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Published on September 8th, 2016 | by Booknotes Administrator

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Sneak Peek: Selected Poems by Jenny Bornholdt

Selected_Poems_Jenny_BornholdtRGBweb__66924.1464840641.1280.1280
Jenny Bornholdt is the major New Zealand poet of her generation. Her new Selected Poems provides a full representation of her work through nine collections and nearly thirty years.
Favourite short poems like ‘How to get ahead of yourself while the light still shines’ and ‘Being a poet’ are here alongside vernacular anecdotes like ‘Then Murray came’ and powerful long poems like ‘Confessional’ and ‘Big Minty Nose’ from her award-winning collection The Rocky Shore.
Filled with the lyric beauty, wit and feeling for which Jenny Bornholdt is renowned, Selected Poems will be essential reading for years to come.

 


Jack’s shirt

I used to live in a road
that sounds like salamander.
Ferns grew in the letterbox.
I drove with my wrists.

The man who claimed
to love me then
then loved my friend, then
again, another.

That first friend had
a beautiful brother.
Still does. And the second?
It was her brother
I loved.

He wore school shirts
of a heavenly blue.
He gave me two. Then
left. They always do.
Or did, back then.

Back then they made
a cotton shirt that
lasted. Witness now
I have a shirt
that first brother wore.
I see him sitting, loose-
limbed, languid, in the
doorway, strumming a guitar.
Beside him stands the genius boy
who later died—made restless, pacing
in a garden.

I often wear this shirt my friend—
that brother’s sister—gave me.
These summer days
I slip on my old, plain, cotton life
and go about in it.

 

Cast in order of appearance

Best to be
the     GIRL IN BED     in
the movie. He gets up
brushes a light hand across
your sleepy breasts, you ask
will I see you again?
and he says, as he pulls on
his shirt   no   then you say
as he’s going out the
door   you’ve got great
hands   and he smiles a little
and exits, leaving you
alone in your room above
the café where the neon sign
flicks information onto your
wall. And it suits you. You
lie for a bit. The rest of
the movie is all yours. You’re
left to dress in private, to
go downstairs and have coffee
in the café before meeting up
with the     MAN WITH SAUCE BOTTLE
who doesn’t appear until later
but gets a laugh and might
be remembered. You won’t
be, unless it’s days later
in an idle moment and by
that time you’ll be miles
away, on holiday with friends
out on the lake in a boat
taking in the trees.

 

From behind the hedge

It sounds like one woman.
Her heels click across the road and every so often she says
something.
This is one woman talking to herself every now and again.

Or maybe there are two women.
One woman in loud shoes who every now and again comments
to another woman who is silent and wears soft shoes or maybe is
silent and is piggybacked across the road by the first woman so
as to give a false impression.

Or maybe the second woman is mute.
Maybe she taps softly on the first woman’s shoulder in
answer—once for yes, twice for no, and maybe she stays
in the car while the first woman goes back and forth across the road.

Only one car door slams.
ls this because there is only one woman or because the mute
woman is tired?

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