Slice of Life
Cast List: in Order of Appearance
Man in Suit #1
Man in Suit #2
Disparaging Teenage Girl in Pink Rabbit Ears
Rushing Woman Kicking Aside Dropped Cardboard Sword
Evangelist Carrying Jesus is My Thrash Metal Sign, Preaching to
Insouciant, Tall and Hunched Over Toyota Driver Completely Ignoring
Drunk Adult Man in Smurf Costume #1 Confused by Cardboard
Drunk Adult Man in Smurf Costume #2 Explaining Cardboard Sword
Sober Adult Man Taking Smurf Costume Off
Young Woman Playing Jazz Sax on Skateboard Getting ‘Phat Air’
Shy Dancer Waiting for Internet Date, Staring Anxiously at
Harassed Father Striding Doggedly
Little Girl Really Struggling to Keep up with Harassed Father Finding
Cardboard Sword and Suddenly — Skippingly — Swashbuckling.
To the Waiter Behind the Counter at the [Name Suppressed] Café
with its baseball chick, her spine
canted at us Brokeback style,
as if we’ll all want her too,
her G-string run, cleft-nectarine arse
and tits like a blow-up doll’s —
no breasts or buttocks here,
anything to do with a woman’s body
has to be said as if you’re cussing her out,
and what’s wrong with her, anyway?
It’s freedom of speech, you say,
that’s why you wear her here,
opposite the café’s toy box, ice blocks,
the kids’ ride-ons and tyre swings.
if you ever have daughters
and I serve them, or teach them,
when they’re five, or ten, or eighteen
and I wear on my V-neck shirt
no, actually, not a muscle-ridged jock
with splayed legs; lying back,
erect cock crowing ‘Ready!’
like a cooked turkey timer;
but a man with no genitals,
Ken-doll neuter, just a sweet
blind tuck, nowhere
to hurt and enter either,
and he’s holding, what,
a sheaf of papers, a child’s hand,
an iPad, a pile of laundry,
a home-made meal,
a book, an Allan key,
a look on his face as if he’s deep
in full and close conversation.
they’ve got to butter your bread on,
know it as well as the swift hard strop
from the back of your hand,
so you’ll be able to brush the image off
as just some bit of cunt’s fun;
a few women might want their men
attentive, competent, and rapeless,
but we all know real life’s
not like that, so what love
lost, what harm
have you done?
This small boy with buttery curls
soft as bantam feathers,
cheeks and limbs that make old folk
want to hold a festival of pinch and squeeze,
he’s got an arsenal. He has alien
blam-blam space guns. He says
if there are wild animals starved outside
he will stab them with his stabbers,
and if there are baddies
he will slice them with his slicers.
How will you know they’re baddies?
He’s shocked. Because they’ve got guns to shoot us!
But if you’ve got space guns and slicers,
won’t they think you’re a baddy too?
Well, baddies want to steal our things.
They want to dead us and take our stuff.
What if the baddies are just scared, hungry,
don’t have a home, they’re cold and lonely,
only about to shoot because we seem angry
and as if we might fire first?
Well, then, they might not be baddies,
just dumb goodies,
but they still shouldn’t shoot us so
Blam Blam Blam!
Wait. Let’s go back over this. They’ve got guns,
but you do too. If they see your guns first —
No! He drops the Nerf blaster, refuses water, stories,
turns his back, finds his cuddle cloth;
at its soft-sweet body musk, bows his head
like a man just read his rights to silence.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emma Neal is the author of five novels (Random House NZ) and four collections of poetry, the latest of which, The Truth Garden (Otago University Press), received the Kathleen Grattan Award for a poetry manuscript in 2011. A recent selection of poems was one of three entries shortlisted for the inaugural Sarah Broom Poetry Award. Emma works as a freelance editor and, on alternate years, she co-ordinates the poetry workshop at the University of Otago.