Writing in Whangarei

Aaron Robertson

Take Flight 4 out now

Click on image to download PDF of Take Flight 4 featuring poems by Michelle Elvy, Piet Nieuwland, Aaron Robertson, Arthur Fairley, Jac Jenkins, Martin Porter and Vaughan Gunson.



by Aaron Robertson

The koru unfurls,
loosening a careful hold
and the sequence starts anew:
bumblebees clamber on stamen,
pistil; branch split by shoot
as red leaf breaks from
green, unconscious of days
fog-filled at noon.

Out past the pillars,
we must name the waves
and patterns that bind them;
helmsman to surf is
gannet-led, longship
by light when maps cannot doubt
a knowing ear to wind,
prow pulled to sun.

Two worth another read…

Watch How the Slip Tips

watch how the slip tips itself over and flies headlong into a dive that wings into an arrow riding on the force of the throw and the magnetism that large objects emit, following the curve of vectors and wind resistance, the shaft vibrating through hillsides of toetoe torched with lightning, the satin plumes splinting the blue horizon with fire stippled bursts and shards, trapezoidal crystals and zags.

in my mind is a wave, a surging crest of intelligence breaking upon an open sandy beach on the western coast, it rolls up into the shallows and foams into a long line of surf, tearing open the pent up energy of a large ocean crossing, pulling a net through the deepest passage of currents and tidal floors, enveloping the wisdom of fish and seabirds that plunge through masquerades of reflections, the wave it bursts and throws out incandescent showers of sparks and glowing particles in an effervescent mirage under a dome of mirrors repeating themselves thru infinity by factors of prime numbers and combinations of polygons and floating orbs that drift slowly like bubbles, and coalesce

-Piet Nieuwland

-appeared in 52|250‘s fourth and final quarterly among the best submissions for Week #49.

Note and post by Michelle Elvy

* * *

Ulysses Reconsidered

Just like Farnese’s birds, whose voices became caught
on an unchanging view of palaces in ruin,
you fell into a dream: one of rivers that ran
with sentimental ease before your family seat.
But left to choose, you changed the eternal for light,
where gifted canon’s robes allowed your mind to turn
from thoughts of chimney smoke and gardens seldom seen,
the limestone of your end betraying words of slate.
The Fleece still hangs unclaimed, yet slowly I’m pulled back
to forest-covered hills and hard volcanic rock,
unsure of how the tide has brought me to this shore.
Your counsel holds no truth for sailors who have come
to crave the open sea, when mesmorized by fame
you never knew the life you claimed to hold so dear.

-Aaron Robertson

-appeared in 52|250‘s fourth and final quarterly among the best submissions for Week #50.

Note and post by Michelle Elvy

Still Lives

by Aaron Robertson

Paul had apples in Aix,
taking one each time the mountain
called as God-created
evidence of the volumes he sought.

Here, grapefruit rest
with yellowed limes, both
ready to assist in serving
liquid absolution.

We meet beyond the bowl,
on tablecloths composed in ample
folds and the angles they force
to stretch towards the frame.

From like disorder an ordering
is found, our compulsions fulfilled
for a light change by coloured
planes that modulate and fall.

Eclogue for a Global Market

by Aaron Robertson

We rise, hydraulically assisted,
in trees still wet with evening’s last
embrace. Dutifully caged, this slow
mechanical ballet begins
to reap its due, an autumn front
premised on independent wheels.

Such rituals repeat from smoko
to smoko, the protracted drone
of four-stroke music soiling time,
while blades unseen amongst the leaves
furnish perhaps the only blood
to propitiate these falling fruit.

Is Rongo in his newest mantle
driven before our blind advance,
exhorting those who lag behind,
or is this symptom of a modern
mystery shorn of every sense
of place and weary of its veil?

In labyrinths of rising ground
days disappear, hidden from view
by makeshift altars ranked on trailer
beds, as these offerings at once
bestowed are hastily dismissed
to feed the lesser gods that wait.

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

Strange Kingdom

by Aaron Robertson

Newly-spent cicada skins
race to some uncertain end,
microscopically speeding ahead
heedless of their basic loss.

Metamorphosis past, these
nymphal instars have long since
ejected into winged existence, cast
amongst a maze of supple leaves.

Summer has come, coalesced,
and must suddenly go for those
whose evanescence seems unfit
to remake a species so persistant.

Desperate noise now envelops this
canopy, sibilant with the syncopated
buckling of abdominal membranes meant
for a thousand sympathetic sides.