blackmail press 17
Karlo Mila
new zealand
Dream Fish Floating by Karlo Mila
<click on image>
Karlo Mila is of Tongan, Samoan, Maori and Palagi descent.
In 2005 she published her first collection of poetry, Dream Fish Floating
( Wellington: Huia). The collection has since won the Montana New Zealand Book Award - New Zealand Society of Authors Jessie Mackay Best First Book Award for Poetry.
This outstanding first collection of poetry by Karlo Mila explores the intergenerational tensions between migration and returning, the new and the traditional, the emergent professional classes and their working-class migrant communities of origin. Sassy, intelligent poetry.
Pulotu wings

Sun rays down
no one could predict
the colours of that sunset

blushing pink papaya
sliced into perfect
watermelon halves

from the underworld
upwards to the sacred south

strength of Hercules
fleeting wings beating
impossible orange on beautiful black

six nights
by candlelight
a monarch is buried

an insomniac dreams
a black butterfly
midnight flight

mouthfuls of mango skin
shoulders lipped
oystered tongue

dark pearl seeds strung
on ripe peach flesh
she touches the iridescent misshapen teeth

each flawed pearl tear drop
carries a story more enchanting
than anonymous orbed white

of clean slate cream
fallen marbles from a child’s hand

papaya seeds scattered at her throat
she flies back to the underworld
black wings, pearl strings, bent, beautiful

for at the heart of this passionfruit
lies a cavern
of gleaming dark tears

an oyster child is curled in her lap
goodness sleeping in the pale
milk of his glowing skin

The Black Butterfly

black butterflies
are not meant for flight
they belong to the underworld
where all is treason and ghost

the dark fluttering
of pirate sail wings
on green grass on a perfect
summer day by the sea

a bewitching pair of wings
stuttering like eyelashes
sweeping away a gaze
that must not linger any longer

its chrysalis deep within
a woman’s womb
pulsating shiny darkness
it hides and waits

at midnight
it has a brief refrain
escaping skeleton cage
to move from one sleeping mouth to another

i can sing a rainbow too

the beating red of tonga / proud / palpitating / sinewed muscle of kailau thighs / all
hearts skipping / a treat / a feast for the i / long legged past / pushing its flexed fist into today / warrior kings making a genealogical throw / back / punching the air in between the

vanilla ice, ice baby mellow yellow ‘L and P’  with bacardi and it tastes so much better underage in palmerston north / and you cop it later / on your boots / holding my hair back like the knight on the condom wrapper / in the gutter / somewhere near the square

an all-American childhood (even here) via angels and magnums / BJs and bears /
sugarplum prom queen with blond icing on super-sweetheart dreams / all this is stencilled on a t-shirt / ice cream cone pink princess, her baton twirling strawberry out of my reach

green frond in perfect koru curl, dark green whirl, celestial
how green is the rain in this forest
how honest the beginning
how humble the hills in this green land, how solid the earth?

post-feminist indigo horizons, open and shut, when they feel like it, the boot is on my other foot, the team is batting anyway they like it, the vodka is made in new zealand and served with cranberry blood, I am loving the dark purple satin of her skirt shining grey-lynn beautiful, grilled gilled mushrooms on toast for breakfast and before you know it she is on her bike…

orange dazzler
no other sunset is my cup of tea
like the one melting in this nuku’alofa sky
dripping popsicle orange between pines
branches fingering bits of sun melting
like fanta into the wharf

how blue, Oceania, our mother
her arms know no boundaries
her sweet seas know no borders
opening up the ocean within us
we are one with each other
connected by the saline sea

kailau is an energetic dance performed by men (Tongan)
‘L & P’ stands for ‘Lemon and Paeroa’ a famous fizzy drink in NZ

Floor Show in the Southside (At “Absolute Rush” program, Sept 2006)

Behind the pub
Helen Clark is tagging
the same old same
rundown houses
where island kings eat Chinese takeaways
and island queens krump
so fast, so furious.

Behind the pub
Helen Clark is dancing
a slow ta’olunga
to an orchestra of dogs barking
and a symphony of sirens
she does a siva
to the soft sounds of stealing.

Behind the pub
Helen Clark sings
with a choir of tight clothes
and one house alarm crying
like a solo trumpet
after too many drinks.

Behind the pub
Helen Clark is firewalking
the fine line between donuts
and fresh cut grass towards
a drive thru umu
of chop suey, steak and cheese.

Behind the pub
Helen Clark is sailing
like a true island princess
blood on her back
blue bandanna in her hair
a marijuana leaf
tucked behind her ear.
sailing staunch on ghetto sewage
sailing scared among a wasteland of churches.

From Remuera
Don Brash slaps his chest
out of time
to her beat.
Like a taupou,
Helen points her toe elegantly
puts her foot on his chest
and dances on top of him.

Views from National Women’s Hospital
(for Niki – welcome to this world)

The dazzling sequined lights of last night, tremor and surrender
to the grey, grey of the early morning
a few last card lanterns
and the embers
disappear into dawn.

Sensible shoes beat the early morning pavement
and the fairies fly
in their platforms
catch the bus on k-road
home, with broken heels and hangovers.

Rewind to rangitoto
housewives in st heliers
listen to morning report
drinking soy shakes in yoga pants
zen in stainless steel kitchens.

Grey suited commuters
cross the sea by ferry
communicating with
the computers in their phones
laptops passé, these days
the sea glimmers like a screen-saver.

A woman walks wearily into work
sliding her bus ticket back into her wallet
weight curdled around her body
heavy steps and a foodtown bag
holding flaps from last night
and manioke for the microwave.
Her head is full of her son
on the weetbix line
who spent his first pay
on an iPod
how do you explain
to a boy who has had nothing all of his life
that the first vahe
is traditionally
not his
to keep.

A man pulls into a
doctor’s-only carpark
audi / four rings / four wives
each younger than the other
for him, time somehow stood still
the hand of the clock
by his cock and grammar-zone collection
of ‘four bedroom’, two bathroom houses
on subdividable sections.
His soft soaped hands beep a blipper
from the array of beeps on his body
his soft leather bags hold macrobiotic yoghurt
organic fruit and the venison from last night

From my window
at National Women’s
I am eating the flesh
of a summer white nectarine
watching them all from my window.
I take
of the summer white sky
seawater trickling down my breast.

A baby suckles
on summer fair flesh.
He’s been waiting,
for nine months he’s been waiting
a seed in my mind
a pip in my tummy
waiting for the white sky to crack open
waiting for the nectarine sun to show up
waiting to take in this view.

For J  (from someone who loved him too)

we were willing
Hine Ahu One
all of us
giving him the power of
ti hei mauriora

the sneeze of life in the
half-enchanted handkerchief
in the back pocket of his black levis
that hung loose on his butt

we were
clay under his fingertips
willing ourselves to be
reshaped in His

haurangi porangi wairangi
as all engaging
as it seem
although it feels like
go back to the very beginning

men re-wrote the creation story
Rangi was really
a temptation
a bit on the side
Papa’s midlife crisis
a train-wreck
waiting to happen

get someone
to tell it to you straight

Rangi was an afterthought
it all began with Tangaroa
the earth and the ocean
(listen to your intuition
it tells you this is true)

so go back to the sea
and wash yourself clean

bathe in saltwater
let the saline in your eyes
settle and dry

After he left me
I bled for him
for three months

all biology
every cell
his name
like a convert
devoted to his
second coming.

he became
all that never was
He lurked in every quiet corner.
The missing person
in every crowd
like a face cut out
of the front page
of every daily newspaper.

He was all that could be imagined
and no mortal
could fit the fairy shoes
I winged for him,
hemmed with my own human hair.

you were a rival,
now a sister
in survival.

I dream you
walking past him
milky way at your ankles
up the stairway

open the three kete that lie at your feet

let the moon in your calabash

Karlo and Niki Mila in Tonga 2006