Tue | Dec 5, 2023
Meeting Ground

Poetry collab with Ja and New Zealand

Published:Sunday | February 2, 2020 | 12:00 AM
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In June 201,9 Meeting Ground had its first outing, featuring poems from Jamaica and New Zealand. The theme then centred on fatherhood. This time around, we give you birds from New Zealand and Jamaica.

Works from New Zealand’s Poet Laureate (David Eggleton) and one of the Caribbean’s eminent poets and critics, Professor Edward Baugh, are included in the collection below that we hope will bring you illumination and joy as it did us.

Ann-Margaret Lim, Jamaica


Jamaica and New Zealand have so much in common. Both islands are post- colonial nations love our beaches, sports, poetry, art, and music, preferably reggae. Our cultures are vibrant, unique and show great flair.

This, our second co-lab, is based on our beautiful bird-life. Thank you so much for being part of it. As we say in New Zealand, Aroha (love) and Kia Kaha (stay strong).

Shane Hollands, president, The New Zealand Poetry Society.





A tale from the rainforest


The bird flew out of the rainforest.

It was a day like any other, or so it seemed

until the poet at his desk looked up and saw

the marvellous omen hovering

by his window, shedding radiance.

Then slowly, slowly, yet as if compelled

it entered and alighted

its eye dilating in terror

its head inclined.

The poet rose and moved towards it.

His hand shook to close around

the warmth and tremor of its breast,

such trust, such expectation.

“I too am a poet,” whispered the bird,

“My sister the rivermaid sent me.

She told me you would be kind.

The grief of the rainforest

is sometimes hard to bear

and I have had such dreams.”

The poet took up his quill,

it became a flute.

They made music

together until

the rivermaid called time

and the nameless bird

flew back to the rainforest

to its midnight of moonflowers

and fern-fringed pools,

its nest at the centre of grief.



Edward Baugh (Jamaica)

Published in A Tale from the Rainforest (Sandberry Press 1998) & Black Sand: Peepal Tree Press: 2013




Swallows on Dominion Rd

for Graham Brazier 1952 – 2015


My friend and neighbour phones me over. He’s waiting outside, finger-shushing me. I follow him down the driveway alongside his second-hand bookshop. A small slim bird flits over us. No, two!


We stand, watching the birds. They swoop up, swoop low, swoop round about us. We watch one fly to a nest – a nest! – wedged on the bracket of the bevelled brick ledge directly above our heads. The other bird skims and re-skims the puddle that won’t dry out till November. Their thin black tails fork like hair ribbons.


Ribbons used to come on card spools when I was a kid. A yard did two ribbons for my pigtails, for school. Forked edges wouldn’t fray, but if you cut a straight edge it left a stray thread you tugged until the ribbon unravelled rib by rib into a crimped silk thread fine as hair you wound round and round your finger till your trapped blood swelled dunkelbunt as tight, as hot, as long as you could stand it.


My neighbour lights up. You could sear a straight edge with a flame.

He points above us. We listen.




Anita Arlov (New Zealand)




Woman, Bird


“What is that bird?” “A heron,”

she replied before any of the others

at the table had even heard my question.

Her back had been turned to it. There

was no sign she had seen it alight.

She answered as if she had been

wondering when I would ask.

She was delicate, in a slightly

awkward way guardedly watchful.

She could take wing at a careless

remark. She was a poet.

I shall never see her again.


Edward Baugh (Jamaica)

Published in A Tale from the Rainforest (Sandberry Press 1998) & Black Sand: Peepal Tree Press: 2013





You the gull


just you

and me

you the gull

padding along

the shoreline

in the wavelets

up to your

white buoy

of breast

padding on the

sand and shell

the wrinkle

to and fro

of sunlight


the trill

of shadow




you me


for something

you the spotless

one of us



Peter Le Baige (New Zealand)




Day off


My Sister and I

Have a speckled past

Like the egg of a tern

How I imagine the speckly anyway

Speck, speck, speckled.


We saw some today

On a walk that healed a part of my psyche

She helped me, in Te Reo, bless some important things

That can be worn.


At a magic spot from my childhood

Fresh water bubbles and flows from a quite close crater lake

Nearby, the sea flows and foams

Further on, the Terns

A hundred or so

Teeming in the air

Dive-bombing for food, then resting


Teem, teem, teeming

Speck, speck, speckled

Rangitoto overlooks us.


Kate Kelly (New Zealand)







Bird of Passage


The poet is speaking.

The window reflects his face.

A bird crawls out of the sun. Summoned.

Its wings are like tar.

That is because it is very hot.

The poet sweats too.

There is a beak at the back of his throat –

the poem is difficult,

his tongue bleeds.

That is because the bird is not really

dead. Yet.

Clap a little.


Dennis Scott

Published in Uncle Time: University of Pittsburg Press 1973





Jailbird at Momona Airport


He kārearea ahau …


I come from the bay of hawks.

Propellers roar my tragedy.

I roar my own ecstasy.

I’m exiled where I walk.

I drool. I hang on my own talk.

I’m between jails coiled in a shroud.

Enter shackled at wrist and ankle.

My feet are bare. I rankle.

I’m off to where I’m sent.

But my stare is proud.

The howl of the mongrel.

The fool’s toothless scowl.

My tinny shack paid back.

Tinfoil, flame and the glass bowl.

I drank. I trespassed. Now I rage.

I don’t utter sounds of doubt.

My rhetoric is renegade.

I return to thoughts of dak.

I chew my cheek. I’m made.

My toes claw the floor.

I am silent as a waiting gun.

I stare at the sun.


David Eggleton (New Zealand)




Next week we present Part II of this special collaboration – Meeting Ground