Sarah Barnett
New Zealand
Sarah Barnett is a museum professional who lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand. She finds inspiration for her work in the audio and visual jumble that typifies New Zealand life. Her work has recently been published in The Christchurch Press, Catalyst and Takahe.

finding my father

my grandfather, a butcher
smoked himself to death
in this house

when he died
you sat on our brown
corduroy couch and
held your face together

you tell me
not to expect much.

Ravensbourne has
streets I fear to drive,
we ask a man for
directions, his grandson
twists at the hip.

I remember the basement
I pick your face
from a photograph,
grey and uniform

the wire washing line
spreads its arms
to embrace

a backyard
lush with silence;
my heart feels ashamed
to beat

slipping into palmerston

there is a slow melt

each day rains absentminded
of the last

when I slid my car
nearly coming to terms
with a fence

stippled hills
painted green with
sheep chipped into
the side

and the coppers pull over
just to be sure
just to be sure

my tongue numb

I snatch my feet from the
eyeing the grass

twisted in my tracks

cuba mall

red is the colour
that makes a bull charge
red is the man

foot taps,
raps the yellow lines
rocking onto the balls
of my feet

the traffic
a dynamic movement

exclusive adults shop
the triple X
the king kebab
a midnight espresso

plugs a sink
filling at my back

hey mate
how's the day?

can't stop
the clock studded girl belted,
leans black
against a park bench

a patch of
urban eczema

all heads twitch
antelopes watching
a lotus growl past

too old she says
he says

they say with
silent headphones
to each individual

racing faces,
sunglasses and skeletons
hands pocketed with
hooked thumbs through denim

a loop or swing to
a jazz chord from
the upstairs window,

or is that
hip hop discord?
playing hop scotch
I throw the jack
a red, yellow and green disc

red is the colour we bleed
yellow is the colour we age
and green means go


winter came today
cold slick drops on
rust bricks;
the wind has blown
all the houses down

from the trees overhead
the kereru recites
aa eh ee or oo

in the morning
the mist rolls in
from the river

the crown,
a sweetened coming
each taillight a
red eye that winks
through grilles
on the bridge

the sky is soaked with
feathers that fall,
to cloak the ground,
and I wonder
what bird did god kill for this night?

the kereru calls
tino rangatiratanga

easter in auckland

monday is bitter
waking, curled in a strangers bed

we shower in the rain,
eat crushed banana for

the motorway
rolls with my stomach,

the moon has come out for the sun
you say
a gesture

I show you the littered harbour
sails, like cocktail umbrellas
play the harmonica

across the bay the city
lies down at my command

a dog

salt air rushes
over my shoulder

I take a pinch


we walk to lovers leap
brushing the tussock
with our

it swallows down
to a chopped

gaping wide in horror
or surprise
both aural and vaginal in

the sky clouds over
and the train
is bursting

occupied in bubbles of personal

swaying down the aisle
a man slumps

his grip
thick with absorption

he chews his lip;

he can’t wait to see
how it ends

chinese water torture

he has gone

the bed sheets lie flat
on his side
a slow quietness
to fill the next


between my palms
beneath my nails

he has gone

I put my fingers
in my mouth
suck hard