Wild Court

An international poetry journal based in the English Department of King’s College London

Two poems by Selina Tusitala Marsh

We are delighted to have former New Zealand Poet Laureate Selina Tusitala Marsh as our featured reader at the inaugural event in the Wild Court Reading Series. The event – introduced and hosted by TS Eliot Prize 2022 winner Anthony Joseph – will take place at The Anatomy Museum on King’s College London’s Strand campus, from 6pm on the evening of Thursday 23rd November. Three poets recently published by Wild Court will also read: Nicholas Hogg, Idman Omar, and Daniel Bennett. Entry is free but please book your tickets via Eventbrite here.

Ahead of the event, we feature two poems by Selina below.


Is one
of my core values.

Wonder sits in the twelfth
house of the soul
and the unconscious.

Wonder might end
the marriage.

Wonder is the shot over
moonlight mountain
marathon trail

each step pushed
on by destiny
toe edging its way
along barren
ridge lines
and what the Bible knows:

That mountains
and marriages
are earthed scaffolding
for Atua
seeded in lava ashes
of Pouliuli
sown in pores
of Ra
grown under skin
of Mahina
where thigh-splitting
Va lies supine
between us
watching the woman
coming to the end
of herself
at 2000 metres elevation
at the 41st kilometre
after the seventh and final
water station
when each step
is a leap
towards or away from
an infinite love.

Bonds of Separation

Stingrays, mangos and snapper,
all at once, leap from your fingers. Tectonic plate
lines miles long divorce the ocean’s
ink, where torsos and thighs
wipe out whys in a tsunami of broken fish.

Curious takahe and pukeko too, peck
at your palms, scratch up a heaven. A cacophony
of cloud pours out its rain roots,
we bathe there with dolphins
from a dreamt up pool.

A poet’s voice echoes from the empty house
of hearts: a staffy cross barks, hen feathers cascade
through the air, putting to shame dying swans and other flightless
mammals. We weep like Job and lacerate
our love on extinct skin. We are no longer one.

Curdling fruit fall at your feet; you vomit up
melons, pawpaws, nectarines. And when you
stand you poke the sky, snakes
fall and eat piles of pips
left in your footprints.

I hold up a mirror. See tribes of ostriches
mimicing palm trees lolling like
beached whales before dying. Your mouth is sewn
shut by the aortic veins of my heart.
My own mouth fills with grit and sand spit.

And when you are crying, you ride the sea’s foam,
a fisherman lost with no black cave to bury his shiny
golden oranges. Pith and peel loop like lei eels
slithering round your shoulders as you swim
through photo album after photo album.

Bones, bones, bones and the fascia of dead octopi
tentacles are knitted as nets to catch the moon
and drag it to Ra’s sunless grave. Slaughter smells of
souring peaches. Frangipani bruise like
translucent placenta of longing.

Our marrow has stung us. Porous songs bubble in grey
geysers, mud pools of vowels crawl from our mouths
but morbidly do not sound. Earthy snap lock coffins rise
like jokes in our house. Fetid breath copies
the shape of atom bomb hairdos. We don’t.

And can’t. Lawns stretch in childless silence. You mock
the washing line legs swimming with rusty
turtles. They eat snake skins, foreskins, paper skins
stretched thin by the beluga’s steaming spout, watering
clouds. I still want out.

You wish for the seclusion of a desolate Inn. A highway
of sand mounts the door and dogless shores
bask in base of your spine. You see tuatara
with jack russell bodies flying over mountain mouths.
You shout it down the road.

Banished autumn leaves leave but I cannot stay
in the soft crab shell of your pain. You throw
a lei of plastic flowers into the lion’s mouth. It roars like a clown.
Up is way, way down and there’s no sheriff’s
badge pinned to this town. Saloon doors ululate.

What could my salt face say? The wind presses jigsaw
puzzle pieces in wrong spaces all over my body. Black
ants roam over our arms, busy pinching pores,
carrying ships over the shore of our skin.
We have slipped overboard.

Dolphins arc over your burning village. We run
back to save the photos, gaping mouths of empty frames
sing weta songs of thorn. The terror
of a suspended bell jar above
our heads is enough to freeze us.

Wetas are land stingrays. Sunrays
are mangoes. It all plays out in boho
chic fashion. The bedroom is a runway
is a doorway is a dry
sea bed floor.