A new poem by Wellington-based poet Caroline Shepherd.
The book I’m reading won’t leave me alone
As in I’m in class, the bus, hot water, and it’s just on my mind
how good it is, how it already said everything worth it
Everyone should pack up and go home, we’re fucked, this book did it all
Like, what is good writing?
I think, sat on the wrong bus without knowing it,
How do you do it and how can you explain it
Is it like something that blows through you, body one welcome window
Or meaner, chews you up, firm and all teeth
Maybe it’s just the ghost haunting you at every party,
Or after all that, it could just be a decent few lines you circle like drain water
I think about Louise Glück and her phone ringing in the middle of the night
Or Margaret Atwood longing to be in an elevator, stuck between floors,
Ada Limón in yellow Kentucky, blue Iowa, Marie Howe and her blowing hair, chapped lips,
And all that means nothing to no one except me, but I could recite those lines backward
Until my hair stands white and I retire to Auckland to vote ACT and complain
about waitresses and untidy verges, and even then, when I’m awful
I’ll still be able to tell you the lines that turned me inside out and through
Maybe that’s it, maybe good writing is the stuff you want to tell everyone about
loudspeaker, billboards, sky writing,
listen to this, you won’t believe it
Or maybe it’s the stuff you want no one else to ever read
Unbearable, to be seized by the shoulders and seen through,
you got me. don’t tell anyone
It’s probably both and also neither.
I think, having gotten off the bus and called an Uber, because fuck it
It’s probably just the thing you read, and then over again, just to be sure. You didn’t dream it.
Gravity is good but that was better. That’s what’s been keeping you here.
The Friday Poem is edited by Chris Tse. Submissions are currently closed and will open again later this year.