The Red Fridge
'Amygaloid Knots' from Sea Skins by Sophia Wilson
the yarn of long days
We pull the hands of our intentions
from vegetable patches and fields,
haul them indoors
Fire softens us like lanolin
We slump and smell
We bare our skins
and card our fleeces
Neuroses litter the carpet
We are bundles of raw fibre
SOPHIA WILSON grew up on unceded Anaiwan land in Australia and now lives near Ōtepoti Dunedin with her partner, three daughters and around sixty rescue animals. She is the recipient of several awards for poetry. Her poetry collection Sea Skins was recently launched by Flying Island Books in Sydney. @sophia.k.wilson https://sophiakwilson.wordpress.com
'Grief' by Lincoln Jaques
In the field I catch
a dog’s bark. I feel the wind
that carries the dog’s bark.
I search through the grass
looking for meteorites, those tiny
ones that fall in showers. I find
a kid’s beanie, thrown off by the wind
a pair of sneakers, left from a rugby game
empty beer cans from the shadows
that occupy the field at night.
And at the edges of the field frost
forms as if the glacier age is upon us again.
How many times have I wandered
here without you? How many memories
can I find left among the kikuyu?
Now I’ll go walking over the creek
where the ducks occupy themselves with living
where the eels slither silently like meteorites
through a dark sky, mapping
all the many routes home.
LINCOLN JAQUES’ poetry, fiction and travel essays have appeared in Aotearoa and internationally. He was Runner-Up in the 2022 International Writers’ Workshop (IWW) Kathleen Grattan Prize for a Sequence of Poems (judged by Janet Charman).
'Yulé's Morning' by Anita Arlov
Each morning, Yulé reaches for his white enamel bowl with the blue rim. He places it on the stove, pours in full-cream milk and turns on the element. He stirs it with the wooden spoon, watching it steam to a simmer.
Yulé thinks of his girls, when they were little, wanting stories. “Dada, tell us the Little Rabbit Story!” He’d start with the carousel in Wien’s Praterplatz: those four gentle ponies with steaming noses and manes to tangle your fingers. He’d describe the far fields of maize that jumped with wild rabbits; how coming home with a heavy sack would prise Oma out of her chair and send her chattering into the kitchen. He’d end with the Rabbit Story: the little rabbit appearing from nowhere, stopping between his boots, looking him in the face. The little rabbit that made him wrap his rifle in the spare blanket.
Yulé’s favourite spoon is the one with swirly letters intertwined on the fiddle. He spoons in cocoa and stirs the sweet frothy milk. He blows on the surface, watching the cream rise as the milk cools, just a little. He lifts the bowl to his mouth and sips. The dreamy slick of cream slips into his mouth in one piece. Yulé savours it against the roof of his mouth until it melts away.
ANITA ARLOV was born in Christchurch and lives in Auckland. She emcees Inside Out Open Mic for Writers, a monthly spoken word gig. She won the Divine Muses Emerging Poet Competition 2017, and convened the organising team of the NZ Poetry Conference & Festival that year. Anita won the National Flash Fiction Day competition 2018, and was runner-up in the takahe Monica Taylor Poetry Prize. In June 2019 she won second place in the Bath Flash Fiction Award. https://authors.org.nz/author/anita-arlov/
'I count chimneys' by Iona Winter
I count chimneys
Outside flurries of midges swirl
in the sunshine but I’m unable to plant
new seedlings into vernal ground
because you are there
filaments of light through the trees
that you are everywhere
and nowhere solid and ether
formless and heavy
the cat on my lap conducts
an entire conversation without any words being spoken
tea grows cold
as I count chimneys
to distract myself
from the enormity of things laid bare in my chest
then I switch to pylons
along the ridge until the light dims
flowers on the kitchen table
steep in cloudy water now limbs brown
muted-beauty colours like a stain.
IONA WINTER (Waitaha/Kāi Tahu) lives in Ōtepoti Dunedin. Widely published and anthologised, she writes in hybrid forms that explore the spaces between poetry and prose. Her debut collection then the wind came was published in 2018 (Steele Roberts). Shortlisted with The Best Small Fictions (USA 2019), and the Bath Novella-in-Flash Award (UK 2018), she is currently working on a multimedia collaboration with musicians and artists. https://ionawinter.wordpress.com/
'Catania' by Jeni Curtis
First published: The Unnecessary Invention of Punctuation (NZPS 2018)
In the square, a stone elephant
on a plinth. A remnant of Roman
times, symbol of the city. It was winter.
Etna shone with snow. Empty tourist
shops sold statues of black volcanic
rock, Il Duce and miniature
Mafiosa mamas with machine guns.
We visited the Greek amphitheatre. Cats
strolled and squalled where people once
crowded for entertainment.
being there was a reminder of time.
People on the move, the voyagers,
the voyeurs, the vagrants jostled
with the men who play cards under
the viaduct, the women
in the market who bought swordfish,
lobster, artichokes. Movement,
Carthage, Tunis, Athens, Rome,
they all met here.
Now, on the news
I watch the boats from North Africa
arrive. The Mediterranean is still blue,
Etna glints still in the sun. The people
swim or drown; in the square
they huddle, wave after wave,
tides of an eternal sea.
Above the cathedral of St Agatha the full
moon I photographed is now in crescent.
JENI CURTIS is a Christchurch writer who has had short stories and poetry published in various publications including takahē, NZPS anthologies 2014 to 2018, JAAM, Atlanta Review, The London Grip, and the Poetry NZ Yearbook. With a doctorate in English literature, she has forty years of teaching experience both at secondary and tertiary levels. She is a graduate of the Hagley Writers Institute (2011-2012) coming second in the class of 2011. She is secretary of the Canterbury Poets Collective, and editor of the Christchurch Dickens Fellowship magazine Dickens Down Under. She is also poetry editor and chair for takahē.
'one hand grips the steering wheel' by Lynn Tara Austin
one hand grips the steering wheel
light bounces white
off british racing green,
the chrome door handle
she looks sideways
under lowered lids,
arch eyebrows, wilful-red lips
contrast with beige
coat and matching scarf
the folds holding deep shadow
once she turns
the key in the ignition
presses her foot on the accelerator
then, she is Isadora
LYNN TARA AUSTIN belongs to three poetry groups, and regular workshops keep her writing. She has been published in various places including NZPS anthologies, Kokako, takahē, Leaving the Red Zone: Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes, and Bonsai.
'Brother and Sister waiting for a funeral' by Michelle Elvy
Brother and sister waiting for a funeral
Karl sees the girl on the wall from the second-storey window. He pours coffee, lights a cigarette. She looks young: oblong face, long neck, legs hanging like they have grown from the wall itself. Her hay-hair catches in the breeze. She pulls something from her bag. Karl drags on his cigarette, waits. And now: the moment when her hand grasps something no one can see, not even the girl herself, and only she knows what it is. The moment between a person and the next thing she’ll do, the next thing she’ll become. The girl transforms: she is mystery and sly knowing. Karl glides on a thousand moments inside the girl’s bag.
His sister walks up behind him, places her arm around him, whispers, Hey.
By now, she’s made contact, the girl on the wall: fingers searching, finding, grasping. He’ll try to remember this later but it will be a slippery thing, that moment of touch.
Hey. It’s the first thing Kathi’s said to him since their father died. Then she says, Why’s there a girl on the wall?
MICHELLE ELVY is a writer, editor and manuscript assessor. She edits at Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and Blue Five Notebook. She is co-editor of Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa New Zealand and is Assistant Editor for the Best Small Fictions series. Her work can be found most recently in New Micro (W. W. Norton, 2018).
'Peak Hour Traffic' by Laurice Gilbert
First Published in Shot Glass Journal #3
Peak Hour Traffic
in the kitchen / the bedroom / the back seat of the car
round the back of the bike sheds
with consent / without intent / minus the blessing of church or state
before formal nuptials / after petition for divorce
even (OMG) within the bounds of happy successful partnership
some time / some where / some how
two bodies -- willing or otherwise -- did the deed
in the dark / in the light
and the unlikely consequence of egg vs sperm
is fighting its way along the fallopian tube
of Queen St / Lambton Quay / Colombo St / George St
in search of a new womb
home / the gym / a bar / a restaurant / AA / night shift
or driven to return to the original sin
Laurice Gilbert lives in Wellington with four hunters (one human, three feline) and her adult grandson. She’s had poems published in many journals, anthologies and non-literary magazines across 8 countries (#9 pending), having decided long ago that she hated networking and didn’t have the emotional resilience to join the NZ literary circuit. She ran the NZ Poetry Society for nearly a decade, which is far too long by anyone’s standards. She’s had three Pushcart Prize nominations, published two collections and once won a competition (though being shortlisted for the Bridport Prize was also a bit exciting). Laurice is currently in remission from poetry.
First 7 lines of 'Good Bones' by Maggie Smith
Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children ...
Maggie Smith is the author of Good Bones (Tupelo Press, 2017), The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison (Tupelo Press, 2015), Lamp of the Body (Red Hen Press, 2005), and three prizewinning chapbooks. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Smith is a freelance writer and editor.
'10 in a Packet' by Heather McQuillan
10 in a Packet
Crayon voices call from the driveway but before I can locate their whereabouts they scoot off, leaving only a waxy residue on the asphalt. When it rains you can see the outlines of children who have grown out of their skins.
Heather McQuillan is the Director at The School for Young Writers in Christchurch. Among Heather’s short and short-short story writing awards are nominations for the Pushcart Prize 2015 and 2017, winner in Best Small Fictions 2017, first place in both the NZ Flash Fiction Day and Micro Madness competitions 2016, and third place in The Sunday Star Times Short Story Competition 2016. She is also a winner of two Storylines Notable Books Awards, winner of the Tom Fitzgibbon Award and shortlisted for the Tessa Duder Award for her novels for young readers. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from Massey University.
'Digital' by Rata Ingram
But remember, stained in sepia
when hill-cradled rocks
came alive. We put chalk on our fingers
and clung to fine cracks.
We pared the hurt skin from our bones,
hands froze-red in the dawn.
The sun downhill from us, slumbering
in dark rooms.
Digital, this word from
the parts of our fingers
used to count out ones
and zeroes. More than
you could comprehend.
They engineered the silicon.
Now we tear past in Nissan SUVs
pointing at boulders we once conquered
and taking digital photos with a sepia filter.
Our hands are soft to catch the sun.
Rata Ingram writes poetry, creative nonfiction, articles and short stories from where she resides at the foot of Christchurch’s Port Hills. She most recently came third in the Charles Brasch Young Writer's Essay competition, second in the 2016 NZ Heritage Poetry Award and commended for the Hagley Writers National Poetry Day Competition. She was a featured reader at National Flash Fiction Day 2016 and 2017 and has been published in Poetry New Zealand and After the Cyclone. Currently Rata is the youngest member of the South Island Writers’ Association.
'The Telephone' by Victoria Broome
After I dig the garden over for my father,
my mother talks to me on the telephone
only the dead can use.
I am dreaming when she picks it up,
there is a lot of static, other voices
trying to get through.
Her voice is travelling downwards
from some place very high, the cord
is from the telephone in our childhood home
brown cloth around wire, I wake to hear her
for the first time softly and scratchily,
say, 'Thank you.'
Victoria Broome lives in ChCh and works in primary care mental health and has been writing most of her life. She has been published in a variety of journals and anthologies and was awarded the Louis Johnson Bursary in 2005 from Creative NZ. She was a student of the Hagley Writers Institute.
'The hill paddock' by Joanna Preston
First Published in The Summer King
The hill paddock
Searching for the missing calf
in the brittle light of winter afternoon
we found instead
a tuft of bloodied feathers
fluttering in the ryegrass
as though they could remember flight,
and longed for it.
Joanna Preston is a Tasmanaut poet and freelance creative writing tutor, who lives in semi-rural Canterbury with a flock of chooks, an overgrown garden, and a Very Understanding Husband. Her first collection, The Summer King (Otago University Press, 2009) won the inaugural Kathleen Grattan Award and also the 2010 Mary Gilmore Prize. A Dark Feathered Art - Joanna Preston
'Snow-woman' by Helen Yong
First Published, takahē 82
Again, as if it were winter all year,
there has been snow. And her children
in their ruby and cobalt hats and scarves
follow it out into their playground,
the world an ice-room of white.
Their mittened hands stack a snow-woman,
with a bright beret and a parsnip nose.
They leave tracks
like those of small birds.
Behind glass, she worries they might
become lost out in that silent world,
tiny bodies stiff with the chill.
Had she not once wished them gone?
And wouldn’t that be her punishment;
never to stand by their beds, to listen
to the magic of soft breathing.
and 2011 earthquakes and the aftershocks. Some in her
Helen Yong is a Christchurch poet who has lived through the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes and the aftershocks. Some in her own life. She has a special interest in Japanese verse including haiku and tanka, receiving a number of awards and publication in NZ and overseas journals and anthologies. Her longer poems have also appeared in a number of publications, more recently the NZPS anthologies, scattered feathers (2015) and after the cyclone (2017), as well as Leaving the Red Zone; Poems from the Canterbury Earthquakes (2016).
'Fishing' by Rachel Smith
First Published, Catalyst Vol 14
asphalt’s thick dark skin
hydro excavation they call it
cut & suck
a huddle of backs
sink the line deep
past rooted fingers
cables of light & power
string one blank face to another
beads on a thread
hold one end tight
even as cat-gut sears
the hook is sharp
not cow or whale bone
shimmer of iron
its teeth glimmer
where Papatuanuku swims
her rich, loamy flesh
it’ll hold, they cry
she’s a beauty
reel her in
heads high & legs wide
slap hands on back
her threshing tail, breaks
the surface, mouth wide
gasping for breath
Rachel Smith lives and writes in the Cook Islands. Her flash and short fiction, and poetry, has been published in print and online journals in Aotearoa and overseas. She was placed second in 2017 NZ National Flash Fiction Day, is the fiction editor for takahē, and script writer for a feature film ‘Stranded Pearl’, due to be released in 2018.
I met Midnight.
Her eyes were sparkling pavements after frost.
Extract from 'Meeting Midnight' by Carol Ann Duffy