blackmail press 22
Jill Steadman
New Zealand

I have been writing poetry for more than 15 years now but only in the last 4 or 5 has it seen the light of day. Only since 2007 have I read my poetry out loud, apart from a few I repeatedly recited for my children when they were young. Now I am a regular at the Thames Poets Circle monthly readings.

A few of my poems have taken placings in recent competitions and a couple have been printed in magazines and newspapers.

Poetry has become quite an adventure.

The moon is up
It shines into my dreams
Like a torch
Searching for hidden memories
Wrapping me in silver thread
To drag me into wakefulness
And dangle me among thoughts
That poke and prod the tide of tears
The moon pulls me like a magnet
Into places long forgotten
Lifting lids to sift among the detail
Pulling at my stuffing
Leaving it in clumps upon my pillow
Dragging out the hours
To toss me sleepless
Into the morning sun


Footsteps echo through my corridor
The open tunnel to my mind

And somewhere a bird sings

The rain drumming its fingernails on my roof
Dances in time with the fan of my air conditioning
One sound difficult to separate from the other
Filling my silent house with noise

The trees loom blackly outside my window
And somewhere a bird sings

The sky still light with early darkness
Yet dimmed since last I looked
Hangs glumly
As the rain falls through its open fingers

The footsteps turn to gumboot splashes

The bird no longer sings
Too dark perhaps to read the words
Beneath a leaf umbrella

The sky now black has drawn in close
And rests against my window

While here I sit in emptiness
Picking up the breadcrumbs
Dropped by scattered thought
Leading to the forest of a poem
That scratches at my arms
Until I reach the clearing

Wondering where the time went
And how I found the pathway once again


Words form like internal spectacles
Peering into a mind that will not sit down and behave
A mind that will not pull itself together
Or keep its head out of the clouds
One that slips in the mud and lays there
Too broken to get up
Until the sun rises as it does
And the mind stands up and walks away
Without realising it still has legs to take it places


It is a wonder that a heart so heavy
Can still beat a steady rhythm
That a mind so numb can still hold
Thought and reason
That feet so heavy can still carry me
Back and forth
And even though I lay down and wish
I never had to wake again...
My eyes still open every morning


Her body sat today as it did yesterday

White knuckles like skeletal gloves
Grip the handlebars of her scooter
Worryingly parked at the edge of the ramp

Skin clings to the bone above her sock
Peeping from below the thin skirt
Fluttering in the breeze

Her eyes like fogged windows
Concealing a life spent well
..Or well spent

Oblivious to my good morning
Unaffected by my passing

I want to stop and stare at her
Talk as if she hears me
Until she turns in my direction
To open up her story with a mere gaze

Just so I'd know
Who helped her onto her scooter
Who sat the woollen hat awry upon her head
And where are they now

Perhaps she's blind
Listening to my story in my footsteps
High heeled swift steps
Late for work

Or is she deaf
Listening to her own story
Skimming her mental filofax
Of disappearing years

Has she been wheeled out kindly
To absorb the gentle welcome sun
Of early spring

Or moved out of view
Like an old newspaper thoroughly read

I hope the sun's out tomorrow
So she can stir my imagination again
Thin and straight
Like an antique teaspoon