Monday, 11 January 2021

New Year Resolutions

We all make resolutions and we all fail to keep them. So we decided to mix it up and write a poem that featured both real and imaginary resolutions, that way no-one will be able to hold us to account and it's a bit more fun!



This year I resolve to speak feline
So when my cat verbalises I will be able to cater to his every whim

I resolve to walk more
If my newly understood cat follows me I will be very happy

I resolve to go vegetarian
Self explanatory - good for the pocket, good for the world

I resolve to read every day - oops already broke that one

I resolve to learn a new handicraft - no this time I really do

I resolve to give up smoking
By the way I have a smoke in my hand while I am writing this

I resolve to stop making resolutions I can't keep.

- M.F.


This year will be different
I'm going to be healthy
I'll give up smoking, booze, coffee and sugar
I'll eat five servings of fruit a day
I'll get the house organised
I'll wash all the blankets
I'll dust every day
and mop the floor twice a week
I'll clean the oven
I'll organise my wardrobe by colour
and take the clothes that no longer fit me
to the op shop
I'll save money
Seven thousand to paint the house
Ten thousand for a trip to Ireland
Twelve hundred for new washing machine
and fifteen thousand for a rainy day
Oh, I see it's raining now
I'll just put my feet up
and do a bit of knitting
until it's a better time to start

- Helen


Exploring the possibilities of collecting antiques sometimes has it's problems.

Exploring the possibilities of being a contemporary artist searching for found objects doesn't always pay off.

Exploring the possibilities of being a poet makes me cringe and I dont like it. Yet it maybe the right path to take

Considering that I may be a billion miles away from where I should be, I'll take my chances with one of these, but only if it can draw in a serious fee!

- Haki S Davis


I resolve to never bitch
Or react to every itch
And every slight that I might hear
No matter how far or near.

I resolve to stand up tall
And not to crumble or to fall
When things go wrong, as they do
I will not cry "boo hoo".

I resolve to put away 
All the things with which I play
Creatively I put things down
Never again to be found.

I resolve to ignore
The dribble from a certain jaw
As he declares the vote's a farce
I will imagine him on his arse.

I resolve to not resolve
As annually they do revolve
And come back with sharp teeth to bite
New Year's resolutions - "yeah, right".

- Christine Philp

Last year I nearly got through my New Year Resolutions
I nearly watched a full movie series
I had watched 5 of them but over and over again
Kept away from 2 of the other movies from the series
I had read 5 books from the same series
kept away from 2 of the other books from the series
My New Year Resolutions for This Year
I Hope to finish off what I started Last Year
To Read 2 books from the same series
To Watch 2 movies that are from the same movie series
Cause my biggest fear is reading and watching scary scenes
But once I watch and read the Movies and Books
My New Year Resolutions will be complete 
And My Fear of watching and reading scary scenes will be gone
By Julia Godfrey

Monday, 7 December 2020

Creative keys

A planned, and unusual, exhibition provided the inspiration for today's writing. Artsenta has an old piano that will be dismantled and transformed into many individual artworks to be displayed at the 2021 Dunedin Fringe Festival (18-28 March). The challenge was to write a short story or narrative poem involving the destruction of a piano but with something unexpected, beautiful or inspiring coming about as a result.


Her performance was over,
the audience's applause faded,
The stage in darkness.
But the show is remembered,
music absorbed into the wood,
pianist's love soaked into the ivory,
resonance of the crowd's enjoyment hums in the strings.
A cacophony beyond human hearing,
beyond human knowledge,
feigning silence.

The cacophony rises,
until strings break.
One by one.
Twang by twang.

The rollers beneath her three legs spasm
and spin,
dancing across the stage.

Once pregnant with musical possibilities,
now dying, spent
with keys tumbling to the boards.
Her polished black shell rent open,

The violence of new life replacing old.
A vengeful phoenix of sound.



“It needs to be tuned anyway.” she said, chords and quavers dancing in her memory as she saw again the gnarly hands of her grandfather tinkle the ivory and slide down the ebonies.  He had been gone a long time now, and his piano was full of dust and spiders from its storage in the back shed

“We’ll put it in the lounge” he promised “vacuum it out and dust it off and I will get a piano tuner in.  It will sound as good as before.”

Moving day arrived.  They were filled with anticipation and excitement at the prospects for their first home, as they watched the ‘stuff’ of their lives going on the truck, then later being moved in.

A quick picnic lunch on the back lawn and back to work unpacking.  Timed moved by and the kitchen clock was hung with care on the wall.

Next off the truck was the piano.  With care, six bulky men lifted it down and started up the path.  As they navigated the steps a black and whit cat darted, scared, from under the bushes, tripping the team leader.  He fell sideways and the others toppled, like dominoes, the piano crashing down between them, splintering on the steps, twisting and irretrievably broken.

They all stared in dismay.  He stepped forward;  “Put all the pieces up by the back fence” he said to the men quietly, his arm sliding around her waist, a comforting handkerchief proffered.

They went inside and sat, as at a wake, while the broken pieces of that dream were placed up against the fence.  He took the box which had held the kitchen clock and gathered up the ebonies and ivories, the hammers and the pedals and stored them on a dwang in the woodshed. 

When spring came she planted beans and peas against the fence.  The broken pieces of the piano were no longer there.  She wondered what he had done with them but didn’t want to know.

“Your beans are up” he reported, one day in November. 

Later she wandered up the garden for a look.  Beside the bean fence stood the heavy cast-iron frame of Grandfather’s old piano, upright, mounted on a slab of timber which was supported by concrete blocks.  The ‘top’, the back end of the strings, was braced against the fence with more timber and strong bolts.

The strings were taut.  Indulging memory she allowed her fingers to slide backwards across the strings, now like a harp.  Tuned and ready to play!  

Amazed she studied the hanging pieces and watched in awe as the wind caught one of light wooden hammer and bounced it across the strings, speaking chords and quavers! 

- Kate Jenkins

Thursday, 26 November 2020

A fob watch, A penny farthing, and, A one-armed man.

Inspired this time by Oamaru's Victorian Heritage Celebrations we undertook to write a short story that had to include a one-armed person, a fob watch and a penny farthing. Setting restrictions can help get us started and provide some really interesting results.


Monsieur Sebastian Cavrot took one more gasp of air then exhaled through pursed lips as he shunted his new model Penny farthing two more steps before bounding up its spine via the newly adapted foot-up, now with serated grooves cut in by father Jaque. The father and son team were desperate to break their main rival’s two-time champion of the Pigalle to The Arc De Triomphe, Penny farthing race, Pierre Badeaux’s record time of 15.12sec.
As his legs spun and pumped groundward with all the strength he could muster, he noticed his lungs pump with every four rotations of the crank shaft. He was in la zone.

Seb now had time to take in le mise en scène. As he raised his dome to gaze upon the road ahead, he got sight of a string of dancers outside the infamous Moulin Rouge, hitching up their skirts , kicking Can Cans and crying at the top of their musical lungs ‘Ride like the wind’! Sebastian locked into his now long practised meditative state and kept his derrière glued to the saddle, blood now coursing through his veins.

Now, riding through the heart of cobblestoned Parisian streets is no easy feat, but still Sebastian pursued his and his father’s dream with a whole-hearted eagerness unbeknownst to most mere mortals.

It was time. A small furl appeared on the right side of his mouth, a smirk perhaps.

He took a hand off his steering apparatus and fidgeted around in a small waste pocket sewn onto his riding shirt. A fob watch slowly appeared, glinting and attached to a chain. He caught a glance, He was on track. His smile grew, he raised his tight little French buns out of the riding stool for the extra surge, sat, pressed on, picking up the pace while scanning for cracks on the now well-ridden route.

Behind his smile was a true happiness he had rarely felt before. All the effort the father and son team had put in was finally coming to fruition, and they could finally rest on their laurels after the race, regardless of the result. Jaque had come up with the ingenius idea of attaching the fob watch to a waist pocket he had sewn into the racing shirt so Seb could monitor his own progress. And this idea, all came from a truly dreadful accident the year before.

Jaque had been out ploughing the field on their small farm when he stumbled forward over a stone, reached out to catch the handle of the plough, caught his sleeve and let out a staccato’d grunt. The beast pulling the plough lurched forward, his arm dropped suddenly, catching Jaque’s hand in a piece of the plough. As if in one foul swoop, the beast took one more heave and ploughed on, ripping poor Jaque’s arm cleanly out from his shoulder so quickly, that the break was barely audible from within a few short meters. Jaque would later compare it to the sound of three hens having their necks snapped simultaneously. This, he loved telling around the dinner table.

After the recovery from almost dying from loss of blood, Jacque sat by the fireside for the first time since being out of bed, he spied his shirt he had worn the day of the accident. His eyes met part of the chain protruding from the pocket, glinting in the fire’s light. Jaque shuffled, stretched and withdrew the watch. He all at once thought of the training, hard-work, time and money invested into what now seemed a far-flung and doomed to fail, Farthing venture.

He fondled the time-piece in his non-dominant hand, tried to hold, then wind it’s tiny dial. He struggled several times with this before a large tear grew in the duct of his eye and dropped onto the fob itself.

Jaque now swallowed nothing in his dry and quenching throat, lay the watch on the small round table in front of him and exchanged it for a half-empty whisky glass, raised it to the fireplace and took a half-decent gulp, closing his eyes. The moment between swallowing and reopening his eyes seemed like a full minute. He then sighed, and nine years of toil, sweat and pain swept through his nostrils like a team of the most hardened pack horses pulling the devil himself in a thick marble carriage.

When his eyes opened at long last, a large, glorious smile now drew across his fatherly face. He raised the fob and kissed it.

By Jamie Bennett


It was a full moon.  She hadn't seen it, she was too far inside the building to see the sky.  But she could tell the moon was full.  It was never this busy otherwise.  She closed the curtains around the drunk who had stumbled into a broken tibia, and started examining the dressings on a one-armed man who had been bottled in a bar fight earlier in the evening.  Too early in the night for a bar fight.  Everything was dry for now - a pleasant surprise.

She could hear snappish orders being given in the ambulance bay, the night was getting busier.  She pulled the fob at her breast pocket, it was still over an hour until midnight, and several more until she could go home for much wanted sleep.

She surveyed her charges, checking they were fine for her to step away, and headed after the commotion.  The site that greeted her was not pretty.  Impact and prolonged abrasion.

'What happened' she asked.

The ambo, inappropriately smirking, replied 'This idjit took a penny-farthing ride down View St.  Ended up using his face as a third wheel'.

She sighed and stepped back, allowing the gurney to roll past.

She hated full moons. 


Victorian Story Prompts

Inspired by a local short story competition, today we set ourselves the task of writing a short story inspired by a classic line out of a Victorian novel. You may well be able to spot the phrase in the stories below. 

Redemption maybe?

Phoebe woke in the night. Her hands were shaking and she had to call the maidservant to light the candle. She’d had a nightmare. Her heart was palpitating in her chest. Her dreams usually played out in reality. In fact the dream was about the downfall of her family.

One member was to fall then her family would be ostracised. Phoebe was shaken. Who would fall?

Was it her dear sister Esmay? Or would her brother go to debtor’s prison.

She crept slowly through her room into the study where her father kept his whisky. A couple of mouthfuls and she felt okay. A voice came unbidden into her mind.

“Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences.” The family she realised had to be held to account. Every devious deal they had done with the towns people must be brought to light.

And so the next day Phoebe walked around the village and the surrounding countryside, returning dishonestly obtained money and goods. Her dream did become real. She returned too much. Her family could not pay their bills and were evicted from their cottage and joined the Romany people on the road.

And so they passed from the history of the shire although people still allude to Phoebe’s generosity and kindness and maybe one day, when the travelling people pass through the village, they may see in the children a resemblance of their mother.  

- M.F.


Strains of music arc'd through the air, glanced off the windows, fired home to their target.  Ears, fraught with tension, muscles of his face tight, jaws clenched in almost permanent rigor.  The state of things now!  Nothing easy, always strained, no vacation.  If anyone told him to relax once more he would ... he would ... he didn't know what would happen.  Perhaps existence would implode in a mass of black that would smell of violets, sound like silence, and taste like water.

Dan surged across the room and angrily hit the OFF switch.  The music continued - in his head now, a perpetual trace of irritation.  In its background he could still hear the chirping hissing of tinnitus no longer drowned out.  His jaws still clenched Dan stalked outside, beyond the back door to the hopeful quiet of the garden.  If he listened to the tinnitus he could hear cicadas on pine trees.  "Have a little compassion on my nerves, you tear them to pieces" he cried to his mind, exasperated.  The resinous smell of the old place oozed out from memory, and he breathed deeply.  Thoughtless, Dan ventured back for yet another attempt at Part 2 of his manuscript.  The damn cat would not shut up.  Perpetually squeaking for cheese.  Why couldn't it go away and catch a mouse!

Another day.  Another morning.  The nation was in lockdown now and he was, still.  The stereo played the most soothing option he could find.  Whistling oscillated in his ears.  Compassionate phrases of Vivaldi still arc'd and glanced their meter around the room.  His feet gave up their stance and he ventured beyond the bastion of home, his steps retarded as he walked the street.  The bells and chirps of birds rang clear over the tinnitus, which submerged into stanzas of the trees.  All that annoyance had gone.  "It's quiet" Dan finally observed, to himself and no-one else.  His jaws released, eyes stopped squinting, and belief emerged.

- Kate Jenkins

Who Really Has The Power?

I sit here, watching you.  You think you are the boss, but I know the truth.  I know that if I ask, and ask, and ask, you will do my bidding, even if you don't know what I want.  Doors will be opened and closed for me, as I desire.  If I don't want my dinner, I tell you, and you buy me something else.  I know what to do to get treats, and extra special attention when I want it.  We cuddle on the sofa when the rain drums on the roof and thunder echoes all around.  I walk the dark night streets alone.  No-one questions me or comes near me.  Beware; for I am fearless and therefore powerful.  I am Thomas, your beloved family cat. 

- Christine

Monday, 12 October 2020

Sounds like...

Onomatopoeia is when a word imitates or sounds like how it is spelt, such as pop, cackle, gurgle, sizzle and the like. Our first task today was to brainstorm all the words we could think of and write them on small notes of paper. We then randomly drew three and wrote a poem or short story using them. Finally for an added challenge we attempted another story or poem using as many as we could. It's fun to use these words and it forces us to try new ways of writing.



At the fair I was eating toffee apples 
savouring their crunch.
I was carrying a toy windmill 
which whirred as it spun from nowhere to nowhere.
Trapped inside the swish of air 
which propelled it there and everywhere 
but never here.

I grabbed a bottle of pop, and it's hiss hypnotised me
drawing me further and further into its saccharine depths.
I gurgled, choked by my own greed
and heard the crackle of my soul which I had sold
for a glimpse of sweetness.

Tick, tock goes the clock
Fire burning, guitar rock
I'm stuck in the depths
And not at the top

I had a zip code but I undid it and out fell
a mass of lies and deceit.
And that's where the fair turned into fear
and the clock of my life turned inexorably forward,
trapped like a match stick in its box.

- M.F.

BARBECUE (onomatopoeia)

Tick tick                tick tick                 tick tick, tick tick

pop        hiss        chink     gurgle                  

crunch  pop        hiss        gurgle                   chink

sizzle     crackle                                 crunch  sizzle     crackle

buzz       crunch                                 buzz       buzz       chink

pop   hiss    buzz    crunch    crackle   sizzle    buzz    buzz

- Kate Jenkins

TASK - use the words 'crunch, gurgle and tick'

He stamped his foot, over and over.  With a heavy crunch his boot broke through the hard layer of ice and slipped on the wet clay beneath.  Time was slipping away, tick tick, tick tick, and his anxiety levels were peaking.  Somewhere under here the burst pipe was draining all the water from the tank – water he needed for the winter cleanup of the cowshed. He only had five cows but they made an awful mess when being milked.  He had to wash down and sweep the shed floor dry before all the poo froze to it.  Tick tick, tick tick.  After breaking two square metres of ice he found a flow of water, and, stamping harder, he followed the course of the pipe back up the yard to a split, where the water gurgled quietly out and spread onto the ground. He glared at the split then took his spade and carefully dug around, above and beneath the burst pipe.  He’d expected more water to be spurting out, not just this slow flow.  Wrapping his hands around the pipe above and below the break he found it solid with ice inside, bulging with frozen power.   He wiped the pipe clean and wrapped the break with tape then, in the kitchen he took warm water from the kettle and returned to the yard to pour it carefully around the freezing ice, starting at the bottom to let the water flow again.  

Three meters down the yard, where he had first stamped his foot, a small stream of water gurgled upwards.

- Kate Jenkins

Monday, 27 July 2020

Busy as Bees

We were literally a hive of activity this week as we reflected on a sculpture by one of Artsenta's artists. This bee themed book sculpture by Trina was used as a prompt for our writing group. Firstly we were tasked with just describing what we could see in as much detail as we could manage. Then we wrote a second poem that included a more personal response to the object and what it might tell us or provoke in us. Thanks for the inspiration Trina!


The hexagonal hive sprays forth
a dozen
full flight, flapping (single wings).
Lozenge shapes loft (yellow, brown, orange, green)
over pale petals,
flowers written to the words of Only Love.

Page two hundred parts from two-oh-one (a separate leaf)
where woven ink-black ribbon divides
hive from flower.
Silvered soloist drones its double wings to its own tune.
Lost words in hexagons
replaced by floral foreign text.


A hive is solidly geometric
Strangers not welcome.
Research is defined, with open boundaries
a droning, buzzing reality
a tight framework of knowledge,
in the open paddock of the unknown.
Workers bringing in facts as food, for storage;
Building, building a wall of interlocking pieces,
food of the next generation.

-Kate Jenkins


Pages of paper
An open book
Flowers a plenty
So take a look.

The hive sits waiting
Bees flying near
Some coated in pollen
Like clothing they wear.

Some lie nearby
Alive or dead?
We cannot tell
Till they raise their heads.


`Busy, busy, busy'

Busy as a bee
So the saying goes
Busy in the sun
Or rain, hail, or snow.

From flower to flower
They flit each day
Picking up pollen
As they go on their merry way.

We love them for their honey
But fear them for their sting
Something they only use
When frightened by something.

We steal the honey
They make for their queen
No wonder they get annoyed
When we take all we can glean.

As we kill them with poison
We forget that they provide
An easy way to fertilise
As they spread pollen far and wide.

Without the bees
And other insects flying through
We would not have the crops
That provide food for me and you.

- Christine Philp

Invisible Poetry

This week's activity was inspired by a poetry competition run by the Dunedin Public Library. One of the competition categories is 'invisibility'. Three variations on the theme were presented for us to write a poem about: 1. A time when you felt invisible, 2. Having the power of invisibility, and 3. Something you can't see such as air, sound, feelings or thoughts. Most of us managed to complete two of the three. The poems made very thoughtful listening. 


Feeling invisible
Can be painful..

Seen t h r o u g h
And this hurt unseen

Is there a way?
A middle way
To be hurt and held
And safe

Is there a way
To be hurt 
And hold
One's self ?

- Pauline


There are things 
In this world
Only sensed
The perfume
Of the

- Pauline


Hope hangs in the air, unlifted
An invisible flag on an unseeable flagpole
High winds and storms batter at life
Shaking the air into waves and funnels, 
Threshing up doubt, fear and resistance
And within this churning foaming maelstrom
Hope lifts and flies, rampant, moving, fighting

-Kate Jenkins


If I could hear what others say
in the quiet places of their lives
I would cloak my self in invisibility
and not return.
My ears would turn to stone and
no more tell my mind their tale of joy or woe
My mind would burn from too much pain
not seen before, not noticed, & joy not learned
Their eyes I would not face, for fear of seeing
the accusations which would burn there.
Curtail contact, curtail speech, 
feel now embarrassment, shame, alone.

-Kate Jenkins


What is your customer number?
He asked me on the phone
I don't have a number
I reply as I groan.

Why can't you find my name
Hidden in your system?
Don't make me play this game
I beseech and plead with him.

We need to fit you in a box
Within our system framework
He says in a tone that mocks.
What an f''ing jerk!

How else can we do this?
There must be a way
I really do miss
When I was a name!

- Christine Philp


I see me
You see me
The same person
Yet different seeings.

You see hope
And possibilities
I don't.

You see confidence
And abilities
I minimise them.

You see smiles
And laughter
I can, sometimes.

Sometimes I wish
You could see the me I see
But then you wouldn't like me either.

Other times, I wish I could see me
As you see me
And not `yeah but' all the positives you see.

- Christine Philp

New Year Resolutions

We all make resolutions and we all fail to keep them. So we decided to mix it up and write a poem that featured both real and imaginary reso...