blackmail press 22
Emma Barnes
New Zealand

Emma Barnes currently lives and works in Japan and misses New Zealand daily. She has had poems published in Catalyst, Carve, FourW, online and in other small zines. She is currently into oranges, Kaki King and experimental poetry.

black doris

a deep bite, all the kids
know, sends plums to necks

I prefer to remove stones
and lie out slices for a bitter pie

without thinking of the thought
of you in the kitchen thinking

sometimes during their harvest
they stain my hands, purple

of all the small scraps I have had
it is you who leaves my body dark


I wake up and down
like an earthquake

I lie horizontally
contemplative, not

really asleep, not
really awake, not a

thing wrong with me
not a thing left to

say. Not a thing. No-
thing. Never was a

girl who had a care
never was a another.

same, same, same

same time same date same place I walk into a house with you and we leave together without remembering the date the time or the place to come back as combatants four years later and pin deaths on each others' breasts our backs taut with the tension of holding it all inside as the pin slides under our skin this is as they say what time does it heals all it shaves away the ridges of each hurt until you are as flat as the day you were made somehow though this is not how it works this is in fact not how it works at all a tiny scratch over years turns into a deep crack covered over with snow or scraps but underneath it widens a breach into which you can tumble nose over toes into once and again and once.

some girls

Some small girls fit together
like dolls, wrapped around
each other all pointy chins
and cunnilingus before bed

I stand back. And watch them
wear kimono like they were
Japanese or tilt their heads
up for a smile and a pot
sticker, mouths open as
angry baby birds, with a
sound like a jaw cracking
as they take you inside, and
inside and inside. If this is
the future I do not want it.

Their makeup catseyed draws
me outside so that finally
I am able to bend over and
slip my shoes off my feet.

I feel as a giant my vast back
behind me as I look over my
shoulder to wonder about the
collection of points they are
together. Would you really kiss
me? Beak open. Would you really
hold my hand? My clamourous
thighs make them look, wrinkle
up their noses and bat, bat, bat
eyelashes, like fans to blow me

away. Afterwards when I stand in
the street and want for something
I remember when I was younger
and they would have had me.


I have never fainted. I know that some people in particular consider this to be fishy, but I guess it means that I pump too much, or too high or maybe it's just that I am shielded by metal, cast-iron brain pan, lead stomach, just-enough-aluminium legs. I have watched people faint and fall and fit. I have pillowed heads, placed things between teeth, caught torsos, encouraged stillness. I have vomited down a street, leaving anxiety in small spills, waiting for eyes to steer away and for a sewer opening or rubbish bin. I have bled from the head. I have burned. I have broken. But I have not had a spell.