Poet Laureate’s Choice, August 2021 | Paula Green

Poet Laureate’s choice, August 2021

The Poet Laureate's Choice, August 2021 is a portfolio sequence of new poems from poets chosen by the Poet Laureate. Today three new poems from Paula Green.

The moon

I could tell you about the moon bloated bright

in the midnight sky or the ribbon of white

clouds sending messages above the harbour and hills


but I stall on the slave-trade image and cheap

throw-away products and the way Māori

are still let down systematically and I stall

on the piercing wail of men and women

in India whose loved ones are dying listening

with heart freeze to that pitch of helpless

despair on India’s front line


I could tell you how I crouch on the damp

grass at midnight and hold out my palms

to cup moonlight and hope, so I can sleep

So I can sleep and sleep and sleep

Paula Green



She is building something with large Lego blocks

perhaps a bed she sits on top placing

one block above the other the light

is dim and then darkness crashes down

on her and she realises each block

is full of toxic things and

if she moves an inch in the pitch

black she will die.


She is trying to find the parking area

at Countdown but she feels like she

is in a Gabriel García Márquez novel

where nothing is at it seems and

the parking area is hard to pin

down. She leaves the car and buys

green tea with ginger and kawakawa

leaves but for the love of life

she cannot find her car no matter

which Byzantine maze she follows.


She finds herself in a room with young

men with long hair playing guitars

on embroidered cushions and then in a room

full of bouquets of irises and people reading

poems out loud all at the same time and

on the wayward steps outside she bumps

into Anna Jackson who also can’t find

her parking space.


The panic rises because they don’t know how

to get out of the surreal script let alone

the Countdown maze so they find

a yellow bench by a wide window

shut their eyes and wait.

— Paula Green


in the hand that holds the scratching pen

in the earth that holds the sprawling pumpkin


in the water that holds the body in pain

in the pot that holds the lentil soup simmering


in the arms that hold the daughters breathing

in the stone that holds the midday sun


in the shoulders that hold a world that’s suffering

in the road that holds the long way home

— Paula Green

Paula Green biography

Paula Green is a poet, anthologist, blogger and children’s author. She has published fifteen books, including five for children, and runs two blogs Poetry Box and Poetry Shelf. In 2017 she received The Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, and was made a Member of the NZ Order of Merit for Services to Poetry and Literature. In 2019 she published three books: Groovy Fish and Other PoemsThe Track and Wild Honey: Reading NZ Women’s Poetry (shortlisted for Ockham New Zealand Book Awards).

Paula Green. Photo by Michael Hight.

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