blackmail press 16
Olivia Macassey
new zealand
Olivia Macassey was born in Aotearoa New Zealand in 1975. She spent her childhood on the Coromandel Peninsula and now lives in Auckland. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry New Zealand,  Brief, Magazine, Tongue in Your Ear, in student publications such as Craccum, and on the compilation CD Aural Ink. Her first book of poems, Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, was published by Titus in 2005.

Link: Olivia Macassy

the last best wishes I have left

It is as if he is a strange brindle dog
sidling about the outskirts  of their lives
- can I sleep on your couch
can I tell       lies to  you

Queen St McDonalds light, straggly and greenish
where he sat alone with a clump of roses
       crying.  Outside
it was day, and we told him it was day
all knowing soon he would smell like us; 
despair and seaweed soap.

An unfamiliar sound is all it takes
and your hands ache
with the need to   stroke him.
You all think he looks like you

There is an arch the face gathers from pure shock
an aching of top lip, that sends the blood
running prettily along its patterns

the wish: never to see such tears and sick-
ness on
your face again.  Not in such violent sun.
They don’t quite look
when you see the blankets
and the ashtray overflowing,
his blank eyes
staring past you the way the looking glass does

Our make up clung to
one another’s surfaces, our stories to one another’s lives.
We lay dreaming amidst mattresses,
watching the gentle unfolding of some great
papery beast over us

sensing the unraveling of faces in the dusk.

They hear that he is dying  of
  and they check their mirrors and their blood
       and they shudder

everyone wanted to have a name for him
they don’t let him tell them    anything but lies

all waiting for him to die before they  forgive.
The dogs that follow us

that follow us   home
were   never   really    lost

a note

This is not a story about love or sleeplessness
it is about the shadow on the almost white ceiling
that lies over you all night,
and the declining branches of the weeping
cherry once the flowers all have gone;
and empty egg cartons
and empty shells
and how you have bitten things out of your body.

Don’t worry, this is not
about love / death / love

but the grave blue outlines of islands,
and washing blood from elastane.
A movement, repeated; neither slow nor hurried,
but patient, don’t worry, don’t worry
don’t worry

I should have left when he did

We were at this bar when a stranger walked in
after a while he said, I shouldn’t be here
I fall in love at the drop
of a hat. Well so do I.
Next thing I knew, he’d walked out;
I should have left when he did.

It was raining so hard we couldn’t hear the tv
he said he was going home to go to sleep
later I realised he took twenty bucks from my purse
and his friend with the videos had hepatitis C
and a few other things, and a knife,
and I should have left when he did.

There was nothing on at the movies
except The Man in the Iron Mask.  We were air conditioned
and frightened then Leonardo di Caprio was on screen.
Shit he said. He jumped up and left.
Then Leonardo was playing two people.
Oh I really should have left when he did.

And its cold and I finished my coffee when he did;
we’re sitting in the dark and they’re talking about god.
Again. And its dawn later and your
hands are so freezing, and your mouth is so tempting
that I can’t think about leaving;
but I’m going to leave when he does.

let me die inside

if there was ever a letter she didn’t see it.
There was a woman across the road
who they could see through the louvre window  all day

and on her the bacteria bloomed
plating her arms, so that she scrubbed them raw
and her skin blossomed with the anemones of lebanon.

The ‘foreigners downstairs’ were singing without words
to the cheap bassless stereo
“if you really need me, just
reach out and touch me”

In the country of reminding
it is her ears that make her see she’s almost blind.
Laughter misses its step outside her gate.

Let me look inside your window
thursday, the thirty first of march:
“I miss you and would dearly love to see you again”
January the sixth.
“today I didn't think of you at all.
And it is only now, that this becomes a lie.”
Let me look inside your house, or touch your gate,
read the letters over.

Under the lemon tree before
dawn, her silhouette was sometimes visible as
a grey stain on the pale irregular lawn.  
Waiting, and for a letter that no one had promised to write.
It would have been easy to envy the neighbour woman’s
carefully tended garden of skin
or almost easy, and graceful under the morning stars.

She didn’t.

Which is closer, a postcard or a voice? The telephone
rang sullenly most afternoons
but it was no matter. The foreigners downstairs
were hanging their washing up with orange pegs.

Across  the road, the methodical shadow
moved  behind clean louvres of glass

reach out and touch me.

nine confessions of an emotional haemophiliac

The day I discovered your name
I lost my own
and stuck false eyelashes around the wound

sudden heavy footfalls:
am I not a man? If you cut me do I not bleed?

The second is that I am not lying  
most of the time when you think I am,
(frightening thought, isn’t it?)     I have been known
for some of these
impossible geese
and slow fox teeth

and the third is that doors can be closed.
Doors creak, but their locks are determined, their wood
will hurt your mouth and they will never acknowledge it.
I was spying on him he leaned against a door frame
(the right place during earthquakes), did not know
the implacable nature of the door, or
that I had been there for the better part of an hour
awash with watching, drowning in light.

The fourth is to do with the nature of holes in space,
the fragments of luminescence we think we see, the presences
and horrifying gravity of situated bodies.
How, for example, she thinks she knows what you’re
thinking by the  angle  of   your     foot. Or

where he has walked through a room you can see the heads

Fifth, the past isn’t what we think it is
even the ants I mentioned are dry inside their husks
time eaten into, like half time oranges
running the juice of seconds down your arm
and your digital silences echo the cold stillness of air.

do the geeeese sleep?
sharpening   my   teeth

Six. His body it was a machine
and his skin  was crying. He
played on the escalator all afternoon
he drank water from a paper cup and
watched the accidents at the spacies,
when you walked past he (wanted)
talked to you but you looked like you
were in a hurry. You were off to clean up blood.

My seventh is that from childhood and necessity,
I have been afraid
of being punctured.  You have been afraid
of other things (seven’s for a secret that’s never been told)
but not enough: the truth would be – if there was such a thing – that
there have been too many piercings and
woundings in back alleys and deserted playgrounds, that fear  
does not do its job
and no one is quite what they seem-they-should be.

11pm, asthmatic schoolgirls
burnt by fireworks and drunk on gin,
rolling in wet grass
in some prototype     sexuality;
1.30am biting the hand that feeds you,
and at noon asleep in the sun,
the whole white male body
is a riddle of holes today.

Eight: cut me and I will bleed, this I can assure you. For am I not a man,
         and determined, too, to get my pound of flesh?

And the ninth;
from within the house we know wind by the articulate movement
of the small kawakawa tree
and the conscience of the fern. From within wind
we know the overpass by its flattening of sound
the sudden stillness of our faces. But confessions
are flesh wounds. They tell you little
about the weapons.