2016 runner up

The PWF – Kassandra Wang

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when i told them about the Pretty White Friend they were
delighted and frightened. justifiably beguiled.
mother hush-hushes as i splash streaks of
salty sea things and smile.
for lost communication, beam –
for foreign shapes on tongues, where
i bask in jarred alfredo,
‘hope you am enjoying some dinners, dear’
over white china and silver cutlery,
her eyes will shudder
hands will flutter
mutter      mutter      m-u-t-t-e-r-e-d         mother’s
mental reassurances that our rice cooker is firmly
lodged under bed, and that the
wok on ceiling is taped securely
you grimaced i grinned we crept
to sail where we are subtle
(midnight giggles muffled)
with each others necks and
the moon floods my yellow banks and
mars your milky shores and
i slam the doors on deck and
nestle their whispers into seas that
‘i am worshipped as one of Them and
one third despised one third condemned’ –          please
Pretty White Friend, i smile, see
but some day i will wake up and i will scream.
Kassandra Wang
Year 12
St Cuthbert’s College

How much is too much for remembering? – Huyen Thu

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How much is too much for remembering?
How much is too much for remembering?
You know the grief when the river flow wiped off the rice paddies – all dead
The afternoon smoke flew away as they burned the rice stubble afterwards
There, the neighbour boy caught the fishes
shut them in a jar so his childhood couldn’t go too far
At the end of the day
Come back again to see the cobblestone path on a rainy day
follow the flute sound and run up the hill to the village
meet the old woman with a natural smile, no teeth,
seemed like she was waiting for her son to come back home from town
There’s too much to remember about the old days
The flower scent in the air,
cicadas rumbling on the trees,
the trees Grandpa planted that year
now laying buds in people’s hearts
Where was the innocence?
We are old enough to feel the loss
Stand in front of our shadows and command:
‘Don’t cry!
Numerous footprints will carry the promise.’
Begin to learn the mother tongue one more time
for more than a love of family, the old village, soil and sand
we feel the sense of belonging
In the memory of a beautiful dawn
there were heel marks on the mouldy bricks
Open the door,
light the cigarette,
ponder again: how much is too much for remembering?

Huyen Thu
Year 13
Wellington East Girls’ College

The Universe – Mira Karunanidhi

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The Universe
we once had a conversation
about the universe
and i told you
i like to think
that space is infinite
that it has no beginning
or end
but like most things
it has to end somewhere
in the same way
i like to think
that our love is infinite too
it has no beginning
or end
but like most things
it had to end somewhere.

Mira Karunanidhi
Year 12
Queen Margaret College

It’s 2016 – Zhouai Wang

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It’s 2016
An hour earlier a woman shoves a girl
painted black, white, and purple
down with the butt of her flagpole
and with spit flying she screams
a history lesson: you’ve got a lot to learn.
It’s a community made up of the invisible
fighting to hold funeral marches.
Honey, you’re naïve for wanting to be visible,
acknowledged, recognized, and targeted.
Being seen got some of us attacked, left to die.
We don’t accept people like you.
They said, back in the day,
L was for the left over girls who couldn’t get a guy
G was for the goners pushed onto train tracks
B was for the backs stabbed by both sides
T was for –
Times have changed, the girl sneers,
and the letters crumble apart.
No funeral marches to wear black to,
it’s a rainbow, she points, all the colours and all the letters.
The woman scoffs,
you don’t belong here.
Grow up now, princess!
People like you don’t die.
We do.
Now, it’s Orlando, 12 days in.
Of all the colours, it’s red on the walls and the floor.
Today’s goners shot in the back and terrified.
Down the street a woman carries a flag,
its weight rests across her shoulder.

Zhouai Wang
Year 13
St Cuthbert’s College

Inside out – Nina Richardson

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Inside out
i cut my finger
today, quite by accident
sliced it open sliverquick
the piece of grin-glinting glass lying in the sink
the blood bloomed jubilant from
the curling furls of my fingertip
you’re alive! it dripped
look at all this oxygen
this steaming red-hot rush
slickening your veins,
making your bones hum
but a slip step breath goodbye and
we peel in half, peach-soft and dripping
splitting into pieces and pieces of
bone skin attic junk
a milk tooth, a ballet slipper, a memory wrinkling
what are we then, really?
it’s a delicate thing,
our paper paper skin
the touch of my finger to yours
a freckle graze,
slow and deafening
a current raging
so close to the surface
how easily we are
able to turn ourselves inside
Nina Richardson
Year 13
Samuel Marsden Collegiate School Karori

King Country – Eva Poland

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King Country
Deep within the King Country
Papatūānuku’s skin is an ocean of copper and gold
egg yolk and fish fingers –
Pollock on steroids in summer.
Shards of our mother’s broken bones break
like waves from the surface of the earth
forming barricades on which Tāne’s warriors stand
row upon row
they pull strength up through their roots
(as I pull my strength up through you)
their protective arms merging together like a great taniwha
or a tendril of smoke.
Deep within the King Country
we who are many become one again beneath Rangi’s chest
and sink back, children once more
into the soil from which we were moulded.
Eva Poland
Year 13
Wellington High School

The last real home is you – Lily Van Buskirk

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The last real home is you
There’s a virus on my foot
I put acid on it overnight to burn it off
A tree on my street got a virus
They cut it down and made a car park
and a brown ring of grass like a halo
I thought time had left me alone
but the past stretches far back into my head
and what’s next after that only darkness.
I do remember going away on holidays
I would take a lot of pictures
and everything looked cool and different
Then came back home and didn’t take any.
Now it’s ending and all looks so beautiful walking away
and every small change hits me really hard
I used to think I was all alone
but I have my virus

Lily Van Buskirk
Year 13
Columba College

Indian Wedding – Caleb Morgan

By | 2016 runner up | One Comment

Indian Wedding
her sequin-covered sari
dances in the sunlight
she twirls to the native sounds of Mumbai
the sounds that changed
her childhood
the quiet drone of bicycles and motorbikes
now an array of horns and engines
in the midst of the ceremony
a wine bottle shatters
once an innocent accident
now a warning of danger
the love she couldn’t choose
the wedding she didn’t want
the only thing that is true
her beauty is pure

Caleb Morgan
Year 13
St Andrew’s College

The Girl Sitting Next To Me – Jamie McKenzie

By | 2016 runner up | 2 Comments

The Girl Sitting Next To Me
In high school they try to teach us,
about Algebra, the Second World War and Market Equilibrium.
But I’ve learnt more from the girl sitting next to me,
than anything I’ve ever read from a textbook.
The girl sitting next me,
constantly checks a blank screen.
A burning gaze that is never reciprocated.
I’ve learnt that the time it takes for a person to
text back,
is directly proportional to your self worth.
I imagine I am just like her,
pampered and polished to perfection.
But is that really me,
or am I just cowering in her shadow?
Subsisting on the scent of her perfume.
I despise the girl sitting next to me,
she who never colours outside of the lines.
Silently watching, without engaging,
judging me with unclosed eyes.
But I find,
I need the girl sitting next to me.
Otherwise all I will ever be taught,
is Algebra, the Second World War and Market Equilibrium.

Jamie McKenzie
Year 13
St Hilda’s Collegiate