blackmail press 18
Matt Harris
New Zealand

Matt Harris has been described by Witi Ihimaera as the Woody Allen of young New Zealand literature.  Stephanie Johnson has called his work ‘honest and erudite…with a wonderfully dry, ironic sense of humour…’  Matt’s poetry and short stories have appeared in literary journals and web-zines including Poetry NZ, Trout, Southern Ocean Review, Kokako, Blackmail Press, Stylus Poetry Journal, ToeTree Journal, Poetic Diversity and others.  Matt currently tutors Creative Writing at Massey University in Albany.

On dirty days like these
nobody smiles or nods
as they pass,
Those who brave
the pavements look
at their shoes. 
Eye-contact is dangerous,
you risk the transmission
of bad vibes.
It’s like something is out there,
something menacing. 

The owner of the
Good Morning Dairy
is aware of it – he keeps watch
to see if it kicks
over his sandwich board again.

And the girl with the black hair,
it touches her - fingers
the front of her skirt like
an overeager first date.

The man in the bus-stop
feels it too,
trying to steal
his umbrella.

I puff on my cigarette,
blow out,
and see no smoke,
and for a moment I think
I hear it following me,
but I turn around
and it’s only a leaf.

Second Person

You say you need to find yourself,
as if yourself is wandering
around out there somewhere,
which it is.

I suggest you stay at home for a
day or two,
because you occasionally
show up there to
use the mirror, or
take a hangover pill.

No point in
going out again tonight:
even if you are out there, you won’t
be able to recognise yourself
any more than you can
watch yourself blink, any more
than you can taste your own tongue.

And even if you can
find yourself, what will you do?
Look at yourself for a moment,
then pass by, whispering to
yourself in the second person?

As you can probably tell, I have
my doubts about your
chances.  But, please, if
you do round a corner somewhere
and see yourself standing there,
tap me on the shoulder.

Lulu and the Sky with Plastic Forks
(for Emma and Lu)

Playing with surnames,
puns from pop stars:
Kylie's Mynose and Britney's Ears

We wanted to complete the senses
but couldn't see a name with an eye

Sparrows on the picnic bench
eating fries from Lulu's hand.
I stuck the last crust of my BLT
with a plastic fork,
handed it to her: 'They should
learn to eat properly.'

So we gave them
a lesson in table-manners.

Then one evolutionarily-advanced
eyed up the bread
and ripped it away, fork-n'-all.

The sky was blue,
a very good colour for bird-watching
and even better for the watching of
flying forks.

blue / eyes / watching

Later it came to me:
My eye kill Jackson

We leave

like a point that
has nearly been made
but not quite / no matter:
like a sentence that trails off
with no need to be finished…