blackmail press 39
Sandi Sartorelli
Cook Islands

Four Steps To Standing on a Horse - Penny Howard - 2014
Sandi Sartorelli is currently living in the Cook Islands. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as 4th Floor, Blackmail Press, JAAM, Snorkel and Takahē.

Lawn stories

Net curtains floating on wind
catch the back of my chair.
The window draws me through
to a welcoming lawn.

You’ve heard stories like this before. It’s about a girl
you hardly notice. Pakeha, Irish hair, nice family.
Sandra is six. She knows how to follow rules. 

I have always wanted to fly
without the enclosure of aeroplane.
Sometimes, if I flap my arms extra hard
I hover over thousands of blades.

‘The trees on the other side of the path
are out of bounds,’ says Mrs Rope. ‘One day
a child will be impaled by a falling branch.’

I wouldn’t lie, not to you
unlike the mound of sand by the steps.
The grass outside my window booms
louder than ocean. It’s an invitation.
The children go close to the path, careful not to touch.
Boys grasp girls by their ankles and drag them across the field
to safety, except for Sandra, her legs lifted, waiting. 

Red ants are unfriendly, they bite.
I would rather talk about chickens, the palms
and water tank, an occasional dog and washing line,
my sun lounger and the big-leaf trees out back

She runs all the way over the field
spins past the boys, lines up for hopscotch as if
she had been ferried across like the other girls

who call me to join them in the sunlight,
to throw the names away and sail the yard.
They wave. I am forty-nine and I fly
over lawn, way far out across the Pacific.

Timeless echoes of Ishtar

She is light at new moon
the twinkle twinkle
she is every pitch of voice
my rye toast crust
a woman beside me on the train
lashing eel velvet lashing eel
a lion jeweled with scars she is
the one who cares enough to roar
my Ishtar is relief in laughter
she is the fire I will not slake
a falcon soaring over highway
she is bird of paradise in flower
oh yes breath of fennel
she is coast beyond my reef
she is earth to lightning
echoed earth to lightning

A toast to her starlight voice
with a lash of lion raise your glass
to the eel in the picture
roar like fired velvet
her Ford Falcon on the flyover
twinkling in the distance
paradise in flower
a breath of fennel coast beyond
earth to lightning echoed
earth to lightning

You are
you are

you are

Near or far I know you

How to wish on a starfruit

Take the astral body in your hand,
slice a pentacle from both polar regions.
Count the spines, all five, and trace
your knife along each length. Be tender
with the blade and tight. Leave intact
as much soft tissue as you can.
Skim the surface of the inner ridges
until you have removed all trace of skin.
Cut. Divide the succulence of the fruit
in five uneven segments. The longest
contain seeds you must remove.
Lay a star-leg on your tongue, hold it –

make a wish. Taste flesh and rock
rock rock into the night sky.

0800 hot dreams

My dear friend, I am longing
to meet you. Your friend says you want
for a hot woman to answer the dreams.
I am this woman. I am cheerful
and friendly. I am hot for you,
I am warm to fill your coffee cup
with good times. I will light your bed
with loving. I claim you with kisses
and pleasant skin. I am the honest woman
with a demure waist and willing hands.
I am looking for a man who is not afraid
to cuddle with animals. I cook you dinner
and build things. I like to go for nature walks
to the moon and back. I am very trim.
You will be fit too when you marry with me.
Give me a call dear. I am wearing
a red bikini and smiling to you.

Dawn of the moon

Lift the lid of your coffin, rise and emerge.
Don’t lie in your silks like a wilted flower.
Wake, wake. Your fears have no air to breathe.
Take your pyjamas off and throw them away.

Wear leather and scarlet instead, wear moonstone
wear perfume that smells like the sea
of inhabited graves, wear the feather 
a grackle dropped on your headstone. Think

of your mom, her smile, her veins. Ah, memories
that tease your hunger. Sleepyhead, you’ll be okay  
when you take a drink. Nobody knows you
and what if they did? You are free

to the night, to laughter, to sing your mother’s blood
her bones, to return to soil, to endure, to endure.