Illustration: Yifei Fang / Getty Images
Illustration: Yifei Fang / Getty Images

BooksJuly 15, 2022

The Friday Poem: ‘Personality Test’ by Philip Armstrong

Illustration: Yifei Fang / Getty Images
Illustration: Yifei Fang / Getty Images

A new poem by Lyttelton poet Philip Armstrong.

Personality Test

The dog I had when I was young
was smiles all round, a white-tipped
six-point sun of oxytocin.
When she was old I held her head
while someone slipped the needle in.

Now I have a dog who snarls
at everyone and their dog too
although she’d rather bite. She lunges
on the leash and pulls me over
at the feet of startled strangers.

One time she thrust her nose into
the smeuse left in a hedge by rabbits,
straining till the leash became so tense
between us that a fantail
tumbled from a branch to perch on it.

At home she lies with four paws in the air.
I hold her head and rock it side
to side. We show our canines. Why
so angry? I ask her. Why in the world
am I so angry now?


The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are welcome and will be open until 31 July 2022. Please send up to three poems in a Word or PDF document to

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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