issue 4

october 2016

issue 4 - october 2016

Grave - Rachael Elliott

how far did you dig?
how many colours 
did the dirt turn
until it finally went 
how hard did you tamp

and where is the whine
of the bullet that ended it?
where is the roar
of rain
on the hood of your blue coat


underground melody
muffled, woundless
it ended up dead anyway
didn’t it?


it escaped through the hole you made
but now you won’t find it
see, pigskins rot
and even though you hid it
the red dog will 

old bones don’t stay buried
there’s a kind of music to them
dormant frets
plucked from the dirt
will thrum
in your picking fingers
everything will sing
and everything will surface
by piece
by piece

Hedge (after Plath’s Elm) - Rachael Elliott

My grandfather winks and loses an eye
No one notices.

It rolls between my legs into the gutter
He reaches from his coffin with wet paper hands
begs me to take his death picture
no smiling

he flaps around my ankles
as I      

A sweater lies, panting
in my shadow
Coloured ladies flit to my shoulder
to dig their pincers in
pull my hair out
one strand at a time
to lacquer the ground

I stretch my fingers
stroke hot concrete
My limits burn, bleach yellow
You want me to keep them out
shriek when I keep them in
you cut me
down to a stump
and roots

A feathered whiteness shelters beneath me
They plant their futile children
in my softness
to rot
beneath their shells
for boys to fling
for cats crack

Inside me, an itch has made its home
It pecked itself
a splintered place to hide at night
I feel its fur turn
brush against me
the rhythmic thump
of its leg
keeps me awake 
I feel it gnawing at its edges
scuttling beneath my skin

I bloom
the itch eats me
the whiteness steals my colour
joins the other painted ladies
draped in my hair
children pick me
lick their hands
reach between my legs
for my Grandfather’s eye
eat it whole

Accounting - Rachael Elliott

first the great unpicking 
seams slit 
with the smallest 
curved blade you 
thread pulled through 
every pin hole 
picture frame 
until it makes a 
hot cord sound

and now, a reading: 
headline written in 
the slash 
of a night time cigarette 
thou shalt now 
push a lie 
push a lie 
push a lie, baby 
don’t you cry 
the answer is five:

insecure little toadlings to strip 
the paint back 
caustic nose aches 
melt lead paint (green) 
to find the wood 
but never, ever polish it 
it will never rain for 
dried up husk children 
unless couched in 

soon, reflections: 
my elbow is the corner of your eye 
my head, blackened to fit the definition 
of your constricted pupil 
nothing flows here 
we are weightless 
in plain packaging 
I will strip 
your accounting of me 
and leave it on the floor 
to polish it

Contributor's Note

Rachael has an MA in creative writing from the University of Waikato. She was Editor of Nexus Magazine (which received three Aotearoa Student Press Association awards) and she won the 2degrees Poetry Slam in 2014. Her work has appeared in Poetry NZ, 4th Floor and JAAM.


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