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Poetry Prize Finalist

Summer/Haszard Road

Home again, after three weeks down south.
Mason bees are bleeping and screeching
in a metallic dialect, building networks
of dirt tombs to store their stunned prey,
between volumes of Homer and Euripides.

From the far side of the valley comes the roar
of a motorcyclist winding through the gears
on a rural road, newly sealed with sticky bitumen.
The baby magpie has grown into a teenager.
A cool breeze is blowing the humid day away.

My son learns to dream in a tiny bedroom.
His brain is a word machine, working overtime.
Even while he sleeps, I hear his soft voice
sound the names of objects in his waking world.
He finds a grasp on language as I lose mine.

Dusk is written here in gradations of pink
and orange peeling back above arid pastures
where cows lay down like black boulders,
and a foundry glows in every farmhouse window.
See: that giant hand is hauling down the sun.
Michael Steven

Michael Steven was born in 1977. His poems have previously appeared in brief, IKA, Landfall, Jacket2, and Poetry NZ Yearbook. He is a graduate of the BCA programme at Manukau Institute of Technology. In 2018, Otago University Press published his first full-length poetry collection, Walking to Jutland Street, which was longlisted for Best Poetry Book in the 2019 Ockham Book Awards. He is the recipient of the 2018 Todd New Writer’s Bursary. He lives in West Auckland.