Writing in Whangarei

Bernard Heise

Twinkle, twinkle, little planet

by Bernard Heise

When the first incidents occurred in Cairo, Berlin, Toronto and Wichita, people mistook them for acts of terrorism. But the reality was worse. Eyewitness reports indicated that the individuals involved were not setting off suicide bombs but rather were the victims of some sort of fire that spontaneously flamed from within before making them explode. Certainly, the explosions weren’t nearly as powerful as a typical suicide bomb, but they could easily kill or maim anyone nearby, obliterate a taxicab or disable a bus. And, apart from a large sect of evangelical Christians who were convinced, despite biblical inconsistencies, that they were witnessing the rapture and eagerly anticipated their own combustion, most people found them much more frightening, for they were completely unpredictable and unexplained. As the frequency of such incidents grew, so did the probability that within any group an individual would ignite. Like the Black Death, the threat was indiscriminate, failing to honor the privileges of socio-political distinction. Explosions were taking place in homeless shelters, corporate boardrooms, at cabinet meetings, and family dinner tables. As they looked into each other’s eyes, friends, comrades, and lovers not only recognized their mutual affection but now also understood that they were the likely agents of their own mutual destruction. And so it was that people stopped working and playing. Instead, they slipped their bonds of sociability and fled the burning cities, seeking solitude in the forests and the hills, where they forgot their language and waited in silence for the fire within.

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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

Tenacious

Stunted

It has given up flowering

Starved

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

Cause–Effect–Cause

Sleep. I can’t.
Why?
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.
Why
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