New work by six poets – including Scottish writer Robin Robertson, nominated for a Booker Prize – to mark National Poetry Day.

My First Big Hit, by Bill Manhire

let it go

let it go

let it go

I’m here in slo-mo

baby doncha know

let it go let it go let it go

take my heart take my heart take my heart

you’re tearing me apart

I don’t know what to do or where to start

oh baby my heart

you cut me like a knife

you’re not even my wife

shut up mum

I’m down on my knees

begging you please

please shut up mum



McGonagall Sends a Postcard from Napier, by Harry Ricketts

O Napier, where it never rains

and the sky is blue with a deep and cloudless blue!

O Napier, you have such extremely wide cycle lanes

and Cheryl’s wiggly-woo.

O Napier,  your wind-breaks are living, green sculpture;

your sauvignon blanc tastes like morning dew;

your art deco makes me gulp, chur-

ning my heart like Cheryl’s wiggly-woo!

O Napier, you are a nonpareil, but I know it’s

not your aquarium, your Norfolk pines or your ocean view,

not even your streets named after English poets.

that so confound me, it’s Cheryl’s wiggly-woo.


Storm, Nissaki, by Robin Robertson

The sky claps once, then throws itself open; the room

flares wide and white

and jolts sideways, jumping the rails.

Sheet lightning – lighting the night to before

and after: after-images of black and white.

At each flash the room leaps, across itself

to the other side, from a black box to a box of light. The sky

opens its hands and claps them shut; thunder stoops

to shiver the house’s great stone bell. Another strike

takes a snapshot of me, there on the jetty; an epileptic

kick of lightning and I’m scribbled out clear –

this pale, forked nib of a life.

The room sits up suddenly, bright as a photo-booth,

then turns on its side like the sea.


Peach Teats (calves love ’em), by Rebecca Hawkes

so much suckling frothy spittle and grunt

a crescent of devotees hunched at the steaming trough

barely able to breathe and drink at once

in quenched surrender to the rubber teat

their pretty eyes their pure thirsty thoughts

no useless knowledge no wondering where

their mothers are only hot sweet powdered milk

and the unique patented internal collapsing flap valve

self cleaning leak resistant flow regulating

like any perfect body or machine


Morning Routines, by Dominic Hoey

Picasso slept till lunch

Lou Reed shot up meth between his toes

Old Dirty Bastard smoked crack for breakfast

Virginia Wolf collected rocks

Salinger ignored the phone

Frida Kahlo killed the pain with alcohol and communism

Dali did all sorts of weird shit

Kerouac hung out with his mum

Kurt Cobain ate junk food

Basquiat bought heroin

Che Guevara recorded his dreams of war



Dark enough, by Sam Hunt

It’s dark where I am

I’m not sure what to do

give me a clue

like you used to.

I wonder if you thought

of turning on the light –

would be good to see you.

Right now, it’s dangerously dark,

no shine, no spark,

on Earth or in Heaven;

dark enough

I could kiss you.

National Poetry Day is staged by good old Phantom Billstickers.”My First Big Hit” by Bill Manhire will appear in Skinny Dip, an anthology of writing for children, published soon by Massey University Press.

Leave a comment