Paula Harris

If I were a queen, I would start wars out of sexual frustration

I wouldn’t be a virgin queen – obviously – but I would be known
to become incredibly tetchy when I’d gone without for too long.

the lack of a lover – a truly satisfying lover – for more
than a month or two would make me turn to my ornate globe
of the world and point a dark plum-polished fingernail at
some poor unwitting country.

my soldiers – my strong, shining knights! – an equal mix
of men and women, would set sail to fight in my name while
I still lay in my bed alone, so they would have to
fight harder and harder to earn my favour.

I would impose taxes – on salt, on sugar, on
sunshine, on air – to pay for my army (my
glorious army!), to pay for my navy (my heroic
and steadfast navy!), to pay for the batteries required
to keep my vibrators on active duty.

thousands upon thousands would die, the entire galley building
industry would be resurrected (if I’m going to war
then I at least want it to be beautiful), I would have
the best sniper-archers in the world, my empire would
take over Spain, Japan, Thailand, Russia,
Finland, Western Samoa, Greece, Nepal, before setting
my fingernail on Ghana…

I would be a kind and caring queen to all
in my empire – of course – but how I wish someone would
save me all this effort, and fuck me long and
well on a regular basis.


First published in The Spinoff (2018)
Also published in The Friday Poem (Luncheon Sausage Books) (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.