Tuesday, December 15, 2015

And I know now what I didn't know then by the Tuesday Poets

now you are privy to
a thousand thousand things.        Jennifer Compton

The geology of the region, the path rain takes under
the earth, the black areas of nitrate.        Sarah Jane Barnett

There are places yet to find
where the teeth of ancestors
still speak to us from the forest floor –       Kathleen Jones

please do not dance
with the statues.       Helen Lowe

I wonder what times I will choose to rescue
from a land built out of longing.       Andrew M. Bell

The Canterbury Provincial Building's Cat
does not exist
but I have named him Moorhouse.       Helen McKinlay

Enough. Take your feathers
dead or alive and flutter into oblivion.       T Clear

He went south with the housing market
to a cottage facing the sea        Tim Jones

which is not to say
that some feasts don't need ruining.      P S Cottier

Goodbye takes the form of a blessing.
My family press tika on our foreheads
rupees into my palm.        Saradha Kiorala

But somehow the gift was given
somehow we made it work.      Harvey Molloy

It was dark and we were nearing the end of our chat, and you
said to me, I bet there are fresh flowers lying in your backseat.        Bel Hawkins

You walked home from the diary
the loaf still warm
cradled in your arms       Catherine Fitchett

and I now know
what I didn't know then,
that the things we despise
when young can in fact be beautiful.      Kay McKenzie-Cooke

The lights threaded
their sparrow eyes across the
black sky.       Leah McMenamin

Everybody in the room
is full of bonhomie.       Fifi Colston

"No hea koe? No hea koe? No hea?"
"Where are you from? Where are you from? From where?"       Jeffrey Paparoa Holman 

A Temporary Monument.       Bernadette Keating 

A tuba and a man strolling through
the grass, a pretzel of flesh and brass.       Bryan Walpert

Like birds, blue and brown can soar and glide.
They can spin like star motes
or flatten, like feathers in a storm.      Susan T Landry

The slow delicious thaw
of an expected frost.        Pamela Gordon

My yoga teacher says 'You are a baby, you are a flower,
you are stirring a giant pot.'       Helen Lehndorf

yes       Orchid Tierney

the Magritte painting of a woman on horseback
shimmering in and behind tree trunks.       Melissa Shook

I ask you, waka, ark, high altar
Above the sea, your next destination?       Richard Sullivan

I lick my lips
and lean with

an affectation of slothfulness.       Alicia Ponder

You left Lesotho the year of your eighteen years
and we closed like clams. Grass grew a beard
on you.        Rethabile Masilo

You are not an old man and he is not a marlin but he is mighty just the same and you are
awed by his beauty.       Michelle Elvy

A small old woman
knitting the whole tale
on needles of bone.       Helen Rickerby

Measuring how well      a person will rebound
after being dropped on      is still being worked on.       Keith Westwater

Alice swallows several live
goldfish. They look remarkably like tinned mandarin segments.
In syrup.       Janis Freegard

You spy
the feet that twist beneath him,
thick as the roots that anchor an oak.       Eileen Moeller

Why did the day break before it began?
The dream still fermenting, the sudden rain?       Catherine Bateson

Just as soon,
behind us rose an amber moon,
which cast sufficient light, a golden
barley smear of light –       Zireaux                                            

my astonished belly
has lately become
a fishbowl
and you, little fish.       Renee Liang

I see a courtyard there and a lemon
tree whose unbound feet turn stones
to moss,       Claire Beynon

an asterisk of a cloud dissolving
in the time it takes to walk to the compost bin.       Mary McCallum

The birds mostly flew too high to identify, but there
were swallows and larks.        Belinder Hollyer

Gun-metal and the iron of blood was on her lips /
all morning, as the sun refused its trembling ascent.       Elizabeth Welsh

Take (_____ Back Words) ~ Tender
Tender (_____ Hearted) ~ Thread       Mariana Isara

How wings grow slick
and open for that years-long
maiden flight no parent can impart.      Penelope Todd

The notes of Jerusalem
are bold as a bell
they rise to the vault of the ceiling.      Pamela Morrison

It does not wait
for the funeral tent

nor see the lightness of green
turn to earth-brown black.      S L Corsua

There is no difference between the tree and the shadow of the tree.
There is no space between light and the wave coming shoreward.       Miriam Levine

Maud shall have
a glimmergowk to hoot her elegy     shall nither there until the mawks

liquify her skin.       Melissa Green 

Who'll find me
now she's gone –
knees by ears tight
breathing all of me.       Helen Heath

The jaunt
through the asphalt world did have its moments,

exotic brilliances & conspiracy corridors. But
finally, feet, recognising the opportunity while
the mind's woolgathering, swing over & out.       Harvey McQueen

Today we are drawing a circle around five years of Tuesday Poem. This does not, however, mean 'The End'. Something almost always follows a full stop.

It has been a buzz tracking back through our archives – five years of weekly poems, our own and others – thousands of poems in all. Tuesday Poem has sustained a consistently high level of commitment, enthusiasm, originality and dazzle. We are 46 poets past and present – a truly global collective – coming from a range of far-flung islands and continents: New Zealand, the US, UK, Australia, Italy, Lesotho and France. One of our members is waterborne and is, together with her family, poetically sailing the seven seas.

The collaborative poem we are posting today is made up of lines we selected from all our poets over the years – from their poems posted as part of Tuesday Poem and linked in the sidebar – with some consistency applied to punctuation to enable the poem to work as a whole. To find the poems the lines have come from, simply cut and paste the quote in the Tuesday Poem search box.

In February 2014, as TP's founders and curators, we agreed to an interview with a man named Angel, editor of a Spanish literary journal, El Pais. One of his questions was to do with the motivation behind the Tuesday Poem initiative. "Why", he asked "do you offer it 'for free'?" It was interesting to revisit what went to press -

"Tuesday Poem's poetry is offered 'for free' because we believe in community and in the idea of a gift economy in which our poets' words facilitate relationship and connection and are a voice for a diverse group people. Poetry is a way to build bridges and celebrate our common humanity."  Claire


"People are still touched by poetry and search for it for this reason. There is something sustaining there. Something we need. People need poetry for other reasons too - for personal reasons: consolation, etc - the compressed language and short controlled lines paradoxically restraining and releasing feeling. Oh, and there's more - I do think poetry goes to the heart of what it is to be human, which is based on the deep need we have for language and rhythm and music. Something beyond the basic physical needs. Something that you would call spiritual, or perhaps 'being open to wonder'."   Mary

It has been a privilege and very great joy being in this poetry boat with you all. Warmest gratitude to all our poets and our readers near and far. T. S. Eliot wrote 'We shall not cease from our exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time'. Which takes us back to the opening lines of our collaborative poem –

      now you are privy to
      a thousand thousand things.    Jennifer Compton

People and poetry are integral and essential to our lives. Tuesday Poem has grown to become an extensive and valuable archive of international poetry, based in New Zealand and with contributions from people around the world. We acknowledge all contributors, especially the hardworking Tuesday Poets who not only posted on their blogs, but stepped in to manage the Tuesday Poem site at different times.

We will stay open indefinitely for visitors. Search to your heart's content, keep in touch and come back often …


Claire and Mary, on behalf of the Tuesday Poets.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Morte D’Arthur (Partial) by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

So all day long the noise of battle roll’d
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur’s table, man by man,
Had fallen in Lyonnesse about their Lord,
King Arthur: then, because his wound was deep,
The bold Sir Bedivere uplifted him,
Sir Bedivere, the last of all his knights,
And bore him to a chapel nigh the field,
A broken chancel with a broken cross,
That stood on a dark strait of barren land.
On one side lay the ocean, and on one
Lay a great water, and the moon was full.

And slowly answer’d Arthur from the barge:
“The old order changeth, yielding place to new,
And God fulfils Himself in many ways,
Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.
Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?
I have lived my life, and that which I have done
May He within Himself make pure! but thou,
If thou shouldst never see my face again,
Pray for my soul. More things are wrought by prayer
Than this world dreams of. Wherefore, let thy voice
Rise like a fountain for me night and day.
For what are men better than sheep or goats
That nourish a blind life within the brain,
If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer
Both for themselves and those who call them friend?
For so the whole round earth is every way
Bound by gold chains about the feet of God.
But now farewell. I am going a long way
With these thou seëst—if indeed I go—
(For all my mind is clouded with a doubt)
To the island-valley of Avilion;
Where falls not hail, or rain, or any snow,
Nor ever wind blows loudly; but it lies
Deep-meadow’d, happy, fair with orchard-lawns
And bowery hollows crown’d with summer sea,
Where I will heal me of my grievous wound.”
So said he, and the barge with oar and sail
Moved from the brink, like some full-breasted swan
That, fluting a wild carol ere her death,
Ruffles her pure cold plume, and takes the flood
With swarthy webs. Long stood Sir Bedivere
Revolving many memories, till the hull
Look’d one black dot against the verge of dawn,
And on the mere the wailing died away.
by Alfred Lord, Tennyson, 1809-1892
Editor: Helen Lowe 

The Morte D’Arthur, or Death Of Arthur, is probably the most well known in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, which draws on Sir Thomas Malory’s medieval work of the same name (Le Morte D’Arthur) as well as the Celtic Mabinogion. Because it was the first written of the Idylls poems and the last in chronological sequence, I have included the first, and also the final two stanzas today.

The  Morte D’Arthur is one of a long tradition of epic poems, from Homer’s Iliad, through the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf and Middle English Sir Gawain & The Green Knight to later works such as Milton's Paradise Lost.  Like both Sir Gawain & The Green Knight, and Malory's earlier work, Tennyson's Morte D’Arthur draws on the Arthurian legend, which was also known as  ‘The Matter Of Britain’ in the Middle Ages because of it’s subject matter.

Like its predecessors, Tennyson’s poem demonstrates the enduring influence of these ancient stories and the way in which they continue to ‘speak’ to us afresh in each new generation.  In Tennyson’s case the medium was poetry,  but I believe the influence is clearly discernible in contemporary literature, including Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings, Mary Stewart's The Crystal Cave, TH White's The Once and Future King, and Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising. As both a poet and and fantasy novelist I am honoured to be part of so grand a tradition.

As for the poem  last mentioned but very far from least  I feel that in terms of poetic power and language, it really speaks for itself.  To read an illuminated version of the poem from 1912, click on: Morte D’Arthur~ Helen Lowe

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892, is one of the most well-known and enduring of the Victorian poets, his considerable body of work distinguished by an outstanding lyric gift for sound and cadence. He was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland throughout much of his long and distinguished poetic career.

Today's editor, Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet and interviewer whose work has been published, broadcast and anthologized in New Zealand and internationally. Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise in 2008, and her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen's fourth novel, Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is forthcoming in January 2016. She posts regularly on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog and is also active on Twitter: @helenl0we

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Ring of Fire by Mary Eliza Crane

At the wane of a long season
of heat filled yellow sky,
fire consumes mountain forests
infested, decimated by bark beetles
feasting in their own changing world.
I swim deliciously in a warmer river
without current, cringing at banks
so barren I could walk across.
The water is too hot for salmon
to return upstream and spawn.

Earth degrades to dirt, crumbles in my hand.

Early spring bloomed in a riot
of fragrant hawthorn flower,
unfamiliar nesting songbirds,
rare sun, and blueberries found
and eaten before breakfast,
while deer were still bedded
down with stumbling fawns;
when drought was only a word
to justify smug satisfaction towards
the bigger state further south.

I want to have one last love affair
with the earth before we both die,
too decrepit and worn to fall
into deep passion and wet ecstasy
in one another's arms.
Give me time, I'm asking for time.
Give me soft moss, give me
great chasms of awe.
Sweep me off a windy mountain
plunge me into watery depths,
over and over again.

I remain insatiable.

I stand feebly against the apocalypse
with pickled beets and heirloom beans,
broccoli, lettuce and parsnip seed,
four cords of seasoned maple for the winter.
I stand only as tall as I dare against the machine.

Dread of the San Andreas Fault
dropping a chunk of California coast
into the sea is an old twentieth century anxiety.
Doomsday now resides in the Cascadian Subduction Zone
admiring the view, while the Juan De Fuca Plate
slides under the North American continent.

I don't want to grow old together
in futile observation of aches and pains
and broken ecosystems, losing my teeth
and my breath, while my beloved Earth
sheds species, withered and dry,
raging against the dying of the light.

I'd rather go out in one catastrophic orgasm,
landslide crashing down behind me,
vast tsunami wall rising up in front.
Great Maw, Ring of Fire, swallow me inside,
no burning keening carcass left to find.

© Mary Eliza Crane
Published with the permission of the author.

Last year, while in conversation with Mary Eliza Crane, the talk rambled over to climate change and our sense of helplessness in the face of impending doom. Mary said, "I don't know what to do with this. I love this planet." Her words stuck with me all our long hot summer, a repeating loop that began a simmering in my subconscious, a poem which refused to rise to the surface. So when I heard her read "Ring of Fire" at a Seattle open mic in September, my breath caught for just a moment— there it was, the poem I'd longed for! (And even better, I didn't have to do any of the work!)

I was immediately struck with its passion, precision, keen attention to detail and the pace at which it navigates to its subject's demise. No prissy, self-important preciousness here. This is a poem — and a poet — fearless in its assertions. A sacred anthem, a final love song to the earth.


Mary Eliza Crane is a native of New England who began writing poetry at age fourteen. She migrated to the Pacific Northwest three decades ago and settled into the Cascade foothills east of Puget Sound. Deeply and passionately in love with the natural world and rural culture, Mary's voice lives in the understory and fog of the Snoqualmie River, her poetry a fusion of the natural, personal, and political world. A regular feature at poetry venues throughout the Puget Sound region, she has read her poetry from Woodstock to LA, including opening for Graham Nash at a benefit concert in 2012.  Mary has two volumes of poetry What I Can Hold In My Hands (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2009) and At First Light (Gazoobi Tales Publishing, 2011). Her work has also appeared in Raven Chronicles, The Cartier Street Review, Quill and Parchment, The Far Field, and several anthologies, including Cradle Songs: An Anthology of Poetry on Motherhood by Quill and Parchment Press which won the 2013 International Book award for Best Poetry Anthology. Mary's third volume of poetry will be published by Moon Path Press in 2016.

This week's editor, T. Clear, has lived her life in the shadow of the Cascade Mountains, never more than a mile from water, under the brooding, misting skies of the Pacific Northwest. She is a founder of Floating Bridge Press, Easy Speak Seattle, and her work has appeared widely. Her poem "Repository of the Lost", in the Spring 2015 issue of Crab Creek Review, was nominated for Independent Best American Poetry Anthology.

Please check out more Tuesday Poems on our blogroll on the left-hand sidebar.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Ngawhatu by Maggie Rainey-Smith

On the Richmond bus to Nelson passing Polstead Road
you only had to say it, and everyone knew, unspoken
we almost dared not look, it stirred such potent thoughts
caused laughter, mocking, and a deeply seated superstition
innuendo out the window, the road that leads to there
To where? You ask?  But we all knew, we knew for sure

that’s where the loonies go and you’ll go there for sure
we’d tell each other, laughing, pointing, up that road
if you’re not careful, shit a brick, you’ll end up there
What’s up there?  But no one speaks, it’s all unspoken
get off the grass and up your arse with superstition
hoodackie, thingummybob, bite your bum thoughts

no cock crowed thrice as I denied , but in my thoughts
were you and him but tightly kept, ashamed for sure
of knowing what was up that road, alas not superstition
the halfway mark en route, bus stop Polstead Road
get off the grass, half pie inside I laughed, my shame unspoken
the loony bin we shouted up the boohai pointing there.

I daren’t admit in public on the bus that I’d been there
in Aunty’s Morris Minor up that road;  my thoughts
I kept inside, our weekend visits left unspoken
the loony bin they shouted but none of them so sure
not the way that I was, not exactly what was up that road
yes  I knew just how to thwart suspicion, superstition

Scottish names they gave the villas, avoiding superstition
Stirling at the top was called the lock-up, dangerous to be there
but more benign was Kinross halfway up a landscaped road
among ornamental conifers, the bowling lawn, some say their thoughts
still haunt the valley, patients weaving baskets, no one’s sure
just what they felt besides the shock of ECT, most of it unspoken

the loony bin, we shouted, yet kept the worst unspoken
for if we named or claimed this thing we fed our superstition
the potential that was lurking at this intersection meant for sure
a powerful sense of self protection; we were never going there
up Polstead Road, we mocked and scoffed … but in my thoughts
I knew the way by heart, each bend, and every valley of that road

nga’s not superstitious and whatu, is possibly an eye, or hailstone
(yes, I get that for sure) yet up that road my thoughts still go when
ngawhatu meant loony and both of you … but now it’s not unspoken.

© Maggie Rainey-Smith
Featured on The Tuesday Poem Hub with permission.

Editor: Jennifer Compton

I am more or less just back in Australia from an excellent trip to Wellington to take in the Poetry Conference and Litcrawl. Heavens, what a weekend. Now Maggie is someone I know, I always seem to bump into her when I am in town, she's quite a feature of my visits, so I wasn't a bit surprised to be rubbing shoulders with her. And then she stood up at the conference and hit us with this poem. What a stunner. I was very much taken with it. I loved the way Maggie used the old school vernacular, and the old school mindset. And of course, the poem meant just that little bit more to me because my husband's mother was the deputy matron of Ngawhatu for quite a long time. My husband spent his school holidays in her cottage on the grounds. (I remember thinking when I met him that we might have a chance because he was so cool about being around mad people.) Thanks Maggie, for this excellent piece of work, and for the dredging up of something that must be almost forgotten. AND I am thinking of you tonight, as your new book, Daughters Of Messene (Mākaro Press), is being launched in Wellington. More power to your writing elbow! 

Maggie Rainey-Smith is a novelist, poet, short story writer, essayist and book reviewer. She approaches her subject matter with fresh insight, extending the genre of women’s fiction in particular. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature as well as several other writing-based qualifications. Her first novel About Turns is set in Wellington and explores issues of class and relationships. Her second novel Turbulence is also published by Random House. Her third novel, Daughters of Messene, is published by Mākaro Press.

Maggie's blog -

Today's editor, Jennifer Compton, lives in Melbourne. Her poem, 'Now You Shall Know', won the Newcastle Poetry Prize in 2013, and the collection of the same name was published this year in Australia, while her verse novella, Mr Clean and The Junkie  was published in New Zealand as part of the Hoopla series 2015 (Mākaro Press). 

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by the other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Abdullah, The Servant of God – by Wade Bishop

He was not a handsome man
not even in possession of a face that was easy to look into
it was journey twisted and wrinkled like a baby at birth
..............only his never smoothed
the folds filled with hopes and wonders, longing and dreams
lost in the creases
describing loyal lines in a resume of hard work

He laboured with energetic toil for the joy and happiness of strangers
… strangers like me that turned up at the hotel cairo
a mis-named rooftop respite from the surging life-affirming chaos that once was aleppo.

when you spoke with Him, He fixed you with a present, earnest eye
searching your face and body for the words that filled the spaces
of those He didn’t know
..............it was His right eye
because His left eye stared always left
and heavenward to some other place.

His name was Abdullah; Abdullah Abdullah
“The Servant of God The Servant of God”
His parents had made doubly sure that this should be so
and Abdullah Abdullah was true to His name
for He chose to open His heart, mind and smile wide
to those who came in to His hotel
in His city, in His beloved country
and welcome them as family

His country was full of Abdullahs – and Abdullah Abdullahs
both literally and figuratively

i met most of them on a bus along the euphrates to palmyra
… late i hadn’t paid the fare
i stepped on,
all places taken and the aisle long filled with people and piles of boxes of goods
eight Abdullahs stood to offer me their seats
..............and no-one would sit till i honoured one of them as their guest
shabbily dressed as i was compared to them

the “welcome to syria’s” like rain to desert sands
..............sso i sat as it rained

..............an Abdullah paid for my ticket
and five more passed it back to me so i could stay seated
then when we stopped for a rest yet another pressed food to my hand
to ensure i’d eaten
and still another a cold cold coke …
because the sun was beating hard on our heads ...
..............they could tell the desert sweats were new to me

then when my destination became known
somehow it flowed like the euphrates to the ear of Abdullah the bus driver
He made sure i was first out the door;
bypassing the bus station as irrelevant for the history-made edge of palmyra
to the steps of my hotel,
a short walk to the great temple of baal
.............. – now gone.

just as all these Abdullahs may now also be gone.

They may all be dead now.

and if They are all dead now – and They were right about God
and i am not 
.............. then Allah will be smiling upon Them
for They were true to His Word: to welcome strangers as brothers until they proved otherwise.

in His eyes: Ambassadors of their Faith and of simple – selfless – human kindness
He will bless Them with His hand upon Their heads hung low
as Their tears flow for Their sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers – daughters & sons

... who still run ...

.........................who still run ...

who run
from the missiles,
the bombs
and the guns

.............. who still run with the hope that we too will welcome them
as some of us were once welcomed
by their now dead fathers and brothers
...................and now dead sons.


© Wade Bishop

Reproduced on The Tuesday Poem with permission.

Editor: Helen Lowe 

For this week's feature, I asked Wade to share the background to his poem, Abdullah, The Servant of God, and he kindly provided the following:

"Syria was never on my "must see" list when I was traveling, but just happened to be "on the way" when I planned an overland trip from Turkey to Egypt in 1997. It was one of those rare quiet periods in the Middle East (shattered by the murder of 70 odd Scandinavian tourists at the Mortuary Temple of Hatshepsut in Egypt at the end of it, by a jihadist group based in Middle Egypt). Syria has always been sold as the "hotbed of terrorism", the home of "tea towel wearing extremists" ... I wasn't sure what to expect.

What I did find was a country more welcoming, friendly and generous than any of the 40 or so I have been fortunate to visit. This poem is based upon the absolute truth of my bus ride from Aleppo to Palmyra, which epitomised my experience there ... I have therefore found myself in tears whenever I hear the "news" about what is happening there right now. In this poem I give some small voice to the story that is rarely told of the real people who live there."

– Wade Bishop

Editor's Commentary:
I have always believed that it is not enough for poetry to be technically accomplished, it must also have "heart." Part of what it means to have "heart", in my lexicon, is that the poem will in some way illuminate an aspect of the human condition, whether at the personal or societal level. And if the art of poetry is to remain relevant, then we must have poets, and poems, that address themselves directly to the issues of the day – not in the manner of a pamphlet or a letter to the editor, but as powerful and compelling poetry. 

When I first heard Wade read Abdullah, The Servant of God at the Canterbury Poets' Collective* several weeks ago, I was struck by the extent to which the poem not only addressed a real and pressing international issue, but did so out of direct experience. The authenticity of that experience speaks from every line of the poem, from the first introduction of Abdullah, who is "not a handsome man" to the wonderful account of the bus ride from Aleppo to Palmyra where the stranger is treated as an honoured guest.

From the past, we come forward to the stark present and the poem's painful but also profound conclusion. A powerful poem, I thought, listening to it for the first time, and one that it is important to share – an opinion that did not alter when I read the poem on the page. So I asked Wade if I could feature it on The Tuesday Poem today and was delighted when he agreed.

Since then, we have been overtaken by the events of the weekend in Paris, and the bombs of the previous week in Beirut. To be honest, for a moment I wondered if this was the best time to feature Abdullah, Servant of God. Only to almost immediately realise that if I believed in the poem, in its authenticity and honesty, then there could be no better time to publish it.

In my view, Abdullah, Servant of God speaks to the heart of the times. I hope it also does the work of poetry and speaks to our hearts today. – Helen Lowe

* Abdullah, Servant of God was an Open Mic winner in the Canterbury Poets' Spring Season, which concludes tomorrow, Wednesday 18 November.

Wade Bishop: Born too late to see the Moon Landing for himself at the time, Wade made up for it by staying up too late and getting up too early until at last he was able to watch the Space Shuttle Colombia take off for the first time ever! ... And even now he is continually in awe of the vastness of space and our very small lonely place in it  –  and it is in this that he finds perspective. Wade has travelled a great deal, worked in advertising, radio, the internet, repairing earthquake damaged homes  – but returned to writing poetry and prose more seriously in the last year and is working towards his first "collection". Wade has a website for his visual and written musings at www.iammenotyou.com (Not all musings reflect the author's actual points of view though!)

Today's editor, Helen Lowe, is a novelist, poet and interviewer whose work has been published, broadcast and anthologized in New Zealand and internationally. Her first novel, Thornspell, was published to critical praise in 2008, and her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Helen's fourth novel, Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night Series, Book Three) is forthcoming in January 2016. She posts regularly on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog and is also active on Twitter: @helenl0we

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by the other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

That girl, by Heidi North-Bailey

She rides side-saddle
into her own cliché
her heart is pumping smoke
boots heavy with things unsaid
sunset flecked with mud

she’s breathing fire
flames curl from her lips
slow-dancing lovers
with cigarette smiles

slink and hips
turn on the clock 

and still

after all this time
after so many battered
leather jackets
crumpled sleeps
on strangers’ couches

cups of tea
from chipped mugs
frosty morning mouths

exits in the blue-grey dawn
thumb out
a hook to hang
that burnt ribbon of highway

she knows
she knows
she knows

she will never
be that girl
who knows the names
of roses

(Published with the permission of the poet and the publisher)

I met up again with Heidi North-Bailey only a few months ago, when Makaro Press suggested launching Heidi's first collection, Possibility of flight, in tandem with a new collection of my own (see Some place else). Heidi and I first met in 2003 when we were in a writing class together at Victoria University. The class was tutored by Dinah Hawken, who has kindly agreed to launch both our collections during the New Zealand Poetry Society's conference on Sunday 15 November. Since our first meeting, Heidi and I have bumped into one another a few times, but not recently. I think the reasons why not are revealed in the poems in Possibility of flight.

According to the publisher, Possibility of flight "is a thoughtful and intimate first collection that ends unexpectedly with fireworks." I think it is also a collection about distance and closeness, of connections and re-connections, of friendship and family, love and loss, reflection and growing.

The poem
That girl pithily catches a moment of self-awareness from someone who is constantly edgy, who thumbs her nose at the careful and conventional path.

Heidi describes the poem as being 'inspired by a conversation with a fellow poet friend who said she'd finally come to the acceptance that she was never going to be the sort of girl who settled down into life and knew the names of roses. It struck me as a wonderful metaphor for those who are running headlong through life searching out adventures, rather than the safety of domestic bliss'.

I agree with Heidi's assessment of the roses metaphor and am also impressed by her own use of metaphor in the poem - 'she rides side-saddle/into her cliché', 'boots heavy with things unsaid', and 'sunset flecked with mud'. The poem skillfully uses language to sketch someone you can see leaping off the page.

The poet

Heidi writes poems, short stories and screenplays, and was recently accepted into a University of Iowa distance writing programme. She won first place in the Irish Feile Filiochta International Poetry Competition in 2007 with her poem ‘The Women’ and has won awards for her short stories.
Her work has appeared in New Zealand and international journals including Poetry NZ, Takahē and the 4th Floor Literary Journal. When not being kept busy with her one-year-old, she squirrels away time to write.

The book

Possibility of flight has just been released and will soon be able to be purchased at independent bookstores, and online at Makaro Press.

The Editor
This week's editor, Keith Westwater, lives in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. His debut collection, Tongues of Ash (IP, 2011), was awarded 'Best First Book' in the publisher's IP Picks competition. His latest collection, Felt intensity, has also just been released.

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Like a Reed Boat by William S. Rea

Like a reed boat that slipped its mooring
Set drifting on the current
Or the heaping up of ripened grain
In the time of harvest
He was farewelled
Gone, in the fullness of his time
But that final slipping away
Still came like something unexpected
Like an empty pier or a barren field
Which once brimmed with purpose
Bustled with life and vigour
Now there was silence
Except the quiet voice of the wind
We embraced to speak our pain
And breathe sweetness back into our lives

I have been a subscriber to Valley Micropress which has been lovingly edited by Tony Chad, poet, songwriter and musician, since its inception with its first issue covering November and December 1997.

I couldn't tell you how long William S. Rea has been a subscriber and contributor, but he has also been a stalwart for many years. I always read William's poems in the Valley Micropress because they tend to be lyrical and, sometimes, deceptively simple while packing a hefty imagistic punch. The fact that he also hails from Christchurch doesn't influence my decision at all, but, like all Christchurch poets, he has a few "earthquake poems" under his belt.

In a recent issue of Valley Micropress, William published the poem featured above. I thought it was a little gem and I loved it and I asked him if I could feature it on the Tuesday Poem website.

William was very modest when I asked him for a short bio to accompany this post so I'll leave you to read his bio in William's own words:

"About my writing, well, what can I say? I have been trying for rather more years than I care to remember. Mostly, I write for my own interest and enjoyment, but, occasionally, I get something I think is worth sending out to the rest of the world. Mostly editors disagree with me on that point. I've had more success with poetry than any other form of writing, having reached my first 100 poems published around the middle of last year. I have a particular interest in narrative poetry, poems which tell a story and sometimes run to thousands of verses, but so far none of those have ever passed an editor's watchful gaze and made it beyond a very tiny circle of readers."

In addition to today's feature be sure to check out the wonderful poems featured by other Tuesday Poets, using our blog roll to the left of this posting.