blackmail press 22
Larry Matthews
USA/ New Zealand

Originally from the United States where I worked as a designer for the National Zoological Park I moved to New Zealand 15 years ago to teach graphic design. I currently paint, write poetry, and drink lots of coffee. I also teach part-time at Literacy Aotearoa. I have been published in a variety of NZ publications and regularly perform at poetry nights in Dunedin.


Yesterday the doctor and nurse
needed to access my heart

a careful incision was made
down my chest and

my ribs were gently pulled

a 10 inch long incision

blood stitched up both flaps
of skin and

a zipper strip sewn onto each
side and


the zipper mechanism was added
and tested:

z z z i p! AND A CATCH!
on one main artery

causing a shooting pain
down my left leg

a careful (?) tug on the

enabled the
continuation of closure

for some time I
was left

for a time I imagined
when my fly was open

hours later
the doctor and nurse

returned to check on
my heart

slowly unzipping my chest
my heart pounding

blood oozing slightly
warmly and was

soaked up by a fresh piece
of cotton gauze

"Your heart is fine" they said
as they lifted their shirts

exposing their zippers
on their chests

"Would you like to unzip my heart?"
the nurse asked

"No thank you"
the doctor replied

having already unzipped
his fly

and his organ - pumping
was exposed

"Life is rare, bloody, red, and tender"
he said, and he placed his hand
on his heart

"You're doing fine"
"You're doing fine"

The Piano

a rage, a passion - a silence
notes and chords hitting...
no...touching touching...
my heart touching - piercing
notes and chords
passions [pains]
love [and sorrow]
yearning, intense
passioned lovers embrace

embracing (simply embracing)
touching the softness ...the lovely

the musician (the one) touching
the keys (the one)
touching {my soul}
(sounds) opening
{deep}, {locked}, ))))) resonate ((((

)))))) sounds ((((((
) ) ) resonate ( ( (
)) (( (( ((pulsing)) )) )) ((

fingers /flick / a/ note/ two / notes //
a lilt / / so playful ///
playful //innocent
f i n g e r s g l i d e . . .
fingers glide . . .
hands caress . . . soft . . . .strength . . . accord
moist lips on a freshly shaven nape
an ((((embrace)))) fingers and hands
touch the heart
the resonate soul
an innocent desire
mingles with rage - disquiet -
an [innocence] lost
I hear those pains _ in the music _ I hear those cries _ in my soul
from the passion _ from the rage_
from the softness _ playing tricks on my soul _

{disc{h}ordant} heart {resonate} and innocent
and wonderful/and/wonderful/and beautiful
and lovely

so wonderful,
so beautiful,
so beautiful -
so lovely...

the global village is twenty years away

I sit outside in the summer
by the air conditioner ventalation system
so no one can hear me sing loud!

remembering being at Rose Hill
I dream of flying
my feet high in the air

I can jump over the
Washington Monument
in the distance

but, I realise it is too far away
warm air blows behind my head
saturation on my skin quickly evaporates

thanks to the warm air of the air conditioner
the heat in Washington, DC is tropical, hot

I beat the bongo
left hand
right hand
both hands

I sing

I beat the bongo
bum de bum de bum de bum bum
bum de bum de bum de bum bum
bum de bum
de bum de bum bum
bum de bum
de bum de bum bum

(no one hears me
alone in my drumming
the sound behind my head
blocks the sound from the world)

I beat the bongo
bum de bum de bum de bum bum
bum de bum de bum de bum bum
cries Col. Bourgeious
fresh from the war in Vietnam

(how could he hear my silent drumming?)

I place the bongo drums to my side

the air conditioner stops

a helicopter overhead
cancels out the song of the birds high in the trees

and I sing softly to myself . . .
"Yankee Doodle Went to Town . . ."
"riding on a pony. . ."

My Great Depression

Born in the year 1929
Mom says she is the cause
of the Great Depression

It's 2004 now
and I've gone bankrupt

It all started when I wanted to build a treehouse
Dad wouldn't hear of it
Mom hired a carpenter

had an elaborate four walled,
shingled roof contraption
plunked on the plot of land
where my sisters and I used to have campfires

My childhood dream of a playhouse
up in the trees
to escape the nightmares of my youth
gone up in smoke

Oh, I sat in that playhouse they had built
I sat in it knowing it's not what I really wanted
More importantly, it's not what I needed

My vision was shattered
Not just by my mother
but, by my longing
for a lovely classmate in Mrs Mumpower's 2nd grade class
Yes, Stacey Overman - the sweet pristine girl
with the tourquoise, horn-rimmed, glasses

She was the reason I started wearing glasses

I was only in the second grade
so, I didn't go blind from masturbating

I thought she was so cool looking...
I wanted her to like me
With perfect eyesight
I started sitting too close to the television set

Watching re-runs of the Little Rascals
I carefully studied the roughly constructed treehouses
that I now know were stage props

Mom went to highschool with one of those rascals
Mom said she had fun growing up during the depression
"It was simpler then" she said

It's 2004 now
and I've gone bankrupt

I believed my mother too much
She said she was the cause of the great depression
Yet she takes no credit for my own

In my account I have 10 years of Prozac and hours of group therapy
and over 30 years of trying to untangle the mess of not
getting to build my own treehouse

I still sit in front of tv screens
but, no longer dreaming of Stacy and her horn rimmed glasses
I'm not watching the Little Rascals anymore
I prefer men
And now, I'm not so depressed anymore
and I find myself typing, writing and dreaming
Being 'Happy as Larry'.

Happy as Larry

(20 mg of Prozac please)
(make that 40)
Happy as Larry
Happy as Larry
(depressed? they say?)
Happy as Larry
(personality disorder?)
(add a bit of Trimipramine at night)
Happy as Larry
(the doctor is in)
Happy as Larry
(group therapy)
(medically induced Quaker Meeting)
Happy as Larry
(20 mg of Prozac please)
such a lovely yellow and green capsule
Happy as Larry
("I'll have an espresso please")
(make mine a double flat white)
Happy as Larry
(a wonderful chap)
(dosed up on Prozac and coffee)
Happy as Larry
(5 4 3 2 1)
Happy as Larry
(blast off)
Happy as Larry
(the moon is sinking)
Happy as Larry
(the fish have stopped breathing)
Happy as Larry
(can't sleep at night)
Happy as Larry
(high as a kite)
Happy as Larry
(swim in the clouds)
Happy as Larry
(heaven on earth)
Happy as Larry
(you just need a wife)
Happy as Larry
(you want nuts?)
Happy as Larry
(I think I'm going crazy)
Happy as Larry
(I think I'm going mad)
Happy as Larry
(I need another coffee)
Happy as Larry
(I'm Happy as Larry)
(and I think)
I'm ok


"The Universe is Amazing!"
The Raja Mudah exclaims!
A smile on his face.
Bright as the sun.
Hands outstretch like a Nikau Palm.
Friends making contact around a dinner table.
Te Rangi. Whanganui.
Land of the Long White Cloud.
My youngest sister visits her only brother.
She's my best friend.
We talk of Jodi Foster in a film - searching for her lost father.
I tell Bonnie about a time I ask
Gita and Anthony if they were extraterrestrial.
A smile on Gita's face.
Bright as the moon.
I 'knew' my sister and my peaceful friends
would like making "Contact"
and I knew
I knew with the glory of the sun,
I knew with the glory of the moon,
I knew with the glory of the stars,
That I was alive.