Twice in ten years
she’s smiled sheepishly,
reached out a hand and asked
“Would it be okay
if I prayed over you?”

I will always say, “Of course.”

Twice in ten years
I’ve bowed my head
and taken in each word,
in case I am the only one
who’s there to hear them.

I have wanted to cry:
because she loves me,
enough to wish me what (for her)
is the highest, purest of all loves.
She (still) has faith I’ll find it.

I have wanted to cry because,
though I can hear in her
feeling as sincere
as any poet laureate

(if in form less sparkling),

were I to raise my hand above her head
and verbalise my love,
it could never equal what comes
From On High.

Her God is a jealous God,
and I am at an eternal disadvantage.

Published in Poetry New Zealand [Issue #49], October 2014.


The Referee’s Girlfriend

The referee’s girlfriend frankly
could not give a toss who wins the match –
she just wants to see a good clean game,
and him.

The referee’s girlfriend wishes now
she’d brought a thicker coat.

The referee’s girlfriend thinks she
understands what just happened.
(He has tried to explain the offside rule…)

The referee’s girlfriend wishes she 
could cheer her lover on,
as the girls in the back row will not stop doing…
(Is it bad form to cheer a yellow card?)

She does not find uniformed authority
a turn on;
she’s a pacifist, and a feminist to boot.
However, he did make that call
with an admirable firmness…
and that shirt does fit him very well.

And her lover is not the man shouting down opponents
(there’s enough command in his silent point-and-stare).
He’s the one raising flags in an elegant unspoken language;
he’s an Apollonian figure, maintaining order.

And the rest of the crowd just don’t know
how sweetly he hums in the shower,
how he cooks the perfect curry,
how he clings on winter mornings beneath the duvet.

They don’t know.

The referee’s girlfriend loves him.
The referee’s girlfriend loves him.
The referee’s girlfriend’s completely lost track of the score.

Published in the Otago Daily Times on Monday 28th July, 2014.


Defining Terms

Whenever their year-planners daunt them,
they pile toy-fortress walls of books:
defensive towers on a bleak expanse of desk.

(That same late-hour logic
once made sheet-and-blanket forts
seem the very strongest bastions against bedtime.)

But now that they are older, they have
turned to constructions more sound:
these Complete Works they have shored against their ruins.

And if they feel too much beseiged,
still staring down the dull grey panels
of reflective post-postmodern reading lamps,

they will spell their names in thinly-settled dust.
Softly-curving fingers tracing letter after letter,
Katie after Clara after Baz

And can you really, truly blame them?
A name’s a thing so reassuringly small –
against the vast sum of this world’s printed knowledge
stacked high in great solid walls.

Published in the Otago Daily Times on Monday 14th April, 2014.

Quite Clear

I’d like to make 
one thing quite clear.
Just the one  –  I mean,
I’m not ambitious.

Having made it,
I’d then place it
on the sunny windowsill;
watch the view pour
through its pellucidity.

I’d really like to make
one thing absolutely clear.
But I’ll be happy if I
make one thing translucent.

Published in the Otago Daily Times on Monday 7th October, 2013.

Green World

For a good few seasons afterward
the name was savoured on our tongues;
stirred in with Milo when the days were getting cold.
“Remember that time at Warrington…”
“That campsite out at Warrington…”
“Those lumpy mattresses.”
“The plum tree round the back?”

The grassy velodrome we spun in, laughing
Can all this be ours?
And then it wasn’t ours, and that seemed funny too.

Parents were suddenly peripheral,
somewhere beyond doors just-ajar;
we always tracked them by my mother’s high-pitched laugh.

We learnt the perfect sourness
of small, too-green, unspotted fruit
that watered eyes, and bit back in the mouth’s soft corners.

And so these days, when I see Warrington
printed glowing-white on green,
I don’t think cheery family walks along the coast.
I think night beyond print curtains,
the feel of bark beneath our hands,
and of one quiet place, all hidden in the greenness.

Published in the Otago Daily Times on Monday 13th August, 2012.