Back to Index
Photography: Sarah Reed
Sue Emms

Sue Emms is an award-winning writer, editor, and creative writing tutor of fiction, poetry and non-fiction. Her first novel, Parrot Parfait, was published to excellent reviews in 2003, and her second, Come Yesterday, is due out any time now. She lives on the side of the Kaima hills where she stares out at the view and calls it work.

I met a man
who laughed much but carried
griefs in a basket  of gold.

Moths are prettier than you
think. Drab brown isn’t when
you look more closely, hold

the pale dust of the moon
in your hand and blow a wish
a kiss, high into the stars.

The night nudged me awake
shushed me
with a horse dancing across

the black, neck arched, mane
flying a glittering constellation
galloping home.

a little more than Picasso, a little less than perfect

He sings
to the unlovely lovely
seeing beauty,
coaxing it out
from where it doesn’t live -

- a dry and hungry place.

He draws
with paint-splattered
in tender curves
& swells.

Mark this point.

This is where it is.

The promise given
in part. Received
in whole.

Seeing beauty, my love,
he is translucent.

And cannot see.

missing Robert

I wanted to tell you
about the tomatoes, Robert.

Round and red with a stern,
bitter-sweet fragrance.

And the strawberries,
those shadowed, scarlet bursts
beneath green leaves.

The apple tree is naked
just a few dry leaves
and one fruit that glows, ruby,
against a pale gray sky.

The creek rushes on, whispering secrets
and spilling on stones, moaning
for the moon.

And now I dream that you are coming
you who know the secret pathways

-the kiss in the crease of my knee,
the lips in the hollow of my shoulder -

that lead to pleasure.

Do you still feel, Robert?


I can’t find a bed that fits
Too big, too soft, too lumpy
Too far away
from everyone else

not the bunk. When did I
last climb ladders?

The couch, then. The one that has
no arms so the pillow falls off and
I wake with an afghan panel
stamped on my cheek and a small
child’s breath in my face.

There are cups plates bowls glasses
mugs knives forks spoons jugs pots pans
baskets cloths serviettes placemats in the


-not one of them matches another.

No one else cares.

Why then, do I search for patterns why
do I find the routines of making the bed
and setting the table sweeping the floor
so soothing?

Yes, of course there’s sun.

Sand, surf and lithe tanned bodies
flirting-eating-drinking, a sea-breeze
pohutakawa and a sign that says

Light no fires.

I don’t remember
the last time I lit a fire with
the swing of my hip
and tilt of my head.

A sparrow’s trapped
in the half-built room
where black paper flaps
and the stink of new wood
bites the nose.

The bird quivers and flicks,
flits through the gap when I open the window
lurches on air to freedom


swoops in a circle and blunders back through
a hole in the roof.

Perches in the rafters and
stares at me with black, beady eyes

the gum trees quiver
sand drifts over the concrete
oleanders bloom pinkly
the fountain tinkles

and yes.

The sun is sinking,
-a gaudy old whore
into her bed
and in her slanted, simmering glance

I can see

the twisted willow is dying.

Back to Index