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Michelle Guest
New Zealand

Michelle Guest is a creative writing student at Whitireia Polytechnic in Porirua, Wellington under the tutorage of Lynn Davidson. Before this course she was a high school teacher of English and Drama. Michelle was born and raised in Wellington.

Collections from Mother

The mug
my Mother gave me
has a 'C' on the side
like an ear.
If you hold it in your right hand
the 'C' is backwards
like dyslexia.

The mug
my Mother gave me
has a C on the side.
It is an ear.
It is dyslexic
When you hold it in your right hand.

I Can't Tell You The Name

His hair wafts out the window
his eyes are popped grapes
his teeth are screws and nails
and his eyebrows are paper cuts.
His shoulders are broken hands in boxing gloves
his throat is a metal recycling plant
his nipples are twisted sheets
and his walk is a packet of cigarettes.
His gaze is twenty years
his wink is a one off
his tongue is a rake for shells
and his words are scratched glass.
His job is a coin down the wishing well
his pillow is a firm handshake
his writing is chipped paint
and his house is the sky.

Her mouth is a desert
and her eyes are windmills
and her longing is a weed.

The Cat Collection

On the letter box
first day before school
I sat up like a
cat. You decided
to give me cat sets

and plates, linen, knacks
each birthday after
you gave another
cat. Ornamental
things. I placed in neat

sets. I cried when one
smashed, got another,
they never ended
an embarrassment
became like you. They

filled rooms. I hid things
I started hiding
squeezed into corners
where the cats were not.
They went in boxes

below us. Below
us were our secrets.

Hanging Moments

I wait for the next sequence
the brown curtains hang still
there are lounge people talking
a night plane snorts overhead.

The brown curtains hang still
I do not recollect tranquil moments
a night plane snorts overhead
a phone call may come through.

I do not recollect tranquil moments
books lie tired and smooth
a phone call may come through
the washing is done.

Books lie tired and smooth
I’m afraid I’ll be discovered here
the washing is done
voices switch in and out, off.

I’m afraid I’ll be discovered here
all vivid colours asleep
voices switch in and out, off
the room is shattering cold.

All vivid colours asleep
there are lounge people talking
the room is shattering cold
I wait for the next sequence.


Inside yellow, framed by night
volume up, kids tight asleep
outside is dark with woolly dogs
the carpet is mismatched but cosy.

Volume up, kids tight asleep
tales are high with fists and ghosts
the carpet is mismatched but cosy
his voice is loud and smudgy.

Tales are high with fists and ghosts
our eyes, watery pink cracks
his voice is loud and smudgy
our tongues are philosophers.

Our eyes, watery pink cracks
the card game in full swing
our tongues are philosophers
smoky bodies tip forward together.

The card game in full swing
her eyes roll and mouth clucks
smoky bodies tip forward together
clumsy boxers trip and lean.

Her eyes roll and mouth clucks
outside is dark with woolly dogs
clumsy boxers trip and lean
Inside yellow, framed by night.


resist tradition
iron but for small edges
a quivering egg


She woke to find small slashes of metal
racing across her flesh; a small iron
for a small touch that left her skin brittle.
Bled for a while, stifling the curtains drawn
and opens up to reveal the edges
of sun to tiptoe through and through. Her breath
glue, locked inside her heart, tears in cages
made from tiny metal abrasive teeth
All in rows, a military setting
where walked her feet swollen well, scorched by man.
She wanted no child and womb's bound fretting
throbbed through a vein before a thought foreran.

The forks, pots, spoons, sighed her lofty burden
as the chill weaved by domestic's canyon.


The pilot was aware
the sky gave way
no longer could she hold their footprints.

The air hosted parasites
with nits and bugs
that turned and writhed.

Grey faces, unblinking
short skirts, hitched up
into their underwear.

The luggage too
heavy to hold
left scrambled on the floor.

Thrown about wantonly, ruggedly
wings torn, cracked open
spilling liquids once healthy.

One passenger escaped
to grow a beard with
nits and bugs and died solemnly.

And before this all occurred
there were phone calls, farewells and tears
that should have been followed up by

phone calls, greetings and smiles
for the weary, the hardy
knee-stretching lot of them.

And before long
they had all frozen
in time
in place
arms crook'd
knees bent
plastered faces
with shoes and belts
flung far to front and back,
rocketed back to earth.

The Taxonomist

I never intended to name our children alphabetically
but it just happened.
The oldest: Amy
Second oldest: Bruce
Third oldest: Caroline
Youngest: Derek
I could have continued giving birth for E, F, G, H, I
I know you had your heart set on the name James.

Was it the teeth brushing that drove you away? The mantra
maxillary central incisor, lateral incisor, first premolar,
second premolar, first molar, second molar, third molar
recited morning and night
morning and night being two subtypes of supertype day
Like car of vehicle
Like daughter of
Like son of

Was it the toast dear?
It is mandatory
that each component
in the construction of toast
be separated into groups.
How can you possibly have
on the same shelf
as the

I work too long at the museum.but.
you see I could not finish for the day without completing
the list
the taxa (plural of the singular taxon, dear)

I must join another group
Classification of humans
Networking structure.
I register loneliness, longing
without you and the children.
I recognise comfort
I belong to an order
a family tree.