Volcano City (full sequence)

I thought I would finally join all the parts of Volcano City together to show the full sequence for the first time (I added two lines by the way).



Volcano City

(or, my adventures in Auckland)




my arrival was a speeding taxi

along the airport highway &

Manukau Road

with a driver from somewhere

in Eastern Europe


I have been here five years

& has changed so much

he says in a thick accent


it has been eight years since

I was passing through to Opua…


then my luggage is in a corridor &

the Poet appears & shakes my hand


we go in search of coffee

among the tangled streets –

the porn shops, tattoo parlours,

& bars of the central city


we talk about poetry

New Zealand & elsewhere,

its movements & cliques

we compress the literary scene

into a ball

to roll around the table

while chain-smoking cigarettes

& gazing out of windows

where the world is full

of people I have loved


he says:

I have lost that little voice

the little voice

inside my head

that enabled me to write


the next day I find a second hand copy

of his book & buy it






in a car we quibble about

geological classification

Lyttelton is extinct (I say,

he disagrees)

while most of the volcanoes

in Auckland are dormant


there are over 30 volcanoes

in this sprawl of a city,

we only have the two

back home

I think I suffer from

volcano envy…


none of the volcanoes have erupted

during European colonisation

& only Rangitoto has during

Maori habitation

but I am told the real danger –


the real danger

is that a new one

might suddenly appear


imagine a volcano

coming to life

in the middle of Queen Street

or Ponsonby Road –

all those wine bars

suddenly engulfed in

liquid lava






my dreams are feverish

I’m in a garden

bordered by tall

dark green cypresses

in the centre a white

marble fountain &

stone statue


I’m slowly unwrapping

a friend peeling off

items of her clothing

& then layer after layer

of her skin…


I wake stewing in

sweat-drenched sheets,

the shrill buzz-saw of

mosquitoes circling above

there are large swollen

bites all over my arms

& legs


outside an unending

procession of foot traffic &

a woman laughing




the layers of earth

there are boiling

magma streams




I’m taken to the zenith of Mt Eden

to see a panorama of the city

the Sky Tower a giant hypodermic needle

shooting straight up into the arm

of a vibrant azure sky


I’m shown the cones of volcanoes:

Mt Albert, One Tree Hill, the Three Kings,

Mt Roskill, Mt Hobson, Rangitoto…

they rise like points of scar tissue

on the city’s living skin


I look for threads of steam

coiling up into the sky






I arrive at Mataitai Bay

by ferry from central Auckland

& she is waiting for me


Waiheke Island

rocky coastlines & sheltered marine-blue bays


a group of hippies with

long dreadlocks play hacky sack

waiting to travel back


Waiheke Island

haven for artists, poets, & potters


on her veranda we have

a cup of tea & the noise from

the cicadas is deafening


Waiheke Island

native bush & kauri forest


after the ringing ends

she gives a tour of the inhabited

part of the island


Waiheke Island

vineyards, olive groves, & rugged farms


we go to a café for lunch

& I spill fresh orange juice

all over her new white pants


Waiheke Island

sawdust slopes & new hotels





Christchurch has straight lines

but here everything folds in

upon itself, I try & sort out


the spatial geography but

the streets follow their own

logic, they spiral around


like quarreling serpents,

as though you have walked

into a quantum paradox or


Escher drawing, I may walk

down one street & end up

in a parallel universe…





the poet drives me to the airport


on the way I notice

a raised green hummock –

another volcano bursting

through the suburbs


the poet doesn’t know its name


I tell him I write to communicate

& I like poetry because so few

care about it now

so it doesn’t matter

what I say…


at the airport my luggage

is unloaded, the poet says



I try to take a picture

but he turns & walks away


after two weeks

I miss Christchurch

& my bed


home is only an hour away


Joanne Fisher


In case you feel like being extra generous this time of year please click the link below:

Buy me a coffee! 🙂








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