Jordan Hamel

Jordan Hamel is a Pōneke-based poet and performer. He is the current New Zealand Poetry Slam champion. He’s performed at festivals across Aotearoa and has words published in Mimicry, Sweet Mammalian, The Spinoff, Glass Poetry, Queen Mob’s Teahouse and elsewhere.

Bees: This poem has had a long upbringing, thanks to Dominic Hoey (Tourettes) who helped whip it into shape. It’s special to me because it looks at modern anxieties and their origins in colonialism and capitalism. I’ve been able to ignore systemic structural issues in Aotearoa whenever I want because of my inherent privilege and I’m forever coming to terms with that.
Cheese Rolls: If you know, you know. I’m a big fan of poems as recipes and vice versa. Cheese rolls are weirdly divisive in Aotearoa for something so objectively benign. I wanted to write a poem that would make half the country salivate and the other half feel gross or confused. Also I like exploring the concept of ‘NZ cuisine’ as weird bland pakeha food (see: cheese rolls, sausage sizzles, spaghetti on toast, pies, fairy bread etc).  



        Did you hear about the kid
who bought two houses,
paid off his student loan
and managed to keep his
Ritalin habit?
They say he grows his own avocados.

I can’t even afford
to write this poem.
I should be starting a hedge fund, 
conquering small nations
or learning about cryptocurrency.
You always said
it takes money to make money
or was it
it takes honey to make honey,
I don’t know how bees work.

I found a forgotten tunnel
in some midnight cubicle
it took me to the Beehive
on the sweat of
your generation’s convictions.
But you were waiting there
in disapproval,
sunburnt arms folded,
sleeves perpetually rolled up
from all the hard yards,
resilient, promoting your stiff
upper lip,
unscathed by the
sanctimonious think pieces.

You told me not to involve myself in a history that isn’t mine,

the huddled steel and glass masses,
the only guardians we need,
kaitiaki of unrelenting progress,
giving shade while our calloused soles trample
the pink Himalayan rock-salted earth,
where nothing grows except reputation.


Cheese rolls

1 packet of Maggi Onion soup 
Mixed with 2 cups of grated Edam 

Swarms of Sushi chefs
riot in my kitchen,
the Antipodean appropriation,
rubbing their eyes,
the Southland barter economy
poured with impiety
into unwashed trays.
1 small onion – finely diced
Mum sends a care package:
miscellaneous pantry cans,
week old brownie, bested by the postal system,
a diary that will work as a coaster
on a 12-month contract,
Lynx Africa (body wash and spray),
condoms (despite requests for grandchildren),
cheese rolls, defrosted.
2 garlic cloves – peeled and minced
Is this the furthest north they’ve travelled?
I empty a dozen into the oven,
Gym memberships plummet,
Nadia Lim dies an unknown death,
I’m consumed with the hunger
200ml evaporated milk
of a high school Netball team,
desperate for Regionals.
An assembly line of industrious parents,
wrap their daughters’ dreams in
Tip Top white bread, 99c a loaf.
35 slices (about 1½ loaves) of white sandwich bread
Strap me to roller skates
push me to adolescence.
Gouge the words umami and artisanal 
from my tongue. 
Bake 180c is the gift of negligence 
from our forefathers.
curled crust mouths spew pale lava
slowly congealing under my skin.
softened butter or mayonnaise, to spread.
I kneel at the altar of lactose intolerance,
my Auckland flatmates
look on in disgust.