connecting kōrero: Reuben Winter (1994-2020) was a prolific musician whose music influenced and inspired many people. As designated band mum, Iona had the privilege of spending time with Reuben and his friends in the underground and all ages scene in New Zealand. Book of the dead was influenced by Reuben’s Totems album Bardo Thodol, and she borrowed words from some of his media interviews.

 

hā pīwakawaka / hey piwakawaka by Vaugahn Rapatahana

hā pīwakawaka

kei whea koe ināianei
taku hoa iti?

he manu ki he waha rōreka
he whaikōrero pēnei i he waiata,
te taima katoa

he aha tāu kōrero e hoa?
he aha te tikanga
o tēnei kōwetewete karawhiti?

kāore ahau he mōhio
nō te mea kua nunumi kē koe
ki tētahi atu he wāhi

kāore ahau he kite i tāu whatu kanapa
kāore ahau he rongo i tāu pūrākau roa,
kua ngaro koe ināianei
me kei te ngere ahau i a koe,

hā pīwakawaka
kei whea koe ināianei?

 

hey fantail

hey fantail

where are you now
my little friend?

a bird with a dulcet voice
an oratory like a song,
all the time

what is your story friend?
what is the meaning
of this one-sided conversation?

I do not know
because you have already disappeared
to another place

I cannot see your glistening eyes
I cannot hear your long tale,
you are lost now
& I am missing you

hey fantail
where are you now?

 

 

 

 

Robert Beveridge makes noise (xterminal.bandcamp.com) and writes poetry in Akron, Ohio (USA). Recent/upcoming appearances in Page and Spine, The Pointed Circle and Failed Haiku, among others.

 

Diane Brown is a novelist, memoirist and poet who runs her own creative writing school, Creative Writing Dunedin. Her publications include two collections of poetry – Before The Divorce We Go To Disneyland, and Learning to Lie Together; a novel, If The Tongue Fits, and verse novel, Eight Stages of Grace, a travel memoir, Liars and Lovers, a prose/poetic memoir, Here Comes Another Vital Moment and a poetic family memoir, Taking My Mother To The Opera. Her latest book is a long poetic narrative, Every Now and Then I Have Another Child, Otago University Press, 2020. In 2013 she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to writing and education. She lives in Dunedin with her husband, author Philip Temple. 

 

The poems of Pris Campbell have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. Nominated seven times for a Pushcart, her poetry has been published in eight collections from the Small Press, with a ninth out in March 2022. She also writes short forms and just this year took first place in the Marlene Mountain monoku contest and the Sanford Goldstein tanka competition.. A former Clinical Psychologist, sailor and bicyclist until sidelined by ME/CFS in 1990, she makes her home with her husband in the Greater West Palm Beach, Florida. 

 

Vaughan Rapatahana (Te Ātiawa) commutes between homes in Hong Kong, Philippines and Aotearoa New Zealand. He is widely published across several genre in both his main languages, te reo Māori and English, and his work has been translated into Bahasa Malaysia, Italian, French, Mandarin, Romanian and Spanish His eighth and ninth poetry collections have been published during the last six months, the ninth being mō taku tama (Kilmog Press, Ōtepoti, Aotearoa New Zealand, link as here.

 

Iona Winter’s hybrid work is widely published internationally, and she holds a Master of Creative Writing. The author of three collections, Gaps in the Light (2021), Te Hau Kāika (2019) and then the wind came (2018), Iona has recently completed her fourth, which addresses the complexities of being suicide bereaved.

 

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