blackmail press 37
Kirsti Whalen
New Zealand

Mere & Child - Penny Howard
Kirsti Whalen is a poet based in Auckland with her heart in Melbourne. Once a camel farmer, laughing yoga instructor and castle-dwelling au pair, she now studies creative writing at MIT. She has been published widely and was recently shortlisted for the "Sarah Broom Poetry Prize".
Red Cliffs

there are too many dead cats in Red Cliffs.

we wouldn’t raise our children here
plushed flush against their outback             bones
a pregnant little x-ray

I am a pilgrim of spirit
gone walkabout in pleather
Kmart booties

five flies land
upon my arm
in an illicit
orchestrated flight

and the struck body
of a fresh-cut roo                                      ditched
makes wildflower plucking a shudder.

love is a lazy thing
it’s why the weather changes
the plains a bowl of tepid rice water

bed’s otherside muggy

flat as a eighty kilometer

skeletal on a red-earth tarmac
of licked-stamp somewheres

it’s why socks
kick blustering stridencies on the line

pegs osteoporotic
brittle with the futility of all
that they carry.


I cried on the airplane
all the way back to you
grit and gold
gilded and closed

hoping you'd hold me as something
other than imminent departure;
than a body built
to be sold
as a renovator's dream.

my city, kiss me like every time we quit each other.

you, like every time my veins
build tissue like drunk architects

they've forgotten sprawl and just spread themselves apart
like the legs of closeness seekers
in the bedrooms of strangers                                   (mine)

maybe taxi cabs are violins
to the airport,              my first
they're warming and waning to the rise
of something not yet happened
something as silent as medicine
and just as deadly.

Keep it. (Darling)
Whatever I offered you
it was small and made of plastic anyway

souvenir means memory
I'm a tourist of the cracks
in the pavement
of your skin

and in the morning
if I'm brave enough
I promise, this time
I'm leaving.