ARTicle Magazine

Three poems by Louise Wallace

18 August 2017

Starling editor and Wellington-based poet Louise Wallace shares three poems from her new collection, Bad Things.

Louise Wallace

Photo by Grant Maiden

Bad Things is published by Victoria University Press (RRP $25.00). 


shower caps

apple hats

helmet face

iceberg eyes

snake beards braids

round neck


resting shoulder

touching elbow

fingers to forehead

hand to cheek


barrel chest

blanket shoulders

foot as face

punched out nose


bird bonnet

brain dead bow

pyramid hair

bicycle bum


twin ghosts

adult faced


pinched children


mirror dog

psychic vase

rising moon

huge egg

The hunt

her voice is ringing out like bells in the library / she is saying how she has to go to church to pray / and how she needs silence – that in the church / all these voices come to her to talk but she needs silence / and without the silence she can’t pray / and if she doesn’t pray she will starve

Helping my father remember

My father

is in the business

of transmissions.

A radio technician,

the basic premise being

that a message is sent out,

then received. Except something’s

gone wrong with the wiring,

and he didn’t teach me

how to fix it. I see him, standing

at the kitchen bench,

his hand hovering

over an orange and paring knife;

trying to think

what he had planned.


There is evidence that sound

helps restore memory:

the sound

of a cricket ball colliding

with tin fence; lemonade

meeting beer

in a shandy;

sticks smouldering

in the air, when pulled

from a camp fire.

The doctor says

depression, my sister says

stress, my father says

stop being

so bloody dramatic.


They say

I am the most like you,

and that we

are like your mother.

I am following you through

tall grasses, as high

as my head. You’re in

your angling gear.

It’s summer, I can hear

the cicadas.

There’s a wind up,

but its warm.

We’re heading

to the river.

You find Nana,

and I’ll find you.

We won’t be lost

if we’re together.

Bad Things