blackmail press 26
Majella Cullinane
New Zealand /Ireland

from: Angipanis of the Abanimal People - Andy Leleisi'auo
Majella Cullinane writes poetry and fiction. Writing awards include the Sean Dunne Young Writer's Award for Poetry and The  Hennessy/Sunday Tribune Literary Award for Emerging Poetry.  Poems, short stories and book reviews have appeared in journals in Ireland, the UK and America, and in New Zealand's JAAM 27 and The Lumiere Reader. She lives in Wellington and is originally from Limerick, Ireland.
Her first book of poetry was accepted for publication early this year.


Beautiful cousin, I held you in my arms as an infant.
Freckles on your forehead reminded mother of a piebald,
father of Ursa Major - he tallied seven.

At an altar you smiled as our uncle thrust you forward,
your skin like vellum, a shadow of a blush on your cheek
flickered between candlelight dancing indifferent.

On our wedding night you cried, you missed your mother.
I consummated our union with a tale of a girl, her dead parents,
a greedy uncle, married at fifteen and her husband only seven.


I can hear my voice he repeats

chasing echoes round frames,
hammering words

     into the wood
of a cross, scratching them
into the barbed wire
pressed on a messiah' head,

driving the crucified hands to cut
     the sound of steps
climbing to the first floor -

to the black and white photographs
of the world -

faces of Malcolm X and Monroe
nestled between the hands and feet
of North Africa, a sheep's hysterectomy,

a woman giving birth, a family at a table
eating outside, bent gravestones
leaning over their heads as they dine,

to the words that meet at the corner
of a room, crowding round the last image
on the wall - bouncing off

and returning to him downstairs.


the small delicacy
of pansies
as the wheels back in.
We hear their whimper,
but ignore them
when we see sunflowers
stand tall to greet us,
their petals
like strands of sun.

Around the back,
are pearls of blood,
gooseberries, prickly
in our fingers,
lie in buckets waiting
to be boiled, then sweetened.

Every minute
is light with expectancy,
as we sit outside

imagining  you walking
past the oaks, the two horses. 

Finally paused by gates,
ditches, you will turn back to us.