Poetry by Tracie Lark

Tracie Lark lives in the native bushland of Whangarei, New Zealand where she teaches English to high school students. Her story ‘Grit’ was long-listed in the 2019 NZ National Flash Fiction Day competition and her short story Carousel was published in MiNDFOOD magazine.


My elegant hoon, my flint by sunrise

Striking tar with her tortured car

You are

The girl whose exhaust drips

The girl whose fan-belt whips

Angelic red strands stick

To bubble gum lips


My elegant hoon, my wildfire flower

Blitzing life with her scorching desire

You are

The girl who picks her nose

The girl who flicks her woes

From dust beaten windows

My fiery rose



Hurutini had a steaming heart,

roiling emotions, toiling soul so

plunged herself in to Devil’s Bath

at Hell’s Gate in Rotorua;

Maori blood now boiling mud,

a geothermal tour, plays Shaw’s lore,

tourists gawk, later snore ‘cos

Chief’s wife took her own life.

Watch me lean on Hell’s Gate: if I too

plunged My Body in Devil’s Bath

to remove the shame stained on

my family’s name from fathers

before me; would that make me

a hero or a mad martyr, and

would that make villains out of

all of you? She’s creaking.

Gates open, point the finger,

wicked witch and war – lock the gate

separate, divide and conquer

Dig your nails in to a burning stake.

Come on down to Hell’s Gate and take

a bath, a mud spa, smell the sulphur,

soak your skin, forget your kin, it’s

good for cleansing, they tell the

tourists, wash away sins, but don’t

forget Hurutini, pamphlet tells me,

the woman who sacrificed herself so

you could have the right to take a bath.

Here, let my honesty save you

some time: the idea of Hurutini’s

bruised, brown limbs, dissolving

in sulphuric mud lava is imagery less

uncomfortable than thoughts of the

reasons why she felt compelled to purge

her body in to Devil’s Bath. Don’t

let the gate hit you on the way out.

Note: Legend has it that Hurutini, a Māori princess, threw herself in a boiling mud pool at Rotorua to escape her abusive husband Chief. When Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw visited the site in 1934, he commented, ‘This could be the very gates of Hell!’ inspiring local Māori to give it the English name, ‘Hell’s Gate’.