All four book’s covers painted by artist, Michael D. Cooke

My fourth collection of poetry titled Upturned published by The Cuba Press, is now available from bookshops. If it is not on their shelves, ask for it to be ordered. Or you can purchase HERE at The Cuba Press site.

Upturned (Title Poem)
Like bells
with nothing to strike
but light, the flower
of the quiet kōwhai
and everywhere
the run of sap
in a rained-on lawn,
oozing earthworms,
or in fuschia,
the blade of an iris.
I hang the washing
with hands that flick
and bash
socks and towels,
lining them up,
each time,
with the tap and click of pegs
as the ground
begins once more to bloom.
Winter’s four o’clock
scald of ice, fading
into spring.
How many times now
have I heard the sounds of a rusty rotary clothesline
whining in the wind? And the tūī,
that gargle, as they eye
the kōwhai remembering
the nectar, the sweetness of it
in the throat.

The tree
named for its colour
has sprouted soft bells
the tūī
and korimako seek.
There for a season only
the flowers long to peal,
but tugged
by a returning nor’easterly
they can only swing
in useless silence.
Like me wanting life
to be believable,
yet knowing that when I’ve gone
everything will still go on
forming and falling and that upturned
by tides of air, birds
are just fish with wings.


Born to A Red-Headed Woman published by Otago University Press is available from Book Depository

Snapshot Jpeg of cover for BTARW

Born To A Red-Headed Woman ‘If Cooke’s observations of the daily are the simple melodic lines that seem to coast on the surface, beneath that runs a rich bass line of meditation on time, on meaning, on living a life true to oneself and on familial love.’

don’t let the moon break your heart (title-related poem)

I was born in winter

to a red-headed woman

who shivered on a hard bed

under one thin blanket

in a hospital by the Waiau river

making heavy work

of its final punch through

to the coast,

the thrum of its waters

underscoring our breathing,

the beating of my heart

the size of a walnut.

Available to buy from https://www.bookdepository.com/Born-Red-Headed-Woman-Kay-McKenzie-Cooke/9781877578878


Feeding the Dogs and Made for Weather published by Otago University Press are now out of print.


Made For Weather ‘Poems of place, with an array of striking images, evoking wind-whipped coastlines and the passing of seasons, and illustrating the poet’s gift for capturing people.’

made for weather (title poem)

Airy, lofty, leggy


has architecture

more modern

than classic. In the wind

it dances, shakes

out a fragrant, bouffant

hairdo. Like a house built

for harbour views

with glass and white,

plain space, it has designer-gaps

to see the sky through.

Whereas when hard-pressed

to ride the wind

and rain,

the pine

slugs it out. Stocky,

hairy, a dark and close beast

of burden

made for bad weather

with branches

shaped like arms prepared

to carry. Stuck for shelter,

I’d head for the pine.

Feeding the Dogs ‘With a childhood in rural Southland behind her, Kay McKenzie Cooke blends town and country themes effortlessly. Her poetry expresses a strong relationship with the landscape and a southern sensibility, but she is equally at home writing about lawn bowlers in Queenstown, a family reunion, global warming, or the land.’

feeding the dogs (title poem)


the torch’s twitch

picking out dead thistles,

wooden railings.

Where the ground shines,

bare, snarled

by the roots

of trees, the dogs bark,

rattle chains that drag

over old bones.

Throw them the meat,

pale traces of fat clinging

to the wool of your gloves.

Hear the crush of bones,

the night closing in

the cry of two birds

flying out over rocks.

See ticking stars

in a blind sky.

Softer than light,

darkness leans in

so close, so cold,

its breath is all

you can breathe.

One thought on “POETRY BOOKS

  1. Hi,

    Sorry, I couldn’t find an address to send you an email, so I hope this is ok. My name is Debbie Lewis. I’m working on a project for the Department of Conservation called ‘Urban Nature’. The aim of the project is to highlight, and stimulate interest in, nature in the urban environment around Dunedin. A major part of this project is Urban Nature panels being installed in key areas around the city. We were wondering if you would be interested in allowing us to use, or purchase, a digital file of one of your Mount Cargill in cloud (or a scarf 🙂 ) images to be featured on a panel in Dunedin Harbour please? The panel would have a kite surfer and discuss how both humans and sea birds benefit from soaring with the easterlies. Here is the link about the project: http://www.doc.govt.nz/our-work/urbannature/dunedin/
    Since they are quite different to the usual DOC interpretation panel, I have included a link to an ODT article with an example panel: https://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/panels-provide-link-nature

    Kind regards,
    Debbie Lewis,
    Community Ranger,
    Coastal Otago


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