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.

Snapshot Jpeg of cover for BTARW


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

Available to buy from https://www.bookdepository.com/Born-Red-Headed-Woman-Kay-McKenzie-Cooke/9781877578878 And from Uni Books Dunedin Or direct from me via email kmckcooke @ gmail . com (without the spaces.)

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.

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.’


Feeding the Dogs and Made for Weather published by Otago University Press are now out of print but still available in libraries.


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 Published OUP 2002. Awarded NZ Best First Book of Poetry, 2003.

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.


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