My name is Leah. I live and write in Wellington, New Zealand. Welcome!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'I Know This Much At Least' by Mollie Wells

From the single point of distance
we are half dark half salt half boat

and a line of matches striking sea,
and bone, to shore.

You bullshit hymn. You stupid rat.

You ugly river beach, why the hell
are we out here again? What with

all this bringing me into the cooler
mist of you, I can’t remember how

the city’s meant to look against the
white of its Queen Mary, how I used

to see the sopping wedding dress of
it and sitting here right now, whether

flesh or memory, I can promise I won’t
ever know the lace like that again.

I’ll only know the donuts that you brought
to bring the edge down off the end of us,

like coconut has ever had a say in what
makes up a good goodbye. You know, we

might’ve just stayed quiet. Let the sulfur run
itself to sleep, you stupid bruise. You spoiled

rotten scrape.

Mollie Wells is a writer, editor and musician from Columbus, Ohio. She’s a regular contributor to BUST Magazine and the Mishka Bloglin. Find her at

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'The Conversationist At Night' by Patricia Caspers

In the insomniac hours
she hears the incantations
of seers and shamans,
and listens like a child
at her parents’ bedroom door,
but their voices are shuttered
as if from the underside
of her pillow or through
the slow fog of another
universe where the spectacled
cormorant still dries its feathers
on unmined rocks
by a sea so clean
he can see through his own black
reflection to the passing
sweet eel—maybe
his afternoon catch—
all the way to the sand-
cradled bottom,
where he will dive, finally,
pulling her under.

Patricia Caspers is the poetry editor for Prick of the Spindle. Her poetry was published most recently in Ploughshares, and she writes a weekly blog post about women and poetry for Ploughshares. She lives in Massachusetts with her family and teaches writing at Worcester State University.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Come One, Come All...Come and Submit!

I have the great honor of being invited to be the new Poetry Editor at The Open Road Review (

The Open Road Review is an online literary publication, started by Kulpreet Yadav with the intention of giving space to new voices. Kulpreet is from New Delhi, India, and I also join Shanti Perez from Spokane, WA, who is the Fiction Editor.

We'd love to encourage anyone who is interested to submit their work (guidelines can be found here:

I'll keep you posted...I'm really excited about this new venture!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


The lone skunk
nosing her prow
from cabin to
shed, boathouse,
lodge, peaceably cleaved
a slow arcing curve
around the aspen or birch
I leaned against.
Despite the streak
between her eyes
and the impressive wake
striping her body black,
white, black, white, black,
she was hugely calm.
Not happy: aware
of her competence.
She did not spray.
I may have flinched.
Any noise I made wasn’t much,
the ripple of her passing.

(c) David McAleavey, reprinted here with his kind permission. Please see it in its original Anderbo glory here:

Head back on over to The Tuesday Poem hub for more wonderful poems today!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Monday Inspiration: Marc Johns

I haven't really kept up with this area of my blog, and I really miss sharing the inspiration! So today I was looking through Marc Johns' website, saw this picture, and just thought....YES!

My striped jumper always makes me feel better. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'For Kevin Ireland' by James K Baxter

Friend, if you have strength to praise
The lion-head incubus
That grips your life and mine within
It's strict Egyptian maze,
Expect no lessening of pain,
Easy bed among the lies
And coffee house adulteries,
Only that your words will live.
Cut with ink of vitriol
These words upon a living brow -
I am by force of blood and star
One of the maimed immortals who
Tread a pathway to the fire
Where affliction makes them whole.

Friends, head on over to The Tuesday Poem for more wonderful poems today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'A Fragment' by Oscar Wilde

Beautiful star with the crimson lips
And flagrant daffodil hair,
Come back, come back, in the shaking ships
O'er the much-overrated sea,
To the hearts that are sick for thee
With a woe worse than mal de mer-
O beautiful stars with the crimson lips
And the flagrant daffodil hair. -
O ship that shakes on the desolate sea,
Neath the flag of the wan White Star,
Thou bringest a brighter star with thee
From the land of the Philistine,
Where Niagara's reckoned fine
And Tupper is popular-
O ship that shakes on the desolate sea,
Neath the flag of the wan White Star. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'I Taught Myself To Live Simply' by Anna Akhmatova

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster drops
I compose happy verses
about life's decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

- Anna Akhmatova

Anna Akhmatova (1889-1960) was a Russian poet. Her work was censored and destroyed by Stalinist authorities, and she is particularly noted, not only for being a strong female voice in a world of men, but for choosing not to emigrate from Russia during the Stalinist regime.

Head on over to the Tuesday Poem for more wonderful poems today!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Fire Bug'

In the pearly afterbirth of morning
she burnt it to the ground;
watched as the matchstick house
dislocated like an injured jaw;
stood as the birds fled in clusters,
black as pepper kernels.

He came to her later
and they sat in the sooty remains,
stacking ashen wood,
and she watched his face,
his eyes set like currants
deep in his doughy skin;

gingerbread man,
slow-rising lover.

The fire still smouldered later,
ripe orange blooming in oily black,
stringing their words out between them
like drying laundry flapping above the ashes.

A prayer for the lost, he suggested,
and they closed their eyes,
imprints of light smudged rose against their eyelids,
their capacity for destruction
an inherited gene,
their prayer one of sympathy, not apology.

- Leah McMenamin 

Head on over to the Tuesday Poem hub for some more wonderful poetry today!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Flowering Cherry' - Janet Frame

These cherries are not wine-filled bowls for thirsty birds
nor ornaments of the house where sky’s the ceiling.
These are the pawnbroker tree’s discreet sign,
the wine, tear and blood drops of bondage,
the tree’s relentless advantage
taken of the poverty that came when, warmed
with familiar memory of what had been
and had been and would be but is never known
entirely or believed until it is born,
we saw the cherry tree in flower and at once spent
a life’s rich astonishment.

‘Why should I be bound to thee?’
Blake asked of the myrtle tree. Why?
He killed to escape. Blood flowed beneath the tree:
a father’s blood, an old man’s, who must have known
how to bargain with all possession
that makes a tree, a house, a sky into a prison
and each man see the marks of chains upon his skin.
The cherry tree flowers earlier than most,
falls as snow while snow is falling,
sweeps into us and through us and we taste
the flower as fruit, we eat the first
full-blown light unfolded out of winter darkness.
Then, as if the bloom were gone, the tree will hide
in wine-coloured shade and pawn signs to pursue its trade.

And we are prisoners then, borrowing wonder
to redeem the pledge; or too poor, too ill,
too far away to make the necessary journey,
we plead in writing for the tree’s mercy. Why
should a lifetime of marvelling be spent
on this first view of spring light, this burst of cherry snow?
Why should the tree house our treasure in blood?

When next you pass the flowering cherry now, in September,
look closely at the cool dark wine house
where the blackbirds sing for their supper
where the human senses sing for their survival.

'The Flowering Cherry', from The Pocket Mirror (W H Allen, 1967), and in Storms Will Tell: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2008), © Janet Frame Literary Trust 1967

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Carnation Days'

There is a plastic flower you keep -
blood & cream -
resting in an empty vase
for days like these,
where the blankets stay on
and the blinds remain closed.

It balances the room
a point of bright meditation
for your fearful days,
just so,
until you open the curtains
and the light through the vase
fractures the stem into
a hundred jagged pieces
and you put it back into
the drawer
and make breakfast,
even though it’s noon.

- Leah McMenamin

Head on over to The Tuesday Poem hub for more great Tuesday poetry!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Winter Flames'

You stand
poised above the flames,
feeding them branches you have snapped
with quick fearless hands.
There are marshmallows,
sodden and silky in our mouths
between laughter and open-ended thoughts,
musings over
the uncompromising rotation of the earth
and the interplay between
predestination and free-will,
words strung like drying laundry
flapping above the flames.
The night air is sodden,
draping over our shoulders,
growing heavier as our talk increases.
We are intoxicated
by the licking flames;
the courage in our guts
coming from the depth of the evening.

- Leah McMenamin
Head on over to the Tuesday Poem for more wonderful Tuesday poems!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday Inspiration: On Creativity

A slightly different format today...after reading a recent post on Brain Pickings I came across a couple of really wonderful quotes in the vein of of "inspiration" and "creativity".

For all of us who engage in activities that require some form of creativity - writing or painting or dancing or singing; knitting or collecting or photographing or cooking; there are times where Creativity strikes us, the Muse descends upon us, and we create prolifically.

There are other days where it is just hard, a real slog, trying to get anything done. I thought I'd share a couple of great pieces, one from the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and one from the musician Jack White, for today's Monday Inspiration.


"Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer's soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration...We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.
"A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration. Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself..."

Jack White

"Inspiration and work ethic - they ride right next to each other...Not every day you're gonna wake up and the clouds and gonna part and rays from heaven are gonna come down and you're gonna write a song from it. Sometimes, you just get in there and just force yourself to work, and maybe something good will come out."

Friday, July 27, 2012

NZ Poetry Day: 'For My Brother' - Ron Riddell

After so many distances
solitudes and silences
after so many journeys
deaths, losses

After so many sojourns
seas, shores of exile
forgone farewells
and nil responses
I remove myself
from familiar ground
to where I’m rootless
with no past nor name

that I may speak
to you, truly, kindly
from an inner state
which resonates

with the midnight
cooing of a morepork
patient, timeless
calling from the deep.

 © Ron Riddell (reprinted here with his kind permission)

Ron is an arts graduate of Auckland University, and he worked for many years as a school teacher. In recent years, he has been travelling and working in the Americas. Writer and peace-advocate, also a painter, musician and author of a number of books and plays, has published twenty-one collections of verse and two novels.  He has been the founder and organiser of many writers’ workshops and cultural gatherings in New Zealand, Great Britain and Colombia, most notably perhaps The Wellington International Poetry Festival. Whilst better known as a poet, he now divides his writing time between fiction and poetry.

Visit Ron at his website:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Vermont Mermaids' - Brett Elizabeth Jenkins

The night of course dampened by liquor. Hot breath of the summer
trickling our necks. We follow close behind in this new Eden,

tramping down the saplings. Some of us without shoes, the big breast
of the moon cracked open in front of us. We approach the lake;

night water, wisp of fog. Look, our clothes
there on the banks. There are no clouds. The moon allows us

to see all of it, all of us. We swim to the middle, Vermont mermaids,
buoys of light. Imagine us drifting

to the bottom. How we could swim under there.

Brett Elizabeth Jenkins lives and writes in Minnesota. She is the author of the chapbook ETHER/ORE. Look for her poems in Beloit Poetry Journal, Potomac Review, PANK, elimae, RHINO, and elsewhere. You can visit her here:

Come back to the TUESDAY POEM for more wonderful poems - and a celebration of New Zealand Poetry Day at the end of this week.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Tribute to a Year in Ethiopia

This time last year I was doing curriculum development work at One Planet International School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

My daily routine involved perhaps enjoying a fresh papaya or melon for breakfast, walking through throngs of people and cattle and derelict cars to work, working on Social Studies and Character Education material for the school, eating shiro for lunch, and spending the evenings with friends in my wee apartment.

My Ethiopian home
After being back in New Zealand for months now, I realised I've never really taken the time to reflect back upon my experiences there, which have shaped me in ways I could never have foreseen.

There were many tests and difficulties faced for all of us who worked there, but looking back the joyful experiences far outweigh the not-so-pleasant ones, and I'm glad it's like that. I want to look back on my time in Ethiopia with rose-tinted glasses, so that everything I saw and everyone I met has a golden light shed upon them.

Working at a Baha'i-inspired school meant that I worked with people from very far-flung places; from Finland to Australia, North Carolina to China, as well as Ethiopia. It was an incredible chance to dive into a beautiful culture and people, and share that new experience with others from all around the world.

Our little internationl family
I could spend hours writing about my time there; the taste of warm shiro in the evenings against the grainy bitterness of injera; walking past vultures and donkeys on my way to work; the sound of a begena tinkling down a lane like raindrops striking tin cans; the leaden bellies of clouds in the rainy season turning the earth to a swampy marshlands overnight; the bright eyes of the people I met every day.

Even though I spend a lot of time writing on this blog, I want to dedicate the rest of this post to pictures, because I feel like they can encompass my momentary experiences a little better than my words can.

Cleaning up the communal grounds in our apartments
The misty ruins of a hut on the way to Axum and Mekele in the far north
A lonely cow herder in Axum
Intense car door interiors
The most beautiful eyes - baby Bayan (above) and local girl (below)

Incredible tea ('chai') and coffee ('buna'), coupled with amazing coffee ceremonies

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Savai'i Sorceress', Karlo Mila

don't get your hands caught in my hair
were the last words I threw at you
in a flying goodbye
deliberate words
your eyes landing on curls
tangled / a web / a nest / a net
thrown into the wind
wrapping around you

don't go standing on any star-mounds
late at night in savai'i
or I might call your name
like a chanting eel from an underground cave
trying to catch you

stay away

don't let me be
the last thing that creeps into your mind
and spreads
before you go to sleep
like the vine that wraps itself
like a boa
around rainforest branches
dripping glossy leaves
smothering the forests
in upolu
with such style
and tropical panache

because I'll never tell the truth
that the laugh I throw between us like a handful of coins
is no longer

stay away

'Savai'i Sorceress' is from 'Dream Fish Floating', Karlo's first book of poetry published in 2006. Her poems are an exquisite exploration of Tongan, Samoan, Maori and Palangi culture. Many thanks to Karlo for allowing me to share her poem here!

Head on over to the Tuesday Poem hub for more amazing Tuesday poems.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday Poem: 'Empty Apartment II'

© Gabriel Ward 2012

 It is not present here –
that sense of human existence,
the smell of someone
who inhabited this space
before I found it.

The only things left behind
were a smashed cabinet
a hammer
shards of glass
and a skein of red wool.

I lay down in a cold corner
and wrapped the wool
around my wasted heart,
the strands got tangled
along the lengths of my ribs.

I could make my home here,
on this dusty floor,
a quiet place to sleep
and shelter
from the lonesome rain.

Here it is quiet,
and I am liminal,
betwixt and between realities,
so if I was to stretch out one hand
it would be found elsewhere.

- Leah McMenamin

This poem was inspired by some of the AMAZING photographs (like the one above) taken by Gabriel Ward. Gabe and I are friends from university, and he is currently living in South Korea. His photos are really edgy and soulful, you can visit him here:

Visit the Tuesday Poem hub for more great poems to brighten your Tuesday!