blackmail press 40
Paola Bilbrough
first published issue 3

The fecund people - Andy Leleisi'uao 2014
Paola Bilbrough was born on Waiheke Island in 1971. Her first book, "Bell Tongue" was published by Victoria University Press NZ in July 1999. An excerpt was republished as part of an American anthology entitled, "Wild Child: Girlhoods in the counter culture" (Seal Press). Her work has also appeared in various Antipodian journals including, Heat, Cordite, Westerly, Imago, Sport, and Landfall.

Two men.


He marvelled at her skin's softness.
Longing for another, she replied,
'there are thousands with soft skin.'
Nick was returning to Brisbane: warm sea and rain,
fruit heavy on the tress. No time for recompense.

His cousin, a gardener, was bearded,
sleepy-eyed, alert to his own beauty.
Two men sat on the sofa, ice-blue polish
on their toe nails, skin wine-flushed.
Everyone wanted a part in their silent dialogue.


The cousin, Darragh, lay in Nick's room
beneath a white sheet, the knowing calm
of a religious icon. Nick sat on the edge
of the bed, eyes huge, indigo and Darragh said
tell  me a story, you know I love stories.

She imagined his hands cupping heads of flowers.
A voice in her cried I can tell you stories
but she left without speaking, the two men outlined
behind orange rice paper.