Summer Reading Series: Two poems by Vaughan Rapatahana

New fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Aotearoa writers to read over the summer. This week: Vaughan Rapatahana.

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Each week over the summer we are posting new fiction, non-fiction and poetry by Aotearoa writers. This week, two poems from poet Vaughan Rapatahana's forthcoming collection, ternion.

Read the rest of the series:
'Drunk Girls' by Helen O'Connor
'How To Die' by Jo Randerson
Two poems by Louise Wallace


so the river killed the fish
while the rain
stood by & watched,
garbed in gloom
like some ancient prelate

the sun had fallen victim
to a series of cliché
and just refused to shine,
abrogating itself
vestigial behind
the runty day.

any birds left
were dinosaurs
& their odd sarcastic glances
merely rebooted
this impasto
as raw migraine.

​all the while
you lay  s u p i n e
giting your arms to the clay
in some eldritch
             ancestral          pose;

he tanoga mate
heavier than the last 50 years
and twice as grave.


boil up

'smells good
you cookin' up another one
of those bloody poems of your's mate?;
offered my gap-toothed neighbour,
through the interrupted picket fence.

'reckon,' I said, stirring up
a bit of everything on the page,
so to speak.

'hope it hasn't got
all of that silly fancy shit;
those clever-dick tricks
&           run            arounds?
gotta give us plenty of
good odl carrot & onion words, yunno!'

'I'll try,' I lied, chucking in
a couple of audio-dacious slap, cacke & plops
& one or two cacophonous condiments,
when he wasn't looking.

i makamaka ana ahau ko rua ngā kupu Māori hoki, nē rā –
just to make the broth more existentially authentic.

by now the pot lid was arguing back at me,
quite brazenly
springing up & down,
telling me it was havng trouble
keeping all the stuff inside
in                                             line
& that nothing
was rhyming up

'remember, mate, don't overcook this one, eh!
last one you served up
was too bloody lump                           & tasteless.
give us
a real boil up this time.'
so sniffed by whanaunga,
picking his nose behind a palisade.

'yeah, yeah' I muttered,
alternately alliterating
& assonancing the concoction
with a wooden spoon.

but –          toward the                   end
of our mōteatea –
I did turn down the heat a bit
& dress up a little watercress                           on the side. 

reckon there's no need for anymore
of this half-baked verse stuff
around                                    here, eh.

mā te wā.

'boil up' was placed second in last year's Plate in the Mirror poetry competition and appeared in the Plate in the Mirror poetry anthology. 'endgame' was first published in the Christchurch Press. Both poems appear in Vaughan Rapatahana's new collection, ternion.