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
and where we are now, understood.

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

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

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

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

the birds on the sea, watching this,
lift off and follow

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa —friends 

you who first rise up on the wind

to see which way for us, we promise 

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

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

and drive to the whare, where we eat
together quietly—before one-by-one

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

Published in ‘a fine line’, magazine of the NZ Poetry Society, 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 read it 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.

Published in ‘a fine line’, magazine of the NZ Poetry Society, May 2014