blackmail press 28
Angela King
New Zealand

Angela King is a library assistant and student in Auckland.
Angela has previously been published in JAAM and blackmail press #15.

Kitchen - Charles Olsen

Coldness stings against the self-reflexive
Cocoon of room and table, book and chair
As outside the clouds darken and the light
Dims. Coldness followed by the false pink
Of pickled ginger in the icy stone
Broth of a winter sky. Self & habit
Burr, drip, steal, glance, clatter, stumble hard
Against the even wall that waits outside
Unburnt, unbending despite its own
Inevitable disarray. The streets,
Planned, poured, painted, named, will crumble & crack
In this cold; dark steals from shadow to pull
Down the built-up blocks of the static world.

This body, fattened, complacent, seeing
Only today; this mind, ingrained, slack, strung
Oscillating between doubt and faith; most
Of all this soul, voiceless as a calm lake
And ungraspable as smoke, but urging
Something, seeking something always not quite
Out loud. Always dimmed by the bright daylight.

Silence rings through every clang & sea-like
Rush of car, of feet and drawer; under runs
An unvoiced thing obscured, broken, yet pure.
Hush them, all halt the cars. Dont move. Dont breathe.
It might emerge. Some sky-white undinged thing
Might like a bird offer its last cry. Word-
Less, sneaking through the ear, vibrating in
The chambers of the heart, turning the flesh
Inside out skinless, scratching and unformed.
So it may be. Patient as the turning
Sea it waits to flood and waits to withdraw.

Time & tide wash & stir, & breathe new buds
& shake out loose soil from the flower beds dug
Too close to shore. Salt stings fluted petals
Which flash too high, too wide from the shelter
Of trunk & branch. But under this brine mist,
This viscous suck, this green swirl, white flourish,
Under this unending rage & claim it
Breathes a something spelling moon-thin star-point
Syllables real as shit but drowned, flashing
Sea instead of self. The dark pull of tide
Is as quiet, as patient, as unfelt
And yet as close as this voice. So near we
Feel it by feeling all else.

Night falls, and in the harbour the sea's tongue
Burns silver. Pale-faced the orange sky bleeds.
The water blackens darker than the night,
Lurking unseen as our artificial
Cacophony crescends, cocoons, creates
A frantic false day. Outside the bright homes
And well-lit strips of street the quiet looms,
The darkness sharpens. Restless we shiver
& steal over our mirrors battle signs
Against our long-drawn-out final decay.


There is no quiet, no sudden rush out
Of fluffy bird breast & creaking cricket;
No pause in the screech of hidden cicadas
Or grinding of saws or rumbling of cars,
No change in the onslaught of light beaking
Across the legs of people in short shorts
& no falter in the regular march
Of feet on concrete paths; there is no word
Spoiling the perfect white page with meanings
Insinuations obfuscations, no
Partial provisional incomplete, no
Pause of voices in endless sidelined
Conversations of fact & day, as though
There is no need of space or breath, no time
To say back the fuck off or there'll be no


This incessant cry of why that keeps me
So frozen, unsure. What to do, and what
For. As though all my time wasn't taken
Up already; as though I was someone
Who had a choice. No sublime animal
Life draws off these questions; no feint or dodge
Around can escape a voice attached in
The organs of my breath & brain, although
For a time it can be dulled. Dulled over
& over until chance or chaos breaks
The steady downward swing, & like a bird
Clamouring in a cage it cries, cries, cries.