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Side view of smiling spectators clapping hands at an awards ceremony.
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BooksMay 14, 2021

The Friday Poem: what the fuck is an Ockham, by Dominic Hoey

Side view of smiling spectators clapping hands at an awards ceremony.
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A new poem from poet and novelist Dominic Hoey.

what the fuck is an Ockham

landing in Christchurch
no ones wearing masks
my friend messages me
“wanna get dinner?”
I’m at a writers festival
“bullshit, you can’t even spell”

sharing a hotel room with Mohamed
he prays in the corner
while I sext this married woman
who thinks I am my poetry
“I’m so hard thinking about all the ways I’m going to disappoint you”

always I wanted to be a writer
like in the movies
like in books
but I got cat fished
cos they don’t tell you
about infinite grant applications
and being condescended to by people
who have never been punched in the face
and every time I check my phone
publishers have sent photos
of themselves
burning my manuscripts

after I got nominated for an ockham
I told my friends
and they had questions
“what the fuck is an ockham?”
“there’s awards for books?”
“what do you win, a book voucher?”

Mo gets invited to all the fancy events
cos he owns a shirt
and a story
that’s beautiful and fierce
like watching lightning from a distance

I tag along and stand at the back eating grapes
thinking I should talk to these people
they’re probably important in someway
but at these events
I am always 8 years old in remedial reading
I am always at the WINZ office begging for a food grant
I am always catching the bus in winter to stay warm
you never truly transcend your past
just forever rewrite it with the edges shaved down

first time on stage since lockdown
I remember this is what I’m meant to be doing
the married woman tells me I’m lucky
most people never find out
part of me wonders
if we’re better off not reducing ourselves
to party tricks and popularity contests
but then I remember
the cancer of having a boss

I visit Ben Brown in Lyttelton
we make plans
and talk books
outside his window
ships nestle against the dock
strange to think there’s still a world out there
past where the sea and sky touch

Me and Hester
Uber to Tusiata’s book launch
stumble in backstage
but everything works out
in its way

Tusiata stands on stage
and we fall silent
like shooting stars
her light blankets us all

soon the night falls in on itself
I am naked
holding someone
but it’s not you
and all that frenzied magic
gets replaced with a cheap sadness

return to the hotel room drunk
wake up Mohamed ranting about cats
before drowning
in a violent sleep

on my flight home
no one’s wearing masks
when we land I turn my phone on
one community case of COVID in Christchurch


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again later this year.

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