S  e  c  r  e  t  s    blackmail press 24
Martha Morseth 
New Zealand

Martha Morseth is a Dunedin poet whose work has been in both literary and popular magazines and in ezines and anthologies. Her first collection of poetry is, "Staying Inside the Lines". She also writes teenage fiction.


The man, first son of the woman
not the one in the shoe with too many children
but the one with too many cumbrous possessions
that soon must fit
into a retirement facility
its full-coloured glossy semblance
hiding in his pocket:

Grey-haired residents looking no older than fifty
laugh around a table, sing on chartered buses
entertain fellow hysterics
in designer apartments
watch the ocean
always rolling towards them.
Their glassed-in high-rise balconies
protecting against salt-sea, escape
and accidental suicide.
The man---CouncillorRotarianGreatUncle
uneasy on an antique dining chair
surveys his family
sighs affection and resignation,
reaches to tickle his three-year-old niece
until she squeals Don’t
then says

This man, eldest male, who pleaded not
to be the one
fingers the paper-slick future his mother will reject
and wonders which of his children
far in the future, of course
which one will deliver the kiss of brochures,
which others will do unto him as they…

Easter is soon enough
the man decides.

Secrets, once given
with open palm,
can’t be gathered back
like windfall fruit,
Adam’s apples
with invisible worms.

Rumours flung
by fingers,
fingers become
small snakes
twisting through
each other.

Hands of betrayal
feign innocence,
wrap themselves
around small children
or clutch together
as if in prayer.