Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Love Poem in Allelujah

Here are the things I would hand you –

the smell of roses and something peppery.
the small warmth of sweat.

keys that interrupt                  still 
   you used to touch tentatively
                   child gentle and wild.

Saying you are beautiful is not the whole truth.
You are beautiful and ugly.

teenagers climb            wide
on a trunk of pohutukawa

I am drinking mango and ginger tea.

Your hair is hay/ a mane/ a serpent
when we fuck it tangles down like jungle vines.
It is sparrow brown,
Rapunzel, it is a nest.

at the next table              a water jug 
a slice of orange is a goldfish
a girl that says           ‘I have no idea what I am doing’.

Dance hall palm trees wash against dirty boys in checkered shirts,
Cigarettes, pens, ginger beer
the plasterwork elegant and dated
you and she are oddly athenian.

Saying I am beautiful is not the whole truth.
You haven’t seen the ugly in me yet.

A sparrow chirps slow love to late afternoon light.

I would hand you
     blue hydrangea in a paint jar
   on a window sill.
You would hand me your quiet.
salty hours rising between us like gospel.

(Shared with permission, previously published in Blackmail Press 34.)

I first came across Tulia Thompson when she sent in an expression of interest for a conference I was organising about biographical poetry, and so I Googled her, and found her wonderful and intelligent blog: https://tuliathompson.wordpress.com/. At the conference she organised and chaired a panel of three talented Pacific poets: Karlo Mila, Teresia Teaiwa and Leilani Tamu, which was one of my highlights. Tulia is a poet herself, among other things, and I wanted to share one of her poems here.

For me, a decent love poem needs to have some of the complexity, some of the salt of real love for it to be believable to me. That's what attracts me about this poem - it's a love poem, it's full of joy and sensuality, but it's not simple. Love isn't simple. It's roses and pepper, it's beautiful and ugly, it's a sparrow's song and silence.

Another thing I love about this poem is the specificity of the details; not just the trunk of a tree, but a pohutukawa tree, the blue hydrangea in a paint jar.

But most of all I love the beautiful tension it creates between these two people, the narrator and the beloved, like a spring or a tug, like the jungle vines of the beloved's hair.


Tulia in a Fijian rainforest
Tulia Thompson, is of Fijian, Tongan and Pakeha descent. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Auckland. She is published in Niu Voices: Contemporary Pacific Fiction 1, Blackmail Press and Overland (forthcoming). Her young adult novel Josefa and the Vu was published by Huia in 2007. She blogs about social justice at www.tuliathompson.wordpress.com.

This week's poem was selected by Helen Rickerby, a poet and publisher from Wellington. She has published four collections of poetry – her most recent, Cinema, was published by Mākaro Press in 2014. She runs Seraph Press, a boutique publishing company with a growing reputation for publishing high-quality poetry books, and she is co-managing editor of JAAM literary journal.

And check out the other Tuesday Poems in the side-bar to the left.


the corner guy said...

Like the way the words are splattered and yet strung together. Here's a little bit of me trying my hand at poetry: http://memorytrain.blogspot.co.nz/

Keen Mustard said...

"the small warmth of sweat."