red like dorothy’s slippers they glimmer in the rusty needles.
the pines drunkenly
as we dismount our bikes & pluck
from between their toes
such red, such white-spotted treasures.
your blue daypack b m s as we ride
it begins bulGING half-way you grin &
i can see you!
i am a practiced forager. i know to look
for the pine needle humps where they might be ((((( hiding ))))).
i feel like a Good Child when we eat the ham sandwiches you made,
sitting in a world the pines have digested
all sound muffled, all light dappled.
you will take our harvest & leave them on paper towels
on the speckled porch, i will t p-t e around them
as they eat sun & slowly shrivel
until the ruby becomes
the colour of dried blood on sheets.
i won’t see them for a while.
until one day i will find them
in your eyes;
the pupil having c o n s u m e d
the parts of you
i always thought i knew.
the azure spring sky, tight like a drum
stretches over my tiny world
& the sun-dappled shadows on the fresh-cut lawn
& the still-too-cold sea
i keep this bright blue sky;
i lay it on my duvet, smoothing each crease,
i hang it in my closet beside drying flowers
& save it for later.
it promises rolling summer,
where we will be creatures again,
after a hibernation of several years,
& the sun will scorch us for the hubris
of being bodies underneath it.
it didn’t used to be this way—
either it’s grown angry
or our skin has thinned
& what else?
the other stars up there aren’t lonely,
they hunt in packs,
herd animals chasing ghosts across space
they let us watch—watch back.
in their violent retinas,
exploding beautifully & for fun—
how they laugh & laugh.
our star is a giant eye
which is why
we can’t hold its gaze without being scorched
which is why
we are so dependent on it
as if behind the corona cornea
is a huge, hot brain—thinking—
our moon is no eye & is so confused
about what she’s doing tonight—
too many rituals clamour for her attention,
& centuries of lovers mope in her direction
& she doesn’t know what she’s supposed to mean, right now,
or any other night.
the sky shows nothing without interrogation,
but reveals so much, looking to it, about us;
what we see up there
boiling like a volcano
FUCK you & you in particular
i can hear you all chew
& your HORRIBLE digestive tracts
we are meat sacks
stinking through, hot bodies
NO ONE understands
how close i am to bursting
like BIG fucking lahar
i’ll bury the village
full of everyone who’s fucked me over—
it’s a big village.
mud, hot gas, LAVA
i’m the motherfucking eruption
don’t look for me
i’ll always find you.
thick choking ash i can’t handle
another. FUCKING. second. of. this.
i’ll E X P L O D E
if i stop i’ll
oh god if i stop!!
i keep moving & it keeps me well!
i am well if i keep moving!
i have cleaned/folded/washed/vacuumed/shopped/exercised/cooked/socialised/commuted/worked/been Good
but it’s following me now, its
hot metal breath on my neck –
if i just move fast enough
everything will be perfect
& nothing will ever hurt again.
i’ll be here
i haven’t considered
when i saw you again
my face & limbs
are all out of order
wait right here.
did i tell you i’m sorry?
… i did?
i’m sorry! oh—
sorry for apologizing!
i know exactly what you need
before you know you need it.
call it a superpower
or call it nosy.
i just have to say:
sorry, i know you don’t like me
sorry, i know i can please you
promise me you’ll love me forever?
sorry, forever is soooo long,
how about you promise you love me, like, right now?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hebe Kearney is a poet and librarian who lives in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland. Their work has appeared in publications including: Mantissa Poetry Review, Mayhem, Overcom, Rat World, samfiftyfour, Starling, Symposia, takahē, Tarot, and Poetry Aotearoa Yearbooks. You can find them at @he__be on Instagram.