how to become ruler of the ladybirds

on sunny days, gently rub their bellies
so that they wriggle their little ladybird legs

offer them a garden filled with aphid-infested trees
offer them a whole kingdom of these gardens

don’t look down on their cannibalism
admire them for their sexual promiscuity

let them perch on your artworks
let them entertain themselves

inside your lightshades in winter
drag rotting logs into the house

and let them cuddle up to sleep there
never remind them how once

they were called ladycows
be patient when they are slow to dress you

they are tiny, so these things take time

Paula Harris lives in New Zealand/Aotearoa, where she writes poems and sleeps in a lot, because that’s what depression makes you do. She won the 2018 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and the 2017 Lilian Ida Smith Award. Her writing has been published in various journals, including Berfrois, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, The Rialto, Barren, SWWIM, Diode, Glass, Aotearotica, The Spinoff and Landfall. website: | Twitter: @paulaoffkilter | Instagram: @paulaharris_poet | Facebook: @paulaharrispoet

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Issue 9

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