Gail Ingram

Gail Ingram

Gail Ingram’s poetry and short stories have appeared in takahē, Poetry NZ, Flash Frontier and others. She was recently selected finalist for 2016 Best Small Fictions, and placed in 2015 NZPS International Poetry Competition. She is currently studying for a Masters of Creative Writing at Massey University.

“I’m writing a series of poems called The Graffiti Artist to explore the role art plays at a personal and community level. Street Art is like poetry in that it’s relegated to the outer edges of acceptability, can be subversive or just something to enjoy. In Christchurch, graffiti has risen out of the cracks and taken to the galleries, and yet, at its most base, it’s illegal. What drives poets and artists to go up against the boundaries, and how does personal expression become art?”


by now the graffiti artist

is almost invisible she went
to university a long time ago uses
a wide brush for free-style
bubble writing about the past
I have been
many people including
a daughter an architect a stranger a book
narrow & prosy
lines to slash narrative she likes
juxtaposition
to provoke a startled leap
from 14-year-olds
riding skateboards with wildly-painted
undersides many voices
shape me
her skirt is smeared with dabs
of left-over colour a mother
a man a sick child her hair is green
with envy she growls in varying tones
if she earned more money
from youtube
where I saw her
last night in my dreams
she would paint the airport walls
of Abu Dhabi and Auckland in zen
tangles so sleep-disturbed politicians
would trace poke-leaves
in sesquipedalian mazes
with their ink-stained fingers in child-like
amazement and rapists would
get lost

At the beginning of broke, a flyer offers a seed of hope

Now showing at the Y. Blue sparrow beak, a band of words, an Aborigine boy and a pink bubble eye on a sneakered leg. Her astonished eyes flew back and across the slivered picture. Childish blues and Aussie ochres –  it shouldn’t work,  she told an artist friend, waving the shiny  pamphlet of a Big Wall exhibit. Around them, graffiti art was rising from the four-avenued cracks, groaning like Atlas sprouting from under the rubble, shoring its stony world on pericarp shoulders. I will show my son! she thought (she was trying to connect). Over the fold, a danseuse  spiralled on the back of the Isaac Theatre, rubbed shoulders with a black and white leopard prowling the same scape. Her fists clenched, her stride had purpose. There’s a character.  She would point. And another. So many bright eyeballs, popping up and across the grainy city in  search  of neat endings.

Sibling rivalry

When she got the call
they were afraid to say
they suspected her son
had run away, there was a text –
have you checked? – and
he had a knife. It’s not
that I want to die, there’s
no choice, I’m just another
space on the page –
a glitch.
Her body spasmed
and twitched, but after
a time she fixed,
unmotherlike, on a white line
of industrial smoke, a far off
wisp over the Oxfords, and
something like a small flower
up high on an alpine cushion
closed its petals for the night. Even now
he steals the light from his
younger brother in bong-bong
rebellion,
the bitter ovary said, turning
from the first star’s prickle
on the sky’s softening skin.

First published takahe 87
August 2017