Paula Harris


playing favourites (keepsakes)

of my
thirty-something lovers
to date
I have five favourites

from Mark
I have nothing
except our own
lazy friendship
which I can’t imagine
being without

from Tony
I have nothing
apart from
a lot of
good memories
a lot of
fun times

from Tom
I have nothing
but a couple of
nagging questions
that I probably
really want
the answers to

from Ron
I have a handful
of love letters
(and by love letters,
I mean words of
lust and sex
and wanting)
and two photos of him
stripped to the waist,
nothing but solid muscle
and sweat

from Matt
I have a card
from my twentieth birthday,
which over the years I’ve
been tempted
to throw away
but have never
been able
to face
parting with

deep down
I secretly
one of them
would’ve given me
their heart

First published in JAAM 31 (2013)

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.