blackmail press 37
Jeremy Roberts
New Zealand

Primary school teacher, currently working in Jakarta, Indonesia

MC at Auckland’s “Poetry Live” 2011-2012

Regularly appeared at numerous spoken word events around Auckland City – including: Pah Homestead, Rhythm & Verse, University of Auckland Lounge, etc

He has also read his work in Texas (USA), Jakarta (Indonesia) & Saigon (Vietnam)

His work has been published in Side Stream, Live Lines,, Poetry NZ, Free Venice Beachhead (California) Takahe Magazine, NZ Listener, NZ Herald, Snorkel, Potroast, NZ Poetry Society’s “a fine line”, “the years hold hands” anthology, Frankfurt Bookfair 2012:An Aotearoa Affair, Blackmail Press, Phantom Billstickers, Jakarta Expat (Indonesia), Debris, Landfall…

Once upon a ponga log…
an old tuatara sat, in native bush beside a stream flowing through Maori, Crown, private land. He loved to bask in the early sun, flicking through memories of colonial war & ink, the whistling of Hone Heke’s axe fiercely displacing air, the brutal stripping of the land, All Black victories, Billy T’s jokes, the legendary “swappa-crate”, the price of milk…
the story of a nation.

This morning, a fresh roar from distant towns and cities was in the air, disrupting his peace. Headlines were clattering loudly with some new obsession & the tuatara chuckled his famous leathery chuckle…
What the hell was going to fall out of the long white cloud this time? 

Weak justice?  Strange, annoying new migrants? Unfair taxes? Yet another politician pissing in his own pocket? Was paradise about to be lost? The worry was unbearable!

After not moving for what seemed an age, the tuatara spoke.

“Yes, this paradise, this home – has been through a lot. & fast! You’d think Maui’s ropes had snapped!” he giggled. “There’s been good shit, bad shit. There’s been bad shit come out of good shit, good shit come out of bad shit. & a fair bit of bullshit!

What the hell…I wasn’t chosen as the national symbol – they chose that blind, flightless bird - but I didn’t vanish like some tourist drowned in a turquoise riptide, either!”

He giggled again & for another long time sat very still, staring into the future…
“Aotearoa will survive!” he finally said, humming the old Gloria Gaynor hit & sucking on a few mls of spider juice…

The tuatara looked up through the sky, far beyond the noise being made by the lobbyists, the committees, the media, & all manner of holy defenders – howling yet again, wringing their hands in disbelief at the prospect of their nation changing beyond recognition.
He winked at speed freak Ra - who was busy as usual, lighting & heating the landscape, rolling out the seasons –
& yawned the words:

“New Zealand - open your transition mouth a little wider, & receive what is coming!”

Mere & Child - Penny Howard