Poem of the day

from preterrain

by Craig Santos Perez

19 March

Search Party

by Elaine Baker

After WS Graham


Something beckons, suckered to the hull

that we must search the blinking shores for.

We are blindfolded, clad in light 

but bracken turns boots black,

hunger drives us back to hearths.

We are so starved we cannot



Nights compress, drenched sand, salt frets.

We cling on, carve out the nothing, 

feed in words, hear voices leagues away

deadened, caught in traps.

Can we dive to the depths, resist the lies

that float bladder-white,

truths spangling our naked sides?


Listen still.

The tide comes, fathers slewed hours,

leaves what it chooses. In the interior

an owl is snagged on trees, the moor calls

and we still wear the blindfolds.

We forget what we are looking for.


We fetch the notes from gales,

pin them round our hearth fires.


18 March


by Penelope Shuttle

Tonight the Salome moon

throws off her seven cloud veils -

small, full and high in the east,

she lights her half of the sky

with soft blue and softer grey,

while in the west

Darkness touches his toes,

bows down to me or the moon.


Down on the shore,

an egret, motionless, abiding,

suddenly opens his wide wings,

flies moonwards,

white as the fleece

from which Gideon wrung a bowl of dew,

white as the robe slipping

from the shoulders of Bathsheba.


17 March

Bob's Car

by Russell Thompson

The man stands by his pick-up

truck and whirrs the automatic

windlass into life. Bob, Bob’s 

wife and Bob’s wife’s niece watch.


When he arrived, he eyed Bob’s car,

scratched his baseball-cap, said the ad

had had him understand it wasn’t quite

so… But he’d take it. For parts.


Bob has been busy: he’s jettisoned

the other contents of the corrugated iron

garage. Only two prehistoric oil-cans –

‘good for ten years yet’ – get saved.


The cable tautens, and Bob’s car –

insofar as it can still be called 

a car – ploughs into daylight. No tyres.

No engine. Chassis on the gravel.


The man operates the controls

with one thumb. ‘Can we help at all?’

‘No, it’s OK.’ Bob’s wife’s niece’s small

son’s playing with a bucketful of stones.


The pick-up humps up the unmade lane.

Bob’s car rides piggyback, bumping side

to side. They turn onto the main road

at the top, and everybody goes inside.

16 March

In her deepest sleep, Madam Lisette Talate returns to Chagos

by Saradha Soobrayen

Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there's a land that I heard of, once in a lullaby 


In her deepest sleep, Madam Lisette Talate returns to Chagos,

leaving the Mauritian slums, where so many continue to follow


her example, standing in protest against the lies and chaos    

orchestrated by the officials, who claimed there were no


indigenous people on Diego Garcia, Peros Banhos,

none on the sibling islands of Salomon, Egmont, and so


the islands were ‘swept and sanitised’. An albatross

was spared, and the order given:  ‘a few Man Fridays’ must go.


The slave ancestors who fished, loved and prayed across

the centuries, the generations who dried the copra, coco,


extracting oil from the kernel of the nut, even the boss

of the copra plantation struggled to see over the rainbow.


On the main island of Diego Garcia, the US base, Camp Justice

squats. The Chagossians are still chanting, Rann nu Diego


thirty, forty years later, fighting for the right to return. Their loss

is unimaginable, these guardians of the Chagos Archipelago.

15 March

Calling Pluto

by Karen Smith

After dark I call you up, 

just to hear the weather report, 

that the nights are drawing in now, 

and how much you paid 

for your latest pair of trousers. 

You’ll tell me the one about 

PLUTO, the giant pipeline rolling out 

under the Channel on a steel drum, 

how it kept the tanks fed 

for our boys on the continent, 

how the ice cream hut along the bay

was really a pump in disguise,

like those Ruperts that kept the Führer

guessing. And the Kamikaze who’d blaze

unswerving to the end, the enemy

you couldn’t help but admire. And I’ll 

sing you American Pie again, 

like that last night in the hospital,

however many times you try to die.

14 March

The First Wave

by Nina Powles

While listening to Radio NZ coverage of the 7.8 magnitude Kaikoura earthquake, November 13, 2016 

they request that we inform you immediately              you are standing on soft ground

the ceiling lights are swinging in the background

the waves crash, then dissipate                        the first wave may not be the largest

this is a flow-on event so do not go near                                 do not stay and watch the land

slipping            it has triggered other faults like a network of nerves

and the seabed has risen out of the sea                                    there are visible ruptures

running along the landscape                            this is a flow-on event                      

but the moon does not cause earthquakes        the ceiling lights are a typical pattern

of aftershocks                          and they request that we inform you  

you are a visible rupture running along the landscape

do not stay and watch                          the nerves slipping

there will be strong currents in the background

the moon has risen out of the sea                    the first wave crashes, then dissipates

you are standing on such soft ground