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Rob Hack

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She Wants Fish and Chips


The twin towers are falling again and again

I turn away from the news and say goodnight

for the fifth time, notice her cheeks look leathery.

Under the bathroom door the light’s still on,

she’s rubbing toothpaste on her face.


In Raro, she said the kids joked that she was the black one

laughed at her learning French from the nuns.

She left on the Maui Pomare in 1938,

there was no work or skin crème.


With a puzzled look she watches

as I take all the frozen meat from the sink

and put it back in the freezer.

Sitting behind the taps the breadboard

with its deep black circles from the stove element.


The walls are thin, at night her hearing aid whistles

as she hides it and tells God about a son who won’t listen.

When her teenage grandson stays the phone

never stops. We found it in the hot water cupboard

wrapped in a tea towel.


During the day she makes cups of tea

hardly leaves her corner of the lounge.

She loves kung fu movies.

Unplugs the phone, unplugs everything.

The lights on the Christmas tree don’t blink.

When I cook veges she screws up her face

rustles in her purse and says, fish and chips eh?

Rob Hack began reading poetry, a lot, in 1997 and began writing poems. A year later, realising he needed help, he studied at Whitireia from 2006 to 2008 and the International Institute of Modern Letters in 2011. He’s involved in organising a monthly poetry show on Paekakariki 88.2 FM. His favourite meals are ika mata (raw fish), taro and chicken.


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