Paula Harris

Paula Harris lives in Palmerston North, where she writes poems and sleeps a lot, because that’s what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and her chapbook i make men like you die sweetly will be published in September 2019 by dancing girl press (USA).


“Census questions: Do you own an ostrich? If so, please indicate how many.” came about while watching 7 Days, when the number of ostriches in New Zealand in 1911 was part of the points for one game. I then started thinking about other questions which may/may not be important. 


Census questions: do you own an ostricH? If so, Please indicate how many.

What is your living situation: live alone / live with someone / wish I lived with someone / wish I lived alone / I’m not always sure if I am living

How many times in the previous 6 months have you found yourself staring at the sky at sunset, wondering how it could possibly         be               that                     beautiful?

In an average week, how many times do you find yourself wondering why you even bother? I mean, really, what’s the point?

Do you like monkeys?

Have long does it take you to stop thinking about someone after they’ve broken your heart? Be as specific as possible:       years       months       days       hours

If you have long hair (> shoulder length), do you take personal responsibility to remove it from the drain in the shower/bath/laundry tub? If no, don’t you think it’s time that you did?

When was the last time you went to church? When was the last time you believed? In anything.

What style of jeans do you prefer?       skinny fit       bootleg       boyfriend       hipster

How often do you think you’ve settled for less? How often do you think you’re in a life you didn’t plan on or deserve?

Have you ever regretted not kissing someone? Not saying “even though it’s probably a bad idea, do you want to give this a go?”

Have you ever felt that someone truly loved and cared for you, for the person you truly are? Like, felt it deep down in your soul with absolute security in its truth. Have you?

How many times have you fallen in love with a mermaid?

What do the following words taste like to you:       wire       sonorous       blue





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Paula also has another poem, “One-star Reviews of the Pink and White Terraces”, in this print issue of takahē 95