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
et 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;
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.