already in my ripe young age i’ve sucked on a cassia plant and ground 
endangered rosewood into dust to put on my morning porridge 
played violin in the symphony orchestra forgotten how to 
then remembered how to then forgotten how to again, 
kissed a girl in the nightshade brambles then un-
kissed her sucking my spit and my love back 
with me hidden in my pocket for only the 
sparrows to see, written the best poem 
in the world only for it to go face-first 
into a river eel’s mouth dived into 
pools, forgotten how to swim, 
remembered again just in 
time for the poem to end 
for my tongue to curl 
and forget how 
to speak




i saw you at that godawful Lorde concert when she told everyone to shut up. it was late,
and my ears were ringing, but we caught eyes with each other and did that little smile
like we had a joke to tell. you were tall, brown hair – i couldn’t tell what colour your eyes
were because of the stage lights. to me they seemed every colour at once, reflecting
every pulsing beam. i think we could have a real thing together. i missed you. 

i saw you in the bread aisle of New World Chaffers Street, which i never go to because
it’s so pretentious. you didn’t seem pretentious though, weighting the heavy sticks of
bread until you found one that slid into your backpack, just the tip peeking out like some
Parisian fantasy. i missed you. i’d love to find you again. 

i saw you petting the cat just on the borders of campus. her name is piper, i’ve been told.
we could go find who she belongs to, together? 

i saw you at the opera. you were in the shitty seats, the stalls, like me. you were so
engrossed in that tenor’s howling that you let your ice cream melt into your lap. i saw
you walk out of the theatre shame-faced, covered in chocolate. i loved that. i loved how
much you loved the show. i could sing you a serenade too, if you’d let me. i missed you.  

i saw you getting lost up at Truby King Park, walking back and forth along the
monuments, your hands empty of a phone. i wanted to help you but i was shy. i can help
you now. i am not shy in these words.

i imagined you in this book that i love – maybe you’ve read it – Orlando by Virginia
Woolf. they call it the greatest and longest love letter of all time. Virginia dresses
her lover up in centuries, ages, fineries, rags. i dress you up in all these situations in the
hope that maybe i will find you in one of them. that instead of breezing by like any other
Wellington day we might stop. and say hi. 

i’ve found you here, waiting. i missed you, and miss you. i press this poem to the
corner of your lips, where some other lover might press a kiss.

call me, if you get the time.

dead poet’s special

After Glen Hayward’s Rita Angus Used to Grow Her Own Vegetables


why leave it at Rita Angus? 
   i don’t see why we shouldn’t sneak
into Katherine Mansfield’s house, seek out 
   her used underwear, sample the dregs 
of old perfume that once touched her skin.  

the hardiest plant i’ve ever owned 
   was one of her historic rose geraniums 
but even that was no match for 
   a salty Wellington storm 
and it too perished into leaf-dust ephemera.  

come on, what do you say 
   let’s be pervs of the past 
we’re still young and fresh enough 
   to get away with it, gallivanting into 
histories with scalpels and crude words.  

let’s take a sip of Virginia Woolf’s 
   leftover coffee, clean the table with 
James K Baxter’s old boxer shorts 
   dress up in Oscar Wilde’s one white shirt 
that was left in the wash when he died.  

amateur archaeologists, that’s what we’ll 
   be: scooping handfuls of dirt and brushing 
them against our teeth, as if they were pearls 
   as if we can test the preciousness of 
time so easily – if only longevity was so 

easy to predict – but our hands make 
   many things and it is really up to chance 
what survives, and what wilts in the 
   winter salt. i used to be jealous 
of people in Britain who would find 

Roman pottery fragments in their gardens.
   now, i can imagine what a burden 
it would be, your feet superimposed over 
   some leather-sandaled magistrate 
knowing you live on someone else’s toes.  

i can picture it. the ceramic dust 
   under your tongue, finding pottery 
shards in your bedroom drawers, in the 
   toilet, in your dog’s mouth after he’s 
been digging in the dirt, the past following you  

everywhere. yet still, there’s a yearning — 
   some stupid fantasy of finding something 
valuable that the sea has up-chucked over 
   to me, finding a Titanic-esque jewel 
in the dirt and overgrown onion weed.  

who knows what we may excavate 
     by spending our nosy time well 
digging our little claws so eagerly 
   into salt and saline, brine and leaf 
litter, the ocean’s swallowing tongue.


Cadence Chung is a poet, composer and musician from Te Whanganui-a-Tara, currently studying at the New Zealand School of Music. She draws inspiration from Tumblr posts, antique stores and dead poets. Her debut poetry book anomalia was published by We Are Babies press in April 2022.