blackmail press 22
Jan McGrath
New Zealand

Jan McGrath. I am an ex-pat Brit, and have spent most of my life in N.Z. I have lived in Nelson for the past 17 years. I have written numerous poems over a long period of time, but never thought of publishing them till last year, when a friend was instrumental in getting one of my early poems published in a Nelson anthology entitled Journeys.


Denim boy
Despair is the colour of your song
And your six-stringed partner travels
On a neon road to nowhere beside you,
Being instrumental to your happiness
And you, to his.

You travel a rainbow circuit
Astride a fickle horse
That pulls a worn-out gig
On a tired merry-go-round.

You ride the city streets
On a thin-soled shoe.
Your partner hugs your shoulder
As the cold crowds in, and despair
Cries out

These days
Bread comes in a slim parcel at
Irregular intervals. Delivery man
Isn't always reliable.
You contemplate moving on.

The act is growing stale. But
Denim boy, beware
Of the backstreet doctor
Who claims he can out-peddle
Any trick-cyclist.

Feeding on sick despair
He haunts city sidewalks:
Don't buy his act

New Brighton Beach

Horses have been here .
And dogs, forging trails
Between high hills
of tussock. Human feet

Have also left their mark
Tracking with tireless tread
The yawning bay, lifting off
Like birds at the water's

The human tide returns
Again and again
To this place.
A new-wave generation
Riding eyeless fish
Into the hook of the bay.

But I gather
The drifting net of my thoughts
Away from the tidal waters,
Fearing entanglement.

A rock, like a beached whale,
Beckons. From here I watch
The surfers take their tumbles,
Remain high and dry, tussock

Rooted in sand; yet feel beneath me
Vibration of distant hoof beat; pulse
Of encroaching tide .

Old Salts

I watch them on the embankment
Quietly fishing
Or baiting with tireless hands
Their fragile nets of hope.
How earnestly do their eyes
Follow the little boats
Or the curved ascending wing
Of a bird, skimming seawards.

Talk is small; wavelets lapping
On quiet shores
Unperturbed by  the distant roar
Of surf on the iron beaches.

Theirs is an enclosed world;
Rarely do they acknowledge
The passer-by.
Yet sometimes I catch them
Peeping like timid children
Through the splayed fingers
Of curious eyes.