Spring 2018

2021

2019

2018

2017

Three Poems

By Isabelle Johns

Our first xmas at 'Woodside'. December 25, 1916 [1914-1917] Levin, by Leslie Adkin. Te Papa
© Our first xmas at 'Woodside'. December 25, 1916 [1914-1917] Levin, by Leslie Adkin. Te Papa

Bedtime Story For Grown-Ups

There’s a snake that I ate.
It’s a winding black mamba
laying eggs in my gut.

I used to go running
the kind where my hair was salt-crusted
and my hands full and wet
dropping pipi shells all down the shoreline

Recently, I’ve gone jogging routinely
winding down alleyways and
fog and haze, trying to
outrun a police car
I know isn’t
after me.

The beach is too far a walk from the city.
In bed that night my stomach does the rolling hitch rummage
and I bite my nails
wondering when the eggs will hatch.

.

Funeral

You’re setting mousetraps again.
You’re playing Easter morning
warning us behind the couch,
the cupboard floor,
the door that leads below the house.

They’re settling underneath, you say
foraying down aisle eight
discount packs of peanuts
creeping Christmas weight.
I sit and feel my teeth come down.

The teeth are clamped around its neck
from midnight coiled snake-attack
you take the tail and bite its head.
The next morning
you’re setting mousetraps again.

.

Spinach

We moved out,
and that was the last we saw of that spinach garden.

Every evening, without fail
the rain falls soft upon the field. It yields
to her, and so begins an exchange
a handshake
a promise
atonement while she waters in the twilight hours.

A weeping pot-peony bides the time
for the blinds to leak. The mildew in the attic
mould their sinewy roots to dampened cracks, infant rose
lips on mother’s breast, lovers’ ears to beating chest

a relay
every evening without fail.

The key was in the ignition. I turned;
and that was the last we saw of that spinach garden.

About Isabelle Johns

Isabelle Johns is New Zealand born, of Chinese and Pakehā descent. She spent the majority of her early childhood in China before moving back to New Zealand permanently to begin her education. Her writing explores conflict, particularly in the context of relationships and identity, and the implication those conflicts have for one's mind-set and perception of the world. She is currently studying Computer Systems Engineering as well as English Literature at the University of Auckland.