Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Poem: "Nerves" by Sarah Jane Barnett

The bridge has been
washed out,

the river bank
camouflaged with debris.

Last Waitangi Day
I saw a soldier buried

in the crowd -
his face gave nothing away.

Your lips sticky after kai
teach me a new language,

ka mate ahau
I te aroha e.

That night I dream
my family has arrived

for Christmas,
with the military police.

Arms cuffed
I am pulled from our bed,

held in an austere room
and made to explain

my position.

This poem originally appeared in Deep South '07.

Sarah Jane Barnett is a writer, tutor and doctoral student who lives in Wellington. Her work has appeared in a range of literary journals including Landfall and Sport, and on the e-zines Cordite, Snorkel and Turbine. Her poem, “The Drop Distance”, was selected for Best New Zealand Poems 2007.

Sarah is currently completing a creative writing PhD in the field of ecopoetics. You can find more of her work at http://theredroom.org.


  1. A powerful poem with a sinister undertone.

  2. Such powerful images in Sarah's poem. It is quite striking. The subtle insertion of Christmas niggles and disconcerts the reader. Loved it. Thanks for posting and merry christmas!