“More than a money issue” (Dick Whyte)



solo mum
cleaning her daughter’s room
the barbie
has more shoes
than she does





“Changing social norms could take generations” (NZ Herald)

“More than a money issue” (NZ Herald)


Poem by Dick Whyte (see editor biographies). Read more by this poet.




  1. Chen-ou Liu

    “has more shoes
    that she does”

    A typo?

    The opening line, especially the opening word, successfully sets the tone and mood of the poem. It is a powerful poem, leaving the reader with much to ponder.


  2. Dick Whyte

    A typo? How do you mean? That is how I wrote it, but I am wondering if there is some confusion created by the use of pronouns now. What do you see as the typo??

    Thanks Chen-ou. This one was very meaningful for me to write. My mum was a solo mum for a long time during my childhood and in NZ there is so much talk of solo mum’s and the way they get an easy ride because of the benefit – which is fucking ridiculous. Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. peach

    Fine job, Dick. In the US we have a name for young children left at home when parents work to put food on the table. Latchkey kids. I married a single mother. She spent a lot of time arranging and rearranging supervision for her son. Our culture is off kilter and the role of government is too great in some ways and not enough in others. I wish I knew the answer. I look around our globe and see what doesn’t work. I like how the opening line sets the tone. The vernacular “solo mum…” makes the poem both foreign and personal, I can identify with the paradox of self reliance vs dependency.

  4. Dick Whyte

    Chen-ou: I must be BLIND. Finally saw the typo. Man – funny how the brain is sometimes. I must know the poem so well I just couldn’t see it. Thanks for spotting man. Fixed now!

  5. Dick Whyte

    Peach – thanks man!! That is the best kind of comment I could get. Like you, I often look at the world and so many problems seem so obvious. But solutions?? That is where the real problem starts – ha! But I dislike people who say “Well, if you don’t have a solution, don’t mention it.” Part of art’s role, I believe, is to problematize the world, to bring problems to light. Only then can we start thinking of solutions.

  6. Laurence stacey

    I agree Dick! This is a lovely tanka too. Excellent work!

  7. Dick Whyte

    Thanks man! <3

  8. Chen-ou Liu


    You’ve a great mum. Thanks for sharing such an emotionally powerful poem.



  9. peach

    The best thing I can do for others is do what I am designed to do.

  10. Dick Whyte

    You guys RULE. Thanks for all the support.

  11. Bill Kenney

    Y’know, until I read Chen-ou’s comment, I had missed the typo. A very good tanka anyway.

  12. Dick Whyte

    Thanks so much Bill – really glad you liked it.

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