blackmail press 32
Christina Conrad
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
"Long time have I studied the somber jewel of sorrow."


only the haunted hear

i have heard whispering in rented rooms
these structures hold secrets
only the haunted hear

creeping over heavily veined floors
one maps wounds – scars
torture concealed
within putrid walls

each day i try to break the code
of a hidden life
stare at my reflection
in the piety of a mirror

nailed to a dying cause
i chase hairs
round a cracked basin

leopard’s piss

oh darlin darlin
its too late
im finished

mama threw out my
Bear’s nose
set my white kid boots
in copper
used them for bookends

oh darlin darlin
its too late
im finished

a panther behind bars
at the zoo
sprayed piss
in my face
people stared

mama wiped my face
with her floral handkerchief

oh darlin darlin
its too late
im finished

a gang of boys
peered under the venetian blinds
at my bedroom window
spied on me whilst i wanked

oh darlin darlin
its too late
im finished


will there be room in the arena
between shrieks and groans

will they recognise me

will the lion know
when to eat me


a blood-red sun hung over the harbour
summer of my 6oth year
summer of bush fires
my sister came from Greece
bearing a legend in the curve of her nose

she entered my courtyard
poison ivy grew in thick ropes on the walls
my stone burial mound
piled high
with legs

i could not tell her
of the ghosts
the dust I honoured
she spoke of the acropolis
the parthenon
she spoke of agony
some of her teeth had fallen out
a dentist had screwed bolts
into her jawbone
to hang new teeth

2 gold bracelets
on her thin bronze arm

she cried out
i bring fresh water pearls
for the women

we ran forward
stumbling over
stones and crosses

ghosts of lovers - pukerua bay 2008

flung far from Kapiti Island
my heart an ancient canoe
filled with ghosts of lovers.....children

their voices echo over the bay

in the summer of my twenty second year
you appeared outside my broken door
long naked feet
groping dry yellow grass
hot face on mine
laughter exploding
our shadows
out to sea

in your house
at the end of the bay
we lay in your sighing bed
bodies coffined
hands and feet crossed
throats ballooning
with the rush of unborn words

illusion's hump

We are the Legend
reflected in its singular eye
we try to possess it

squatting on illusions hump
we pitch into
the velvet womb
giving birth to our own image
in the seductive shadow
of life - death

We seize the shimmering flesh
galloping to snatch the breast
to suck the milk

we stare at our bloody reflection
attempting to possess
the singular Eye

the isolated Heart grinding its own monkey
wheezes out broken tunes
on Loves concertina

The Mind speculating on a distortion
The Legend
laid out
in a shroud of dust