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POETS ON THE WRITERS WALK competition run by Wellington Writers Walk and the Wellington Branch of New Zealand Society of Authors for Phantom Billstickers National Poetry Day 2023 - WINNER OPEN SECTION

Passport to Reside – Pōneke

there’s always an edge here, our birth town

torn, moulded, shaken, upthrust, downthrust

greywacke crushed, exposed, set to flee when hills roar


the harbour a slurping bowl for Cook Strait

relentless in, out, rewriting coastlines with

every southerly


deepest of green town-belt, illusion of calm while

hill dwellings cling tighter to foundations

at every storm and shuffle


there’s always an edge here, a town for the brave

where the Great Depression sent desperate

forbears house to house for cheaper rent

furniture whisked out back by neighbours

as bailiffs arrived at front


our father walked Ngauranga Gorge in gales,

rocks tumbling ahead and behind, to

court his love in another suburb


on the edge of the world at Maungaraki

auntie and uncle taped picture windows

terrified of tempests and shattered glass


there’s always an edge here, land bulldozed

to temporary subservience awaiting

revenge of time, tide and all that quivers


passport to reside granted only to those who

join the dance of sea, wind and icy rain while

fault lines murmur, threaten to brawl


a spindle of light
ghosts among the palm trees
​sit and stare

silent surroundings
the breath of dog
on crisp air

willow wood and sand
creeping sap where
children play

​fill the gap
​blossoms on stems

bitter cake, forks of bilge
where trying is
never enough

fumbling for flesh
no gaps
space is overrated

the jumble sale
all laid out
a red cushion

a spinning leaf
black trunk of tree
spider web

sun for breakfast
winter wind
a heron on the lake

hills where sky should be
a forest of damp logs
and fungi

Adrienne has written numerous articles and reviews listed below. Some links no longer work.

The Garden is a Spacecraft

the garden is a spacecraft

landed in a whirl of flashing

orange     pink      yellow     shining green

between rows of possibilities

beside rows of snaking, shuddering vehicles going

nowhere and


where bees settle to drink from purple

haze of lavender and the euphorbia is

iridescent in its limeness


orange nasturtiums have broken loose

tumble now across the rhododendron skyward then

earthward to conquer new lands


the tall thin tree with no name that was almost

at the powerline  abandoned now where it was cut

unsure where to step next and shouting at the sky


ice daisies from a shore suburb are launching

their deep crimson takeover at the edge of the

universe and a shot pink blowsy peony shakes its

petals over its companions


the miscanthus grass is levitating

reaching up so fast the view of the almond coloured

vireya will be hidden from view


next door Mutabilis is fooling the world

blush pink    cream     magenta rose     tangerine

mixing it up all over

painting the sky


tucked behind the magnolia an echium begins its princely

rise to kingdom’s head where it will dwarf  most else

and keep the late summer bees in endless nectar


leafing all over is the baby willow

honouring the old stump that was its predecessor

caught by the big dry two summers back and

now turned into bowls


a black compost bin languishes beneath the rhododendron

feeding the local rodents who enter and exit through a

latticework of tunnels


yesterday a rainbow knocked at the door

It was too wide to fit through the doorway so I


stood their uncomfortably wondering how to

offer it tea under the verandah

not speaking it just smiled and lifted itself up higher

sheltering from the afternoon sea breeze in the branches of the

ornamental plum up close to the powerlines

the calendulas took  on a fiery glow more

orange than orange


echium spikes turned ultramarine and the euphorbia

wove itself into a cushion of gold and lime cross stitch

i stood in the doorway transfixed

unsure if I too would be transformed if I ventured into the

world of the rainbow and if that would be okay

it rained then

cold drops from a blue sky

how can that be?

and as quickly as it came the rainbow took off taking its paintbox


There is a time in the early evening when the

light on the willow and the rows of vines across the road

are so golden you want to catch it in

buckets and keep it for when the skies are dark

the light has its own sound

drowns out the traffic and owns the

plains that stretch out from the house toward

distant hills

it hangs in the air so lightly

the moment so brief there is not time to

find the camera

demanding all your attention there is nothing to do but

be in it peach    

                               salmon pink    

                                                              fiery red    

                                                                                    back to blue


You planted the magnolia five years ago

it came in a box from the north island with a label that

has gone now so you don’t know

what it is

for five years it has done nothing but sit solid

sometimes you are not sure if it was even breathing

no leaves until now the fifth spring

perhaps it was just finding its feet

showing an interest in its surroundings you

clean around its feet to

give it encouragement

you bought it for your mother who is now dead

she is always in the garden

particularly in the blue ixia that raises itself from the

tub under the verandah each october

you bought it because it was blue and your mother

loved blue

so much it inhabited hern





The verandah is overflowing with

remnants of winter

big black tubs that last year held the

winding beans from crete with

pale ochre shells

wait now for emilia  

                                            bishop’s flower


purple sweet peas have a head start

cascade over blue lobelias that seems

to live through every season


the bath tub from france is glowing still with

pansies  purple    



a scarlet geranium is front of house

snging the loudest

next to the tub of plump limes


the garden is a spacecraft

twirling in rainbows

The Artist

Today I dreamed I was back on the ocean at the
bottom of the world
on water not the shade of childhood pictures or pacific reefs but
Emerald and Viridian mashed together
squelching Black at the creases of
wild whirling pools as bow dives deep and
foam rips the surface
a hundred spinning cartwheels a minute
I hear you
feel you
heaving cauldron of water and ice
breath catches
threatens to peel skin raw
I carry my brushes close
winged salute to raw unencumbered space
no room for anything out here but what is
in thick melting treacle of dark
a tinge of gold where my
heart beats hopeful toward the horizon and
all the way

By Adrienne Matthews in honour of Sean Garwood’s Antarctica Exhibition,
The Arts Centre, Christchurch. October 6 – 9 2017

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