BooksApril 5, 2024

The Friday Poem: ‘no strangers’ by Ash Davida Jane


A new poem from Te Whanganui-a-Tara poet and editor Ash Davida Jane.

no strangers

The main business of a writer is
deciding when to start and when
to end. If you cut too early, you
miss the scene where my love
comes home from hospital. If you
end it there, you miss the part
where we start to envision other
lives. There’s a lot you might call
filler but I’d call joy. The old
teachings don’t always hold up.
Kill your darlings sounds a little
too like bury your queers. How
about we dig them up instead.
How about hand me the shovel.
If not, let me dig with callused
hands, let me scratch at the
earth till my nails are thick
with dirt and my joints ache.
Immortalise your queers, fade
to black before the gunshot.
Before the reveal of the sallow
wrist, camera angled tastefully
to save us the horror. As if it
doesn’t come from within us,
images etched onto the underside
of our eyelids. Legs poised
straddling the railing, the echo
of paramedics’ voices from
somewhere in the parking
compound, struggling to find us.
A hollow subversion, a glimpse
of dark comedy. At the cinema,
crying not just for the beautiful
boy on the screen. The weeping
a continuation, a score only ever
put on pause. At the bus stop,
someone asks if you’re okay,
if you’re sure. How could you
ever have been. A different
ending has never been imagined
for you. Turn off the movie early.
Sit in the dark in the sickly smell
of popcorn, your head resting on
the shoulder beside you. Suspend
the moment forever, a moment
in which none of us are dead.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are now being accepted until 21 April 2024. Please send up to three poems in a PDF or Word document to

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