The Poetry of Objects #3



in the shade someone
a knob
with a satisfying


causing a small beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a writer, reading verse about
humans becoming angels the hard way,
music beating behind her like wings through the house;
the beeps on each hour;
the bird every morning
singing from the magic box atop the fridge.


Do you hear me now?

there was a microphone
I spoke
who now would hear me say:

Close your eyes and forget the foamy white noise of the breakers,
close your eyes and feel the swell that lifts you,
Up you go,
and down…

without looking, see the next wave nearing, and
as you rise with it see the one behind it,
and the next,
and the rest,
a procession of gentle waves
refracting around you,
lifting you.


splash your hand on the wave and smaller ripples spread
in all directions from your radiance,
a signal riding up and along on the
smooth series of sine waves.

clouds in the bright blue casting fat drops wide onto the water,
each drop broadcasting ripples,
each drop the centre of expanding circles
that become lost in the noise of the ocean.

the depths.
the surface.
You swim in broad frequencies.
up at the hill.
The transmitter tower,

for shore.
Time for home.

Do you hear me now?

from the sun-shower under a corrugated iron roof.
the world outside wet and bright,
holes torn in the clouds where
the single visible point of radiance is blinding.
Up on the hill, the radio transmitter pushes swells into the air,
a radiance unseen to biological eyes
making great spherical onion layers around itself,
a series of smooth sine waves
carrying splashes and ripples coded for voices and music;
they fly straight through the iron and wood and the feature wall,
and you, not lifting you


in the shade someone
a knob
with a satisfying

causing a smaller beacon of light and sound
to spread within this room.
A lightbulb behind the dial.
Four glass vacuum tubes inside a Bakelite shell.

A woman’s warm voice from the valves,
a broadcaster who recalls:
“slipping between the peaks and troughs,
a whisper in the whines and crackles
of the cosmic microwave background.”

The bakelite box hums to itself.

“Is this thing on?
Do you hear me now?”

Pause. Hum. Another voice says:
“Thank you, we’re coming up to the news at 9-”
but she murmurs:
“If my lips brushed the microphone would you hear
i love you
within the hiss and pop of
the dying down of the birth of the universe?

Do y-”

me a microphone,
I want you to hear me say:
let my waves lift your body,
let my waves lift your soul, while
radiant angels splash in the medium of space/time and
throw voices into the ear…

(Fade out to white noise)

Aaron Compton, July 2021

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. This radio is currently for sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram or on Facebook.

The Poetry of Objects #2

Remember the Grain


From micro-organisms in the silt of an undersea jet trench
to bacteria,
seeding rain-clouds,
we all need our star,

even poets needs the sun;
Let’s paint a picture:

photons striking green barley in the field,
energy stored as starch in swelling grains.
Oak leaves taking the same energy
to stouten trunks.

Evening rays,
filtering through the atmosphere at an obtuse angle,
shifting to the amber end of the spectrum,
giving painters and film-makers’ the brief,
perfect light for capture in their cunning artifices.

There’re golden fields.
Mighty oaks.

A selection of my favourite things.

Consider yeast,
in the darkness of a mash tun,
converting the energy of grain,
from starch and sugars to ethanol,
which goes in an oak barrel to age,
the way the day is aged,
with the hogshead sun so low
over the yardarm.

Bring the decanter into the light,
let it flash and colour,
see your fingers refracted through the cut crystal,
through morning and afternoon sun distilled into a flammable liquid.

Pour one out for us;
Feel that good burn as it goes down;
Become part of the sunset,
even as a sunset passed becomes part of you;
Remember the grain,
if only for this brief few minutes:
live as if in a movie,
or in a picture we’re painting,
with all,

from the trenches to the cloud tops,
raising a glass to Te Rā.


By Aaron Compton

Special thanks to Ro Darrall from Retro for supporting local creatives through Gizzy Local. These sparkling crystal decanters are currently on sale at Retro, 8 Ballance Street, Whataupoko. You can follow Ro on Instagram or on Facebook.

The Poetry of Objects #1

Branksome Dinner Set

Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile,

This bird boned tableware, so thin, light weight,

Your gracious, timely action, full of style.

So curl your hands ‘neath powder blue, and wile,

And cup a cloud of steam against your face,

Cold mornings are to lift me to your smile.

We teacups wear no halos, sure, but I’ll

Reglaze the blue of Mary’s baked in grace

Her timeless gesture, classy, full of style,

As families grow more stories pile up, while

Boards groan with hued ceramics song ‘till late,

When summer nights are to lift me to your smile.

The gravy tide, it lifts all boats on high

So raise a toast to bread and butter plates,

Sunday roasts are to lift me to your smile,

A timeless set. So classy. Full of style.

By Aaron Compton

Supported by Ro Darrall at Retro

Retro: Ro Darrall

For many Whataupoko dwellers, Ballance Street Village lingerers, and lovers of fine secondhand goods alike, this view of Ro Darrall and Doris in graceful repose out on the porch, will be a familiar sight. Waving out to passersby, receiving visitors and customers, taking in the gentle bustle of the Ballance Street Village on a good day..

Ro Darrall’s porch provides the shop frontage to her beloved shop Retro, a veritable treasure trove of retro and vintage goods from household objects to furniture, jewellery and clothing.

The roots of Ro’s shop might be traced back to Ro’s childhood in Morrinsville and the many hours whiled away waiting and looking around the local Auction House as her mother, an avid collector of antiques, scoured the sprawling premises for elegant pieces to grace their home. 

When Ro left school and headed to Auckland, it was probably her grandmother’s influence that saw her entering the fashion business. Her grandmother liked to attend fashion shows, bought a new wardrobe for every season and put on a fresh outfit at 5pm each day, ready to face the evening ahead in style. 

Ro did her training in the Fashion Department at Milne and Choice, did a bit of modelling, was a Mary Quant cosmetic consultant for a while, and began collecting herself, “The op shops were fantastic back then.”  Even then Ro would mostly go for objects from the 1940’s and 50’s eras because of “the design and the way things were made, they were made to last”. 

After a while Ro set off travelling, off to experience the ‘Shipboard Life’ for a while. The ship Ro boarded ended up in Italy, which was where Ro got off.  Some few years later later, she came to Gisborne to hang out at the beach for a summer, and “that was it really.”

During the 80’s and 90’s photography and music provided a colourful backdrop to Ro’s new life in Gisborne. For these she had her father to thank. Her dad had loved to make movies during her own childhood, and had bought Ro her first Box Brownie as a child.  He had a couple of speakers permanently set up in the cowshed, presumably to woo the cows with Dean Martin and the likes, and was “always buying new 45s”.

So in amongst raising two beautiful children Ro also used to DJ at the Gladstone Road bar No9, “up in the rafters” and brought in House DJ’s from the cities during the late 80s and, as I’m sure anyone who was there at the time will also attest, “the place went off”.  Ro was also doing family portraiture, wedding and commercial photography and has also put together her fair share of shows on Radio 2ZG, The Switch and Tūranga FM over the years, sticking with her two favourite genres House and Jazz.

It was after returning to Europe to watch her daughter Darnelle race at the World Rowing Championships in Eton, that Ro began collecting again in earnest with the idea of opening up a shop; a shop as it turned out, called Retro.

Ro loves all the people she gets to meet and the stories she gets told about the treasures that end up in Retro – stories she then gets to pass on to the people who buy them. There’s a bit of sadness too though, which is the nature of the job when all of the items in her shop come from people cleaning out their parent’s homes or people who are down-sizing from the family home to a unit or residential care. More often than not, that passing of items from one set of hands to another represents the end of an era.

To off-set that sadness though, Ro has plenty of local regulars as well as people visiting her shop from all over the country. Since Covid she says “it’s just like Christmas, it’s been so busy”.  Busy with lots of people who just love this place, this place that Ro so clearly adores too. 

Story & photograph by Sarah Cleave