Paula Harris


the incredible true story of life in the roach motel

this is the scene
in which our heroine
brandishes a can of
raid ant & roach killer
(country fresh scent)
as she attacks
the approaching mob of roaches
for the third night running
until the air is thick with pine scent
and her lungs are stifled with flowers
all in the hope that tonight
her pillow will remain roach-free

First published in JAAM 11 (1999)
Also published in sign language (1998)

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.