blackmail press 37
John Mac Taggart
New Zealand

Mere & Child - Penny Howard
I live in a village bordered by the Mokihinui River and the Tasman Sea, 30 miles north of Westport on the South Island's West Coast.I am currently putting the finishing touches on a B.A. majoring in Philosophy via long distance learning at Massey University.I have also trained as a blacksmith.The poem refers to the S.S.Lawrence which foundered at the mouth of the Mokihinui River in 1894 and the remains of which now rest at the high tide mark not far from my back door.
Ode to Lawrence. (d.1894)

Today I stood in Solitude, a place
where I could ponder
on some metal wrecked and tortured shell,
a century and a half’s  remorseless waves
of mock salute have stripped
you of your steel resolve
and left you clinging
almost totally to holes
and stinging thrusts that swell
as greedily they lap at pools of rust
your weeping walls have bled.
Yet soundless stalk anonymous
the Smiths of old
who boasted brows of sweat and grime,
and blistered hands from hammers wrought
subduing massive sheets of iron-
thundering blows clapping encouragement-
willing them to fold around your naked form;
and giant bellows roared at flames
to hold their heat, and anvils wrung
from countless rivets protests sparking
spatterings of invective, as punctured flesh was spread
and seams were sealed against the tidal thrusts
that lay in wait.
Thence, with your name
etched proudly on your prow
you were a craft that drew
the inky waters in your wake,
conveying dreams to forlorn shores.
Where are they now, the abject few
whose squalid lives forecast
those dreary years, squeezing, scrambling,
swirling empty pans midst stuttering stones
and sand, each grain a fickle fleck
of golden hope the waters washed
hoplessly beyond their grasp?
But Nature’s needs are but its own
and when the river yawned
you wearied as you flailed
a desperate sight
beheld the helpless cast no longer buoyed
by cheers that smashed across your bow whence you were launched.
As if to blame you for their meagre lot
they left- your skeletal remains
to dangle hauntingly, half buried
in an abysmal tomb,
taunted by the wheedling gulls
who hovered hungrily to sound their plaints.
Today I stood in Solitude, to see
the torrid sun resigning
from its hectic dash,
and watched our shadows