blackmail press 18
Gemma Rowsell
New Zealand
Gemma Rowsell lives in Wellington. She has had work published and accepted for publication in Valley Micropress, Stylus Poetry Journal and Bravado.

A night alone with a bottle of red

Its boring to explain now, but I'd mucked up at work and seemed to be on the verge of disaster. A sense of doom is always real at the time and almost always stupid in retrospect. Anyway, to compound it all, a guy from work was teaching me to drive manual. He was handsome, Dutch, and kept bees in his spare time.
“I was trying to transport my bees up North in the weekend but they got loose in the car and started buzzing round everywhere, so I had to stop and sort that out” he said, chuckling. 
I graunched the gears and the car jerked back and forth as we drove.
We got to a busy intersection and predictably I stalled. I started crying, embarrassing the Dutch man, who would’ve probably preferred angry bees for company in the car. We swapped places and he drove, both of us silent for a while.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’ve just done something wrong at work and I’m worried about it.”
He looked at me.
His face was the colour of clover honey and was very nice to look back at.
“I’ve heard something about it,” he said, “and to me it just doesn’t seem that bad. You learn from these things.”
I said nothing, just remembered visiting Arataki Honey one summer and another time, stopping at the honey centre and cafe near Warkworth and trying to find the queen bee.
“Sometimes,” he continued, “it’s good to spend a night alone with a bottle of red wine trying to figure things out. You can’t escape from yourself, believe me, I ran across the world trying to do that.”
I take comfort from that now. But at the time, I thought God, are we really all we have? It was terrifying.


Sonnet for a local bakery assistant

Employed at New World down on Willis Street
is a handsome and strong-looking young man.
He serves customers delicious baked treats
and decorates cakes and muffins by hand.

Day after day he works painstakingly
to earn the minimal wage he brings in.
Smiley face mud-cakes are his specialty:
mint eyes, Jaffa noses, and white iced grins.

Each expression he paints on is unique,
from timidity to crazed happiness.
Some pupils are choc dots, some messy streaks;
every face is beautiful nonetheless.

To make cute cakes in which he can take pride
this man has to put other dreams aside.