Anita Arlov – The Ooga Booga Woman

Arlov LE P&W 1 Nov-Dec 2023

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14th Anniversary Edition, Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Volume One Nov-Dec 2023

The Ooga Booga Woman, poem by Anita Arlov.

The Ooga Booga Woman

The Ooga Booga Woman
swings her legs off turntable arms.
She’s the sweet hook
in orange almond syrup cake.
She can float over whole oceans, like longing.

The soft charge through your fingers when you
stroke a rabbit’s ear ? That’s her work.
That tide in your head? She’s cuing the wash
in and out,
in and out.

Most days she’s on a kind of high,
forgetting herself like a loaded paintbrush.
I imagine her mouth a thumb-
smudge of scarlet, her jungle hair
the doppelganger teal of tui wings.

I found her singing in a plot of tulips
− all hot colours from butter to purple −
under a sad cliff quarry.
She turned up at the beach yesterday
seagulling by my side. No one saw.

I know the Ooga Booga Woman isn’t human.
She might be made of water, or shade, or dead lovers –
who knows? But she’s here now,
twirling like Maria on that panacea hilltop,
arms so wide open flung.

© Anita Arlov

Anita Arlov is the child of Croatian parents displaced after WW2. She lives in Tamaki Makaurau/Auckland. She writes poems and very short prose, hosts workshops and occasionally judges short form fiction. Anita grew up enjoying the cadence of language but didn’t begin writing till mid-life in response to the Canterbury earthquake in 2011.  Anita has won the Divine Muses Poetry Competition, the NZ Flash Fiction Competition and has placed second in the Bath Flash Fiction Competition. She is widely anthologised, including Bonsai: Best small stories from Aotearoa/New Zealand; Broadsheet; New Flash Fiction Review; takahē magazine; Best Small Fictions and Best Microfiction.

She convened a team that ran the NZ Poetry Conference & Festival, a successful three-day celebration of all things poetry including vispo, wordcore, sung poems, cine-poetics and workshops, involving 200 poets and arts activists. For ten years she managed popular spoken word event Inside Out Open Mic for Writers. In 2022 she was selected an Ockham Collective Arts Resident. “I like to conflate arresting facts with fiction, memory and emotion. Once I get a fix on a tone, I dive in and commit to getting out alive.” – Anita Arlov

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