blackmail press 33
Michelle Elvy
New Zealand

Tui Taonga 1-5 Penny Howard
Michelle Elvy lives and writes and edits in Northland. Her poetry and prose can be found in print and online journals including Poets & Artists, OCHO, Room, Metazen, BluePrint Review, Words With JAM and Ramshackle Review. She is the founding editor of Flash Frontier: An Adventure in Short Fiction and she also edits at Blue Five Notebook and A Baker’s Dozen. She is currently working on a collection of very short stories set in historical New Zealand, thanks to a 2012 NZSA Auckland Museum research grant. You can find Michelle most days at Glow Worm.


Here, you say, take it
even as the wind
whirls it away
I clench my fingers closed
roll the dandelion in
and hold you here

Mama, you say
I open my fingers
roll them out
                    toward you
and we watch the dandelion
whisper away
You place your hand in mine
your monkey grin your lion mane
flying in the wind

A fistful of love
here in my hand
enough for a lifetime
here in the palm of my hand


Old ornery , we call her,
crazy, possessed,
wild orange hair and wandering eye
Lives in the old wood shack, we guess
she must’ve been there

We play who could look the longest
without blinking,
coming home from school
most days I wind up flinching
and Warren wins

But today I fall on the pavement
scrape my knee,
Hurry! Get home! Hurry!
salty tears, muddy hands, scared skinny me
hobbling past her shack

But wait! She’s waving now,
evil eye glowing, frank and knowing
Boy, where you going with that knee?
I want to hide as she beckons me inside
feel fear growing but her eye don’t move

Mothball house, bandaged knee and
not a word spoken.  She cuts watermelon
into small triangles and does not scold me
when the juice drips past my elbows , down, down,
pooling on her polished wooden table,
not once

Growing Up

Eat the whole apple
to the core
even past it,
seeds and all…
You’ll live forever, said Grandpa Ben
And I believed him when
I was ten

He was living proof  --
ate his apples to the core
and died when he was
I recall a lifetime of useful truths

chocolate is great but sex is better
Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain will change your life


Your girl is always the best

So we ate our apples with great care,
my brother and me. But last year
he died at thirty-three, a bitter rotten
thing to swallow. And I wonder:
Grandpa maybe was a liar
after all

But I pour a whisky for my girl and me
on a midnight porch with nothing but fireflies
and the mournful meanderings of Miles
Davis.  And I know now, Grandpa Ben
didn’t lie, he just got the one
about apples wrong.