Isobel (left) and Rosa Latif on the last weekend of holidays (Photo: Justin Latif)
Isobel (left) and Rosa Latif on the last weekend of holidays (Photo: Justin Latif)

BooksOctober 18, 2021

School sucks but at least ur friends are there: Two poems for kids stuck at home

Isobel (left) and Rosa Latif on the last weekend of holidays (Photo: Justin Latif)
Isobel (left) and Rosa Latif on the last weekend of holidays (Photo: Justin Latif)

Term four kicks off today without the kids of Waikato and Te Tai Tokerau. For those in Tāmaki Makaurau it’s even harder: they just started their 10th week in lockdown, with no end in sight. We hope these poems help.

The poems, by Vanessa Mei Crofskey and Victor Rodger, come from Skinny Dip, a new and excellent collection of New Zealand poetry about schools and mates and hanging out. 

Head and shoulders portraits of two women, both in black, beside the golden cover of the poetry collection they edited
Kate De Goldi (top) and Susan Paris, editors of new poetry collection Skinny Dip (Images: Supplied)

school sucks but at least ur friends are there, by Vanessa Mei Crofskey

u can only walk around the suburbs so often on bright days so hot
the concrete crackles n text ur friends at malls and fields and malls again

before u start to get bored of running
out of things to do &

miss the lush red first kiss of a fresh 1B5
and the girls in ur class with lip gloss scented stationery

& the boys who draw on their mates legs with sharpies &
also i guess learning new things every day

school sucks but all my friends are there
spreading colds as quick as climate change

no one shares germs with me in the holidays

in the holidays my outside voice wears jeans with grassy knees
& watches compilation youtube videos on the highest volume

& i walk around the suburbs on days so hot the ice block
drips down my wrist    with sticky fingers it feeds the crackling concrete

Photograph of a drizzly day, a teenager in a tracksuit shooting hoops by himself
Victoria Park, Auckland, September 29 (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Sole to Sole, by Victor Rodger

Fahhhhh, man.

I’m straight up

Got any food?

Sole, if I had any food
it’d already be in my mouth.

Sad guy.

Gotta dollar?

Nah, g.

I gotta dollar.


If you gotta dollar
we could use my dollar
go get us a two-dollar scoop of chips at that place by the beach.

Sole. I told you — I got no dollar.

Reckon if we ask
they’d give us half a scoop
for a dollar?
if we ask really nicely.
“Please, Sir.
We only gotta dollar.”

As if.
You’ve seen their scoops.
They’re stingy as.



Fahhhhh, man.
Look at that afakasi kid though.
He’s eating that Boston bun
like a lion
eating a deer
they just killed
on one of those nature shows.

Fahhhhh, man, he’s always got food.

You see his nana at lunchtime?


She brought him

To school?

Yeah, man.
Walked straight up to him
in the middle of the quad.
Gave him a three-piece quarter-pack, man.

How do you know that?

Cause I asked him for some chips.

Oooooh, shame.
Did he give you any?


One chip?

Yeah, bro.


Sad guy.

Yeah, sad guy all right.


Don’t pretend you can’t hear me
just cause you’re wearing
I know you can hear me.


Gizza bite?

Of what?

Your bun.

But it’s almost finished.

Yeah, we can see that.
That’s why we wanna bite.
Before it’s finished.

Come on, man.
Me and my uso here,
we’re starving.

So am I.

You had KFC already.

I gave you some chips at lunchtime.

You gave me
But that was ages ago.
That’s like
ancient history.
Like a mummy in a pyramid in ancient Egypt ancient history.

Go on, bro.
Gizza bite?

Finish it.

You sure, bro?

You want it or what?

Oh, shot, bro.
You the man.
Yeah. You the man.

Skinny Dip, edited by Kate De Goldi and Susan Paris (Annual Ink / Massey University Press, $29.99) is available from Unity Books Auckland and Wellington.

The Spinoff Review of Books is proudly brought to you by Unity Books, recently named 2020 International Book Store of the Year, London Book Fair, and Creative New Zealand. Visit Unity Books Wellington or Unity Books Auckland online stores today. 

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