blackmail press 22
Gary Langford
Australia/ New Zealand

Gary Langford lives and writes in Melbourne and Christchurch. He is the author of 24 books, including 12 works of fiction and 8 books of poetry. His next poetry collection, Rainwoman & Snake is due out this year. Currently he is the coordinator of NZ Poets, The Poetry Archive, England,

The Mad Psychiatrist

I was too irregular to make our moments holy.
God’s silence was the sun.
The blue of your eyes was the sky.
The olive of your skin was youthful.
I could never eat olives, or you.
That is a metaphor, of course.
You were in the underworld
of your parents.
They hated me
the moment I would not bow.
They prayed I was a mouse
they could crush, or poison –
they were strong on the enjoyment
of my suffering.
They tried to stop sending you to me.
I was a mad psychiatrist.
You called them mad
until one day you went silent.
Your dreams were no longer happy.
I have a photograph of you,
smiling and moody above my book case.
You have had three children.
They flooded out.
I don’t know how this was accomplished,
just that I became old,
lined in the mirror.
You are eternally young
in that damned memory box
I can never destroy.

The Airport

We are always waiting,
knees on the floor,
hands waving,
praying that we will take off.
Is that our call?

Do you have anything to declare?
Nothing but love, eternal love.
We are that optimistic.
I am strip searched for talking.
That is before customs.
I have become very fanciful.

Deafness enters on take-off.
I am still trying to hear,
the words we all wish to arrive;
spring flowers, unpolluted in memory,
rising into the universe
on a perfect day.

Smokers Love

Tobacco unites lovers,
even if it disintegrates
who each one is.

Patience becomes a patient
when one of the lovers
refuses tobacco and the other does not.

Your scent is smelt,
the attraction is the perfume
of tobacco, bold and ancient.

How it becomes a bad odour,
lust overcome,
divorce on the grounds of smell.

You bought cheaper packets,
yet still you blamed her,
smiling at bills.

Harangued she mopped the floor
of the bedroom with tobacco.
Her bad odour strips paint off.

The roots of failure were heightened
in the heart of romance,
the tightening of the veins.

You no longer smell the beloved.
Shedding her is shedding
the tobacco of love.

The Monster

I was 12 kgms at birth.
Mum’s screams were heard throughout the city.
She never let me forget my size,
‘a huge little monster.’
I never wished to disappoint her.

In the vastness of night
I struck, listening to myself say,
‘you were right you know.’
I sounded cool, calmly on the kill.

Mum’s eyes popped, then glazed,
blood pouring like rain,
beyond a single loving touch.

I watched her carefully,
holding her retreating hand.

I continued my life sentence.

You Switch

You were the dark room.
I never found your switch,
regardless of trying.
According to all you suffered.
I was successful,
ranging from winning lotto
to being a serial killer,
somehow free on cruelty.
No one was watching.
I could have taken my clothes off.
Weather’s changing, they would say.
Always does, I would reply.
Apricots grow on bitter soil
like the remnants of your touch
in the dark room.
I cannot enter.
In there was a Hollywood B-grader,
poorly scripted in a tin house,
broken windows, rotting floor,
crows cackling like you do.
I was glad to get on a plane,
leaving you in that room
where you refuse to move.