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Sudha Rao
New Zealand

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Sudha Rao is originally from South India and came to New Zealand with her parents and three brothers in the late sixties to Dunedin, where her father taught at the Otago University’s Medical School.
In 2007, Sudha participated in the Victoria University of Wellington’s International Institute of Modern Letters programme, Iowa Workshop. While Sudha has been writing for a number of years. The summer workshop experience has strengthened her foundation and desire for writing. Sudha lives with her family in Wellington.


The sky has lost its stars.
They have fallen to embrace the soil.
Now the twinkle in the sky’s eye,
a lonely jet engine,
charges through the night sky’s loss.

A hard bed, perfect conditions.
The air fills with snores, wakeful dogs howl into the dew.
Two short yaps bring all to a halt.
A crow takes over the first light.

No dogs silence.
The night watchman turns
into the dark.

                                                         A meditation,
                                                  an interpretation
                          of an ancient land and its ways.

Rain Journey

Oh look it's raining-
end on end water
pastes the window pane.

I slide to the river crossing,
once made on its boulders.
A slip on the third one,
a skate into the stream’s foam.

On the shoulders of my mistake, my
eyes burn to a goggled gleam, my skin
scales blue green. Here, mixed with liquid life
rain pellets bulb into more water.

My molten limbs liquescent
forces space under arm, and
I surface to the peninsula rolling,
to greet the river mouth.

A mute breeze, washed by the rain,
folds heaven’s dew,
a pregnant burst for relief -
I am aqua transformed.

Rain is fall.

Clarksdale Blues

A tumble down Highway 61 drops strangers at your door.
Foreigners tread the same sun rise shadow you cradled long ago. 

You carried your sons and daughters from porch to porch.
Their breaths, your breast sweat and cool blood
tied rich toned timbers to a strange soil.

As your hands turned to metal, the wheel
lifted skirts and eyes to a sky flecked cotton balls,
cued to hail down on you, your sons and daughters.

Your voice raised damp helpless notes,
a promise, forgiving every new dawn.

Your footsteps raised blue blades, invisible blunt,
sharp. Enough to carry your promise in their pockets
held stiff by limbs in memory of you, Robert Clay.

The shack up inn hospitality misses your touch,
our alien bones feel, gathered invisible
by the evening sun. Now spirit talk seeps through cracks in your floor.

Imagined whispers bundle down the highway.
Your heart smelt is carried across oceans by foreigners in your land.


You can hand out fliers,
You can win a contest,
then not.
You can ride a bicycle
in a red dress.
the soil you stand on,
under, where the sun shines
for you, to make a footprint
on the dust you will never see again.


For a long time parting was a line
my mother found on my head
tidying strands, finding order.

river coil
a course among boulders and smooth stones

ice break
exposing the remnants of a long time relationship

zip tear
separating closely held folds of a falling skirt  

Parting, an untidy mess at my feet.


The sun, a smudged poached egg,
a sorry sight.
The hanging basket entrance,
frames  the sun’s kiss
stroke the butterfly’s wing.

A four post bed all in red.
As the blackened foliage brushes the window,
the sky turns purple.

Mingled tongues orbit
the lake, a storyteller
with three pages of a book
held by a seamless spine
makes a mark on the word.