the air was freaky with champagne

We popped shivers, ate sighs,
rubbed frantically against lampposts.

The lampposts filled my midnight
mind with knuckle bones, knuckle

bones on ash carpet. My blue jeans
shivered with white rabbits.

The lilt of your collarbones was more
than I could sink in one slow gasp.

When you refused, I peeled off
my breasts, taped them to your shoes.

When you tried to walk away, I slashed
your Achilles tendon with my stone adze.

This is modern, darling. 
There is no argument against the ancient.

Johanna Aitchison’s volume of poems, a long girl ago, (Victoria University Press, 2007) was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards in 2008. The short-listing came as a huge surprise to Johanna, who had previously never considered that she might be asked to come and play in the big girls’ sandpit.

Johanna lives, writes and teaches in Palmerston North. She is currently working on her third collection of poems, Glitter of Bucket Stars, pursuant to a Creative New Zealand grant. Her poems have previously been published in TurbineSportThe Lumiere Reader and Best New Zealand Poems 2007. Her work is also set to appear in the updated edition of Big Weather: Poems of Wellington in July 2009.

Aitchison comments: ‘I am alternatively challenged and baffled by the ways in which modern poets interpret ancient forms. Does a sonnet need to be written in iambic pentameter? Must a sonnet conform to a strict rhyme scheme? Can I call my poem a sonnet simply because it is made up of 14 lines?

The subject matter of “the air was freaky with champagne” raises similar questions. Although we don’t like to think of ourselves as conducting our relationships in iambic pentameter, subject to an abab rhyme scheme, are we not still bound by some of the constraints of the ancient forms?’

Poem source details >



Victoria University Press author page
New Zealand Electronic Text Centre: online work
Turbine 0506 , 07 and 08
Best New Zealand Poems 2007
Trout 15