Writing in Whangarei

Language and Place on the Edge: Six Poems

Aaron Robertson

Vers au Vert

From centre to circumference
we drift, crossing this great expanse
to speak in tongues considered pure
by uninitiated ears.

Old words, once tentatively used
then fashioned thin as life imposed,
become an enigmatic code
charged with the trace of others’ deeds.

Deprived by empire of a waiting
embrace, language devolves, begetting
forms like those strange conventions now
spoken in parliaments of two.

Vaughan Gunson

Big Love Song #17

the golden night has locked down
the unreal day gone, thank you, for now.
the persistent thud of a million feet
stamping the ancient cobblestones.

I laughed, the outrageous image of you
seated next to a fat satyr from Hellene,
your thigh raised to the sky
tapering to a desirable end.

the threatening cataclysm
is more than a grim tattoo.
the responsible hordes hold in their hands,
for the first time, the battering-ram.

Martin Porter

The Tree at the Edge of the World

Clawing onto the cliff

Face into a salty purge



It has given up flowering


On exhausted soil

Rooted in the underworld

Grasping at the air

Where the dead

Leave the living.

This is the tree

That clings to the edge

Of the Earth.

Piet Nieuwland

the altar of wind

 my country is an idea born on the altar of wind

 earths deep blues carried on galloping horses

 lizards names etched into knotted stone archways

 we drink cups of obsidian Columbian coffee laughing

 in blood drenched gardens candles melt tanekaha perfumes

 nikau palms dance cities of moonlight frenzies

 WairoaRiverveins nourished by children throwing petals

 a thousand tui chant dawn prayers

 from puriri groves kneeling on aging hills

 the skies cloud mask pours nipples of rain

 voices of birds name the deserts language of maps

 flocks of black coated women expand covering all distances

 matuku moana call from blue fired clay minarets

 on your breasts whole kukupa sheens breathe in

 what you breathe out

 you are venus bathing like an orchid

 in loves memory of the moment

 kahawai inhabiting a river mouth

 hear pebbles hiss in your depths

 your hands move in cascades of feathered leaves

 mottled oyster skin a pale silk of ice trembling

 your name is a gift of lavender in luxuries of passion

 my heart a burial ground in the mutilated colour of dunes

 as drops in the tide we evaporate into manuka fires

 flying on humid rituals under tents of mirrors

Michelle Elvy

The Other Side of Better 

Running up a hill
tripping upwards
falling downwards
making deals with the devil
or God — whichever works better

Radio’s on
Bush is burning
I turn it up and feel me yearning
for your devil grin and thunder heart
or God — whichever is better

As I listen and wait
I soon find myself
in a song
it’s you and me…
in tune
It’s you and me who won’t be unhappy…

in love and singing
this is better

Bernard Heise


Sleep. I can’t.
Alcohol – much too much.
Drinking began yesterday.
Crashed car and burned house.
You left.
I destroyed
everything. Everything
destroyed. I
left you.
House burned and car crashed
yesterday. Began drinking
much too much alcohol.
can’t I sleep?

NOTE: The Other Side of Better by Michelle Elvy and Cause–Effect–Cause by Bernard Heise were originally written for 52|250: A Year of Flash


10 responses

  1. Walter

    Exploring the edge from poets living on the edge of the world … good grouping, language and place mesh nicely.

    May 29, 2011 at 5:57 am

    • Michelle

      A really fun post to put together, Walter. Thanks for reading — this is a great group of writers. You’d like our monthly meetings. Good people, good poetry, good beer….

      May 30, 2011 at 7:46 am

  2. Love the way each of these complements the other. Great take on one of my favorite songs, Michelle. So many wonderful images — obsidian Columbian coffee, my country is an idea born on the altar of the wind, the golden night, pure tongues, the stunted, tortured tree. Peace…

    May 31, 2011 at 1:57 am

  3. loving this, and echoing Linda at the stand out phrases

    June 1, 2011 at 10:08 am

  4. Martin

    Hi all, its good to hear this feedback from quality writers. Its great that you have found a mesh/unity in the blog entry. We are fortunate to meet regularly, at least as time, distance and weather allows. Hope you visit us again, outside the blog carnival- hasn’t it been good, by the way!

    June 7, 2011 at 10:05 am

  5. Wonderful groupings of poems for the theme. I like how singly and in combination they evoke a place I know little about but also touch on familiar themes.

    June 11, 2011 at 4:49 am

  6. vgunson

    Oooo I like this Aaron: “…those strange conventions now
    spoken in parliaments of two.”

    June 12, 2011 at 9:24 am

  7. Pingback: The Tree at the End of the World | Poetry Notes and Jottings

  8. kool

    March 1, 2012 at 4:12 am

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