Craig Cliff


Free Walking Tour With My Brother

In Edinburgh, the tour guide told us
it’s okay to walk over the graves—

the ground is so full of bones
there’s no point being precious.

Around the kirkyard, night-sized
bottles of Smirnoff and tall cans of Tennents.

‘People drink here,’ the guide said.
‘In summer they bring picnics.’

I found you crouched at the base
of a tombstone. I thought you were praying

but you were looking at rubbish.
You pointed and asked:

‘Why are Phil Collins cassettes indestructible?’


The Dog At Christmas

Every human home has a vacuum in the cupboard;
we get it out on weekends
and during the week if expecting visitors.

At night the streetlights drown the stars.

There are colonies of mites
living on in the sawdust of the sawmill
long after the Rowes left it to rust,
slowly eating themselves to oblivion:

Another shrinking universe of junk.

Ah, to be the dog at Christmas,
down with the fat legs and dropped dumplings,
casting a parental eye towards the kiddies table!



Craig Cliff lives in Wellington and works for the Government. His poetry has been published in Enamel, Brief, Trout, Turbine, Blackmail Press and The Lumière Reader. His debut collection of short stories, A Man Melting, will be published by Vintage (Random House NZ) in July this year. For more information you can visit his blog, This Fluid Thrill (