Paula Harris


modern medicine (a.k.a. pill popping)

most days for breakfast
i have cornflakes, peaches and low-fat soy milk

three grey and pink capsules
            which increase my appetite
            and make my face round
            and are meant to make me healthy

one yellow tablet
            which makes me nauseous
            and destroys my immune system
            and is meant to make me healthy

and one white tablet
            which gives me headaches
            and makes me woozy
            and suppresses the nausea

some days i wonder
why i bother

First published in takahē 41 (2001)

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.