blackmail press 17
Michelle Arathimos
new zealand
The Man in the White Coat

The blue strip or the white line.  The blue strip or the white line.   Some minutes are long, they stretch out their fingers like someone trying to strangle you.  The blue strip, the white.  Wait three minutes.   Wait three minutes in the cold bathroom, on the floor, watch in hand.  Do not look at the blue strip.  Do not look.  Is there a shadow?  Is that the shadow of a line?  Do not look until it is certain, the clear blue strip or the white line.   Each is a doorway, each is a door your hand must open, your brown real human hand on the white plastic.  It's like a pen.   It's slim, clean, mechanical as a pen.  You put urine on it but it gives the impression, still, of being clean.  Efficiency.   A man in a white coat. Two minutes.  Do not look.  Is that a shadow? The pen is a man in a white coat who will tell you your future.   It, crying in the night.  Organic food.  Cutting down on coffee.  No smoking.   Weekends with the family.  Or the other, the metal, the cold slab and the stirrups.  There's stirrups either way, that way, the blue strip way.   Two and a half minutes.  The white line frees you.  The white line means more time.   Please, is there more time.  Two minutes fifty.  No, don't look.  Is that a shadow of the blue strip? The man in the white coat looks up at you. Your brown real hand.   Three minutes.


'& I said Candy, I said Honey, You aint gonna get nowhere with a no-good trash name like that, & I said come on Honey lets find you a name with class. I said Destiny, I said Lucille & Carmen & Jewel, you know, like the singer, & I said anything but take me & spank me & put me in the trash can Candy, & she said sister, I do believe I like Tamara.'

Where we should be

One imagines it should stream out like a scarf from here
It should stream out like a scarf, the view
Unfolding into all those delicate overlays
Of different thickened mist;

One imagines it should be glorious, the view, from here
It should roll out like a wreath of silk or ice
To slide on, up
Those velvet hills, that light

From here, the view is glorious, the day
Doesn't break too late or fast, the velvet hills
Racked up like a portrait of the hills, the
Thickened mist varying gently

From here, the hills should stream out like a scarf
A wreath of silken mist, from here
Never the dark dawn or the clouded bay
Never the scarf snagging or becoming lost

The view from here is glorious, that light
And we are never snagging or becoming dark
We are never clouded, at the bay
Behind those hills, the mist, that scarf;

Never lost or dark, those velvet hills,
Should stream out like a scarf, the view, from here.

Every Day
After James Brown's "Suburbs"

The orange street lights
light, soft in the sigh
between one blank page

and another, turning on
that engolded silent change
there, straight ahead

at the intersection
between your take on things
and mine

childhoods wrapped and warped
in one formica vision
or another

all of us stringing memories
like cowrie shells
at the beach

there, straight ahead
my house or yours

the one with the patio
and sun-trap extension
extensively mortgaged

a station wagon
in the driveway – oh, but
let's not speak of this;

the parents behind us
at the beach not talking

or how, though we try
our old formica tables
won't match up

oh, let's not speak of that
the street lights light
orange in the burbs
at the turning of the light

The Wave

The immutable dawning
slick, a ripe
fish awning in the yawl
and cusp and flap
of Sunday.

The slip and sigh
and canvass-eyed
yarn and thread, heading
up and always over away.

And Break.  And Break.
Sudden the bright crack
thunder the bridges
man the helm
heal the fish and
strike, quite swift,
like colored rain.  The red,
the dead.  It soothes her.

What else will she have?