Poems by our members

Enjoy our selection of poems written by our members and published in our quarterly magazine a fine line.

WRITE ON

The retired judge offers nothing
to appeal; from the injudicious
jaw no judgment drops;
no act affords any relief.
Direction-less minutes yawn
into the statutory afternoon
drowse: nothing to report.

The only record that is kept
plays over and over; the same
circling tunes haze like boysenberry
ripples licked repeatedly
off holiday ice-creams;
youthful tastes renewed like hits
heard fresh on the transistor.

Dust covers the untouched
volume, no-one needs to refer
to this anymore; pages develop
brown spots: how did that happen?
Let it burn: memories should be
interred, the past consumed: use
the light for poetic righting.

By John Adams (a fine line, April 2015)

I KNOW IT’S HARD FOR YOU, MY BABY

i.m. my teenage years

The time to hesitate is through –
girl, you’ll be a woman soon
Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
I’ve got Friday on my mind
I think we’re alone now
It’s all too beautiful
Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz?
I’ve just gotta get a message to you:
bend me shape me any way you want me
Don’t think I don’t wanna please you –
it’s a little bit me and it’s a little bit you
you gotta gimme some lovin’
I don’t know when I’ll be back again
Just what you want to be, you can be in the end
Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

By Laurice Gilbert (a fine line, April 2015)

BLEEDING HEARTS

An archetype war is tearing
us apart

The sun
in pure intensity
brings along a lionlike warrior

The sunset
kindness in the moon
healing and soothing
our open wounds
our bleeding hearts

The battlefield at night
landmark made out of scars
body made out of stars
filled with pain
yet bright in memory

A full cycle means death
Silence takes place
Stillness takes time

And Peace, the sunrise,
is to be

By Mariela Durnhofer Rubolino (a fine line, April 2015)

BOMBING BLACK HOLES

I imagine doing something
stupendous
like bombing black holes.

Bombing black holes
twelve billion times bigger
than
our sweet little Sun.

But then I remember
the dishes need washing
the potatoes need peeling,

who else but me.

Cecelia Fitzgerald

By Cecelia Fitzgerald (a fine line, April 2015)

HAIKU

yellow lupins stir
in a haze of tanker dust

By Judith Gunn (a fine line, April 2015)

SEEKING SELF

I am lost in the in-between
Like a bird in a stiff breeze,
Like a fly in a web,
Like a fish on a hook.
Where can I find my place
In this new high-tech world?

Do I Google Mr Know-all
Goggle, gape, gawk in wonder,
Garble gallantly on
in pursuit
of the unknown?

I am lost in the in-between,
The web of life,
The breeze of change,
The hook of knowledge

And its power.

By Debbie Williams (a fine line, February 2015)

UNTITLED

Her ancestors
have been hanging round humans
for eleven thousand years

she is wise
has watched technology come and go
holds down wires
when man builds squares
cutting off access
to ancient grazing land

She’s taught lambs
to hop through, walk in single file
on beaten earth tracks,

with the strongest ewe
bringing up the stragglers
watching their backs.

She organises shelter and shade
a nanny to mind lambs
while their mothers graze

finds the safest place
for the fold at night,
facing into the breeze.

On a warm day she dozes in the sun
content to chat to her daughters
and let the children play.

An old ewe knows the way home.

Cherry Hill

By Cherry Hill (a fine line, February 2015)

ALIVE

Three days old
the sun is shining
he dashes down the fence line

stops, shakes his head
bounds in the air
lands stiff-legged on the grass

does a little
look at me prance
but mum is dozing

he does it all again.

By Cherry Hill (a fine line, February 2015)

DECIDEDLY DELETED

I don’t mean to be hysterical
but there’s a body
of work being laid to rest
and no-one’s singing.

a jilted train screaming
has the closing of remarks,
a wife dressed like her father
leans on someone else’s daughter –
all under a joyless sky
begging for a fall-over-funny stand-up.

there’s more uncles than the earth can carry
watching this mound of pifling writing
lighting 10-ton spliffs
amid confusion –
they’ve lost his bio
and his cover letter is in sanskrit.
shit! taking the piss
from a hole in the ground.

By Kieth Nunes (a fine line, February 2015)

CREDIBLE POETRY

A heroic deed crafted in jade
the odyssey of an inland born
In the City of Asunción
where the sea can not reach

Credible poetry is her long lost mastery
It echoes the rigid stone, the steel metal
The journey does feel titanic, unbelievable
And crumbles in a soliloquy of a big-little ego

Salty water leap the air in silver fern woods
The oath to thy Queen spirals a dormant knight
“Great legends are the mothers of Nations” says Yeats
I agree and indulge in Maori Mythology

A couple nature, the North and the South Islands
The heart and the duty affairs
To host a Nation in your soul
To make it your own

By Mariela Durnhofer Rubolino (a fine line, February 2015)

TRACING A FINE LINE (TRIOLET)

Those mails are sometimes aberrant
As you and I know very well.
They let enclosures gallivant.
Those mails are sometimes aberrant.
You now may need a search warrant,
Unless you have a magic spell.
Those mails are sometimes aberrant
As you and I know very well.

By Valeria Barouch (a fine line, December 2014)

LIGHT BREW

Amber light plays upon
This hoppy hue of ale
Of which I sup a sip
And ponder.
The darkness of your stoutheartedness
So dark, like your love of me
That is brewed within your
Barrel of a heart

By Joanne Kingston (a fine line, December 2014)

KINDER SCOURGE

You lousy parasitic
Mother of millions
Infester of many
Skin eater blood sucker
Scalp squatting hair clinging
Filthy creeping king of the crawling itch
I will eliminate you systematically
You obligate ecto-scavenger
Tenacious spitting feeder nymph
Covetous thief of sebaceous secretions
Destroyer of peace
There is no place for you
On my head or the heads of mine
My pleasure is to crack your bloodswelled body.
My blood and that of mine
Splat and crunch on white
So your corpse is but a smear
Brown red on bright white
You wet scab
You odious crab
You are nothing

By SJ Mannion (a fine line, December 2014)

THE REMARKABLES

Rippled muscular mountains
Decked in their coat of
Soil tussock trees
And skin of stone
The jewelled bones of the earth
Covered and lying easy now
Easy as a sleeping thug
And as ready to wake
Undulating curved sinuous
Dune like
Even the highest peaks
Soft edged
Blur into sky
Young too I think
As mountains go
Crouched on this land
Barely rooted
The gang of them roaming
This length of land
Utterly indifferent sons
I shiver and know myself to be
Ridiculously insubstantial
A mere fleeting creature
There is also comfort in this

The light changes
Bathes them in the bright
Of a low winter sun
Furiously gilded now
Brings to mind
Stollen on a table
Snow iced and glazed
A deep rich brown
Studded with scrub
A beckoning scene
Inviting as Christmas
And as false as safety
We will be what we are
We bear witness and pass

By SJ Mannion (a fine line, December 2014)

A DIVINE CUDICIO TIDE AND COMEDY

Julia’s first step
Wrapped melancholia
adorns the air
fresh, anew
candid excitement
a Cudicio tide
is loose

Japanese wisdom
circles her sigh
Moonlight vibration
a mother-like gown
her intuitive disguise

Julia’s first kiss
a Cudicio tide
Devid’s hell
and Naomi’s Comedy

Happy birthday
You are one
You are old
You are one year old
and older than before

You are Julia
Cudicio
kiwi
italian
and your own
Please,
once you are grown
do read Dr. Seuss
by all means
be born to books
don’t frown
you’ll love it
haiku and all

By Mariela Durnhofer Rubolino (a fine line, Sept/Oct 2014)

STEPPING STONES

Step into my world, my world of tunnel vision
where only small steps exist.
Often I take a step backwards, reassess situations,
and sometimes I side-step around issues
I am reluctant to face or deal with.

My view is focused on what the mind sees,
analysing where life’s fuzziness starts and ends.

I have been known to take a step up,
extend myself, take responsibility,
and a step forward, to be accountable,
move on.

I have also stepped aside
to avoid doggie doo on the footpath.

It’s not so much the steps you take
to overcome problems,
but the pebbles you kick aside
on your journey.

Pebbles hold you back,
these are past mistakes,
step over them, they are learning steps.

A step in the right direction
to live a long and happy life
is to take one step at a time.

What steps are you taking,
and where is your tunnel going?

Debbie Williams

By Debbie Williams (a fine line, July 2014)

AT TICKETEK

Behind the counter, flies on the wall
share the immobility of the queue
immersed in quiet inactivity.
A mother, thrift shop chic,
breaks ranks to undo the silence.

“Come here”.
Her four-year-old steps away and cowers,
a conditioned reflex.
“Come here!” – louder –
the two-year-old hunkers deep
within the bunker of her stroller.

“Come. Here.”
She hauls the boy nearer and swats them both
– first him then her – loudly over their ears.

“Hey! Don’t hit them!”
A middle-aged woman, designer label elegant;
red-faced, shoulders tensed, palms pitted by painted nails.

Towards the back of the queue:
an older man, tweed and gabardine, indignant.
“She should hit their legs, never their ears.”

Nothing visibly accounts for either attack site.

The querulous mother faces the counter
straight-backed, red-eared;
still no sign of service to distract the audience.
The boy glowers in mistrust;
the girl howls at the betrayal
of one who professes to be her guardian.

The queue loses cohesion
as the youngsters are dragged away.
Flustered with the stroller, the mother
has only her share of the anger
to show for this family outing.

By the age of four a professional’s child
will have had 50 million words addressed to it;
a working-class child 30 million
and a welfare child just 12 million…
…the professional child at the age of three
has a bigger vocabulary
than the parent of a welfare child.

The Listener, September 17, 2005

By Laurice Gilbert (Muse-Pie Press, 2012)

ALL OUR DIRECTIONS HOME

the taonga are placed on the sand.
taiaha stand quivering in the wind

speaking to the rōpū of sand-diggers,
fire-lighters, early morning risers.

the people of this place mix easily
with us manuhiri, come to watch.

the greenstone mere smashes
the seashell in half: a clean break

between where we’ve come from
& where we are now, understood.

we talk on the wind – impatience,
the ragged wave, sinks into the sand.

we listen to a story of sea birds,
how in the evening, their bellies full

they’ll spiral upwards on the wind.
when high enough, the leading birds

cry out & begin to fly straight
in the direction of their island home.

the birds on the sea, watching this
lift off & follow
– friends
you who first rise up on the wind
to see which way for us, we promise

to follow. call out loud from above
& we in our numbers will fly!

the tide turns, we gather the taonga,
put them in the boot of the car

& drive to the whare, where we eat
together quietly – before one-by-one

we rise to the heights & speak
of all our directions home.

By Vaughan Gunson (a fine line, May 2014)

THERE’S A FEW I’VE LOST

there’s a few I’ve lost, fallen off in the dark
behind a chest of drawers, under the bed,
gone to the place where socks go

I’ve lost some between meetings
& footpath conversations

some I’ve lost between the ears,
others between the sheets
(though I’m not so worried about those)

some I’ve lost through inattention,
quite a few from laziness

some I’ve sent off to other people,
who’ve probably lost them, or thrown them away

some I’ve lost while talking to a friend
in a bar, between the last wine
& the first whisky

some it’s dishonest to say I lost
when I never had them

some I’ve lost were as precious, I would say,
as a shipload of Athenian black-figure pottery
gone down in a storm north of Samos

others no more valuable than receipts in my pockets
that have gone through the wash

there’s some I regret losing,
some I can’t now remember ever having.

but there’s one I’ve lost
which I hope to find

so I can it read again
like I did when I was 13

in front of a classroom of boys
in their grey school uniforms
all sweaty after lunch

the first poem I ever wrote,
the first time I’d been asked.

By Vaughan Gunson (this hill, all it’s about is lifting it to a higher level, Steele Roberts, 2012)

FRENCH EXHIBITIONS

Georges Braque harmonized with Pablo
Picasso, well met by moon under Parisian
rooftops talking excitedly from moment’s
discovery painted in each studio,
brought to their next coterie,
listing inventory, uniquely
rising shared epiphany
like two mountaineers trekking
the same peak individually,
boldly exploring modernity, peers with ice-axe
stance cutting footholds and rope throws
hand by hand stepping up that steep slope track
until at the top they raved together
at accomplishing abstraction
through collage and cubism,
snowblind with artistic freedom

By Bridgid Barrer (a fine line, March 2014)

RIVERINE

I dream the riverjack
with viperish guile
whispers seductions:
Go – detour –
sojourn by rivulets,
enjoy the beauty of places.

I forget that the river
itself is flowing to the sea
relentlessly.

People throng the rivery
landscape, their faces
become thin ribbons
blown by the wind
My catalogue of deeds
sinks like riverdrift.
Now I know
I need not struggle as
I am swept to the sea

Anne Hollier Ruddy

By Anne Hollier (a fine line, March 2014)

DIALOGUE

The right hand is a bird
The left hand is a cage.
The right eye is a butterfly
The left eye is a net.
The right thought is a tree
The left thought is an axe.
With one word I call you
With the other word I drive you away.
With one gesture I gather you
With another one I scatter you.
Every impulse
Has a twin brother
Who destroys the other.
Love me in the same way:
With the desire of running away
And the pain of commitment,
With the temptation to be unfaithful
And the trust in fidelity.
Maybe we’ll reach the end.

By Valentina Teclici (De la imposibil la posibil/From Impossible to Possible, Oscar Print Publishing House, Bucharest, 2013)

FROM IMPOSSIBLE TO POSSIBLE

It’s impossible to fly with you, you whispered.
You want too much blue,
Too intense and far away.
I can’t catch the moon in the sky,
Like a colt held on a bridle.
Our souls live
In different hemispheres,
You are too mysterious.

Everything is possible, I whispered,
Receiving an echo from four horizons.
I flew away, on a blue colt
And planted a water lily in the desert.
The red sand, burnt of hopes,
Burst into tears and trapped
Eternity in the shell of an oasis.

As a candela, the white water lily
Ignites the path of hearts,
Through free moonbeams
From Impossible to Possible.
Up, in the sky, held on a blue bridle,
The moon, playful colt, is dancing.

By Valentina Teclici (De la imposibil la posibil/From Impossible to Possible, Oscar Print Publishing House, Bucharest, 2013)

THE RIGHTS OF MEN

Having him known as Uncle
Tom was odd, yet we
half-knew he half-
was, that Grandfather
begat him. We all half-
knew that Mother’s slave
Sally was her half-
sister, that Father was having them
both. Mother would have kept
silent all along; women of her
class knew their duty, to
not know what they all
knew. After Mother died
Sally became our half-
mother. We half-
knew her four children were our half-
siblings, yet they were slaves, had to
work at something. We were stylish
wealthy Virginia gentry.
I’m now quite old, and Dixie is half-
over, which is a half-shame.

By John C Ross (a fine line, January 2014)

SCENE FROM A BOAT

1A
Bare branches on shore nudge each other
as if sharing a joke
that cannot be heard over water.

1B
I’m writing postcards to the sunshine;
you are below, with the children,
pretending to do chores.

1C
Rocking gently I fall asleep in a narrow cot
wondering if this is how babies feel.
I dream of my mother’s death.

1D
I’ve already sailed to Byzantium.

By Margaret Vos (Given an ordinary stone, ed Owen Bullock, NZPS anthology, 2013. Commended in 2013 International Poetry Competition, Open Section)

DESTINATION

‘In two hundred metres turn left.
In four hundred metres bear right.
You have reached your designated road.
You are now at your destination.’¹

If only the directions for living were as simple;
There aren’t many t-intersections,
who has the courage to make a u-turn
‘take the fourth exit at the round-about’¹

At a t-junction right and left would be opposites
Buy a Nissan, don’t buy one
Mazda, Volkswagen not considered.

A u-turn would mean going backwards
along a familiar route, driving a manual
returning to childhood; riding a bicycle,

instead we keep trustingly going straight on
with the illusion that we turn at ‘the second exit’¹.

Buying a new car seems like a new start
until it needs cleaning just like the old one.

Bear right or left to follow the route pre-set for you.
Perhaps we are always in unknown territory
following our designated road.

¹the voice of the NAVIGON app.

Maryrose Doull

By Maryrose Doull (a fine line, January 2014)

POLITICAL IMMUNITY (EDITORIAL AND QUOTES)

from The Listener – a found poem

I don’t really remember
smoking crack
so no need to submit a resume
economists have a sense
that they were the people
but the police say
they have insufficient
evidence to prosecute
within two standard deviations
they play a regulatory role
in the functions
of the immune system
while morals and diplomacy
are words that sit uneasily together

By Maureen Sudlow (a fine line, January 2014)

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