for dVerse poets haibun Monday…

On a few school days we carried a sweaty threepence in our hot little hands to get the most wonderful meal we could ever have.  A big family and very little money meant that school lunches were normally jam sandwiches.  Nobody ever wanted to swap for jam sandwiches!  We reveled in the specialness of being able to order our fish and chips before school, and being allowed out at lunchtime to collect them from the local shop.

The excitement of watching the chip basket being lifted from the bubbling fat and banged against the side of the vat to get rid of any extra grease.  Then the shaking, the spreading out of newspaper before the fish and chips were tipped in, the tipping of the salt (as if we were ever asked).  The joy of clutching that hot parcel back to school.  The envy of other children as they hung around looking for a swap.  Hot steam rising from the torn end of the newsprint carrying the scent of fish.  Just for one day we were in heaven.

of salty fingers
crunch of chips


The road to Jerusalem winds with the curves of the river, around clay cliffs and through pine forests.  Sunlight filters through tenacious trees, sometimes lighting up a leaf, outlining a rock.  The peace is palpable, floating down from distant hilltops.

I leave the car and wander the river bank, search for fossils in the cliffs.  No sounds except birdsong and the occasional bleating of sheep.   Seed-heads are already forming on the wild parsley, and where the sun is warmest, the scent of gorse flowers.

trees tall
above the leaning cliffs

(for D’verse haibun Monday)


Bert came across a whole new kind of animal when we stopped at Matahiwi for a cuppa yesterday.  He couldn’t believe his eyes.  These little part kunekune pigs happily charge around the local community looking for handouts.  They are perfectly safe from being eaten as they keep the visitors happy.  The cafeteria is in the old Matahiwi School and I recommend it as a great and friendly place to stop.

when you’re
onto a good thing
stay there…


RIVER CROSSINGS for dVerse poets

Crossing the Dargaville Bridge over the Northern Wairoa River on a misty morning is an act of faith.  From the middle of the bridge onwards there is nothing but damp cloud, and one can never be sure whether the road actually does carry on to the far bank.  Then there are the reflections beneath that seem to point to some subterranean city, populated at the very least by mermaids, and possibly pirates.   As always, it lends some excitement to our journey.

of solidarity


(apologies – I couldn’t seem to get past another haibun – maybe next time)



A haibun on a childhood experience for Dverse poetics

I’m nine years old and I’ve been down to the shop for Mum, dawdling a bit longer than I should have.  Now it’s getting dark, and I have a couple of blocks to walk before I get home.  But these streets are familiar and lights are coming on in the houses around me.   A car pulls over to the pavement a little further up the road, where the shadows are deep from a high wooden fence.  The engine is running, and someone in the back seat opens a door so that it’s partly across the footpath.  My steps slow, and I’m uneasy about what is happening.  But I’m a good sprinter, so I suddenly take to my heels and race across to the other side of the road.  The car door slams, and it starts to do a sudden turn.  Fear lends wings to my heels.  I’m not far from home and I run faster than I’ve ever run before.  My heart is in overdrive.

I arrive panting into our warm bright kitchen and try to tell my mother what happened, but she’s busy and not really listening.  I just know that I have avoided something black, something that will always be there, somewhere at the back of my mind…

of long winter nights
closing in


Sometimes, as a child, and I cannot remember why, I would be at home alone in the dark.  They must have been brief interludes, but from my perspective then they seemed drawn-out.  The old house appeared to mutter and seethe around me, shadows moving in from the corners.  I felt exposed and vulnerable, and always I would go outside into the warm darkness where I could hide.

the darkness
of isolation


Dropped into the area of the old Lake Alice Psychiatric Hospital today.  This was a huge place, covering 56 acres, and with ten two-story buildings.  A haunted place that hid a lot of secrets.  Now only the old water tower and ruins remain.  The road has been closed to public access but you can still see the line of tarseal through the fences.

the place
that once held them in
now keeps them out