Upon the destruction of a wasp nest

I watch at windows I cannot open, 
seal the doors with wax, I think, 
& ready to revel in the death of these imperfect speakers. 
While the blood of sows, lizards’ legs, resmethrin & tetrachloroethylene 
bubble in a cauldron close-by, my accomplice injects cocaine 
through a vein. It creeps everywhere, 
blocking his nose as if it were a nest. 
His dust hates wasp communes & collectives, 
thinking them selfish in their selflessness. 
Then bearing a Sorex smile, he 
pumps his tank again & again, 
as though bailing out a sinking ship, 
not scuttling one, as though pumping water 
to end a fire, not lighting the flames. 
Quickly the wasp-city burns. 
A sulphur of cinders falls all jade & topaz. 
I see my accomplice play his violin at a villa in Antium. 
His tune turns the pineapple wasp-home rancid with its decay. 
Seeing the wasps swaddled in mortuary bands, I wonder 
if I might excuse my actions by claiming greater intelligence 
or more right to life? No. 
My happiness springs from open windows 
& knowing that the shrill of wasp cacoethes 
has been brought to a close.  
Now it’s too late to experiment with the truth. 
From the caecum, where once life & energy, silence 
like white dust, scum or the eggs of ants, 
clings to the walls & clouds the air. 

Borrowing Anne Sexton’s Attire

I’m thinking of a black dress. 
I’m thinking of nakedness. 
I’m thinking of becoming an Anne Sexton wannabe who, like a white-trash Marilyn
clone, reminds the world of how dead skin is shed as ruthlessly as a poet discarding
words for the sake of the rhyme. 
I’m thinking of a song, of The Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator. Serenading myself till
twilight, I drink my whisky neat. 
I’m thinking of feet and metre, of dactyls and trochaics, of a villanelle my friend Sylvia
stole; it was a lament we shared. 
I’m thinking of a woman’s voice, of bitterness callused by bad choices, bad marriages
and bad men. 
I’m thinking of a tour, of readings where I wear a red gown and nothing underneath. My
cigarette half-cocked, I listen to an inner voice, tender as a girl’s, persuading me to
soften my delivery. 
I’m thinking of the children I never bore. 
I’m thinking of letting go. Not an oven, but a closed garage and a car. 
I’m thinking of the other side, of the paradise of having years trickle from my bones
until old age has drained me, a borehole drawing off the sap. 
I’m thinking of a Massachusetts Pine. Return me to it; bury me amongst its roots. 
I’m thinking of a suit, skin-tight as a coffin or a collected works. The Complete Poems:
an epitaph. No escape; the end. 


Of Scottish, Irish and unknown ancestry, Siobhan Harvey was born in 1973. She has recently published work in Landfall 215NZ ListenerMeanjin (Aus), More Sweet Lemons: An anthology of Sicilian writing in English (Canada), Snorkel 7 (Aus) and Swings and Roundabouts: Poems about Parenting. Her poetry and prose have been broadcast on Radio New Zealand. She was runner-up in the inaugural Bernard Gadd Memorial Poetry Prize (2008). She is the incoming poetry editor of Takahe magazine and teaches creative writing courses at The University of Auckland.