A note on the poems

These poems were written by people who self-identify as sociologists, as responses to an open-entry call for the paper A socio-poetic: Poems and some thoughts.

They are collected here in recognition of the inclusive aim of the endeavour, and to further offer an opportunity for readers to enjoy them.

They appear alphabetically by the poet’s last name.

Revisiting Happiness
Gilda Arawiram-Ramirez

A smile that brought sunshine
A dimmed hello flickering
Impossible but reality beckons
A joy assigned to memory lane
Speeding in like thunder
Bringing back colors
Into your black & white sphere

An old refrain
Retro music
Mixed melodies
Lyrical verses
Rhymes dancing
A singing heart
Humming spirit
Notes in motion

Emotion Warp
Gilda Arawiram-Ramirez

Humane Feelings:
Weakness and Strength
Looking for chances
Seeking for solutions
Asking for opinions
Longings frozen in silence

Muted Sounds:
Inner voices
Internal upheavals
Satisfaction cravings
Fears for the unknown
Doubts to the givens

Eternal struggles:

Gilda Arawiram-Ramirez

Right but not appropriate
Appropriate but not legal
Legal but politically incorrect
Politically correct but immoral
Effective but obscures the truth

The truth hurts the loser
Half-said means half-done
Half-done is unfinished task
Unfinished task requires action
Words with action evolve

Destructive words destroy esteem
Divisive words destroy unity
Half-meant words breed mistrust
Inconsistent words create confusion
Conflicting words result in doubts

Gentle words earn friends
Persuasive words sell goods
Persistent words build conviction
Loving words stir emotions
Passionate words instill happiness

More words….

The Weather
Ruth Beilin


We slip into winter with just the merest echo
Of the previous days, still traceable in the tiredness and tension of responses to
The threat of ‘unseasonable weather’.
Ten days of thirty-four degrees, high humidity, no breeze, increasing fire risk, fires, circled moons, red dawns;
Schools close, trains slow to a crawl, shops and cinemas become refugia.
The weight and emphasis of each step makes evident the effort to keep routines.
Inside, we lie across our desktops under the eerie sighing of the building ventilation.
Outside, the heat continues– heavy, solid, unforgiving in its determination to be known.
This is the warming of the Indian Ocean licking at the continent–warmer days and now
Cooler nights– to signal El Niño.


The wind erupts from the Antarctica, gathering itself to launch across the Southern Ocean.
Snarling, pouncing, charging, howling— hurling forces hungrily questing outwards
But blind, seeking for the next continent.
Southwest and then northwest, swirling across the ploughed paddock—making a mockery of direction and rational response
The soil flies up to dance in tandem but there is no rhythm, no pattern discernable.
Instead, the cacophony of wind meets the fragile particles of earth, and distraught,
Transform earth to dirt.
Together, they flee forward, now homeless, dispossessed.
This is the wind of the new and old era—endlessly
Tormenting the fragile landscape.


Where is the rain?
The driest continent on Earth struggles to know itself.
Thrashing senselessly in the hot still night air,
with the maddening wind ripping against what is it’s torso
Embalmed by heat and winds, numbed by thirst
No forward motion, unable to go elsewhere
Nailed to this geological drift, pinned to these spaces
We can only imagine a world in which the seasons are malleable,
The rain comes on demand and the subject of our concerns is not
How we will survive ‘this weather’.

C/-streets, Auckland
Jeannie Benson

Hey James where ya been?
Ya moved from K-rd and I havent seen ya James
We asked your sad, lank mate up at the Albert Park Bandstand
Texted your cell but its long lost in that tree they cut down last summer.

Hey James what ya seen?
Ya’r homeless I know, but ya’re my bro James
I want to go wherever ya go.
Sleep at your feet under that shop.
Pass me a drink from out of that box bro

Hey James who ya know?
Last year ya told me about a second hand philosophy guy.
Remember him James?
Clean shirts, fresh showers, yet no home of his own.

Hey James where can I go?
To catch the last steps of indoors people on the street James
Laze long and moody over free grey refills at Micky Dees under greyer flouresents
Listen to that lecture from a second hand man
With second hand philosophy books a first rate theory and a thesis of life on the street.

Pedagogical pleasures:
A lecture on queer/trans awareness
James Burford

Diva emerges from stage right
Moves to room’s centre
Spotlight askew
Shining on chirruping cellphone
Instead of his perfectly.formed.brows

Performs a capella
Hands are birds in a mating dance
Polished nails glint like rubies
Words move from tap cold to rolling boil
Pop &
Prise open spaces

The Lady
Is a performer
Hecklers are extinguished
As cigarettes in gin
Accepts praise with steady gaze
Defrosting, but still-cool center
A winter evening

Leaves the room empty
Aches for more
Or less
Folds tissues in half
And half again
And wipes his brow.

Big Name
James Burford

He had her
Almost to himself
Big Name
It had been an accidental pincer
While he was chatting with the American
Who was good at small-talk
They’d seduced her
With talk about academic writing and the PBRF.
What a coup!

As they spoke
For an hour and a half
He noticed thin skin around her eyes
& stray flecks of glitter that had migrated onto her forehead
He felt uncomfortable
So close he could have pressed flesh
Or punched her
(She should’ve had a bodyguard, or minder or something)

He figured they’d all sensed it
The uneasiness
A thickness in the air that shifted between them
And the flutter in your guts
Their encounter was always, inevitably, about to turn
Big Name could never get close
For her
Proximity was a burden
As she lent in to listen, her body twisted toward the door
She was always-already moving away
Arms folded protectively across her chest
Brought down to her side only in moments of recognition
Moments of grief.

At the conference
James Burford

At the conference
Delegates dance
Like gates unhinged
In a storm

They were led
By a large wild woman
Who threw her head back and grooved
Arms whirling

And she
Was followed by other large women
Who shook off shoes and sweaters

Then a few men
Spindly and cautious

Most didn’t dance
Sat stoned
Bodies bloated with desire
Refusing to budge.

Verbs of the moment
James Burford

I heard it is a faux pas to admit to academic fandom
I’m gonna risk it anyway:
I am a screaming fan-boi of Lauren Berlant
I just read her chapter Starved
In a paragraph,
She detailed her favourite verbs of the 1990s
The one’s she’d marshalled to the task
Of persuading students to unlearn their attachments to normativity,
“With its compulsive formalism and unimaginative be-gooderness” (p. 81)
Her favourite was to lubricate
I’m transfixed!
Roll the word over my tongue,
Savour its sound and signal
Her second-favourite was to delaminate
Involuntarily, my two first fingers curl into my thumb
As if to check they are long enough for the task (they are)
I locate my own favourite verbs of the present:
To puncture.
To unsettle.
To fructify.

Berlant, L. (2011). Starved. in J. Halley & A. Parker (eds.), After sex? On writing since queer theory. Durham: Duke University.

Corpulent Beauty
Trudie Cain

Naked she stands
Before the mirror
The Other woman glares back
The roll of flesh around her waist
Slicing her body – north, south
Hips, thighs
Studded in dark and light

She sees a glimmer of beauty
But a thousand men remind her
Renaissance woman is history

Dressed she straps her body
In binding cloth
That wraps around her
Like a vine on a tree

But her body fights back
Tired of hiding in blackened
Fields of wall flowers

To Know its Wave
Gaylene Denford-Wood

When you ask me if I bought myself a scallop shell
In St Jean Pied de Port I tell you
No, I took the one left on my plate
From Carey’s Bay a month before I left
For France full knowing that the talisman
It held was clean-edged with a golden coloured wave
Reflective of the Aotearoa light,
Would find its own strong rhythm ’neath a Spanish sun
Glinting as it dangled from my pack
Dancing at the back as I strode The Way
Its biography still spoke of Port Chalmers
Harbour edged, wave of Hotere’s corrugated
Iron black as night until the full moon’s harvest
Nets its bounty –
Pipi flounder scallop clam and within each
Pearly secret the pattern
Of its being is testing our recognition
So that gracefully, paused at my evening plate
When a German pilgrim winks, ‘Clue: it was hooked
By Schubert’ Oh the trout! I delight as much for knowing
The answer as appeasing
A peregrino appetite though phenomenology was the very
Point and I did not know just as later
I could not work out the mystery of all the
Sombre Spanish women wearing thin crosses
And reaching up with tall brooms at black windows
In a way that Hotere might now see his sky over Carey’s Bay.

Emma Dilemma
(no title)

I did not choose to love you
I did not seek it out
I did not want it
It came for me
like a wolf in the snow
It sought me out
with a hunger
and now it eats
hourly daily nightly

City of my birth
Emma Dilemma

so beautiful
this morning
you lift me
from despair
and comfort me
like the arms
of an old friend
I belong to you
you are my true
constant in a
treacherous sea
of change and
Perhaps you are
my one and
only true love.

A Personal Discontent
Emma Dilemma

always needing
to fill the
the lack
the hole
means that
never is the
whole addressed.
In concentrating
on the hole
the whole is
never realised
only desired of
in angst and
broken dreams of
fitful sleeping.
Whole is always
The Hole is
a myth that
keeps us buying
from its
Ever consuming
things we never
needed in
the first place.
we only need

To Disable
Emma Dilemma

is to not
able oneself
to disable
or not to
that is the
Enabling myself
is disabling
I don’t want
be able to
to do things
that disable
this is disabling
me I feel
so utterly
in ableness.

From where I stand
Logan Dobson

So How you gonna change the world?
From where I stand, I fear I can’t,
These Saharan sandstorms have ripped apart these hardened hand’s palms viciously
Flipping me with mini mysteries that slip into this limitless subjectivity
Which begins, ends, and starts again, within a living memory; as these twisted fingers grip at the billowing winds which chill the lips that swiftly spit these silly similes
Realities mechanics spanner’s slipping readily, failing at sustaining this happy frikkin misery
From when I begin till when they finish me, this spokesman for defiance is in it as an anti-systemic counter-conditioned trashy bit of living call me the enemy; openly despising this global alliance of dopey tyrants who paid to have this concrete cage paved and scanned the city streets for those that have been damned to liberty
Our culture of silence and life of denial leaves cleavages exposed in a violent vortex of voiceless people forced into living cheap, go on try and call that serendipity, no we just call’em pirates, and the name-tag is scattered willingly,
This is why I fight to ban the ministry, let my pen, pad and accented rhythm speak, which means I’m rapping psychoanalytically
As if I only landed on this planet to rhyme and scam the industry, showing these lives they’re bland and finnicky
As if alienation grabbed the scissors, sharpened them up, and ran where it’s slippery
This outlandish plan needs redrafting so that these managers start acting differently
That’s how I’m a change the world
But the creation of mass transformation is initiated from home, so while it’s great I can rhyme this advice, my changing the world begins with me changing my own, re-arranging this ever-aging vagrant’s soul
My inner pyramids of bigotry, the sexism that mirrors My lack of empathy for the whole; every single little bit that digs at it till it’s stripped from this deliberately disfigured ego
So you’re gonna change the world huh? Oh you hadn’t heard?

My world is just as wrong as yours, it’s still gotta lotta wars, to be brutally honest when I feel too imposterish I still immediately revert back to my misogynistic flaws, the knowledge I’m a morally impoverished non-anomaly has gotten me to pause, this positively posited politics popping with its prospectively problematic postulates posing as prerogatives polished and pressed on top of this dishonoured pre-madonna sonnet-script I have pinned to my chest as this piece of me as much as I despise its preposterous cause
This slack-jawed, asshole, actively hacksaw’s, his own sensitivity to crap thought, Running gums raw disrespecting women till his lungs sore, learning to willingly limit them by labelling one amongst many as a fukn slut-whore
and in the context of this rhyme that line is underscored

So it’s no wonder-bra that I can’t get a girl in a world I’m torn asunder from because my thunder-charged sexism is something with which it’s no fun to talk,
What im saying is women if your man is sexist it’s time to cutt’em off
Fuck’em all, they’re not a loss
And I’m by no means excluding myself from that buzz at all, in fact I’m probably at the top, trying to change the world
Of this stack of phallic forms, unpacking magic wands that operate on aggravation ejaculating and they can’t sustain the force, this hanging painting of imagined placement that’s parading gender traits as integration indicates their wrong,
these mental slaves are rendered defenceless and kept enslaved, under the thumb of an essential race where our memory fades from hindsight as these anti-vagina guidelines we follow tell us to hate women and openly practice racism,
Like immortal said it’s a deliberately laced system of stay-in-your-place-ism,
And no longer will I ingratiate myself as one who is detached from its caged vision, for now I have been faced witt’em, to engage every page written, as displaying strangely hidden caves where those without voice pray for forgiveness, it takes spirit and crazed symptoms, and I’ve been bathed in them, but getting more deranged only made the limits I used to break the bridges, surviving just to say live it, but will always remember the never-sentenced heaven-scented way in which it was given, and if they won’t let me say it, I’ll sure as shit think it, spit it, sing it and bring it
We need to change the world.

empathy is a dangerous thing
Logan Dobson

We should probably do something.
You see, we have this dream, it has been centralised
But I’ve never been one to blindly abide or step aside,
When I’m repeatedly told that’s just the way it is from now until the end of time
You see everyone wants me to empathise;
But very few understand that to empathise is to meet the eyes of another’s tender life, not to memorise their gender type but to mentalize the mental ties that creates the momentum that tempers time in an attempt to enter minds
Not paying but giving attention insteada merely steppin back and averting mine
To meet the eyes,
Actually actively asking why?
In these suspenseful times,
Of invented might intended to verify the invention of debt which they invented twice
How it is still called necessary to render lives,
As something packed, labelled and valued as less than mine.
Sold to the highest bidder, As long as the West is fine
How the hell is there still a wall around Palestine?
How the hell is hunger still something which someone can suffer from and maybe die?
But merely asking the question is only half of what is going on,
To empathise is to meet the eyes, not just glance at the figure in front of your open fly
But to confront the lie, look past the signs that keep the idea of a person in check
Yet, as the world spins it connects and
From this somewhat backwards perspective
If these words are correct
Then maybe we really do need a society surviving on a prescribed diet of various forms of perkeset
Mining minds to ensure creativity has its purpose set
Setting the purpose of what is naturally purposeless
Before it gets any certain side-effects
Ideas about tryin ta change the earth and shit
What you’ve learnt is what you’re worth, but when that learning’s kept
Deliberately at arm’s length from the streets of hardship and you’re told to wait your turn for it
Because the experts don’t think the career of a surgeon fits your particular reference and that’s when
Human right’s endure fights forced to manoeuvre a market that says they’re only semi-permanent
As if the human being is something you’re meant to deserve to live
Fuck that, you aint Nietzsche and this life is not interpretive
It’s the world that is
Our experiences arrive and are neither earnt nor spent
Since the hustle of the first church the point has been to interpret it
What is Justice? What is Love? What is Good? What is Beauty?
A bunch of conceptual mechanisms of control that co-opt the soul into consuming
So do it,
Consume, consume, consume, at a higher and higher rate
Then turn around and tell me all about how human selfishness is innate
Just don’t get offended when I start cracking up in your face
Keep your credit cards, your fake tits ,and your salsbury steak
Because what you’re lacking is obviously something that cannot be replaced
Like a dancer’s dance, or how a rapper sags his pants it happens by chance and for that fact it’s great
But you gotta react right? It’s not like you’re fake
Sure, good move, gimme a label
Oh you’re one of those radicals aren’t you, I’m not really sure about them, aren’t they like
Anti-corporation, anti-innovation, anti-aprons and anti-men?
Anti-Pakeha, anti-choice, anti-freedom and anti-zen?
To be honest, yeah I believe all that, I’m not bothered but above all, I’m just anti-them
These thieves and pimps handing out sweets like candymen
To the kids in charge that pull the strings
That control the puppets whose stitching’s been
Weaved together by thirsty men
Who are squeezed together in dirty dens
Left in freezing weather where it hurts to sing,
Where empathy is a dangerous thing,
And luxury shows its other street, how its funds have been, floated on tainted wings
Where the bloated thrive, and the skinny are left to pray and whinge
But hey we’re in the West so screw it lets stay and binge
It’s not our fault we play the game to win
It’s not our fault we live in riches others can’t even imagine
It’s not our fault their lands and resources have been and will be pillaged by powerful men backed by police batons
It’s not our fault they hate the West we didn’t ask for that to happen
It’s not our fault dude, It’s not our fault guy, It’s not our fault arsehole, don’t make me ask myself why? ‘cause in the West we don’t have to face our fears
It might not be your fault, you can tell yourself that, but really we know that at a certain stage it is
Something we can’t escape when we put our gaze in theirs
To empathise is to meet the eyes, not to test them or give them injections or act like some saviour we’re told that we should be as kids
So from my somewhat backwards perspective if these words are correct
Maybe we really do need a society surviving on various forms of perceset

May you live in interesting times
Logan Dobson

“Halfway between nothing and no-one”
How does it feel?
To live in interesting times of clouded appeal, reaching out among the mountainous cliffs where our pointlessly pouting fountain spouts are now chilled
and genetic disfigurement spills, as it’s touted as the roundabout of the real shrouded in the breath of life, These doubts are empowered and now there instilled so when am I,
going to meet the jury that’s permanent fury burned this infernal journey, left it eternally spiked and set it alight,
that’s why I’m targeting the calm of these marketing execs that turn the knife, who clown around as if words are lies, and love was sex, trapped in the truculence of a third strike
So I am concerned – why? Well, as these birds fly, trust is spent, and my heart beat becomes fernlike, scattered all over this turnpike, spreading like her thighs worldwide on a rustic rent, giving voice to certain lives only when they’re purified
Kept inscribed with intersections of gender types, a gentrified enterprise to misinterpret you and I,
Got us digging dirt in an undeserved fight, and through burning pride the optically impossible is the thirsty sight held in essentialist eyes cuz, the next generation’s sentence gets its identity indentured in deviant fight clubs, till it’s fused into new aesthetic groupings under the names of the righteous, the flames that’ll divide us in the name of the same horizon,
Our satisfied souls of untruth are set loose by modern day soothsayers,
Programmed with no plan by mainstream news players,
Propertied pursuits where po-lice tighten the noose and they won’t leave till what’s produced is the cluelessness of a rapscallion battalion of malleable troops following the loop-de-loop of this removed space rising, designed to entice us
a cultural leviathan of civilized mind driving pythons, that winds up and cuts off all circulation of justice to the suffering limbs, so it’s hype-stuff that’s the right buzz, real-life is just denied them
and this serpentine scaly skin penetrates grace till it’s wavy thin innovates space to keep our craze within the murderous walls of our tidy asylum,
and as we cringe we are being pimped for our desire, wings being clipped before they can take flight brah, But me
I got those the ambitionz of a ridah,
Can’t you see that history is pulling up beside ya
We were born to think, yet these lives are not enlightened,
free to sing but our metaphors are tied up, thrown in a padded room and then we’re told this is it there is no more fighting because there is no more need for fighters,
So I just tighten my grip on these ambitionz of a ridah, and when I witness why this society tries to marginalise the fire inside I just want to grab a gas can and lighter, make a trip to the beehive and light it on fire.

And ask these fatcats, How does it feel?
How it feels, is it’s real; in a world of fake-ness the perspicacious is immersed in hatred, so I learned to hate it
Found myself in this mishandled language I stand in, well what the fuck is that then? A pre-planned caption for my hearse?
in cold words, as a half-cast bandit raised on outkast’s rapping my whole damn accent embodies the contradiction I am in cultural terms
To most bystanders I’m pale and I’m placid too, inactive and hanging loose, just another cracker without an actual use, trapped in the rapidity of a cultural vacuum of motorsport rev-heads, loading zones without exits and overweight people eating fast food,
And they’re half right, yet culturally I’m that cracked tooth of trash truth, I am another cracker brought up by Pakeha standards, with hacked roots, trapped in a half-cast status that can’t stand you, and now I’m openly admitting liberalism as a philosophy is totally backwards
We’re missing the target and fucking the mattress, thrusting at nothing in love with the madness
And how does it feel?
Not nearly as good as it should cuz, with these ugly-ass features – I wish a chicken would cluck, I mean I’m casually defeatist, so these rhymes were written with my book shut
Ya’ll can say you are open to me but you look shut, I’ve never met a soul that I could touch, without abruptly corrupting the incumbents un-fucked with good stuff,
So I just walk around here with my hood up, looking for some hood-rat that I could love, wishing I that I would run, because my grouchiness is constantly growing through shouting shit like the moss encroaching the groove of this cornerstone, we’re counter this, and it has sort of grown to form its own
Abridgement re-scripted difference a half-mast half-cast whose dawn has shown
The mana in my Maoritanga running through my whakapapa comes under Ngati Toa Rangatiratanga which will never again run for cover brah
This is the revenge of the leaves of paraha,
trouble summoned up, hope you got enough brothers chuck, because the struggles stuck, and see while I’m coming up with this cunning stuff it aint no dummy-luck
Ngati Toa poetics make you world famous like Te Rauparaha’s balls
Subtle, of course, my lineage of killing pricks constituted this existential syllabus of cutting off force from where it was sourced,
This pre-plotted course of resisting pause
So I’m following the charge, stickin to living in the raw, delivering the call that many try to charter, Te Rangihaeata, the mangi firestarter, who showed us to never ever settle for less than spiritual law, screw a criminal court this is where it starts where the struggle meets the blood and the stain on the blade’s real,
dumb Wakefields shoulda stayed chilled, instead of settling where they should have never been, and now they lay still, another great kill the patu of Te Rangihaeata made the invaders shame feel
And now I hear they want to misappropriate kamate kamate so they can make mills, hell nah, not while my grave aint filled, I’ma challenge life and welcome death till my fate’s sealed and this stage is taken away, so I’m a just take these pills and stay awake until John Key and his mates take a break then I will, retrain, rename, and free fame from this guild, show’em that being famous kills
Make politicians do a day’s work on an empty stomach and ask How does that feel?
How does it feel?
Does it invigorate your dinner plate, make you want to celebrate the thinnest waist, miss out on how kina taste? In this sinner’s cave the beauty of Indigenaiety isn’t given praise, and desire is made to strip for change, I don’t understand women who want their hair nice’n’straight, make-up nice ‘n’ caked, personality nice’n’fake, being yourself just signed away, all because that’s the way that whitey says, Sexy’s game is designed to play, screw them please don’t try’n’change, run into the arms of these iron chains, it’s mighty strange, fuck the magazines and their lying claims, al-naturale is the finest thang,
work your hips, rock your hair, throw away your under-wear, summers here, and patriarchy needs a fukn scare, let the captives catch it unaware, maan – ya’ll are gonna make me lose my mind up in here, up in here
you are born free, you will live free, you will die free, so love, hug, suck, fuck and scream for joy, burn your bra and meet a boy, find a purpose while you have the choice,
Do it in excess, do it with noise
Because beauty exists, but it has no form
Like my inability to love a world of vacant eyes it signifies the might from the could
The right from the good, The height from the push
The type from the cush, the pipe from the bush
Then these divides assign me with a misaligned mind so I’m mighty mad
told to invent some rhymes to imbibe with insights from my experience, which in all honesty is a life of trash
I’m not being emo, I just admit that I live in an unsightly map following a self-reliant path
And why is that? Well, I’m a Halfcast that likes to match
Passionate acts with psychological collapse
So to every question posed there is only one answer that is real
you know it blood, the answer is
How does it feel?

NWA – No Worthy Authority
Logan Dobson

There’s no applause in this theatre where the feared are gutless vendetta accredited cut-throats attached to government gun-scopes running this humdrum jungle with one pose, dressed in steel-capped black leather foot-tredder shoes, fluorescent vests and re-pressed blue suits
Then it’s “woop woop that’s the sound of da police” arrestin mobs when faced wit people’s faces that aim at takin back what’s theirs through emancipation
Standin and facin face to face with these faceless rebooted troops trace remainders of this reanimated matrix,
Makeshift magistrates paraded as overgrown spacekids braced in their delusional toothless roots where justice just becomes this ludicrous loop-de-loop
Empowered youths endowed with a uniform and now dey power trippin on dey boots, till the powerless are subjected to the power of this ruthless group
Spooks so spooked by civil nuisance these gormless goons who orphaned truth to a pack mentality, can adapt facts because what is actually happenin doesn’t really matter see, they’re acts won’t lack unaccountable savagery
Masked by the frequency of the battery, snappin random bits of our anatomy, punks who won’t put a face to their batons or a place to their challenges
Like they lack the intelligence, to notice the impact and relevance, they have in this management, as if it isn’t delicate, the system be fukn all night then turnin round and tellin us it’s celibate, so once this tapestry’s unravelling, we can see the separated classes catchin collateral damage then, yet
All this is, all this here, isn’t manifest fear, and it isn’t scandalous,
It’s an attempt to self-actualize live actual lives with actual matters that matter man, and amplify, the reasons for asking why we supposedly can’t disentangle this affluent arrogance
Tempting capitalism’s marriage to democratic standards with
The burning torch of deserved divorce signified through certain calls for these citywide inferno’s that in turn will engulf them all,
and what’s left to burn is where we begin the search because from those ashes an alternative society is formed and so will emerge the internal savageness that panics when words are weapons the battle gets to happenin then the tides will turn
So if Bill English wants his greek streets, and his greek police, then don’t assume we are gonna be no weak defeat, that’ll be bullied into a meek retreat, because week by week we will repeat return till we’re no longer free to speak, see through these speeches my freedom speaks
And I don’t wanna exist in this fallacy, one that rattles me, where some kid dressed in blue can get to casually tackle me, manhandle slammin me to the pavement while tearing and grabbing me; twisting my arms till I no longer sure if they’re attached in their cavities, fulfilling some sort of power-trip sadistic fantasy, and its appearance really fukn angers me
Fuck this goon squad sent to remove us, screw cops, they are not just doing their jobs
These po-lease no better than dope fiends
See I’m only as violent as I’ve got to be and that’s not to be saying that I’m sorry see
Fuck your false authority, it’s a thing I don’t believe gives you the right to habitually violate my body g
And me, no I’m not gonna wise up, no monetary monastery could convince me to live inna market based lottery
See if it’s for the right buzz
I love the fight too much
And my pride is designed to keep this spine straight cuz
And no these knees won’t bend
Like my morals they control those urges by keeping me focussed
Keep my heart beating these feet at these protests,
Uprisngs? Yeah, I hook’em up like coatchecks
Banging my head against these relentless fences erected to check us by the system of ownership
Where I aint owning shit and for some reason you get to have me picked and frequently frisked,
So I’m keen to keep being this resistor resistin the intermittent fictions while bearing witness to the insistence with which the inconsistent symptoms of this systemic resistance to any trace of an essence with a little bit of a difference switches into this syllabyllic sickness keeping definitive distance from the tentacles of business
that’s why you’ll find me clutchin my fists tightly round this revolutionary wishlist
because I specifically wish it,
No more suffering this social sickness, so the spiritual physician is here to fix it and diagnose the symptoms:
The bad guys are fronted by these officers and constables
Whose intolerable consciences are obviously not in tune
With what this is, and connecting that, to what they do
The consequences that result is how the problem grew
And then the authorities tellin me actually that in this instance well, that particular truth it is disputable
Not to be rude, what you think I’m a fool, I study philosophy dude, if there is truth, then I know that shit is indubitable
But no apparently if you gotta blue suit, then you can put truth inna tomb
And insteada usin a clue or a kernel of proof, you just rollout the standard discreditory tools, transformin this life into less than a who and I aint talking Dr. Seuss
Surrounded by pigbreath, yes men, where the purpose is left then, your identity is dissected and you exit as a necessarily meddlin fool
Taught to unsettle the rules in irreverent schools penalized for behaviours that better improve
Doesn’t matter what was goin on that’s just something to fill the columns of the debrief that they’re headin into
Doesn’t matter whose side history was on, they read the letterhead of rhetoric through, nor the objective justness of the law no, nothing of that sort
All that matters is that orders were given and they came from above, above what? Above us and what’s fucked up
Is apparently that’s enough to warrant choking out a bunch a people who you have never once
Contemplated whether or not the actions taken by your establishmunt could in fact be wrong
Nope, it’s just the norm justa police force, goon squad who heard they could do this so they got it done
Entering their endeavour as a flood not a flow
So when these movements jump up from the love below the vocal social thunder grows
And justice becomes sucked into the structural undertow
Pushin us as far as one can go, so, the one thing I know is that
The police are an obscene invention of the elite and their authority to me is a fukn joke
If they’re not your mother, then with them you aint gotta go, and if that’s the only thing I get across then so be it, it’s notta loss
Which means you can be it if you believe it then do it as long as it wouldn’t make your mother cross

Wind City
P.J. Howland





Wind City.






Dark evening













Their struggles: A tale of Indian women
Ambika Kohli

This poem is dedicated to the contemporary struggles of Indian women and the ongoing feminists’ movements in India

To die in the womb or to be burnt alive for dowry;
To get raped, or killed in the name of honour, or to be treated as subordinate;
Is this her fate? Or is it man made?
She irrigates her family with love, joy, devotion, and care;
But respect, love and equality come to her very rare;
Yes, she is a mother, she is a daughter, she is a sister, and she is a wife
But for her independent identity she still strives;
Yes she will preserve the honour, the honour of her family, and if not, then her blood will;
Is this her fate or is it man made?
Since antiquity walls of morals for her are built;
There she serves as a prisoner in guilt;
Guilt of being a woman, an Indian woman, and the struggles begin from here’
Is this the reality or is it very rare?
Rare is the equality, justice, and respect;
That from her very own people she expects;
Is this her fate or is it man made?
But she is strong enough to win the odds and survive her struggles;
She will reach the sky of emancipation, one day, yes she will;
Triumphing all her battles, building equality’s castles;
She will make her dream come true, the dream of equality;
Misery was not her fate it was manmade;
Now she knows it and she ignites new flames of hope;
The struggles have begun and all odds need to be won;
Here she comes to build her own fate which won’t be manmade.

Brigitte Lewis

If life is a long series of events
only by creating lines around objects

I want to see the space

want to see over the lines

into the place
where we are connection

but I guess that is thinking wishful
not feeling into those formless creations of paradox
so bright even the sun has to close its eyes to feel itself
into completion

and I am never complete
we are never complete

we are circles half formed
curled into ourselves
trying to close the gap between
believing in an ever better future
and living in the present
where none of these ideas can cage us
because we create barbed wire bridges
when we get stuck looking from just one position
offer our hands only to inflict wounds we never intended
but fear is the greatest of warriors
it finds the cracks in our bones we’ve forgotten we painted over
because these unspoken words

these stillborn emotions

are what carve scars into wounds

and it is not enough to offer your breath
to a heart attacked by palpitations

you must offer your sound too
grind into your hips
spread open your toes
pull back your shoulders
and let your voice sprout
let it become a thousand coloured roses
and one thousand shades of poison

take yourself in your hands
and pluck each toxic bulb with fingers outstretched
place them in a bowl

raise it up to the sky

and remember
that pain creates the lines on your face too
carry that bowl like a beggar
but try never to offer it up and create new lines
where only laughter has lived
but this is the position of the inhuman
and I am more human that I’d like to be
but any less and I would become another

so I carry my scars
and try to release them to the light
even when they scream

and this treat of self-reflection
is what offers me introspection
and the knowledge to know better
than to try to unhinge the doors of my pain

and so I flap in the wind
trying to create my own form
and not become another shade of wood
another reflection
of some past inflection
keep trying to make new sounds
try to create new postures
from the self I’ve been given
and remember

that sometimes the best way to live
is to hold my own hand
offer up my hearts fables
and tell stories
I never knew existed
they fell onto my tongue like saliva
like the touch of your fingers
when love is the only tune
they can remember how
to play.

Brigitte Lewis

Jesus didn’t say Christianity was the way
Buddha never said shave your head or else
and Rumi spun in circles cos he’d unravelled himself
and found the universe

what you find is up to you
not an other to dictate the rules

and dic tate always had it wrong
there’s more than one dic in tate
more than one tate in dic

we just forgot to look for ourselves

got stuck looking at someone else’s book
built a pyramid between us
and forgot that we did it all
with our own two hands

we don’t need a kinship system
we need a skinship system
forget that illegitimate sibling
replace legitimate with love
and take lovers
not de-facto partners
cos while it’s true we’re all one part of a whole
we’re seeking to see our own reflection
not partner another’s shadow
stop carrying your history
and start telling your story
stop carving out the same lines of that tradition song
and start spouting out the sounds embedded in your own lips
take back your instincts from the mind and it’s institutionalised borders
and break through all the bars you built to keep back the flow

let your river run wild
become the child you never grew up
take that teenager by the hand
tell it you want it to love with passion & not to mistake lust for a soulmate or a one night stand

cos peter pan never loved wendy like a man
and wendy she needs to receive her own love before she can give peter pan a lover instead of a parental figure

so lets stop disfiguring ourselves cos that’s just number 3 thousand 554 of the ways we incarcerate our selves

build shelves for our wounds
of not being seen
not being held
of being screwed when all we wanted was to be held
of being held back
when all we wanted to do was run, scream and jump

nah nah nah nah im free and I’m not gonna let you or my mind shackle me

cos i see and you see
all this see-sawing of mind games and language
leaves us in a spotlight of doubt
did he
did she
and what does that mean anyway quandaries

and i want honesty even if it hurts my ego
I want you to tell me i walk like a masculine version of my self when i’m scared
I want you to tell me that I mute the sound of my voice when i doubt my own authority
and I wanna know when i channel my father’s hate and inject it into you
channel my mother’s inclination for the victim state and subject you to it

cos i don’t wanna carry anyone’s shadow around but my own
and it’s hard enough to get through the day without tasting my own shit in the back of my throat

so tell me please tell me when i reflect the wounds of others and not the love that exists before any of this spawned a cyborg state

cos it’s true i’m human
and i make mistakes

but don’t mistake my humility
for your front door mat
i can do back flips with my mind
coerce moans with my fingers
and rock worlds with my hips

just like you brother
just like you sister

with these words as my witness
and my witness as my waking state

i reposition this self
and keep reminding my self

we don’t need a kinship system
we need a skinship system.

That’s Irrational
Brigitte Lewis

The learned blindness of impartiality
falls around us like transparent curtains
and so we are cloaked in the blood red
of capitalist consumerism

eaten up by the iron hand
of 9-to-5
throwing back
the economic imperatives
of an imperialist
world order
poised in the downward dog
stitched up in the surrender of charismatic

and so we play out the historical story
of patriarchal arrangement
subsumed by intellectual
leaving no room
for experiential exploration
only the sniper
of rational exploitation
held up as
for there is no myth
in disembodied
only the dead hope
of heads walking
one by one
into the bleak house
of scientific calculation
succumbed to the dark night
of intercontinental

Poem 2
Etienne Mathieuhomme

I got my head checked
by Slavoj Žižek
he said: “You’re such a
ticklish subject.”

Budget this…
David Meyeda

This weight on my shoulders keeps runnin’ me down
Knockin’ my spirit right into the ground
Yeah, you know what I’m sayin’
It’s something they said, we just gotta accept
But who?
Who be sayin’ this?
Who be sayin’ that livin’ in the red is just part of the game?
Kickin’ my hard earned coin, right back to the state, month after month, more of the same?
It’s a cycle yo, pay for this, buy that, put it on credit, take out a loan
But serious, the way the state be pressin’ us now, can we even expect to be buyin’ a home?
Nah, the reality is, most be tryin’ to just get by
But we learnin’ the game right here
The university be role modelling for us to see
The game we learnin’ here
This game of life, it ain’t so much about work, love, respect, care, compassion
The game we see here, it’s about exploitin’, slingin’, hustlin’, thievin’
Walkin’ on the weaker brotha, steppin’ on the smaller sistah
Perpetuating that individualistic, profit-driven, colonial bullshit, right here through the university
Can’t you see?
Cut back support, raisin’ fees, you best believe, ain’t gonna be no more minorities
If mean for real though, what you want?
The University of Auckland? Or the University of White Privilege?
A university with fewer poor students, fewer Māori students, fewer Pacific students, fewer brown students?
Is that what you’re trying to achieve?
Cause that’s the tangential message, we’re starting to receive
So stop, just stop, cause your colonial crap, it’s gotten real tired
This school, it ain’t some old skool empire
It’s the Pacific brah, so respect, or get ready to be burned by some serious fire
No more increased educational debt, no more increased educational fees
Not today, not any day
How many times, how many times, how many times we got to say
Your colonial crap, it just don’t play
So either get on board this waka, or step aside, and get the fuck out the way.

November Newspaper 1
Janet McAllister

I fail to cope with a baby
I am not blamed for a newborn’s death
I defend a boiling water charge
I drive on drugs and I am sentenced
A duo pretends to be me and my daughter
I make a grisly discovery in murder bags
I escape with my son from a Petone house fire
I die in Tawa and my son finds my body
I ask ‘why did my son die?’
I am scorned by a mayor
I feel for a sick Duchess
I am murdered and I am more perfect than perfect
I am murdered and afterwards there are heartfelt messages
My killer was on bail
An urgent review is ordered after my murder
We call for a shake-up of support
We are ahead of science

November Newspaper 2
Janet McAllister

I share a moment of horror
I earn a home term for a baby’s abuse
I am in custody after a tot was slapped
I drink to death for a pool table
I am 96 and I say vegies are my secret
I am killed by my son in a bow and arrow attack
I am dismayed by a bible class stance
I am murdered and there is a life sentence

A Penological Haiku (with a Nod to William Blake)
J.C. Oleson

Tygers, burning bright!
An iron age of prisons
And men, our tigers.

“In the Temple of the Moneylenders” (Written among the Book Vendors)
J.C. Oleson (20 March 2013)

You are a fat people
Aye, even the skinny ones.

Gorged on hubris, thick with pomp,
You have fed upon the suffering of others
And you have grown fat.

In these walls of books, count crimes
One thousand, by one thousand, by one thousand again
Real people cried out, real blood was shed.
And the thousand, thousand offenders
Languishing in jails and prisons?
They are victims, too.
We simply cannot see the invisible weapons that kill, but kill us slowly.

How revolting.
How dare we hang the word, justice, upon this hall?
Self-absorbed academics who have never tasted crime
Pitching titles
To editors building Volvo careers upon an ever-growing market share.

We buy their overpriced books
We subsidize boondoggle getaways of elbow patches and pipe smoke
And, Professor, it’s your students
—Mortgaging their futures—
Who are served up at this profane banquet.
Iphigenia! Soylent Green is people!
Professor, dining on their futures you are growing fat.

You are all merriment, champagne flutes, and laughter
But if you understood — really understood — why we are gathered here today
You would not laugh. You would weep.

Never Wound an Enemy
J.C. Oleson

Jefferson said that tyrants’ blood
Must water the tree of liberty,
—Here comes the water, here comes the flood.
For you, my friend, are our enemy.

In tears you would our aspiration drown,
Gleeful in your malignancy.
You would smile while you cut us down,
Indifferent to our agony.

Perhaps because you wear that suit and tie
You believe you have impunity.
You believe that we will accept your lie.
You rely upon our apathy.

Rely no more – enough! enough!
Enough lies, enough hypocrisy,
For on this day we call your bluff
Since in our dreams we can a future see.

A future, not for you, but all of us
In which we operate collectively.
—Wikileak, Occupy, Anonymous—
A million man Guy Fawkes insurgency.

The truth will out. It will not set you free.
Blood shall water the tree of liberty.

The Ghost in the Mirror (Anomie in the Bedroom)
J.C. Oleson

They call this happy hour
But no one’s laughing.
Not tonight.

We all stare into our drinks
With mourning faces
We’re the ones
Who are dead.
I died years ago.
We contemplate cocktail napkins
With grave countenances
And stern eyes.

I gesture
To the bartender
With a twirl of the finger,
Another round of drinks
For me
And the people that I sit with
Night after night.

Didn’t you think it was going to be different,
The bartender asks me.

I stare at him
Over the red stump
Of a cigarette
And I nod.
I don’t know what I thought.
He pours me a thin finger of watery scotch.

Jimmy, when you were young, what did you think
You’d do with
Your life?

I wanted to make a difference
In people’s lives.
I wanted to take the things that I had learned
And I wanted to change things
So that people could
Be happy for a change.
I was going to be a president
And I was going to be the guy that brought
To the whole world.

I didn’t know what I was going to do, Roger.

So what did you do?

I wasted my life.
I worked in a bunch of shit jobs
And then I got promoted and worked in a shit job
Where I got a bigger salary
And where people looked up to me.
But I wasted it.
I spent it on commuter trains and sitting behind the wheel
In traffic
Drinking coffee out of styrofoam cups
And listening to top 40.

And if you could have done it different, Jimmy,
What would you have done?

I shake my head.
No, Roger, I don’t want to do this.
I’ll just make myself sad.

C’mon, Jimmy. What would you have done different?

That’s the thing, Roger.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
That’s why it’s all such a waste.

Roger stared at me
As I threw back his whiskey
And rose from his stool
With a nod to the people who drink with me.
Stared at me as
I struggled into my coat
Stared at me as I made for the door.
Roger stared
And I left him that way.

I drove home
Even though I shouldn’t have
And I slipped in as quietly as I could.
There was a pizza box on the kitchen table
And the answering machine blinked at me
But I didn’t care who called.
Anyone I’d want to talk to was
A long time dead.
Years dead.

I hung up my coat
In the hall closet
And went upstairs
Not bothering to look in on the kids.
What could I do for them?

Goddamnyou Roger.
I was sad.
I slip into my room
Sad and
I feel so
There’s so much that I’d do
That I can’t even imagine it. I would
Have done
From that first minute
I would be so different now that
I wouldn’t be able to understand
What I am right now.
Goddamnyou Roger.

I let my pants fall
And the buckle falls loudly
To the worn carpet
And she turns
At my sound.
At my smell.

“Are you home?” she asks
And it’s sweet
But the question strikes me as stupid
And I say

I crawl in beside her
And try to remember
When I loved her
And didn’t just tolerate her,
A time when I lusted after
This woman
When I swore to wrestle the heavens
For her.

But I’m drunk
And I’m sad
And I can’t remember that far
Even if I wanted to.
She touches my shoulder,
Lonely again,
But I pretend I don’t feel it
And I fall asleep.
And happier that way.

Criminal Responsibility (with a nod to Herbert Packer)
J.C. Oleson

Within the convict’s skull, Lombroso beheld
The biology of criminality.
Fail’d evolution would shake opinion held,
That all men bear full responsibility.
Yet atavism does not exonerate;
It strips personhood, but makes most matters worse.
Deported, sterilized; folks won’t tolerate
The stain, the risk, the stigma, or the Cain’s mark curse.
Packer, I tremble at those dread words of his:
The law treats conduct as free and willed and pure
“Not because it is, but because it is
Desirable to proceed as if it were.”
If, natural born killers, we are not free,
It is mere madness to punish, insanity.

(found poem)
Bob Pokrant

As long as the land was under water, the Malos moved on it, it
was theirs. The moment it has floated above water, it has
become the farmers’. They will plant seeds here, they will
harvest and take home the crop. This right will always stay
theirs, no one will be able to steal it. This right of theirs is
staked in solid reality, rooted in soil. And the Malos’ right was
in the flowing water, in its formless, groundless ever-moving
fluidity. That right never found the solid touch of real ground,
it never had a stable support, a hard foothold. Hence they are
the floaters. No matter how much they, the fishermen, befriend
the trees and the homes on the ground, they remain floating
like vapour. No matter how hard they cling to the bosom of the
earth, the soil of the earth is forever pushing them away: ‘No
space for you, no place for you!’ as long as there is water in
the river, only that long do they float on the water. When the
water dries, they too evaporate and disappear (p.261).

A. M. Barman, A River Called Titash, translated by Kalpana Bardhan (New Delhi, Penguin,
1992). The original Bengali novel, Titash Ekti Nadir Nam, was first published in Calcutta by
Puthighar in 1956.

Election ’87
James Reveley

The sociologist cum socialist
St. Albans saw us coming
Our man Geof
Atop a dead horse
He flagged
And we flogged

On Auckland
Chris Schlapa

Surprises long overdue
Disappointment where one least expects it
The revealing aspects of finding one is never too old to
be horrified by other’s worldviews

The soothing breeze of secret support
An untainted friendship that obliviously grew in the
shadows and on most unusual ground
(You give me hope, D.)

Dreaming of home
Resisting home
Hiding in the world’s furthermost place
You will not find me, no one will find me

The Emperor Has No Clothes
Brigid Sinclair

The emperor has no clothes
The problem is how to call his attention to the sunburn

Rhyme of the ancient emeritor
Alan Smithee

He was an ancient Emeritor
And he stopped one of three
“Oi you tweeded up old loon,
Why have you stoppedeth me?”

The conference doors are opened wide,
And I am next to bore
The guests are seated, the nibbles long depleted
Mayst hear the suppressed yawns

He holds him with carpal tunnelled hand.
“There was a department!” quoth he
“With status, post grads, and research funds,
It was called ‘Sociology’”

The Masters
AJ Taylor

Run up some curves, he said
Run up some curtains, you said
Mocking him
A bourgeois prick
(Your words, not mine)
In a Leftist’s clothing
Forgiven – in time
He wasn’t…
A prick
Just a Wick

Tulia Thompson

When Grey Lynn swam in primary colours
I used to twist my hair into a knot
Play touch with all the giggly kids
No shoes             rasta patterns               pineapple pie
Aunty cooking up the dalo

now I wear op-shop jeans
jandals on my giant feet
even in the Grey

Least you’re not tralalaing over graveyards
chewing up the headstones
says my grandmother
swinging her own bare brown feet               out of the sky

but she’s singing Isa Lei           and I
only have a poem.

I could sell you a rosary from the beads on my ovaries.
shiny / secret /               circlets shaped like nits

strung on a thread

they might shine in the moonlight.

Tent Cities
Tulia Thompson

There are vege boxes outside the tents where straggly herbs compete for coffee grounds and air,
They are nested beneath the curving motorway and beside a cricket pitch.

A stack of cards, awry and angry, or lean-to shacks
woven from recycled wool, bright plastic fibres, faded bunting from a nursery rhyme.
and protest banners.
A wee girl bounces on the knee of a mammoth whose shirt says ‘fuck off’.
His eyes are gentle.

Aaron Chang keeps sending reminders to attend caucuses
For him, the tents are a flock of circling gulls.
I admire his solar plexus chakra.
He explains the protest to his seven year-old son
Saying ‘change is coming’.

I am more hesitant.

The day blanket man dies I meet my friend for coffee and ask her politely
to stop drinking, and she says she’s just
sad at the moment.

Where are the healers that put their giant hands
under the soles of your feet?

Kate says in London, tent city is                          high

‘you can smell it before you see it’

but what will we do with the
food scraps, skin cells, origami hearts, plastic houses,
oil-drenched birds, sweet wrappers, cola bottles,

and others                                                                                     we leave behind?

How Sociology Broke My Heart.
Tulia Thompson

1. Sociology   has    broken
my heart      many times. I’m channeling Dolly Parton to say this.          That’s a distraction.
Conjuring fiddles, blonde electric curls woven out of synthetic thread, and the other jaded objects that bring country music to mind (fake boobs maybe, or the religious right, Alabama, or Desert Road)
You might say Dolly is a grossly rendered icon of the cult of the visual, or the aesthetic commodification of women. Shit, I’d forgive you.
The emphasis for me is the narrative of how she went from trash poor and made it.
Made it as the American Dream – the real true story of a woman who overcame
poverty to wear greenback shoes                      diamonds                           silicone
And look like

Yep. Class               it doesn’t leave you alone.
Rich trash is still trash, even if you’re direct
dialing Steve Jobs with your upwards mobility.

And us underclass girls, we always get it wrong          work our pretty while pretty has something to give
make it work/ hard/ with lipstick and mascara
plastic kitten heels from the Warehouse
bourgeois women can afford some disdain.

Poor clings to me.

It has bad armpit smell.

2. So how come Sociology broke my heart?  Oh.
Unlike the other Soc grads I didn’t come to university              to learn               (about) class.

I came to university to get                               as far away from broke             as I could find.

3.All the dumb-smart Sociology guys keep shitting on about revolution and class action and the criminal class.
And I can talk /class/politics                                                                            but I’m hanging out for some
upwards mobility, upwards mobility, upwards mobility.

[It’s not a lack of class/ consciousness – it’s underclass           subjectivity].

And you can talk sweet revolution all you like
I know you’re going to print your revolution in a journal, revolutionise your C.V. and        work it
to get a tenured job at a university.
And, that’s not objectively                       a lot of money.
It is to me.

4.               Yeah, I know you want to tell me that we can be
on the same side. You,
for instance, could hold
my hair back
while I cry curled like a cat
on your bed. You
can lend me your copy of Zizek
or Rojek
with the pencil underlines and sticky tags

and then I would understand. You
could present at SAANZ, angry and dynamic
I could be your paler, silver star.
We wouldn’t get married we’d just cohabitate
invite the other grads around
you’d talk Marxism on the porch with the
I’d wash the dishes and bring you more beer
you’d get a lecturing job and I’d
have an abortion. Or else                  or else
grow a
smart baby and take it to protests in a plastic
warehouse stroller.
It’s not what I want. No.
No I said – drop it, would you?

5. Or else – another version:
You think after some beer
you’ll have convinced me to change thesis topic
to sell gender                                                                                       up the river
for commodity fetishism                it’s loud you keep getting louder
You keep saying
“You’re smart – if you think harder – you should get this”

And part of me is flattered.                                                    I mean, nauseous.

6. My heart?

7. Sociology was the first time
the parameters of my life were laid bare
I turned my hands in my lap and saw
the lines traced by gender, class and race  that while
I had waited
for the box                             of food                             delivered from city mission

&nbspother kids got presents from capitalism.

and the names I had been called (like dark ink tattooed into skin)
were hung out like lanterns strung by gender                                                 suddenly illuminated.
8. Trash.
Coming from nothing                   has given me a canny sense                             of when someone is bullshitting.

When you first read Marx                           its like first love
You confuse consciousness with freedom.

Sociology guys who skip gender lectures
to drink espresso and talk Marxism in the quad

Grow up to be Sociology men.

9. Heartless?
You say I’m wasting my time with gender
when it’s all about revolution.

You say                 Gender is just distraction.

Women own 1% of the world’s wealth.

10. Marx’s point was that
we act in our own self interest.

Money and power, baby, all the way.

Welfare Reforms
Tulia Thompson

Between 1991 and 1993, in New Zealand
The National Government bought in welfare reforms.

In 1993 I was fourteen
The second-born of six kids
At home with one parent
On the DPB.

Sometimes for dinner we would
eat boiled white potatoes and cabbage.
Sometimes, if there were boiled eggs
We would fight over who got
an extra half an egg.

You can be hungry for three days at a time.                                             Eat and stay hungry.

It stops feeling like hunger. A dull blue                 pain in your gut
distracts like a high-pitched
a wave unfurling over and over.

days at school I couldn’t concentrate
Maths and English and Science muddied like water-colours           I stared out the window.

We got vegetable boxes from the girl-guides after the
Plunket nurse weighed my baby sister
And found she was underweight,
a small                   limp ghost-baby with giant’s
Mum cried.
She was ashamed.

In our creaky villa the wooden walls
were empty                                       wet                                                                                     dust-full
My preschooler brothers had asthma           I would
walk them                     walk them                     walk them
up and down the hall to try and stop their frantic crying, or
turn on the shower and hot tap to make their breathing easier. There were no preventatives.

Mum said we could only take him to the doctor
if his breathing dropped below the red line on the peak flow. We’d end up in hospital
his lips bruised blue and his skin yellowed like an old man.

At school I got detention in P.E. for ‘forgetting’ to bring sneakers I didn’t own
I did P.E. in mint green Hammer pants that were two years old, even then they were secondhand.
I went to a good city school where my humiliation was measurable by the things I didn’t have: Levi jeans, a country road bag, lunches, any CDs, permission to go to camp, stationary money, books, a calculator.

I didn’t think we were               poor.
I thought we were                                                                   broken.

2. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?
John Key grew up in a statehouse and he’s the PM.
I could tell you the good news story I’m expected to tell like a TV evangelist/ neoliberal infomercial.
Six kids?
One of us is a sociologist and poet.
One of us is a disability rights advisor.
Or I could shelter the glare from my eyes,
And say more quietly, the stories of my brothers are too painful.

Our ghost-baby sister                     went deaf in one ear
She found too hard to hear               in noisy classrooms           all through school

Eventually she quit, and now she drifts                                   beautiful and fragile.

I’m okay. Apart from the                                         guilt
of surviving                               and leaving my family behind.

3. So here’s what really gets me.                                             in 2013
orchestrated warfare against the poor         comes back in fashion

so you can think it’s the fault of the elderly, the unwell, or the babies. Not the flaws
of a global system built for bankers:

in New Zealand, more than 220,000 beneficiary children face towards a dimmer sun.
Punishment for parent’s recreational drug use, or lack of G.P visits and school enrolment,
can be measured kid-by-kid.

After a while, you don’t even know you are hungry.

You just don’t pay attention any more.


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