S  e  c  r  e  t  s    blackmail press 24
Michael Steven
New Zealand

Michael Steven is author of the chapbooks, Homage to Robert Creeley, and Centreville Springs. He lives in Auckland.
Centreville Springs

We gasp like asthmatics
behind our gaffer tape smiles,
hog-tied to the rusted chair legs.
When the make-up artist begins to staple 
the finishing touches to our death masks,
the whole house begins to shudder.
We are sinking deeper into the sterile
currents of a recurring dream
where the dance is banned: nostalgia, fatal.
Where the moon rising above
its stone cosmology, is not the yellow
of a jaundiced eye, and gravediggers
dressed in camouflage rainwear,
lament our better intentions to the stars―
rattling their cans of spray paint,
while our burial plots are marked.

The Animation of Stoves


Tables fixed beneath a dark arbour.
It was always going to be spring.
A waiter arrived, leaving empty spaces,
on the way to fill other distractions.
Candles gulped at awkward intervals,
their small flames needling the air.


Surely, it wasn't music, or the muscatel,
leading us back to our latest losses,
the prank callers we would never trace;
a cat asleep on its bed of warm stone—
the law we broke before the rain began.
           It was autumn, when we surfaced again―
wearing the past across our faces,
while its dull weight hung to our bodies.