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John Haxton

In the Gullies


In the gullies,

swamp at the bottom,

up to our knees in mud,

my cousin and I reach high for blackberries.


We say; the sun will shine tomorrow,

today we will get more than half a billycan each,

our mothers will be pleased,

tragedy makes us sad.


We say; if all else fails,

read the titles in a bookshop,

they show no adult has all the answers,

we know briars tear our flesh.


We fill our billycans to the three-quarters mark.

Will your mother make jam or crumble?

Tomorrow we’ll gather berries in Lindsey’s gully,

unless some other buggers get there first.



John Haxton has published work in Kapiti Poems 8, Coastlines and 4th Floor Literary Journal 2007. John grew up in Mangaroa Valley about eight kilometres past Upper Hutt, where there are blackberries in the gullies. No berry juice matches their wonderful colour; blackberries stain your hands but your life changes colour when you eat them.


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