Denise O’Hagan – Gliding white
in a sea of black

O Hagan LE P&W April 2023

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Live Encounters Aotearoa New Zealand Poets & Writers April 2023

Gliding white in a sea of black, poems by Denise O’Hagan

Gliding white in a sea of black

What should I wear, what should I wear?…I know, my ripped jeans, my Miss June T-shirt of course,
and that leopard skin jacket I bought for just such an occasion, perfect! Wanted to fit in you know.
We arrived at the gig, sunshine blinding in the sky. Collected our complimentary tickets from the
booth, headed up towards the stage to support Miss June’s set, chest pumped out to see them on
the big stage, our son’s band, playing at My Chemical Romance.

A sea of black, fake blood-stained painted faces, metalware, tats, studded belts and boots, corsets,
black lace, black t-shirts everywhere…did we get the memo wrong? Stood in our huddle of white and
too much colour amongst the sea of Emo and Goth. Where did all these people crawl out from? Where
do they normally reside? Rocked to Miss June oozing pride, then ate hotdogs and chips with Sparkling
Rosé and beer on the bank. Attempted to stand in the crowd nearer the stage for the main event but
with fingersin ears to block the sound, retreated back to the bank to enjoy My Chemical Romance’s
gothic rock, apocalyptic, post-hardcore, screamo garage punk songs, which everyone in the sea of black
knew and sang along to, feeling pleased we’d had free tickets.

Sanctuary amongst messy mounds

My bedroom sanctuary,
dog snoring, raindrops tickling
the roof, propped up in bed
to write amidst a plethora of floral.

Room next door, closed, silent
Airbnb guests vacated for the day.
The dining room boiling
over with a child’s stuff post flood.

Two spare rooms full to capacity
with daughter’s and boyfriend’s
belongings, from South American travels.

Lounge explodes, camping gear
from festivals, hikes, waiting
to be packed for that elusive
weekend away.

Clean washing towers on
the one free couch,
kitchen inundated with sweets,
rocky road, Christmas ham, leftovers.

Back porch and carport a tripping
hazard couches salvaged from
the side of the road driers gifted
from an Aunty for the new flat.

Space invisible, four walls embracing
camaraderie, homecoming, help.
Complaints non-existent amongst
the patient piles of moveable mess.

The gut is the second brain

Hunger burns, blinds my mind from function,
head in the fridge, taste buds already wrapped
around the rocky road from yesterday,
a must-have at least for a while it was decided.
Christmas ham’s calling, maybe fried with an egg,
why not fried bread too, even a salad
and there’s some of that cheese log left over.

Lazy days of summer, new year’s days
trying to write, get a few words
down blocked
cramping stomach, mind
calling for sustenance,
brain cells driving
away from words,
deprived taste buds
taking over,
I must eat.

© Denise O’Hagan

Denise O’Hagan completed a Master of Creative Writing at Auckland University of Technology, following her Degree in Botany (Hons) from Massey University. She writes both poetry and fiction and has had poems published in Fresh Ink Anthology, NZ Poetry Society Anthology, Fast Fibres Poetry, a fine line, takahē Magazine, Tarot Magazine and a Short Story in Fresh Ink. She spent twelve years living in Brazil, Chile, Spain, Belgium and England and her experiences have inspired four novels in both contemporary and historical fiction.

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