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Susan Green
New Zealand

Taipari O Maraea - Penny Howard
I have been a closet writer for about forty years and in the last ten years have done a number of writing workshops. More recently I have had a bit more space in my life and have been spending more time writing. In my day job I am a psychotherapist in private practice in Auckland.
Leaving Brighton and Mokopuna

I take myself back to
those long Brighton walks,
cold spring wind stinging my cheeks
turning them red, while I am gazing
out upon that vast grey sea capable
of rolling and rattling rocks.

Dodging bikes, dykes and dogs,
cigarette butts and i Phone
users rapt in conversation.
Endless gulls, screeching and weaving around
that burnt out structure.

The glimpse of a Brighton belle,
slinky goodbye kiss
in a green doorway.
The Taj grocery.
Exotic smells of spices and marvellous
fruits. Other world music
that tempted hips to sway.
No cabbage in sight.

Waitrose supermarket.
The eternal queue.
Losing the lanes then stumbling
upon them again.

Climbing to the hairdressers
beside your little house,
using the bright red stripes
of the barbers pole like a beacon.
There she is.


Brown was
just that
the colour
of chocolate
or mud.
He had
special talents.
Was the only one
good with steers.
He was uneasy
with sheep.

So when Queen
Fly and Mac
went out
each morning
Brown looked
on longingly.
Unable to
stretch his legs
in his tiny
cramped kennel.

When his day
came they had to
coax him out.
He was trembling,
forgot he was
good with steers.
He ran back
to his kennel
too soon.
But they would
try him again.

Steers came.
He watched.
They could
not coax
him out, so
they shot him.
In the corner
of his tiny kennel.
A river of red blood
running free.
His soft
eyes smashed.
No longer Brown.

Photograph: Last trip

Bright red jumper.
Newly knitted.
Reminds me how cold it was
on the Kaipara harbour that day.

I look; and hear guttural
gulls, clamouring for acidic,
bleeding burley,
tossed into our wake.

I relive winter journeys when he hurled
orders, bracing against the lurching
of the little boat as she fought
knockout waves, and I hid in the cabin
brushing my hair.

That fish I held,
became our last meal.
Soaked in lemon, washed down
with whiskey tea,
drunk from tin mugs.

That smile I pulled out.
Stuck with a lick of pain
like an assault on my mouth,
became the last fake smile.

Vast stretch of harbour
I see in the distance.
As dark and dangerous as emotion.
She was as risky to navigate as love.

Dad’s Diary; 1949

Dad’s diary is forest green leather.
On the cover ‘diary’ is embossed
in gold lettering.
Inside, a worn red
ribbon, the page marker.
No longer anchored.

When I hold the diary in my
hands the cover feels soft,
under my fingers.
The paper yellowed
with age, musty.

When I hold it to my face
I smell Dad. Pipe tobacco, diesel oil,
old rope, the sea. Days are divided
by a delicate red line.
The small writing is in pencil or
now and then blue ink.

‘To Pierhead’
‘To KG Lock’
‘passed swim test’
‘Finish Longbourne’
On June 25th the day
of my birth, ‘babe’ in brackets
with a kiss. The following week ‘the chicks’
are four months old.