The road into Hawera. (Photo: Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty)
The road into Hawera. (Photo: Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty)

BooksAugust 20, 2021

The Friday Poem: Dropped Pin: Hāwera, South Taranaki, by Michael Steven

The road into Hawera. (Photo: Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty)
The road into Hawera. (Photo: Brendon O’Hagan/Bloomberg/Getty)

A new poem from West Auckland poet Michael Steven.

Dropped Pin: Hāwera, South Taranaki

A road trip, years ago. The square
of acid my mate and I split
kicked in about here.

I’d wanted to show him the cheap
memorial plaque to Aotearoa’s
greatest outlaw novelist.

A provincial jazz freak with an ear
for the brassy thump of ragtime,
for the laconically

menacing speech patterns
of grousing cockies and slaughterers
conspiring at high tables,

oiling their aggression
with whiskey and ale chasers.


Hungry shark plying his daily hustle
in louche basement pool halls.
Troubled by leggy harlots,

yoked to his widowed mother.
A cohort of bookies in bad suits
scheming in phone boxes,

scrap dealers and bent publicans.
He worked the blind family
doctor for amphetamine scripts.

Nicotine stains to his forearms,
he slapped and plucked
the strings of a double bass

in boozy barnyard dances
each weekend across the district.


We’d just smoked a banger of NL #5.
Inanimate objects began sending signals.
The trigger was a smirking Furby

swinging from a car’s rearview mirror.
I remember gassing with laughter
at how the drive-thru

was rammed with hungover
farmers in flat-deck Hiluxes,
spotty-faced boy racers

and hardcore motherfuckers
with haircuts like Mad Max extras
rolling in battered Holdens.

Above the counter at the KFC:
the cheap gold plaque for Ron Morrieson.


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

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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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