Tuesday Poem: Echolalia, by Saradha Koirala


This morning’s northerly
throws death out in my path
a tiny carcass blown from a rubbish bag
a broken bird
at the bottom of a plate glass window.

A paper bag twists itself into the gutter
a butterfly has its wings torn off.

An old man walks into a bar
moving like shaking out a rug
he smells of wood-smoke and rain.
like wet logs burning.

I think of houses I’ve visited
with apple cores browning under beds

a cat licking the ends of breakfast
off a bowl in the sink
and the use of words I wasn’t allowed
words I wouldn’t dare use
and words I’d never heard before.

(First published in Moments in the Whirlwind, New Zealand Poetry Society, 2009)

Tim says: I posted this poem for three reasons: first, I love the word “Echolalia”; second, I love the poem that follows it as much as the word; and third, Saradha Koirala is the guest poet at November’s “Poetry at the Ballroom Cafe” session, which will run from 4-6pm at the Ballroom Cafe, cnr Riddiford St & Adelaide Rd, Newtown, on Sunday 21 November. The session will start with an open mike, followed by musicians Josie & Mary Campbell, followed by Saradha’s guest slot.

I understand that Saradha will read a mix of poems from her debut collection Wit of the Staircase and uncollected poems. I’m really looking forward to it.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems on the Tuesday Poem blog.

Tuesday Poem: N.E.V.


So few ways out of the narrow valley
so many footprints along North Road

Sliding down Blacks Road on the black ice
off to work through the hoarfrost of morning

Walking the dog at Chingford Park
parking the car at Bethune’s Gully

There’s a photo I still look at:
twenty years ago now, four of us under the pines

ready to climb Mt Cargill
on a still afternoon in summer

Twenty years on, and we’re scattered
two of us walking the hilltops of Wales

me in Wellington, wondering
when it will truly feel like home

and the dog in the soil
of a house in North-East Valley

pushing up the daisies, and the frost,
and the life that flickers on the hillside’s bones.

Tim says: This poem is from my first collection, Boat People. It was on my list to read at the Ballroom Café this past Sunday, but I trimmed the list by a few poems, and this was one that I omitted.

In any case, it may mean more to Dunedin people than to Wellingtonians. I lived in Dunedin for seventeen years, the last 12 of them spent at 20 Gillespie St, North East Valley – the “N.E.V.” of the title.

I enjoyed the Ballroom Café reading a lot. I was my usual nervous, distracted self before the session started, and the awful weather didn’t help, but lots of people came along despite the weather, there was an excellent Open Mike section, the musical interlude from the Gracious Deviants was very enjoyable, and by the time I came to read, I was relaxed and ready to go.

My son Gareth came along, and did an excellent job running the book sales table. And, since Lewis Scott couldn’t be there, Neil Furby came down from Auckland to MC, which was definitely above and beyond.

Now I’m looking forward to November’s session, when another Tuesday Poet, Saradha Koirala, will be the featured poet.

You can check out all the Tuesday Poems at the Tuesday Poem blog.