Paula Harris

Atlas issue 3

Herakles contemplates Sarah Connor as a potential idol

Sadly movies are full of make-believe
so Herakles’ cell doesn’t have a metal bed
that he can turn on its end to do pull-ups

His bed is a mattress
which rests on a vinyl-upholstered plinth

The best he could do with this
is take the mattress off and do jump squats
using the plinth
but his knees don’t cope with the impact anymore

He leans his back against a wall
and does a squat-hold
but his strength and weight make the wall crack
plaster dusting his feet as it falls

He tries to do press-ups against the green vinyl floor
but his hands slip against the floor left damp from tears
which must be his, but he doesn’t remember crying

Herakles curls up on his mattress


First published in Atlas Literary Medical Journal 3 (2018)

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.