issue 3

october 2015

issue 3 - october 2015

Theoretical Fringe Benefits - K-t Harrison

The pages that I write
My black stories on 
Are all white.
And when I 
Turn each page,
I see 
In the white papers
To soak up my ink taggings
From the other side

See – here’s me, black as ever
And just as menacing
As the beast
Beauty loved 
And looked for
Beneath the bed
Each night...
To sate a curious appetite

…let us merge
On the page at least:
              He iwi tahi tatou?
              Nah bro’
I live inside the sentences passed down
When you gave me your word
Your honour

Let my people go
Edward said
To re-orient towards the reference points of the occident
See – we got lost on our way 
Along the pathway to the fringe
To this, to here; senselessly decentered; homeless & demented.

A non-essentialist unity
Homogenizes me – see  
A commonality – my black face
Over-written to dislocate 
By one stroke of the goose feather pen
Hordes displaced to othered space      
Shoved to the string-tied outer apron 
Of the not-negotiable settler nation 
Across a maintained difference
Of mapped out treacherous seas.
Foucault’s institutional power lines
Fanon’s wretched fact of my whenua scorched black, 
Where I was left to die 
But did not
Fall off the edge of the tarnished parchment,
Tainted at conception a well-conceived deception. 
Learnt instead how to think in ink and bled
And bled all over that page
Now read & redressed 
Confiscation compensated.
“Kia ora for that.”

See – we cannot distance ourselves
Too far from the implications of our histories
It was,
Not too long ago, 
At the intertextual frontiers 
Of our black and white beginnings
The Cross of good and evil came; and in the name of
Ruptured harmony and balance:
              Where Kauri were felled, and now die-back
              Where water was poisoned, and now poisons
              Where stoat killed Kiwi
              And iwi died-out
Or were supposed to.

Ahi kaa, keepers of the fire
Kept the embers aglow
Let’s sit down and there we’ll toast
The bread we broke
And drink the water of life – to life – kia ora koutou katoa.

…allow me entry into the institutions of dominant discourse
And estrange the basis of its authority and identification
Where my sub-texted sacred is reduced to simulacrum

But, hey ehoa, my treaty partner
              Take my hand
              I’ll show you how to poi – ay?
Watch me, see me spiral away, 
From a con-structured narrative centre
To a thematically, culturally safe one
I watch; learn, know, perfect 
See – I make myself my own.
Nemesis in mimesis.

Once Upon a Pretty Girl - K-t Harrison

There was this girl one time. It was autumn graduation when all the pretty brainy people at the university graduate in something important or another. The girl was very pretty. Pretty blonde hair, pretty blue eyes, a pretty white-skin face made-up with make-up and pretty sparkly earrings dangling from her ears. She wore a pretty short dress and pretty high heeled shoes. She went inside the club with some other pretty brainy people – I knew that from the way they all talked different to me, used big words, and talked them like the Queen does on television.

She was pretty drunk when she came out. She fell over, landed right there in the street. And the other pretty drunk people – her friends, I think – laughed at her, cheered at her, jeered at her, sneered at her. Some peered at her. One leered at her and ran his beery tongue over his ginga-tufted top lip.

“She’s hemo bro,” Adam, my partner on the door, said.

“Call an ambulance,” I said.

Her friends tried to pick her up but she was too drunken floppy and loose limbed to stand and she dropped to the ground and she took some of them with her. And there they all were, limb-entwined, but all their brains combined could not make them stand straight at that time. And they ended up – on the footpath – closer to the gutter than even I’d been despite my growing up far from where they’d ever known. Then the girl started retching, doubling over and clutching at her puku. I had to help her.

I walked over to where she lay, to where her friends knelt around her and gave each other advice about holding her hair-by-Wayne back. Hold her hair back one girl said, it’s by Wayne. Whatever that meant and whoever Wayne was, he couldn’t have helped her then – but I could.

“Please don’t touch her,” another girl friend said to me.

“Don’t you dare touch her,” a boy shouted at me.

I rolled her on her side and placed her in the recovery position like I’d learned to at staff training. I pulled her dress over her arse; it barely covered her before, now, scrunched up, it bared everything.  One of her friends took the scarf from around her own neck and together we draped it over her bottom part. Not to keep her warm, but to keep her from being displayed.

“You, hey you, get your filthy black hands off her. I’ll do you for indecent assault. You all saw him didn’t you? Copping a free white feel aye darkie? Here feel this.”

I stood up. He made a fist, I took a step back, he swung with all the power his face could show. The might behind what he wanted me to feel carried him down to kiss the asphalt walk-way. He raised his bloodied face, and on all fours he howled like a werewolf. He sat with his legs under him, he ripped his shirt off and then he beat at his chest. He howled again. Two constables on the Friday night street beat cuffed him and took him away – to the cells, I think.

“I’ll get you for this Tarzan,” he said.

“Look after your friend,” I said to the girl.

“Come back to the door bro,” Adam said.

By the time the ambos arrived, the girl was sitting up. She’d spewed up and spewed up and spewed up and right there in the gutter was where that sick would stay. Until at four o’clock when the spray from the street cleaning truck would wash the spew away as it did every morning. It seemed that all the gutters in the CBD in those days ran wild with pretty girl spew every Friday night.

The ambos covered her up properly and put her on a gurney. One attendant hopped inside the ambulance to lift it from behind. Just before she disappeared through the door, the folding wheels got stuck. Light from the street-lamp shone on her face, she looked pretty sick. She opened her eyes, she looked at me, and she mouthed thank you. And I wanted that shift to end right then. I wanted to go home. I wanted to be home with my baby girls – to read them a story; and my wife – to give her the rose I’d bought off Adam’s wife. I wanted to love them and for them to love me back. That was a while ago now, but I’ve never forgotten, thank-you, she said.


You might see me while out clubbing one night. I’d be the other one at the entrance. There’s always two of us on the door. Mostly we’re big and usually we’re dark skinned. I’m the one you flip your ID at, flick your photo at, and flash your face at while you carry on your conversation with your mates. Perhaps you don’t see me at all, but I see you. I’ve always seen you.

You are the girl who wants Manu – because I’m too old – to pose with you while you take a beauty-and-the-beast selfie. You are the boy that calls me hey you. You are the lady who tells me to mind my own effin business when I step between you and the man who I think might hit you. And you are that man who tells me to eff off. You are that woman who tried to squeeze my arse that time, but could only pat it because your hand was too small. And if I wanted, I could have taken that hand and crushed it, twisted your wrist and snapped it but instead I denied you entry because you were intoxicated – and when you called me a monkey,   I offered to phone you a taxi – so you could get home safely.

You are the man who misread my name badge and called me Jasey-boy. You are the lady who leant forward so I could see down your dress, the girl who dropped your keys and bent over or squatted to pick them up, so I could see up your dress, you are the girl who called me Honey while you groped at my nuts, the same one I saw at the supermarket – who pushed in front of me at the check-out and laughed about it with the boy whose hand you held.

Maybe you are the boy whose father refused me credit that time, all I wanted was to feed my kids. Maybe you are the woman who taught my daughters how to read, but tried to tell them what to read so I ripped your books up. It might be that you are the lady at the bank who said no to our loan application. Maybe you’re the man who cut our power off. We all do the jobs we get paid to do. But you, you are that pretty girl and if you were my daughter, I would boot your arse.

Contributor's Note

Kia ora koutou, these poems are part of a  poetry sequence called 'Corina Goes to Wellington.'
Ko Hapuakohe te maunga
ko Mangawara te awa
ko Tainui te waka
ko Ngati Paoa, Ngati Haua, Ngati Mahuta nga iwi,
ko Waiti,Kai-a te-mata, Wharekawa me Waahi nga marae.
No te Hoe-o-Tainui ahau
ko toku ingoa ko k-t Harrison.
He kaituhi ahau.


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