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Lucy Butler
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
Lucy Butler completed a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Melbourne in 2009 which examined the mythology of romantic love in contemporary fiction. She has had work published in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. She lives in Golden Bay, NZ, and is currently working on a novel. 

Spree. A word to write three times over. A word for secret places. A washing detergent. Rinse and repeat. Spree. A summer word, a word to melt slowly on a warm page. Now I’ve found five letters with which to flag you down. Rinse and repeat. Realise that I am insoluble, righteous even in the wrongest things. Not smug, but this morning there is sunlight enough to sterilise my wounds. Spree. My beach towel tells me: deep colours bleed. Indeed. Putting myself on the line again and again, it doesn’t help to ask why. See me now, strung up between my underwear and my manifesto.

Heavy Composition

One tightly bound, another soft and spineless. The small, wan book, the fat book the colour of dried blood, the book with the broken spine, the delicate book, prone to losing pages, easily scattered, and another only good for holding the door ajar. She gets to know them all, but her approach is non-committal, she plays them off against each other, without becoming attached. Meanwhile, her own words stand coyly at the door, waiting to be invited in.

Dead Men

Ha! My head is crawling with them, leaning on each other, leading each other astray. Dead men thinking. I am thinking in them for them with them and for what, one might ask. Getting all blocked up behind the eyes. This is weighty stuff, white chunks of vision, unfinished seams, awareness now a small slow stream of nightvision. They keep on telling me I know the way, and so I wrench my hair back from my face and tie it in place, push the too-short strands behind my ears, tuck my singlet in the way my mother showed me, to keep my kidneys warm. My temples are twin slabs of cool stone. Halt. Who goes there? Asleep again are we missy well we’ll see about that. I look from one to the other, bewildered. I’ve come out without my raincoat and now the sky is curdling. My feet are bare and tender. A singlet is all well and good but I need a suit of armour or some high-tech jacket, depending on when and where this is set. Now they want my name, but I know my name won’t be enough. I hate to disappoint. I’ll have to dress up as a dead man.

Plum Lover

Overripe plums split and ooze all over the polite supermarket fruit in the bowl, attracting wasps to my kitchen table. I can’t toss them because they come from the tree of which you are so proud, the plum tree which has the sweetest fruit. Or so you tell me: I don’t like plums, and I keep hoping that someone will pop over, some plum lover, and dispense with them. But the longer they sit, in this weather, the higher the odds that they will end in pulpy mess at the bottom of the fruit bowl. Wasted. See, by plum proxy you give me loss. Certainly I didn’t ask for your abundance, but how can I refuse it? I can hardly make myself heard over that old washing machine, another of your gifts, which agitates until the whole house is on edge, stretching my sweaters into alien shapes. Here I am, bereft again by your compulsive generosity, my knee-length sleeves swinging long and empty in the summer wind.