blackmail press 32
tracey sullivan
New Zealand

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
tracey sullivan writes poetry. She is a New Zealander, currently in Singapore. She has poetry in the anthology Crest to Crest and in the literary journal 4th Floor.  She is not very brave. She is working on it.
and I am sorry

‘It’s so physical,’ you say.
But words are easy
trickling off your tongue
and I don’t hear you until later.

‘Days you cannot breathe,’
you say. Grey concrete
walls sandwich ribs
so they can’t expand
and the view’s all sideways.

Is there a moment
when you fall out of love?

Or do you one day see
tagged above a disused
retail space and take
it as suggestion?

that when the sparks float and
flare in front of your eyes
they singe someone’s hair
on the way down. 


New lovers
meet in a bookshop cafe.
They drink coffee,
talk, admire the
shiny space between
them - here to here -

If their knees touch
under the table,
it is a chance meeting
of old friends.

But they throw their eyes
around each other with abandon,
their lips move over the
intimate spaces of recollection,
and they lie panting
in the pool of public light. 

Singing Simon’s Song

You bring to mind
a man I didn’t know
in patchy sunlight,
on a mattress on the floor,
his voice much sweeter
than his life, much
sweeter than
his unintentions.

I tried awhile but
could not find
a route around
the squalor
of his mother’s love,
and how it left dark
rotting patches
on his heart.
Her gifts cast on
in sober moments
slid unconscious
from her needles
in a mangled and
cirrhotic stew there
on the floor.

You bring to mind
a man I didn’t know
and he was young and clever
and I broke his rotting heart. 

News from the Island.

I met the weaver today
scalloping burnished gold
onto tamed hanks of lacebark,
porous and sunbleached
tissue thin strips of lathed bone.
He was cold, the weaver,
but he talked sunnily enough
of commissions and
traditional uses for the bark
- bandages and summer cloaks -
as spring sun sparkled crisply
on the bay.
He gave me news of the cloak
I coveted
everyday last summer.
Visited. Lusted after. Loved.
I knew its rightful home
was here
on the too white walls
of the newly painted shack.
Black falls spiked with red
the wayward beauty
of a waterfall, or hair.
And then it was gone
- to Olive.
And my heart learns again
the consequence of uncertainty
the outcome of inaction
and the opposites of those. 


The white stone is also
lodged in my side.
A smooth pebble, it
carried more weight
than my word.
Discarded i am
(almost) sure, i
tease myself with its
antipodean presence
small and pure
which you ignore.

Perhaps in error, it is
kept. In a box somewhere,
or at the back of a drawer.
Its shadow self
punches above its
weight. Heavy.
Durable as the braided
rivers, present always
as the moon is,
tugging the sea to tides.