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BooksMay 21, 2021

The Friday Poem: The Cry, by Nikki-Lee Birdsey

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A new poem from Wellington-based poet Nikki-Lee Birdsey.

The Cry

I sit outside Chung Hing Panel Ltd,
he’s numbered the parking spaces
in hand-drawn paint. I’m sitting in

4, the lines and numbers like hopscotch.
They rearrange themselves as I think

I rely less + less on my connectivity
to the real. 4 is the number
of this year,

4 is the number of more
import right now. I hear the sea

Maybe you came here
for the gray wind on your face,
the reminder of unsick air.

The gulls in this city cry like humans
before rain, they say go indoors dumb girl!
As one gull pecks violently at a severed

pigeon’s wing on the roof of Chung Hing
Panel. I listen to gulls more now
than I listen to people over 50.

You ask me for a pronoun
for my past. I say look at the
world you made mum and dad.

When you ask me
who I am I give you no thing
you can define. I’m just a rhyme,

a scrappy choice of words
with no parents.

They say I’m naive,
I’m a cynic at core, I say

let the softening current take me
away from the hardening shore.


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

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