There’s a train                           old hero,                                          grey beard 
of steam 
flickering on the screen,                      running down the line.     In the distance of the 
late afternoon, 
      cup of tea in my hand,                       I see                    a white owl fly low 
over a field. 
In the deception of the evening 
a badger                   walks out of the woods              & into the path of an oncoming 
A man & his dogs                  find a deer in the woods                       & bang 
she’s gone. 
You never do that               a woman tells her daughter-in-law over and over again. 
In the yellow kitchen           of a dark wood house, 
                                                                                 the girl finds lead shot in her 
           The man’s mouth produces saliva forming words he will not speak instead 
                     he turns to me & says 
Why are you here?                      What are you doing here? 
I shut my mouth.                                                  Swallow back my fear, 
it is something      from a French horror film.           I recognise it. 
There’s a woman with a small dog,      searching in a hollow for a lamb.       She 
herself in a quagmire, skirt muddy, pulling herself up. 
The dog, the lamb        & I run. 
She grabs at leaves & roots, 
is dragged down, 
into the mud. 
                                                   Her fear embeds itself under my nails, 
black and tasting of countryside. 
                                                               Wouldn’t he love to chew her up 
                         wouldn’t he love to — 
                                                                     These things    that mushroom 
                                                                     in the kitchen,   in the dining room. 
In the deceiving evening light,    
                                             there’s a train,                  some miles away. 
                                                                                                I run towards it. 

Red Tide

‘It’s your life,’ the psychiatrist tells me. 
‘Have you put a nail up yet?’ She laughs. 
‘What is it you want from us?’ 
‘Some people should be 
steamrolled slowly from 
the feet up,’ 
the psychologist says. 
She runs a finger across her 
throat, and smiles. 
Black beetle, 
black cat, 
rat running across 
the bathroom floor. 
White lights shine out of paper, 
blue lights in the air. 
Yellow lights appear on people’s heads. 
Drops of blood appear 
on my hands and clothes, 
ants through desert sand. 
Angels like carrier pigeons 
darken the sky. 
A postcard 
came this morning 
soaking wet: 
Resolution in the sea. 
Cherry tree. Fish eggs, 
dulse & carrageen. 
Silver tongued, catching 
tiny fish, messages delivered 
in serrated teeth. 
Now just you wait 
with your mermaid 
scales desiccating. 
Buried in the sand 
eyes open 
waves washing 
over the top of you. 
All this life 
blooming in the water, 
all this life 
blooming in water. 

Another of my bloody love poems

It’s an old dog 
of an idea. 
Deaf, incontinent 
and milky-eyed. 
I found her 
on a path in Wadestown. 
Walking in circles, 
I stood there awhile 
wondering what to do. 
Was there anything to do? 
Then a voice. 
‘That’s Prudence, 
she’s out for her walk.’ 
A woman with a platinum 
blonde bob appeared 
from a character home. 
Relieved, it wasn’t my problem. 
And a little ill. 
How can something 
in such a state 
be kept alive? 


Jo McNeice completed an MA in Creative Writing at the IIML in 2013. She lives in Wellington.