new zealand electronic poetry centre

Michael Harlow

online works


Reading Mandelstam

                      –for Nikolova

Inside the barracks you bear
a number; always, there’s a hand
that leans against your back.
The cup you drink from fills
with dark; the same hands
before your hands, the deep
down darkness that spills
across the back of the century.
Behind the wire your shadow
walks on a bent stick; at night
voices that call out the lost
noises of the sun. Sooner
or later you move into
the zone of zero.

And still in a time ‘north
of the future’, that immense
distance of the heart, you dream
of words to carry you beyond
this world of broken stones
and falling trees. Your voice
the earth, you say how endless
the stars of flowers. Instinct
with elegy your words: a song
between two grass blades,
we hear what secret
grammar of wish
they stalk the air.



From Cassandra’s Daughter (Auckland UP, 2005)
Michael Harlow

Last updated 24 March, 2005