blackmail press 25
Lynn Davidson
New Zealand

cast down - mephisto jones
Lynn Davidson is the author of three collections of poetry, Tender, Mary Shelley’s Window, and How to live by the sea, and a novel, Ghost Net. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Sport, Landfall, Turbine and The Red Wheelbarrow. In 2003 she was awarded the Louis Johnson Writer’s Bursary. Lynn tutors on the Whitireia Creative Writing programme

I am strangely deaf
to the scuttles and shifting of the classroom.
The hat, Dunce, black on white
pulls in the tips of my ears.

It crushes my hair.
Cardboard brackets my temples
rubs and hisses when I move.

Light comes through the window in waves
like pages.
Page after page.
My still self,
the one strange letter.

I don’t know how to act,
how to pull this off.


I jump away.
A collection of bone-hard legs
the flint of iron hooves.


My name is now the measure of paper
the fool’s head and cap
the floppy points, the bells -
a watermark.

I dip my name in ancient ink.
A well, a shade.

I fold a page five times
and hide it in my sleeve.

I am delivered by carriage
to a desperate lover

I flap in the hand
of the girl outside the café

I rest in a lap lapped by snow

I sit inside a prayerbook
between chapters

I am in the jacket pocket
of the best man

I am eaten by the liar

My name is the measure of paper.

I wear it.
Believe me.

This is where I set the bar
and this is how I rise.

Warning to self

Come inside.
Come in off the rocks.

Look at you -
arms like lengths of kelp,
that awful skirt  –
hanks of Neptune’s necklace
its black poppers
like dud Christmas lights.

Soon fish will negotiate you
like a reef.

You child
not feeling the dark
or the quickening cold.

Come in off the rocks.
Come inside