Paula Harris

there is nothing fuckable in Palmerston North

why are all the men so drunk / toothless / unkempt / drunk / inbred / gormless / drunk / mullet-ed / old?
(even the ones that are younger than me, how do they manage to look so old?)

why do they only wear Metallica t-shirts / awkward wedding suits / All Blacks jerseys / alcohol?
why do they have dead ducks / drunk mates / dirt bikes in their tinder photos?

how are they all truckers / roofers / self-employed / power linesmen / painters / project managers?
are there that many walls to be painted?
how many projects are there to be managed?
what are all the truckers transporting? are they trucking all the fuckable men away from Palmerston North, in the hope that it’ll increase their chances? are they trucking the fuckable men away, plastering them into walls, tying them up with power lines, throwing them off newly laid roofs, eating them and losing their teeth when they bite into thigh bone?

I drive a 68 minute round trip to Marton, population 4930,
in order to get to my fuckable man.
what's that saying to you, Palmerston North?

Palmerston North! take off your torn singlet, buy yourself a decent shirt, get a front tooth,
stand in front of the mirror and have a good honest talk to yourself.


First 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.