blackmail press 18
Jason Ropitini
New Zealand


the summer wields a familiar brush
that flays the sky with thick strokes of opaque
blues hue toward a bitter tone
and breezes wend a fragile path
the sun slinks wearily along an arc

zenith breached, a decline down
to a dark dusky evening time mimics yesterday
neons eagerly await the immanent hour
now as before
to drench in colour us

having negotiated day
I fall into the crevices of another dark time
punctuated by staccato lights
and sounds and smells and tastes
as intimate flesh is abstractly caressed

eyes are barraged by fractured light
and depths deceived by tidal ebb and flow
of elongated limbs affixed to torsos
all so carefully rendered from
these glossy prints and mannequins

stairs spill down and ascend up
from recessed darkening entrance ways
fringed with pseudo-Englishes
that herald pleasures found within
while time saunters in her onward march

here once more he berates her
and there again they re-embrace
as lovers reconciled
indistinguishable in the wash
and spill of abundant aqua vitae

headiness renders denizens equal
displacing the sense of a personal space
between one and all
insignificance is forged
to negate the loss of singularity

thus in this vague extended moment
caught within this spectral web
I've lost my self, imbibed of them
discovered symbiosis.

Only to be broken by a day.


Although I feel
I have to go away
there remains a part of me
and you I guess, that needs
to see still so much more
to scent and touch and taste
all those things that have yet
to cross my meandering path

And curious it is
that as these days have flown
a furtive tendril unbeknown
to me, and you as well,
has found a fragile purchase
a tentative grasp, immune
to subtle tuggings, and I
am pleasantly conflicted

I've tasted love and you
and seen hearts bleed
I've listened to murmurs
and understood lies
I've been lost in depths
of your liquid eyes
and have nestled with ravens
defending sacred places

I've witnessed bland veils
worn by the naïve
be lifted right back revealing
to you and me true chords
of a subtle tune to us raised
above the weakening tones
of a great culture on the cusp
of gorgeous revolution

I've felt you imbibe
from this decadent pool
mingling ripples entwined
as a coil that binds
me to you, I press
for release, but dragons
so easily shepherd
the meek to the fold

And you are the East
but I more so, thus seek
I must embracing arms
of a hallowed place that is
absent here. Your whisp'ry
velvet touch has soothed
the savage soul that is bound
to leave unsure and wanting


Our Wellington is a series of rendezvous
Safe secluded locales for your sake, not mine
Though I'd meet with you anywhere, regardless
Since you to me are everything

Arriving as we do - necessarily separate
We have lunch in our park on Ghuznee
And our relationship is transformed
We kiss and then leave as we came. Apart

I wait for you somewhere predetermined
On Cuba Street or in Courtenay place
Drinking Grolsch or Macs, if possible
And always, I'm teenager nervous

Molly's balcony sees out a rare summer's day
An early finish at work = more time together
We share our minds and you steal my heart
On the stairway we embrace and there is only now

The Matterhorn, Lucky, Red Square, Sandwiches;
Dark plush bars that enchant as we sip
Long Islands, Bloody Marys and good red wines
And tease and praise and live for each other

On the corner of Russell and Edinburgh
We are secreted in a familiar room
Warmed by this heater with a flickering third bar
I try playing guitar, but can only think of you

Beneath the seventh pine in Newtown park
We share stories and spill glasses of shiraz
And swathe ourselves intimately in blankets
To share our heat and depth and become one

So, this is Wellington, our city, my love
A place of wind and rain and hills and us
A place of fleeting lovers sharing time and space
A place of such sweet memories - clear and forever


Putting down my newspaper, I look to the seat in front of me.

She is lost in thought of puppies and sugar.
And I too but of her perfect silken skin,
her perfect downy nape partially obscured
by fluid raven hair loosely gathered.
I know she is beautiful.
I can smell it.

Constant lurching of 134 disrupts the fugue
and my gaze is redirected out the city-stained window.
Across five lanes I spy familiar hazy neon pinks
inviting men to lighten their pockets
of seventy thousand won in exchange
for a measured tryst with a tired beauty.

Pristine hindsight reveals to her
the folly of a misspent youth.
Despairingly she moans;
a pitiful cry
oftentimes misrepresented
as a consequence of man's manliness.

Rising pseudo-proud above this crimson stretch exists
somehow a crucifix of burning red;
a godly device of a devilish hue,
hoisted skyward up on haphazard scaffolding
in a vain attempt to parlay with an Omnipotence
known to frown upon such blatant towering folly.

In its myopic search for something somewhere
among the polluted heavens
this crux de Deus remains oblivious
to the earthly iniquity sprawled below.
Salvation is not an option.
Reds and pinks clash only if one is looking presumably.

Like a slap in the face whorehouses are replaced
by a formidable swathe
of boutique bridal stores.
Do others shudder at such contrasts?
Does there exist no room for subtlety?
Sweaty pinks grudgingly give way

to a multitude of requisite whites
and other polite colours deemed worthy enough
to adorn the flimsy petite frames
of prospective daughters-in-law,
who will soon be able to give up
the tiresome pretence of virginity

replacing feigned maidenhood instead (they fervently hope)
with beautiful obvious taut and swollen bellies.
Trying on these gowns-for-hire, they envisage
wedding ceremonies made resplendent
with plastic cupids, plastic flowers, plastic people.
A kitsch pastiche imbued with false decorum.

134 pulls over:
she stands, turns,
adjusts bunched panties,
and eyes me with suspicioncuriositylust.
Her nose chiselled eyes scalpeled.
Handcrafted perfection personified.


A mediocre hill is crested
indicating 134 is fast approaching my stop.
I stand
and my seat is instantaneously taken up
by some old bent women
whose stature belies swiftness.

134 is full and as I wait
the stare of Argus bears down upon me.
I grab the railing, an attempt to steady myself
against the constant yawing, and in doing so
my sleeve slips down revealing a tattooed forearm.
In an instant prying eyes desist.

I'm left utterly alone.
An inked Pariah.
The moment the door slides across
I hurriedly disembark in order to restore
the complacent ease
which I've so callously disrupted.

Shouldering my way through the ubiquitous throng
seeking out the salvation of home
I pass a plethora of cheap disposable baubles
and ephemeral garments touted by brazen hawkers
to prettified Asian girls who continue to be
the predominant and solely redeeming local feature.

These girls with fattened stabbing lashes
with eye-shadows that run the gamut of the spectrum
with conjoint Hello Kitty handbags
are totally blissfully thankfully unaware
of the saccharine coquettishness
in which they are liberally doused.

Leaving such temptations behind me
I head toward the tenements
where my h(e)aven is to be found.
A sickly cat not daring to face
the slings and arrows of the punitive
wisely lurks among shadowy broken concrete.

I empathise.

Looking up I am confronted by the profuse farrago
of steel and stone and wood
that has been formatted into spaces for living.
Indeterminate wiring and cables are strung thickly overhead
creating a welcome canopy to break up
the monotony of an unhealthy skyscape.

Almost there. I circumscribe a path around two beautiful children
lying side-by-side in the middle of the street
engrossed in a tattered comic book.
I marvel at their innocence
and wish that time would cease.
Forever framing the moment.

Yet, the world still turns and I again trek
the three and a half flights of uneven stairs to my door.
Entering, I pour a finger or two of Chivas,
sit down in my faux-leather armchair,
and on retrieving my newspaper
contemplate the journey in front of me

while she dreams of puppies and sugar.