blackmail press 33
Makyla Curtis
New Zealand

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Makyla Curtis is one of the Potroast editors, one of the original Metonymy team, and editor of the now out of print Deformed Paper. She has recently returned to Auckland from a long stint in Scotland and is glad to be back.


Your Beach

I'm at your beach again.
You haven't brought me here in years.
Not since you needed someone to sit beside you
as a comparison.
It is not a fair headed beach:
the public loos are
and have long
soaked in the smell;
it parades
along the coast.
Your town is a small town
with its back to the sea
and the skate park
the playground
and me.

This is where
fireworks skid
along the sea; where they are lit
pointing along the curve
of the bay.

Has this beach
always been so dirty?
Was it dirty when you were here with me?

You were sun kissed and preoccupied
warm thighs
and fashion conscious, I did not
reach your pubescent
until we had long stopped
coming here

We had been just young enough
to take a bath

You accused me of
adolescent heresy;
you picked up on things
that weren't there
to explain the things that were
but I didn't notice yet
how beautiful you seemed to me.

I'm at your beach again.
I'm pleased we stopped coming
when we did.


The dance falls out.
Tree limbs all waving
beneath the sea.

Underneath the
is a train
brought up from the floor
discarded in the station.

It stopped moving
long ago.

The story faltered
and the tracks broke.

It fell away from me
I was alone
without it

sweet farce of me

the train
lost footing -

it went off the radar

and now here
it has returned.

I don't know what to do with it.


There are no photos of when we were together.
Just before – photos you showed me
of your youth, which I look at now and see
not my lover
but a child. And then there are photos of you now – electronic –
you smile
in all of them,
filtered for the public.
But there are no photos of the you
I remember.

Beneath the city

The seagulls call over the city. I cannot see, nor hear, the sea.
It began to snow last Tuesday
whipping sleet, a whirling wind slick as ice.
I’ve constructed a pair of headphones
to play music in one ear, the dictaphone recordings
in the other.

The bus station is awash with late travellers,
the sky is grey and the walls are dull. This is
layers upon layers of paint
undone, redone; the city is still beneath the wind.

I cannot bring myself to tie the knot between these;
the string flays aloft.

Their eyes walk inside the paving stones
Canongate has become too familiar
I have fingered the pages of Gray
and I place his stories inside this town;
sometimes I believe I have seen one of his characters
pass me by.

Beneath my feet the earth is calling, it vibrates
through the very core of the city,
through the stone vaults beneath, the walls upon walls
there is a whispering here
it is cold, lonely, half forgotten, but it resides still in every stone,
in every crevice. The city speaks

and as a tourist it is despondent to my cognisance.


In the thick of it, where it fell in sheets, the white froth of the land sits in perfect mounds. The hills and cliffs have a dusting, their undersides still flecked with the blackness of their skin. The gardens and playing fields are untouched perfection, a crisp white out, clear up, clean out. The nudist trees adorn white coats; the houses are dressed in royal icing, a thick slab of marzipan curled over the roof. But cities, so full of feet and wheels dredge the hidden from the bottom, wrench the under layer to the top, churn and blacken the unassuming white flakes. The sun polishes it, the night hardens it and the morning is an obstacle in the cold.