Paula Harris


a warning to lovers

don’t say your lover’s name

if you do
people will hear
in your voice
the taste of their body
the scent of their sweat
the heat of your bodies meeting

they will hear
in your voice
the bite of your fingers into flesh
the sound of your name cried out
the way you look at each other

bite your tongue
and hold their name
in your mouth

First published in New Zealand Listener (2014)

Paula Harris

About Paula

Paula Harris lives in Aotearoa/New Zealand, where she writes and sleeps a lot, because that's what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award, and was a semi-finalist for the 2020 92Y Discovery Poetry Prize. She was the recipient of a Vermont Studio Center writing residency in 2018.

Her poetry has been published in various journals, including Passages North, Barren, New Ohio Review, SWWIM, Gulf Coast, The Spinoff, Poetry New Zealand Yearbook and Aotearotica. Her essays have been published in The Sun, Passages North, The Spinoff and Headlands: New Stories of Anxiety (Victoria University Press).

She is extremely fond of dark chocolate, shoes and hoarding fabric.