Wes Lee
New Zealand

A Simple A to B

Today nothing matters as much as this –
girls lost in the passageways of the world,
the leafy paths, the shrouded lanes,

past sentries of dark poplars who never tell
who hold their screams.
And in the space of ten feet you disappeared,

a path between apartment blocks, on the way back
to your sorority. Rear windows snuffed out one by one
and the trees crowding over as if at a signal.

A simple A to B and you would be home,
pulling off your scarf, shaking off the frost,
clapping your hands and walking to your life.

Of Calm Mind

I know I am of calm mind because I can read a poem.
On other days: anxious, fractious, head blotted –
I have no hope of one line, never mind a stanza.
On these days I wisely do not attempt poetry.
On days I could be shot like a dog
given the wrong set of circumstances –
the way the hours mount up and then the minutes
where you have lifted an object
that could be seen to be a knife, a club, a gun.
Where you could become a statistic
grottoed by candles
and flame and flapping cards and leis and pungent
flowers sodden in the rain.
On days like this, I am there but for the grace
of call it what you like,
God will do, as I don’t fix it much with any kind
of visage just nebulous and more: higher, better, bigger,
stronger like a nebula –
the Eagle one to be exact with its long smoke tunnel, longer
that anything in this town.
Its holy smoke rising so silent to us down here.
What does it sound like – is there a roar that would split our eardrums,
or a pitch so high it would not compute?
So low we would miss it, but be aware of some
discomfort, like the elephant’s bellow in its deepest lowest
as people feel in the jungle.

Antarctica: as seen on TV

A seal pup encrusted with starfish
in the clearest of water,

he is clearly eaten,
clearly being dead,

but dead in such clear water
seems like uber death,

death in 3D,
death in close-up;

the ice shelf above
with its mountainous dark,

and all that warm blood that sails beneath,
leaving its scratches

as if dangled hooks.
And I always wonder why

the sea is so turquoise, gathered that way:
the swimming pools of icebergs

with their cool opaque clarity,
like no colour anywhere else

in nature;
more California than California.


A man says to his sons this one’s
really peaceful, as the jellyfish slide

against each other in the tank,
slow as slippery clouds: moonlike,

transparent umbrellas,
their fronds collapsing, opening,

and all the thoughts of people
collapsing with them,

the children staring up –
the way he first focused on the moon

and all its beckoning promise,
undiminished, a white new coin

unstamped. Cold and waiting
to be written on.

Biography Wes Lee
Wes Lee lives in Wellington. Her chapbook of short fiction, Cowboy Genes, was published by Grist Books at the University of Huddersfield in 2014. She was the 2010 recipient of The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award. Most recently she was selected as a finalist in the Troubadour Poetry Prize 2014, in London, and shortlisted for The 2014 Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Prize, in Ireland. Her poetry has recently appeared in Westerly, Poetry London, Magma, Riptide, The Stony Thursday Book, Going Down Swinging, Landfall, Dazzled: The University of Canberra Vice-Chancellor’s Poetry Prize Anthology, and Meniscus. She has work forthcoming in Cordite, The Lifted Brow, and Verandah.

The Island - Rosie Whinray - 2015