Sometimes I’m that puzzle you bought from an op-shop

five dollars. You looked so pleased holding it under your arm

a rubber band snapped tight around the cardboard box

seasonally appropriate image of red and yellow 

leaves above a thick black river.


When we spread it on the kitchen table and sifted

pieces through fingers, fingers through pieces 

we couldn’t find a single edge to get us started

– not a single edge or corner – five bucks, sure 

but it was hard not to feel let down.


There are times on the train when young men sit near 

and speak softly to each other in the familiar cadence

of my father’s language. I want to tell them I know

I’m related to them, just look at my name

but it’s a language I only recognise by sound.


Or when I hand over my keep cup and the vowels 

of the barista are clipped like mine, hanging pounamu 

and I want to say bro, we’re bonded, secret handshake

but there are hundreds of us here 

with nothing remarkable about our easy migration.


Anyway, it turns out you can still put a puzzle together

when the edges are missing, but it’s harder to trust the process

harder to immerse yourself in the task

when you don’t really know if the bit you’re looking for 

is lost in someone else’s living room miles from here.


The trick is to start from the middle.

Work your way from the bright centre of autumnal leaves

towards forested outskirts, like an ever-expanding universe 

trying not to think what will happen

when eventually


there will be no spare pieces left.


The change table is a safe place, you learn
no longer protesting instead
laughing, finding your voice, kicking
to the edge raising eyebrows
until I respond.

You wake with a shout sometimes
then a smile when your dad or I
appear, faces goofy with love.
You’re all gums and drool.

One day soon you’ll sleep through
and I’ll miss our 4am meetings
when you feed with focus, then come to

that gummy smile again as you realise, I imagine,
I was here all along.

Advice to My Younger Self

It’s going to be okay. There are many times when it won’t feel like it, but these times will pass. Have faith in your ability to do the right thing and get out of situations when they don’t feel right.

Luck has a lot to do with it all, of course, so never deny how fortunate you are because of the time and place and family you were born into. You are growing up in a paradise. Look around and be grateful.

Stick to your principles. Being a vegetarian in the 90s is hard work and you will endure a lot of salads with the bacon picked out, but in twenty years’ time you can feel proud that your existence has not harmed thousands of other living beings and your highly-developed taste for vegetables will serve you well in The Great Kale Hype of 2016.

Don’t worry about the fruit thing, they’re starting to say it’s not really that good for you anyway.

Be proud and passionate about the bands you like. Music really doesn’t get much better from about 1997 on.

Stay close to your family, they’re a good bunch. Nurture friendships – I still have no idea how these come and go.

Don’t pluck your eyebrows too thin – they will never grow back the same. Fashions change, but authenticity is timeless. Don’t be ashamed of the long genetic history that makes you look and think and be the way you are. It’s amazing, really. You’re part of that.

Read everything. Read poetry and fiction and hard stuff. Care about politics. Your brother was right to argue with you in 1991 when you were ten and said talking about Ruth Richardson’s ‘Mother of all budgets’ was boring you and it didn’t affect you anyway. It all affects you. Be one of the people who realises that. Be informed.

Your childhood is full of announcements about how special you are. You are, but so is every living thing here. Stay humble and remember the world doesn’t owe you a thing.

You don’t owe the world anything either, but try to do as much as you can. You will need time out from it every now and then and that’s okay, because – if I know you – you will always be striving to create, contribute and be part of something greater.

Have adventures, fall in love, listen, and remember to let other people love and care for you too. They’ll like that.


I’ve become a carrier of borrowed backpacks
stacked with stolen paperbacks
people ask me the same thing twice
offer advice as I shift further into shady corners
push my belongings under the bed.

Or they decide not to tell me in case I react
the way they say I am sure to react
another shove and it’s out of sight
nothing dappled about this kind of light

an empty bottle, door left ajar
fear of change in a palpable pile
of coins on the dusty dresser’s edge.


I wrote this poem a week ago and realise I’ve been grappling with these feelings since. Moving to a new country has been harder than I’ve let myself admit and despite my constant optimism and persistent positive action to carve out a space for myself here, I’ve had a week of feeling a bit insignificant in this big city that beguiled me here with such promise.

However, there is much to love about my new home and I can feel glad I was lured into making the change by my high expectations, even if the reality has proved tougher.

Today I feel grateful for love, plans, a growing sense of purpose and a growing ability to trust – in myself, the future and others.

See your memories

I’ve become a little obsessed with facebook’s “see your memories” thingy whereby you can see exactly how similar you were feeling about life on this day last year, the year before or even back in 2007. It’s horrifying to see firstly how quickly a year has gone by and secondly how much has or has not changed in that 12 months. Horrifying but also sometimes affirming.

Here’s something from 13 months ago:


Although I see no evidence of this actually happening, I’m still convinced it’s what the world needs. There are some stroppy, fiery, speak-before-they-think people running significant parts of this world and they’ll try and change us – make us feel that our ideas and decisions are less because we communicate them calmly; that our feelings and instincts are nothing compared to their grand plans and loud demands – but we won’t change.

Sadly, I think society still sees strength as anger over reasoning; volume, rather than integrity; busting things apart, rather than holding them together. But many of us are not impulsive or naturally angry people and our strength comes from the gentle, deliberate and well-considered way we approach things. We agonise over decisions because we know the impacts can be far-reaching and we take on many different points of view and consider them in own our time before forming strong opinions. We reflect on ourselves and make a point of being consistent and professional and never losing our shit in public. Other people might not always see that as strength, but as long as we’re acting in accordance to our values and taking our own feelings and beliefs seriously… well, frankly, other people can piss off.

About 5 years ago I was musing on this from a slightly different angle. I was thinking about how we can trust things to be okay for cosmic and scientific reasons and that there’s logic and necessity behind feeling all the feelings there are to be felt. The part I hadn’t realised at this point though was about trusting those feelings. That post five years ago ended with two questions I can now answer: You can and Yes. I realise now that we must trust our feelings. In fact our own feelings are often the only true and honest things we can know. It’s rare but refreshing to find other people who can also see this. More often than not people are invalidating our feelings, telling us to “cheer up”, “harden up” and to stop being “so dramatic.” People will react to our expressions of emotion with “it’s not that bad” or “it’s not that funny” (my most hated phrase to hear – I’ll laugh like a lunatic if I want to!) So rarely do people just let you feel what you’re feeling for a bit. Likewise, society has taught us that we can change people’s minds. Again this is invalidating especially for those of us who have carefully considered each decision we’ve ever made. In childhood we can quickly learn that “no” doesn’t necessarily mean “no” and that nagging, whiney, goading, pleading, bullying and persisting will get us what we want. Holding onto this belief into adulthood is dangerous and disrespectful and encountering it is a constant test of my resolve that strength is integrity and I shouldn’t have to raise my voice or cause a scene to be listened to.

My utopia is still a world run by calm and thoughtful people. People who listen to each other, trust their own instincts and make well-considered decisions based on feelings. If I continue to look back on my posts year after year, I want to still feel the same way and know that I’ve managed to stay true to these values.  We shouldn’t have to change to fit into society’s expectations just to live the life we believe in because, let’s be honest, society’s way of operating actually hasn’t been working out that well for society.