the bleeding sky &
the boiling earth
the call from my dad i left to go to nothing
but a missed notification
all of my maaori and paakehaa friends
with knives in the backyard
killing rats and hedgehogs
to save a treasure we call birds
i come from a place long isolated from the rest of the world
where manu once flew free from predators 



i come from the place of galahs
at the crevice of three nations
a redgum sits by a riverbed
under the glow of a kookaburra dawn
pink as aphrodite's pearl
sharp as her spear
i hurtle into a past post-apocalyptic
a great great grandfather taken from among a massacre
tracking his way across land in hope of finding something
peace maybe
or some semblance of it


at easter i’d travel to my uncle’s pig farm
where he’d hand me a piglet and tell me
she’d be ripe enough to eat by my birthday
i carried her everywhere
everyday even when
my tiny arms ached under her weight
then i’d travel back
from country to coast
to the other half of myself that prefers saltwater over fresh
where the gut-wrenching sound of grief
feeds generations

the fight between thinking mammals
are cute and wanting them dead
my namesake being one of the americans
responsible for the mothers
& calves gone extinct

all singing their long songs in the sea
in the great grey body of the night
becoming corpses
manu & ika
o taane & hinemoana

are my ancestors looking on or
are their eyes holes
filled with cement chunks
they can’t scramble back to the northern most tip
too weighed down but what continues to go on
to their youngest kin

fuck i want
a taiaha for christmas
moko kauae for my birthday
one to fight with and the other to die
bury me and they’ll know my wahinetanga
by the stones on my fingers
& the mark on my chin
you don’t need no eyes to feel what is there


what’s there
inside your sandstone blocks
you classify my genealogy inside a petri dish
the measurements of my great grandmother’s skull inside a dusty blue book
her skeleton locked inside your glass closet
she begs you return her to country
she just wants to rest
she is so
so tired

you open the doors at nine a.m.
i pay the entry fee


there is one side of my ancestral mountain
that is free to climb
and i’ve winded myself uphill often enough
trying to monitor the rats that have snuck
through ‘pest-proof’ fences
costs $26 to visit one of my oldest ancestors
on their best side (the taane side or the wahine side?)
and upwards of $300 to hang out with them
and a dozen paakehaa tourists at night

i hope the money goes where it is needed
but i’m a cast off seed of maungatautari
so what do i care
asking questions like can i come back here?
can i come back here and call this home?



i learned every name for shark in my grandfathers language
the ancestor i meet far from home
at the bend of the maiwar where mangroves once grew
who watches me slink into rivers&
nestle inside his shaggy beard

in dreaming
guyiwan&i swim along coast
watch gaan
steal the rudder off a wealthy man’s yacht
we know the currents that run up this coast
know where the water once touched
this place&mine
we swim until we reach home again
i haven’t been back here
since timebefore
maybe longer

duraagal sees me arrive as dusk swallows the land
they snatch me by my ankles
drag me back
to a place that feels more like home than home does
or maybe i’ve mistaken familiarity
with comfort
is it foolish to pursue an origin story
when you begin&end in creation
when creation is a type of metaphor
a shark being pulled back then sinking in the deep
her pup resting in the shallows



when the metaphor is a big fish
did it ever start off small

the land moving like a great beast out of the sea

but i’ve seen the hook and been close enough to the mouth
to risk being swallowed whole or was i praying to be swallowed whole
living out my entire natural lifespan on the long journey to the gut
or just staying at home in my cold flat
where the baby got sick more than it didn’t
and i never went out cos i didn’t have any money to spend on a life
my brand of poetry is packed-suitcase-ready-to-leave-rattling-metal-bed-frame depression  



my brand of poetry is fishmongering
selling you the finest cut of whales-as-metaphor
filleting you an allegory
did you hear about the big fish revolution?
we’re diving deeper into the ocean now
further than the hadal zone
where a slew of marine creatures hungrily lurk
giant sharp-toothed matryoshka dolls
go deeper still
through water and thirst
back to when this all began
so the orcas can sink your boats too
back to when sovereignty had no name
it just was
where country spoke for itself
hanson getting stuck on sacred rocks
rivers swallowing those who built their lives on the flood plain
emus rising up to fight on the frontier

the animals here might kill you
but what did you do to provoke them?


hinemoana just taking matters into their own hands
capsizing capitalists
dragging rich pricks’ mansions off the edges of cliffs
the double spiral meeting the sea

maaori tradition says fish
greek tradition says mammal
which side of history do you want to be on

which side am i on

thinking back through the men of my line
from my absent matua
to his abusive one
a family cleaved to gristle
over land claims 

i’m still asking the question;
why did we leave our maunga in the first place
why did i fight so hard to change my name to that
of a whale killer


a broken shard on stolen land
slice your finger on my 234 years of bad luck i am
a foil for the white gaze white gays white glazed over eyes
sitting by the maiwar a white-jesus westender tells me about his
wattleseed-infused lemon myrtle iced coffee
so i buy a cappuccino with cows milk
even though i’m lactose intolerant 

is this decolonising my bussy?
or doing exactly what the colony expects of me? 

sitting by the maiwar i think of all the water within me
the winding path of the wambuul that also cuts towns in two
the banks of awaba where i first learned to swim
the barr that crosses ancient treaty lines
when i catch my reflection
can i stomach what’s looking back?



recently my puku has started revolting
any time i overeat
it forces whatever excess back up
leaves me with a nice watery eye look
which i admire in our floor-length mirror
my partner&i bought to pretend neither of us
have body issues
look at how the dress swishes
how could i possibly be sick
in such hot hot red 



my mirrors are covered
by silk scarves my friends brought back from their trips across asia
my favourite has a woman dripping in blood
sat between two egrets
an embodiment of my sun sign
she is
i am
caught between two realities
a powerful&bloodied woman
a bodiless creature not to be perceived



i live in a place that only has roads to the sea
i was born in a place that only has roads to the sea
the same place that has a river run through it
has a river cut a city in two
or a city that decided a binary was the best way to organise
which side of the river do you want to live on
tauranga-moana or whaingaroa
are places next to the sea
one i grew up in
the other i once pretended to
for a collaborative poetry zine about raglan
i remember a photo of hot chips at the wharf
of toe toe pulling the fluff to airborne spread
burning feet in the black sand
rushing into foamy waves of make-believe

i want to be krill and inhaled wholly
so the helplessness can stop so the
the drumming in the ears can stop



i woke up today not wanting to die
but not wanting to be here either
a type of weltschmerz
where the world is me and
an empty bucket of kfc i’ll likely throw back up
four walls draw slowly in
like that trash compactor scene in star wars
only i never call for help

anxiety leaves me
the tighter the squeeze

growing up i would only cry in the polluted lake i lived by
i found comfort in the push&pull of the water wrapping itself around me
saltwater streaming
from me into the currents that led to the ocean
saltwater dreaming
i wouldn’t have to return home
where i was both too much
and not enough
as if i wasn’t already aware
i’m a huge pill to swallow



have i taken my pills
quarter the t-blockers with shaking fingers
have i taken them or was that yesterday?
stumbling over the pages of a calendar
do i need to go to the pharmacy today?
a two minute walk but leaving the house
can be so difficult
such small decisions
ramping up to that big dramatic
to be or not to be
that hamlet didn’t even earn
subversive painting of ophelia as trans woman
as maaori trans woman drowning in the waikato
subversive cos she’s going under
get it?



a woman is beautiful
only if she is young and dead
a corpse floating in an abyss
is this fear and self-loathing in elizabethan england
maybe beauty standards aren’t so hard to achieve
i sit on the other side of the house
planning my breakup with a boy who said he wanted to marry me
my heart too sour to enjoy a moment of sweet
but the hero doesn’t save herself in this one
she is too pretty
too dead



i sit on the other side of the ocean to my hoa takataapui
who grew up in a city of angels on the back of a gigantic turtle
gathered shrapnel of all kinds in ancestral bones
my bitter heart has fallen across a great expanse
wanting to travel back in time and save everyone i love
from the traumas that still live in their bodies
it’s enough to make you want to stop death entirely
like in that one batman comic
where it all goes wrong
the corpses piling up into life
but at least you don’t have to unfriend them on facebook
cos they overdosed one night and ain’t coming back
and avoiding the funeral cos her brother only knew her as a man
it’s enough to make you laugh until you’re crying and pissing
down the stream



my forever mood is horny-sad
chasing any hit of dopamine
i am deadly in every sense of the word
especially to myself
venus married to forge and fire
wanting to burn hotter still
burn until her magma oceans boil
until she becomes uninhabitable
unlike frank o’hara i prefer art over real life men
give me a botticelli and i will get myself to orgasm
just so i can cry after
give me some of that oxytocin
maybe then i’ll parse love like a familiar tongue
i cannot understand joy
without a little pain
or a lot
maybe a sprinkle on my cornflakes
as a treat



just cumming into the toilet bowl
riding hormones that fluctuate an amount
but not enough to disappear
whatever it is that comes out
is everyone else coming out
to their families at the same time in the same way
it’s always so
so fucking repetitious
my uncle staring at me all christmas day
and not saying a word because the boy he thought
he knew i had taken out the back
and shot in the head
or maybe he couldn’t control his thoughts
seeing me in a dress
always commenting on the ways i would learn
to appreciate my cousins’ bodies
but the jokes on him
my first sexual experience was with my brother
and it fucking sucked

but i’m still waaay into people touching my arse
i want my love across the sea to fly back to me
and finger my prostate
(all nails can be lesbian nails if your try hard enough)
and once i’m done she can leave me with
a whakataukii i don’t understand or
whole beautiful sentences in a language
my ancestors had beaten out of them
and i have not regained



i emphasise the first syllable
twist my tongue around a pointed vowel my grandmother would have spoken
centuries ago
the words taste as foreign as her touch
feel as empty as my father’s gaze
our eyes echoing the sunlight that filters through the tree line
hints of gold in earthy brown
i wonder how i’ll communicate with my ancestors
when i follow them into the dreaming
i wonder if my dictionaries will survive the trip

i stutter in my native languages
just as much as i stutter in english
i hear my speech therapist tell me to speak slower
speak in a wispy voice that makes me sound sweet and demure
but i haven’t been either since before i could talk
if i had a coin for every time a boomer asked if i’ve seen the king’s speech
i’d have enough money to buy my land back
as if a movie is enough to make me fluent
as if every millennial with daddy issues
doesn’t have colin firth’s entire fucking filmography memorised



i want to scream at my father for making shit difficult
but the gaps he left in my life
are maybe holes made for me
to fill with something worth
fighting for

like when i put the popcorn in our too-small microwave
and i managed to avoid burning even one kernel
hell fucking yeah
i repeat until i fall asleep
hell fucking yeah
hell fucking yeah



it’s all fun and games until the group chat goes quiet
and you’re left alone in the dark expanse of your living room
having forgotten what living actually looks like
one hand hovering over the bluelight hellscape
anticipating a notification you’re never going to receive
the other down your top
cupping your left tit pretending
it’s the warm embrace of the lover you forgot to call back
for the third time this week
it’ll be funny in the morning
when dawn bathes regret in a pink-yellow glow
and you are made to exist as other adults do
in the liminal space between two breaths
it’ll be funny in the morning
when you remember what laughter tastes like
pop rocks against the roof of your mouth
an ice cube melting on her scarlet tongue
it’ll be funny in the morning
when you roll into the cold space beside yourself

one hand still fondling a breast



an absent finger checking to see how much
they’ve grown
these itty bitties
oestrogen is stored in the balls
and in the patch at my side
my partner laughs at me
going through puberty 2.0
at the age of fucking 30
i am later than most
and far earlier than others
think of one of my closest friend’s koro
or kui?
could only start wearing dresses when
their wife died
i used to be so scared that everyone i love
would leave me as i grew into
my sweet baphomet transition goals
broad shoulders and tits of a devil
(where do i get the horns the wings
the hooves from?)
black phillip asking in his most satanic voice
wouldst thou like to live deliciously?
how delicious do i think my life deserves to be
how delicious can we make it in this space
in between boiling sky & bleeding earth
two bodies that miss fucking each other so much
they are responsible for everything