blackmail press 28
Philippa Tucker       
New Zealand

Kitchen - Charles Olsen
The Shift

the couches are elephant
grey and saggy
around their
leather buttons

they crowd the trailer
under their weight

the men huff the couches
pause their shoulders
lift and sag

the women chatter and
chase the vacuum hose
the leather furniture
the little boy
his purple ball

no-one sees
the little boy
his purple ball
from his hand
and him tossed
down the chipped
brick steps
behind it

a purple ball
charges now from
his trembling
forehead couch-grey
the men
and women

he lifts his mouth and waits
for the bellow
to fall

Little Blink

you drink in the light
see through the feathers
of your eyes
it spills

how certain the milk is
much you draw it
long into your suck
and your swallow I offer

for now I can satisfy
and you grow
your smile

Anniversary Weekend in Greytown

The place to be seen
is next door but I
can’t think of an opening
so I stand ’til my turn
arrives and ask for a copy
of their takeaway menu
then flee here instead.
All my lost subjects
are munching and slapping
their thighs with their
forks while ruminating on
their lunches and little
slurps of conversation
and I just can’t stomach
them after all.
This place is bone-empty
barren and I know
how it feels.
The waitresses are moving
from counter to table
with nothing but sugar.
They watch me watching
them and turn away
to swipe at some startled
table or chair.  The waitresses
are hot, or so they complain
to one another, mopping
listlessly as if to illustrate
the point. Someone zephyrs
through and the waitresses
wait politely until he
is gone before sending
their eyes to the ceiling
and saying God how could
anyone want takeout
coffee today? I sip my soy
hot chocolate and stay
invisible but to show that
I’m not listening I pick
up a magazine and comb
for a glimpse
of ex-husband.
The beautiful things shout
out at me, stark lines
and curves in all
the right places and my eyes
begin to throb. I wipe them
closed just as a man
walks in with his sons
and ex-husband is there
in all of their faces.

Philippa Tucker lives in Carterton with her husband and three young sons. Sometimes she takes a break from mothering with a little freelance editing.  She's been writing poetry forever, but this is her first time published.