The Last


I’d breathed steam
at the book sale tables, recorded
some appealing titles:
Sombreros Are Becoming.
Mango Summer.

But the good ones’d gone.

Outside, amazed, numb-rendered, I thought
of buying a bag of Twisties,
          dangling my feet
over the lagoon.
Good child’s
     company for a cold dusk.

Instead I huddled.
     Red-handed girl
waiting for the city lights, I chattered
in my journal and canoes reeled
               in and out of the water.

When the lights finally winked
each other out
     of hiding
I went back to mine, my own spines.
Standing quiet, homing up
in the lift, I thought,
You tried to teach us the sadness of Plath.
     We couldn’t learn it. That wind
had not
     boxed our ears.

Friend Whose Parents Were Hippies


While my house in the early 80’s
     yawned drum machines and synthesisers,
you fell in
with a San Franciscan set,
     a house green 
     with photosynthesis; violins
in the sun of the dining room table.

Ten four-year-old fingers
     learned to sing.

When ten, 
we socialised.
No one told us 
     that cucumbers on the eyes
do bugger all, really —
that masks 
     won’t help skin cough 
     out its 
(only inner organs do that,
smokeless in flat little bellies)

A decade
     of silliness
and we’re allowed to be drunk,
small, small price.

We’re too scared to cut our hair.
Atoms remain
          split like ends.
thinks their age is the best, and the ugliest

but always, when we talk on the phone,
the same, fond sound of your dining room
and someone’s violin
echoing from one plastic fist
               to the next.



you dislike
          hearing sad things
especially in summer,
but my mother
finally thinks to cook a meal,

opens the wine, pots the pasta,
changes her mind and goes to bed. 

She was dressed for sleep
Lemony tortellini 
in its own sweat.

Six three oh.
The news is halfway through,
but all those
          other voices rise —
on your streets the people come and go
talking of isobars and global
     warming; ice islands
          stretching apart,
floating their own way
     over recalcitrant seas.

Down by your lagoon
students buy rum gelato,
young burghers hoping
     for love
by ice cream.
          If they sit
and dangle their feet, they see
a few flying fish, pinnacling
     above the cool water like satellites.

But my mother, Wellington, you have overheated.
Your stubby fingers besot her, they make
          seem acquainted.
Potent city, 
     she cares for you,
she wanders
at your palms.

Seven oh oh.
The fish in the lagoon
     mouth tiny bubbles
and do not
leap. My mother sleeps, with windows open,
     breathing by reflex
as I
clear the kitchen.

On your streets, the people think of evening;
far and quiet, those lips of ice still falling.


Chloe Gordon grew up in Auckland and moved to Wellington early this year. She took the short fiction course taught by Damien Wilkins at Victoria University. She has also had a poem published on Trout online, which was subsequently published in the online Best New Zealand Poems 2001. Aside from the short fiction course, she has not been studying at university this year; instead she’s taken a year off to write and work as an actor on the TV show Mercy Peak. Chloe has enjoyed it, but if she doesn’t start her degree next year, her brain will melt.