blackmail press 37
Cordelia Black
New Zealand

Mere & Child - Penny Howard
Cordelia lives in Wellington, NZ. Her current main writing project involves translating German lyric poetry into New Zealand English. A book's in gestation. She also produces plays and shows, acts, sings and plays music.


we're getting hawks in town now
their worried wings flap like hands
fanning the Hunter lawn in summer
they sing too
and in the jangling afternoon
they take reconnaissance over the offices
looking for prey
could I too circle echoing the ring
the city wears around its bay
making one half of a Gänsefüßchen
until the sentence is closed,
photograph with the yellow eyes of predators
the path of airplanes completing ruminant
cycles of migration?
I picked no neat phrase to indicate
the circular bounds within which
it is safe to search
there is only a wild bird's unreasoning call
repeating like a radio signal
coming for the things trapped between buildings
a radar or perhaps a love note
tell me what you want little hawk

Shift's End

Shift’s end
Takes the bookend away from the shelf
The lace out of the sneaker
And the elastic out of the underpants
Shift’s end
Spells an end to reason
Forsakes all claim to adulthood
Shift’s end
Leaves me shiftless.
In its place there is a small plastic bag
Containing lukewarm water and a dead goldfish
At shift’s end
I slither back down the evolutionary tree
Till I’m nestled in a bole near the roots
A spineless life form
Mouth and anus indeterminate
Shift’s end
Farewells good intentions
Solemn promises to grand ideals
Says hello to ice cream
Shift’s end
Takes the shoes and the pants off the
Ambitious young woman
Performing reverse Cinderella
Creating a monstrosity
A slouch in a stained T-shirt

Pit viper

Laocoon’s other son, who pulls off his snake
As if stepping out of a garter.
I react more in distaste than out of fear
To the turn of pendulum and the inevitable
Association with a Pit.
Here, feel and smell rather than see the oncoming
Constriction. The pit seeks you,
Mounted somewhere behind and above the
Great curving fangs that we don’t
Even consider, let’s not think of them at this point
Let us simply find some new trick
Of the escape artist, miss the swing,
Feel the blade whisker past, not mention
The Greeks inside the horse, consider that a gift.