Writing in Whangarei


Phrenology of Food

After the flood
A treasure trove had collected.
In the chaos
Each casket
Baptized by ocean
Not yet tainted
Or corroded.

It was believed
That by passing sensitive fingers
Over each crease
In the skin,
Or over the slight swelling
Where the container
Was about to blow,
The contents
In some predictable way
Might be identified.

So tuna and rice pudding
Became anonymous,
Cling peach halves (in syrup)
Were transformed
By the alchemy of madness
From shiny aluminium,
Corned beef
Became edible.

Mystics and mesmerism
Has been replaced by the glint
Of the knife and the opener
And magic
By the turn of the key


Nga Parua 16

trembling archipelagos of birds

gusts and eddies of tribal gull calls

the sky populated

by a deluge of caressses

between black sheets

on fields of extinct lava

the silence of shadows

and the girl of honey who swims there

living in that tree

a glow of lunar light

she spreads out

under her skirt of tui

the fristion of lips

sleeping slips of minute lace dancing

in the marsh of night

perpetual triangles entangled


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.

Puriri Moth Dreaming

by Piet Nieuwland

puriri moth dreaming
under a midnight moon

on ridgelines of obsidian
hangs the emerald cloth of spring

from te moananui a ranginui
floats a rainbow by moonlight

in this sacred night
clouds of kowhai in rivers of stars

the desires of our hearts
are moonbeams of puawhananga

at the dawn moon
a piwakawaka throws jewels of waiata

in the chaos of love
love is chaos dressed in kisses

*   *   * 

This poem is posted as part of the Aotearoa Affair Blog Carnival. It was written during a short stay at Opononi on the shores of the Hokianga Harbour, a singularly romantic place.  The puriri moth is a large black and green moth with characteristic patterns on its wings.  The moon was rising, a full moon.  The dreamtime is a spiritual connection to my ancestry, and the Hokianga has inspired that in me as a human living in Northland.  The poetry I write frequently comes from the places of Northland, and has been doing so for the last thirty years, although there is usually a connection to another part of the world or another culture.   Most of my poetry is love poetry but it is often disguised.  I love to play with the many varieties of language and what is revealed in translation from other cultures.   

Crespuscle with Nellie

by Martin Porter

Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane, Carnegie Hall, November 1957

They were not in his canon. Dizzy,
Billie, Ray, he stomped the same boards,
Chet and Sonny too

Humph he did not meet
but that did not stop
him writing

Effortless his playing
Unique undoubtedly in genius fashion
as peculiar as his hat



The angular notes
strike from the piano strings
like crimes

of Epistrophy:
angular dancesteps, complex,
astringent, roll like a spiked ball

John’s sax is calming. Laminated
sheets of space flow in long solos, probing
discovered corners of this difficult man. The joy is evident
while he plays, not one, not two, but
Many notes, all at once, or in rapid

Do you feel you have to get up
And dance?

Do you feel you have to sit down
To seize the opportunity?

Well, you needn’t.

Lunch in Marco’s Kitchen With the Artists and Fine Food

In Marco’s kitchen
Dali’s Christ of St John stares down
From the wooden walls.
The wood fired stove has been burning
All morning
Mixing the sounds of sparks and effervescent knots
With the torrential rain.

The damp smell mixes
With the scent of chopped garlic cloves
Not crushed,
Like some porcini mushroom dish.

As Lina plunges pasta into her
History browned, oil encrusted pot
Marco grasps a fist of octopus
To toss with wilted spinach,
Nettles and plum toms from his back yard,
And anchovy in spiteful superheated oil. This is a
Jackson Pollack of a dish,

Or, more like, Warhol’s Marilyns,
Elegant, always the same
Never identical.
Marco hides his aproned pasta paunch
Behind the shadows of the fire, and

Lina drains spaghetti, throws it on the pan
And tips it onto three plain terracotta plates.
This is lunch
In Marco’s kitchen, with Lina
And fine food.

© Martin Porter 2007

This poem, with some addional notes, can also be found at Poetry Notes and Jottings

William Macrae at Karikari December 2011

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori

It is sweet to die for ones country – that’s the old lie according to the WW1 poem by Wilfred Owen.

William Macrae was a very busy man who loved the place he lived.

Many say, including Al, it is the greatest living place on earth.

It is the greatest working place on earth.

And now for William the greatest dying place on earth. 

William did die for his country.

He was not fighting on the fields of Flanders to which Wilfred Owens poem refers,
although in many ways the scene is not too much different –

fire, flame, fear, noise, explosions, terror, gases, smoke, falling embers

But he did die for what he believed in

Ranger Visitor Services Kaiarahi Taonga Manuhiri

Protecting this bloody amazing beautiful country
Piece of hot summer coastline crimson bloody red.

Piet Nieuwland