Tuesday Poem: Spitsbergen, a poem from my new collection “New Sea Land”

As soon as winter lifts they come,
straggling up from Europe, blank-faced,
bearing the burdens of families, of the diseases
that chase them north from the burning lands
to those that are merely falling apart.

So many miles of ocean. So small the boats
that thread the lanes of iceberg and storm,
upsetting, overturning, sudden frozen death
in the heaving seas that freshwater melt
keeps no less frigid than before.

Faces greyed with suffering. Tiny bodies

clutched in shivered arms. Small treasures, euros,
tucked into boots and inner pockets. The smugglers
turning south to try their luck again. The shore
a frieze of shattered bodies, splintered wood.

They come north, and we do our best,
here in our slim green habitable fringe
between rising sea and dying ice.
We do our best, but we are overwhelmed,
and there is nowhere further north to go.

Credit note: “Spitsbergen” is previously unpublished. It will appear in my new poetry collection New Sea Land, published next month by Mākaro Press.
Tim says: Spitsbergen is the largest island of Svalbard, an island group administered by Norway in the High Arctic, well north of Iceland and Norway itself. About 3000 people live there, mainly in the capital, Longyearbyen. It’s not a very green place at the moment, but with the High Arctic warming very rapidly at the moment, that could soon change.

New Sea Land: New Poetry, Coming This August

I’m excited!

This is the cover of my new poetry collection, coming in August from Mākaro Press, RRP $25. Stay tuned for plenty more information, including details of the launch, how to buy the book, and lots more!

The cover image is by Claire Beynon – thanks, Claire! Check out Claire’s website and the Honeycomb Project.

Tuesday Poem: Messages, by Polina Kouzminova

Happiness is a big city.
Taxi cab rush, whisks of hair.
Polka dots of rain on the windows,
clearing under the heat wave of shimmering sun.
Street signs weave stories.
I’m more than my usual self – home abandoned
for a small heated teacup on a street I thought I knew,
felt comfortable living in it…art in museums
screams so loud with reproductions of nudes,
but this isn’t Paris, and the years are not the same.

There’s a bus full of people, and it’s heading my way.
Soon, I’ll be gone, having captured that bit of happiness –
from a stranger, some sight my eye followed,
an emotion getting larger and larger under the heat
of the day. But this is not a remedy. It never was.

All year from November until the next, – trying to weave stories
out of starts and exits, as if Alice in a modern wonderland;
that purple cocktail did the trick, for a bit –

forgotten waves
lay at rest, at peace, but not in silence.

Shells to my ears,
murmur of something, some message being scribbled at night
inside my head.
All through the day – unravelling, but never really discovering,
until my eyes turned to the Coast. I sort of stumbled, – I am…
I’m in you, whenever nature breathes fairy tales.

To watch the grass grow, feel the wave
tumbling and twisting, a sense of being together at once,
in that initial moment, – if just for a bit.

Credit note: “Messages” by Polina Kouzminova, is included in the “Poetry Gees” anthology edited by Mark Pirie and published in conjunction with the Poetry Gees Winter Reading on 17 July. It is reproduced here by the permission of the author and the publisher.
Tim says: I like the sense of dislocation, and relocation, in this poem. I’ve only just discovered Polina’s poetry, but based on the little I have read so far, I am keen to read and hear more of her work.

Author bio: Born in Siberia and raised in New Zealand from the age of ten, Polina Kouzminova weaves the threads of both cultures into poetry. These are poems of snow and water, and just as water reflects, her poems echo not only each other, but also her own reflections on the lover who leaves, the family left behind and the universe that is waiting for her. Polina’s world shimmers with snowflakes, glaciers and condensation on glass, and there is always a sense of missing. She writes: ‘These are the reasons to leave late nights and fly back home’.

Polina’s first collection an echo where you lie is published by and available from Mākaro Press.