Wes Lee
New Zealand

Karakia Precari - Penny Howard 2016
The Eloi

All I can do is come up when I hear that wail
and take you down
into the earth.

(Even if I dissect you I would not know
how you work;
the cold forensic light reveals

but blood and shit and bone.)
The dull one

sniffing up with my rooting mole-like snout,
smelling you
but not knowing

how to be beautiful or golden,
to reach languidly for fruit,
to enjoy the good days.


An old friend and I were talking about family
and I said it’s all a dream in the end
for all of us whoever we are.
And she said I think of us as a litter,
we were like dogs competing
at the nipple, or pigs
with the great heavy sow contented.
And I said I have always thought about your family
as exotic, rambunctious, large,
my small bereft one that has
just sort of fallen away and I’m living with
echoes, someone banging on a tin drum,
a ringing tinnitus left.
And you talked about if you had shown
your fear, if you looked down
they would gather round as bullies with sticks
and bend your neck to your chest
and make you spit and fight and come up for more,
they’d bring the steel back in you.
And you said you loved them
and I could tell you did
even the ones you didn’t speak to.


I have a problematic
relationship with time.
I have to be early

I have never tried being late,
and I told you it was my father who did this
by always being late

and creating great chaos,
as every action has a reaction,
my mother who roared with rage.

So all this chaos got inside
my chest and heart
and like radiation is through my bones

I feel a terrible warning
when the minutes tick
and I’m not there.

Things to Make You Live

One person gives a thought to another –
this thunder in the chest
and lightning,
this bolt as if a superhero had jolted
light from her fingers
like a fuse pushed into Semtex.

We used to survive
knowing which tree fruited at what hour
and the troop
would be there on time
as if we had a clock
and there would be such whooping
and chanting
and quiet contented eating
in the canopy.

Ride Along

And so many years ago I stared at the doors
of an ambulance from the inside
and longed to pull the lever; roll out on the road,
squashed by a truck and not existing.
O my eyes I longed, O my eyes they
ravished, those handles, that stainless
steel. The twist, the flick, so familiar –
the way you know how to halve an avocado,
hit the stone inside with a knife.

Wes Lee lives in Wellington. Her publications include Cowboy Genes (Grist Books, 2014), Shooting Gallery (Steele Roberts, 2016), and a pamphlet forthcoming in 2017 with Eyewear Publishing in London. Her poems have appeared in Poetry New Zealand, The London Magazine, Poetry London, Magma, Westerly, New Writing Dundee, Landfall, Cordite, Riptide, Verandah, The University of Canberra Vice Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Anthology, and many other journals. She has won a number of awards for her writing. Most recently she was selected as a finalist in The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2015, and The Troubadour Prize 2014.