it’s dark & you are on your phone & i am crying in the driver’s seat


i say i’m fine but my voice sounds like
when a cat says a human word
alien moths. stump sunken
in moss. ruru calls me up
i watch the moon fracture
through the canopy. wet lumpen trees
runner up to the river’s hiss
i turn the light off
stand in the darkness
listen to the ruru call
listen to the stream bed being carved out
listen to the creaking of years

tantalising, suffused with night
a fuzzy brown koru unfurling
the river’s voice
tumbles from rock mouth
wet and waiting.
i thought i heard you speak
it was just the trees breathing
rain makes the long grass bend
i smoke from within

the dog lies on my feet at midnight
she curls in the L of my bent legs
she licks and swallows nothing, loudly
in the dark. a black possum is snared
beside the stump. two soft, sick thumps
it is pissing. more thumps
before it goes limp, arms outstretched
claws curling inwards. death is
demystified. a salted eel hangs
from the rafters. a spider swings
from a thread. i lie in the grass
watch the sky a great grey
blue underbelly


Elliot Harley McKenzie (they/them) is a queer pākehā poet living in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland. Other places they have been published include Starling, Tarot, Ōrongohau | Best New Zealand Poems and Sweet Mammalian.