Tuesday Poem: ‘Piece by Piece’ by Frankie McMillan

Piece by Piece

Talk about promise, this Clifton courtyard
has composition, the thin ribs of the sun

umbrella, the canvas arc of shade
even the café lends itself to script

the man with the grey ponytail
eking out the last coins for coffee, a black

haired waitress with white face and the whiff
of circus, maybe a palomino pony in a sawdust ring

which makes me ask
how do the dead balance their limbs?

Up in the hills we see the possibilities
of height and light on rock, here is a pile

of sheep shit that marks the track, here
is a postcard view of the city, a rabbit

stuffed in a frame, the small cries of insects
is this how the dead laugh?

Here’s the idea, the cinematic version
the clatter of boards, the cutting of scene

the screen with black numbers counting down
a lion roaring and somewhere the Queen in polite

gloves and you in the Square holding her hand
with nothing to say

how do you talk to the dead?

This poem, published with the author’s permission, caught my eye at the IIML’s Best New Zealand Poems 2012 online page.  I like the shifts in this poem  and the unexpected places it goes. Readers can read an author commentary here, including an explanation of who’s shaking the Queen’s hand.

I’m also glad to feature one of Frankie McMillan’s poems this week as she’s the recent winner of the 2013 National Flash Fiction Day competition. Her winning story will be published later this month at Flash Frontier.

More more about Frankie McMillan:

Frankie McMillan is a short story writer and poet. She completed an MA at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in 1998. Her publications include The Bag Lady’s Picnic and other stories and a collection of poetry, Dressing for the Cannibals. Recent poetry has appeared in TurbineSnorkelJAAMInternational Literary QuarterlyThe Cincinnati ReviewThe London Grip and Shenandoah. She teaches at Christchurch’s Hagley Writers’ Institute. More can be found at the NZ Book Council


And more poems from the energetic mix of Tuesday Poets below. Just click on over to the main hub and see what’s happening. This week we have Maria McMillan’s poetry, brought to us by hub editor Saradha (who also has a new poetry collection launching soon).

Tuesday Poem For more Tuesday Poems, go here.

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3 Responses to Tuesday Poem: ‘Piece by Piece’ by Frankie McMillan

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, what an intriguing poem. I love the final montage with the black numbers counting down, a lion roaring and the handshake with the queen. Such pomp! Thanks for introducing me to Frankie’s poetry, Michelle – will definitely have to uncover some more!

  2. Amy Small-McKinney says:

    Yes, I really enjoyed reading this poem with its surprise and leaps. Thank you Frankie and Michelle.

  3. Yes I love the way your thoughts progress in this poem Frankie. Its full of pictures and sounds…very effective. Congratulations on your Flash Fiction success too. 🙂

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