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Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

BooksMarch 10, 2023

The Friday Poem: ‘More Milk’ by Ben Fagan

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

A new poem by Wellington poet Ben Fagan.

More Milk

One year on from the Wellington protests, after reports from Thomas Manch & Michael Daly

“Police have used more pepper spray as they push through the crowd, advancing to tear down gazebos. Milk is running down Molesworth St as protesters try to rinse the spray from their face. ‘More milk,’ a man cries.”

More milk, a man cries

I refresh the live news tracker,
it was auto refreshing but
I refresh anyway, to make sure my news
is live and tracked and fresh.
Just in time, I hear
on Molesworth Street
that a man has cried
“More milk!”
Milk is what they need on
Molesworth Street,
milk to soothe the people
and the eyes.

Pepper spray hisses out
from the battalion
fresh out of the van,
down from Hastings to help
put the boot into the others
fresh down from Hastings.
“G’day Wade” says the police
“Get fucked” says Wade
Wade’s sign says
‘If I wanted a mandate, I’d be on grindr’
Wade drives trucks out the back of Napier
and was one of my best friends.
He punched a kid on my behalf
and I will forever be grateful
so his actions on Molesworth Street
are his own and his baby daughter is
beautiful and when I next see them at the BP
I will not bring up what I saw
on the live news tracker
when I refreshed and the man shouted
“More milk”.

A few days earlier I wandered up
Molesworth Street.
Between the tents and spraypaint
there were makeshift
signs pointing the way
to the dairy by the station,
the dairy where we buy the milk that runs down the street,
the milk that runs over the eyes and down the clothes
of those who came from Hastings and other places,
who ripped at the heart until bricks
until arrests
poor things,
whipped into a frenzy,
whipped like milk into froth,
froth on flat whites,
flat whites brewed on Molesworth Street.

Conspirators shake their heads
on the livestream,
“He didn’t even want milk
He wanted juice
Mainstream media, full fat,
They’re urging the dogs
into the pigs tusks
The dogs *will* get hurt but
blood is thicker than milk”
(and milk is running down Molesworth Street).

There’s a sense from the tracker that what you’re seeing is live
There’s a sense that its happening now but also is history
There’s a sense that it’ll all be over soon and when our children shout for more milk,
we won’t be able to explain where it’s gone.

How much is a litre of milk these days,
on this or any street?
A man cries
A child cries
and the headline
is not the story at all.


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed.

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