blackmail press 32
Jo Emeney
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
Jo Emeney is a North Shore poet, teacher and tutor. Her first book of poetry Apple & Tree was published by Cape Catley in July 2011.


It’s raining at the playground
but the blond boy in the orange shirt
keeps swinging – he’s going to get his money’s worth.

Gulls and old people – even his parents –
have taken shelter, but now he belts
from ladder to slide, pants stuck to him,
shirt up over his head like a hood, bare back,
bare feet and the best green eyes you’ve ever seen.

C’mon, he says, brave the rain, tenderheart.
So what if you slip a bit?

Honest second

The art of advice
is balancing
what you think
is the right thing
with what you think
is the right thing to say,
keeping in mind
the psychological state
of the person whom you are advising,
your own integrity and beliefs,
as well as the repercussions
of your suggestions in the immediate
and distant futures – a complex mix,
especially in light of the fact that friendship
should always be kind first,
and honest second.

A Little Night Music

As she approached,
the girl could see
the heart of her hearth
opening like a poppy
in time-lapse photography.

The window was warm,
lit red as mercy on a church,
and she stepped in the door smiling,
not used to not shivering,
then stopped cold – gutted,
as her eyes lighted on her mother

squatting in front of the fire:
the igneous salamander eyes,
the eager fingers knitting
sheet after sheet into a sick pyre.

The flames ate her treasures
page by page. Agitato, Appassionato,
black notes spiralled up a twisted stave.

First Thing

For Chris

will wake
to the thought
of your face;
will smile
as if you were there
at the head of the bed
or the arm of the sofa,
real as the light
at the gap
in the curtains,
real as hope
or compassion,
whatever is missing
or wished for
in the early morning.
You will be
that person's first thing –
as close as breath
to life.