blackmail press 28
Hayden Williams
New Zealand

Kitchen - Charles Olsen

On the television screen
a ranting woman
suddenly breaks down

she just can’t get by
the way she used to

her sister
an innocent bystander
was gunned down

in a drive-by shooting
the psychotherapist
running along the stage
won’t back down:

“It’s your fault!" he yells.

"You make it a tragedy

by your own choosing!”

The panting woman
suddenly drops back down
into her seat

holds back grief and anger
by the momentary violence of amazement.

Compassion isn’t fashionable
we’re pretty down on it
in an age where consumers choose

losers must lose
by their own choice.
But who chooses

to put someone down like that?
We rewind it back
and watch the wound repeat.

Learning New Language.

A language looks
like curls and stalks
in books; we talk
its words in peaks
and vales, speaking
waves shaped with mouth
and tongue;
                 come out
to meet a loud
young land, green with
concrete meaning,
spun from Plato’s cloud.

Deep Blue.

Mermaid and Merman, and neither has said
to the other what it’s really about,
can’t admit that unfathomable cavern inside,
or effort required to escape their ebb tide.
What knifed tail to top?
What hand dared shuck out
hearts hard as coral?

He’s her hot water bottle, nothing more.
They’re two cracked pods dry on a sheet’s shore,
two humming shells on a sandblasted, petrified rock,
a leathering purse and salty, flacid cock.
Something worse about
not trying at all.
But neither has said.

Yes, R.S. Thomas.

The be-anoraked poet is old.
Critics wait to crowd this artist’s carcass
the moment it falls here.
Forgive him his pretentiousness,
or if he goes on too long,
this Palm Sunday donkey,
or jockey of prophecy,
losing his master’s song.
You’ve got to listen for the wave,
not the lone beachwalker who sees it,
whose pressing
of a black cloud’s barbell allows
a glimpse of the imago’s footprints.
Wringing out thoughts for years
at his own expense,
to show us ever o’clock,
not this piece of time.
None inhabit air so bravely
as poets who have no choice.
Under the mountain,
few give the honour he’s due.
Even now he can shake dust from faces,
causes the static of freeing storms.
Do I change him to a golden calf?
Perhaps, but take care.
Don't be too quick to break
what ends with a headstone’s tablet.
He’s done more than strip history
for his inspiration, make an ass-
emblage of images, and call it clever.