BooksJune 16, 2017

The Friday Poem: ‘Boxing Day’ by Peter Olds


New verse, taken from the recently published collection of New Zealand political poems, by Dunedin writer Peter Olds.


Boxing Day


Young people shouldn’t have to work

in supermarkets on Boxing Day.

No young person under the age of 35

should have to work during summer

holidays. The owners of supermarkets,


lounging on beach and boat-deck, who

set the whole crazy economy up like it is

in the first place, should be behind

counters and checkouts instead.

Young people should be hitch-hiking across


the country, surfing, getting lost in bush,

making love under waterfalls, rolling

down sand hills—and generally having

a good time (before it’s too late), while

the rest of us who love money and


fiddling with our hands, who have been

stupid enough to ignore our own youth,

blindly letting it slip past, who are old,

grey and crotchety—should do all the work …

So—extract yourselves, young ones,

from your Oppressive Checkout Machines


and go and Overthrow a Government or two!

What do you think life is for—the Rich,

the Famous, the Privileged?

Under the New Republic no child below

the age of 35 shall be required to work in

supermarkets (or anywhere) on Boxing Day,

if they write poems.


From Manifesto Aotearoa: 101 Political Poems, edited by Philip Temple and Emma Neale (Otago University Press, $35)

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