Rowley Avenue

I drove down your street for the first time
As I pulled up outside your house,
I had found scattered memories I had left for dead.
A pack of teenagers trying to flex
Unaware of what they have to lose
Like a brother or their teeth,
Or my wife losing her husband.
Memories of scanning for escape routes
Sniffing for danger, hunger and a quick come up,

Take note of where I’m parking.

Red, blue, yellow can all be a bullseye in the wrong hood.

And it’s true, even Christchurch has hoods.

My shoulders turn stone,
neck tensed.

There’s a faint smell of soy sauce and onion,
The street is full of heartbroken Samoan melodies
Booming out of a slow moving people mover,
As if
to catch the ear of his 19 year old lover who moved to NZ 30 years too early.
Leaving him with the girl from the village down the road.
So here he is 69 with his restless grandkids in the back, he searches as he plays it again.

On my way there to your house,
I had past two churches,
One for each street corner,

Or blessing slot machine?
Nah, I'm sure they’re not like that down here.

The houses are lined similarly, uniformed and brightly painted,
they don't herald state house - Preston Rd like,
It’s missing the bottle shops
Which explains the lack of broken glass.
Instead it's the way the two kids on the street looked at me,
Their wide eyes take me in like panting pets do
When cars pull into their driveway at night,
Ears pointing up, panting stops,
All attention is on my car.
Am I an uncle? An older cousin?
Their older brothers bro?
Or that man who dropped off some kalo last Sunday?

The two of them, still frozen,
My low beating heart pauses.
I crack a little smile,

His microphone head swivels back to his friend as
They continue to play anime and I smell their freshly cut lawns.

My shoulders rest.
And so does my heart.

Dietrich Soakai is of Sāmoan, Tongan, German, Irish, Scottish and Fijian heritage and is a spoken word poet. He has been involved in the spoken word scene since 2011 where he joined the 'South Auckland Poets Collective' (SAPC). Dietrich has performed in numerous shows with 'SAPC' both nationally and internationally. Some highlights have been performing on various stages in Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and in LA on the world-renowned spoken word stage 'Da Poetry Lounge'. He also has performed with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra where he performed a poem for the ANZAC commemoration concert.