blackmail press 37
Wes Lee
New Zealand

Wes Lee is a poet & short fiction writer based in Wellington. She was the 2010 recipient of The BNZ Katherine Mansfield Literary Award. Her writing has recently appeared in Poetry London, Riptide, Magma, Landfall, Westerly, New Writing Dundee, Going Down Swinging, Hue & Cry, Verandah, and Aesthetica Magazine's Creative Writing Annual 2014. Her collection of short stories ‘Cowboy Genes’ was published by Grist Books at The University of Huddersfield, and launched at The Huddersfield Literature Festival in March 2014. More information can be found at her website:


Does anyone ever really belong
to a city. Contemptuous city, whose autumn grey banks
seem to push away, whose river runs slowly
seems to say, you are lost
threatens to swell
and deliver some promise of tumbled limb
and Guernica eye, its lightbulb always on
even in the dark there is someone

On ‘The Rape’ by Rene Magritte
Le Voil, 1935

How perfect is ‘The Rape’,
Magritte’s hirsute body of a woman
parading as her face
she has no eyes nor mouth
just triangle and breast on a long swan neck
the hair, springy and styled
has the look of a wig.

The city from the air …

reveals its graveyard at the edge.
A quiet tract dotted with monuments.

If she stood there
the long shadows of de Chirico
would come to touch her.

Rothko’s Black

In your kitchen at 67
when love has left
with all your yellows.

Thin oils applied,
this black gestation
to birth a dead child.

for Bobby Sands
After ‘Hunger’ by Steve McQueen

The body is urine poured through a door
pooling in their corridors
the body is the last resort
the body is cac covered walls.
Take this thing they cannot take, this mucus, vomit
sunflowers painted cracked beneath your fingers
cover yourself until you are a dark forest
until you are dark and dark with it
until you are only eyeholes.

Mere & Child - Penny Howard