blackmail press 32
B.R Dionysius

Moka's Utu - Penny Howard
B. R. Dionysius was founding Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival.
He won the 2009 Max Harris Poetry Award. A chapbook, The Negativity Bin was published by PressPress in 2010. His latest chapbook, The Curious Noise of History was released by Picaro Press in 2011. He lives in Ipswich, Queensland where he teaches English and writes sonnets.

Giant Moa
Dinornis novaezealandiae.

Hardly surprising from a country that led the world
In gender reform, women’s voting rights & bi-cultural
Cooperation, that our secret would finally be prised out
By your incessant & racy experimenting. Molecular sexing
Put the record straight, we wore the pants in our relationship
With males emasculated kiwi-style, they nursed eggs all day
While we engaged in all sorts of wicked behaviour - stone
Swallowing tricks, bush stripping, once were winged, but gave
That away, an annoyance like an undersized husband, besides
We enjoyed the sex imbalance & ruled the roost. We caught
A whiff of you couldn’t miss your bipedal motions. Your gut
& art worked against us, eggs served both purposes, decorative
& delicious you impinged on our marital status. Made us widows
& finally old maids. Our hubbies after all were loyal sitting ducks.

Haast's Eagle
Harpagornis moorei

The land of the long white cloud was ruled by birds.
For centuries we had air superiority, our nose dives
Shattered moa pelvis, broke feathered neck-chains.
Super heavy weights of cold, southern cartography.
Pursuits were no problem, our shortened Corsair
Wings made us forest maneuverable, the flightless
Grazers died feeding our taloned homogeneity.
World’s fastest weight gain - we grew Roc sized.
We’ve always known that speed kills, didn’t you?
Then you came out of nowhere, your surface to
Surface missiles more efficient; hard to pull out
Of those terminal descents. In your position we
Would have feared too, our bipedal assault broke
Down: you ate our ammo & our weapons jammed.

Stellar’s Sea Cow

A throwback mermaid we must have appeared
To Stellar & his shipwrecked friends, ‘Sirenia’
They ordered us, part-anatomical, part-classical
Mistake. At least they got the cow part right, our
Meat tasted like beef, so they said, our fat fed oil
Lamps stopped the darkness spread. Stellar escaped
His wintry death, but our skins formed a chrysalis 
Over boat frames & boots: so clever & industrious. 
Our fame grew franchise like - a fast food chain
Mentality took hold of sailors & edible men, who
Hunted for the perfect burger, shop Bering Strait.
The finale came in 1768, Sauer’s journal records
The speed of our descent; your competitive streak,
How it took 27 years to eat us, beginning to end.

Stephen’s Island Wren

Had two things going against us, small & flightless.
You didn’t even notice we existed; love struck with
Your own ingenuity, a lighthouse raised brick by brick
To save your own kind from wrack. What about us?
Again you acted after it was too late, the Keeper’s cat
Discovered us & out of love for you deposited what
Was left of our breed on your worn welcome mat.
A species clearance sale & poachers hocked the rest,
Zoos tried to save us but…at least you gave us a time
& place of death. Would a super-size have helped us?
Moa-inspired, careening through fern? Probably not.
This sea change would’ve finished us off quicker. Size
Doesn’t matter in the extinction game, rules subjective.
No level playing field in an expanded competition.

Tasmanian Tiger
Thylacinus cynocephalus

Outlawed, we were exterminated by far
Greater powers, economies killed us, small
Isle madness set in. Our stripes tricked your
Post-colonial angst & you wanted our hides
For that? 80 years of bounties fixed our race.
Zoos jumped in but it was that old adage; too
Little, too late. You stuck us on a beer label;
Drink from hindsight & you’ll all be extinct.
Though, we might prove Mr Gould incorrect.
Eventually you’ll revive our genes: play God.
Grow us again in your glass pouches. We’ll
Do the same old thing naturally, so don’t leave
Your sheep lying about. The only question is,
What will you do, given our second coming?