blackmail press 22
Seán McMahon
New Zealand

I am a Wellington archivist and poet. I’ve had a number of poems published down through the years. These poems are from an ongoing chapbook: `The Charivari Poets’.
in mem.

As the last sunrays of summer
fade from our skies a shadow
falls at my feet. Go now,
fly into that unseen world,
moonlight will guide us home.


Raumati coastline salty seashell breeze, eastwards
a rising sun on inland hills yellow rays, sandbank
herons take wing skimming tidal estuary streams.

Marine parkland the playground slides and swings,
weather unfolds origami alongside black and white
poles I watch village traffic slow to orange lanterns.

June morning beneath Japanese maples ice blossom
design upon lawns, poetic wonderland of children
writing winter haiku on frosted classroom windows.

The Thundercloud Girls

for weather vanes, Amelia & Clare

As Wellington storm clouds thunder over Brooklyn
Amelia and Clare race room to room opening doors
and unlatching windows. With each new rumble they
clap hands and dance before the lightening flashes.
We cower (parents) knowing better, burrow deeper
into lounge chairs and await darkness. Black-outs
lengthen as transistors report of power surges at
sub-stations, telegraph wires down. I shine a torch,
flick switches for lamps to glimmer on the Ridgeway.
Our daughters shriek down hallways, playing ghosts
they hover headless above living room stairs, their
heartbeats quickening with the electrification of light.

Bad Television

The suburban clouds and grey rain hills
are remote channels transmitting
television thoughts inside my head;
subliminal messages for daytime programming.
I tune in to a flickering reception: vertical lines
and horizontal bands, when I open my eyes
there’s a weather map of highs and lows;
today’s frequency is not normal, depression.

I Heard the News Today, oh Boy

About Aotearoa New Zealand, land of lonely roadside vigils for tourists
hitching up country with strangers, sightseers driving through native
reserves with locals, stabbed and abandoned along the scenic trail…

About close-knit families where crying babies are shaken, their tiny
bodies mottled with bruises, bones and brains bashed beneath a barrage
of adult fists, post-mortems revealing death by extreme violence…

About suburban graffiti-lands and alcohol fuelled street parties, drunken
bloody teenage punch-ups, turf wars with baseball bats and double-barrelled
shootings, the drive-by killers speeding to a soundtrack of gangsta rap…

About kidnapping and extortion on a foreign scale, bloodshed in hotel rooms,
ransom corpses folded as luggage into suitcases then cast adrift from harbour
piers, victims floating among weekend yachts and millionaire launches…

About unpaid debts needing settlement, deals gone wrong, mates butchering
off hands and severing fingerprint identity, the mutilated semi-clothed man
nearly beheaded then smuggled away at dusk to a popular fishing coastline…

About narcotics underworld of chemical labs manufacturing crack and P,
druggies staying high on a criminal addiction of daylight robberies, grievous
bodily assaults and execution of barmaids, shopkeepers and delivery boys…

About red-light districts, high-heeled sex life and fishnet stocking prostitutes,
whores paid for and pleasurably violated, baby dolls in miniskirts strangled,
their naked forms face down in rivers or exposed against vacant city sections…

About expelled pupils returning to terrorise schools, disaffected youth with
bad manners and foul language stalking new entrant teachers at their black-
boards, slain in the chalk dust another life taken for revenge or punishment…

About unsolved murders, dark secrets and brutal mysteries buried deep
in shallow graves; about mountains of pain, rivers of tears and souls full of
suffering; about all our anguished families grieving an unspeakable death.