blackmail press 33
Ian C Smith

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Ian C Smith’s work has appeared in Axon:Creative Explorations,The Best Australian Poetry,Chiron Review, Island, Southerly,& Westerly His fifth book is 'Contains Language', Ginninderra Press (Adelaide).  He lives in the Gippsland Lakes area of Victoria, Australia.


After years, their marriage holed yet afloat,
he’s press-ganged by the past, reading about
a stark sea crossing, livid waves, a boat.
That ferry when he was stricken by doubt
in bleak waters, no passengers outside
lounges stuffed with families, smells, fast food,
circling wind rocking lifeboats, her beside
him, the conjoined waves reflecting his mood.

Screwed, he mind-joked in the deserted stern.
This prescient doubt fueled by her toxic tongue
grew into a deep dread that, though still young,
they had reached a crisis of no return.
For one moment he imagined a shove.
Now he doubts memory’s shanty of love. 

Time stopped

for Christopher

Well, not exactly: it travelled backwards
after I couldn’t resist interfering.
I’ve always yearned for the unlikely,
including time travel, did I tell you?

Our kitchen clock hung from a hook,
framed, with a calendar, days disappearing.
That frame was running out of time, too,
Already dropped, repaired off-centre,
its corners held by elastic bands.

I am pernickety about symmetry,
pictures, certificates, memorabilia.
In other people’s homes tilted photographs
make me thrust hands in pockets.
I adjusted that frame once too often.

We restored the clock’s batteries
hoping it worked, the frame now rubbish.
It still kept good time, but backwards,
as if mocking my recurring desire.

You became enchanted by time,
wanting this clock that saluted the past,
would probably love Dali’s melting clock,
so I presented you with time awry.
You possess infinite possibilities, my boy.

I masked that bared hook with a Picasso print.
Now, time after time, I glance up
only to see a woman weeping at odd angles
pitying my conditioned reflexes.