Not Everyone Can Birth a Poem

Not everyone can birth a poem on order


Make it whole and ripe like a fresh picked passion


And not everyone

Can sing words on command

And having had 6 months, 6 days, 6 decades,6 minutes

I am learning fast

And I am learning slow

That not many of the almost poems we carry 



to being

Fresh and full term

Many poems lingered over will never hear their whole names.

Glimpses of nearly spoken,

hardly breathing,


and burnt spice seeds.

I have hummed my dearest unborn to death.


There are these people who go to poetry classes and study Chaucer and obscure languages

Who carry the right to be fragile like a diamond tiara or a spider web crown.

And there was this boy called Ben. (He wore a back to front sports cap)

And a group of us teachers, and kids and Ben, sat circled around Hone Tuwhare

Inside a school Library in Auckland, 

On a wet afternoon

Like those hunched up birds that swoop down over dead meat.

It was the 1980s and nobody there was going to poetry school that we knew off yet

and some of you were not even born and Mr. Tuwhare was not even old yet.

But we did know he was the real thing, 

Because he had a book of his poems published with a cover painted by Ralph Hotere, 


Ben put up his hand and He shined his smile and he spoke 

"Mister, Ahhh TUWHARE

The thing is, I really like your poems 

And I really like the sound of words the way you say them, But Sir, ahhhh Mister TUWHARE

Do I have to learn to read books to be a poet?

And Mister Tuwhare said, 

(Really serious, gentle, firm,)

"Well, yes son, you do."

And Ben said, 'Thank you Sir. Thank you.'

And so, I am making this poem for Ben,

In case he hears it.

It Is Time

It is time I fashioned myself a Goddess of Detritus.

A secular saint, for unwritten poetry

Saint Slovenly, for the rhyme lies dormant

Saint Sluggish, because the poorly weighted, 

tragic crossed out thing is only just breathing.  

Straining her too heavy head

and collapsing 


Birthed in the wrong time and at a tardy dated place

From a distance made worse by effort

Needing to be absolved

Washed clean and corrected

Blessed by 

People who have heard her at least once



I am


Market Place

I bought breakfast for a thin terrified boy whore in a Manilla Hamburger place 

near a market stall filled with plaster Virgins called Mary 

and wooden Saints called Joseph

Wrapped in transparent cellophane and impenetrably

bonded in pastel bows

Underneath a smiling leery clown

made of fibreglass.

I took his photograph, and his eyes were big and afraid.

I told him my heart was charity.

Because I believed it was so.

He lifted his arms and stretched them over his head, chin to ceiling

up to the clowns' parting lips

And He said he had to go home. 

He said he was not hungry. 

He would not be bought for less than a dinner 

on the cathedral side of the city.

So Many

There are too many poems

I cannot write

There are stories that strip away facades

and glass-topped fences 

and leave all our lies laid bare,

and textured with crisp edges

And highlighted passages,

where the tide goes in and out.

Where the bit about Tahiti

and the tragedy

of Fiji

and the lost trip to Pakatoa 

Fit neatly into passages about plastic treasure

found in boxes

under trees withholding coconuts.

We bought shell necklaces for the journey 

and kept them until we were women

We can all smell Frangipani and look up,


up at the night sky here 

Pointing to the Southern Cross

like it means something

Anne Hill is a New Zealand citizen on paper. She is grateful for this. 

She was raised Roman Catholic and believed that was her religion and a large part of her identity until she had her DNA 'done' and rethought the whole idea of identity and colonisation in the light of history and a whole lot of virtual relatives. 

Very little of her education, race or marital status has any bearing on her present reality. Most of what she was taught was not true or is now outdated. Much of what she learnt, and then taught is now absurd and easily contradicted with a quick google search. Now that she is a different 'other' when she ticks the 'other' box, she feels like the errors were, or should have been obvious. 

She finds most of her life has been a whooping big joke. This gives her joy when it does not reduce her to a thin stain of bewilderment. She is hoping that being 60 will be easier than all the other numbers so far. She raised three much loved children, killed a lot of paintings and spent too long on the same old poems. Her sisters are wonderful. She loves dogs and one particular cat. She lives in Auckland