In media res


Did you ever find me?

Stuffed prostrate in the National Park
soil, mouth full, earthworms in ears,

your skin composting under
my nails. My favourite antihero,

you said you’d come back for me
when the heat is off,

when the golden hour burns out,
when the lens starts to refocus.

Now I’m just dirty money holding
memories of misdeed, touch me

and risk everything. Launder me
through your legitimate endeavours

scrape off my serial numbers, for you
I’ll be untraceable, for you I’ll be passable.

The ground is sweet, rotten, memory foam;
quite frankly I’m exhausted.

There are no small parts and you’ve got to admit
I’ve got range. I’ve been a child, parent, nurse,

doctor, accountant, hitman, lawyer, old friend, new
enemy, innocent bystander who saw too much,

old flame refusing to leave, scowling in a
feather boa and opal negligee, just out of frame.

Maybe it was always my calling
to be an extra in my own story.

I still remember the shovel’s
thunk puncturing distant sirens,

your palms dripping onto my face,
closing my eyes one by one.

this was always the plan.

I’m terrified of the credits,
never knowing if they’re
opening or closing.

The worst thing that will ever happen to you hasn’t happened yet


but it will       soon       just like someone’s dad always said
I assume       even a broken man          is right twice a day
and there isn’t     a masculinity crisis           I can fix

never learnt the tricks of the trade       an adolescence
exploring my own           nuts and bolts           now I’m all kinds of
ill-equipped     can’t tell the difference       between a socket-wrench
and an orgasm   a poor workman     always blames his    you know

but we try      and do        and make do

like that Facebook video     dry instant noodles  scuffed and varnished
for missing floorboards   noodles to level         wobbly bar stools
noodles shaved and spackled       to mend a porcelain dream

the substitute teacher for sex education    filing down
a block of noodles    into the world’s driest buttplug
noodles       for the batteries in my vibrator      noodles
to unstick the pages          of vintage magazines         noodles
for borer holes in the casket       noodles to confront decay
noodles to prove       someone was ever there

noodles for all busted things    except the body   giving you nothing
but want and expiration             giving you everything
to build       your own demolition

I just want    to back a trailer into a garage      filled with power tools
I can confidently name   for trades I could       theoretically pursue

but I can’t       and I can’t       and I won’t

and the last old man       I’ll ever disappoint          is me
where I grew up       men don’t get sick     they rust
like grizzled house cats       under the ute     they crawl
with a quiet       they’ve always carried         they don’t die
just become another blunt saw     you never throw away

Earl Sweatshirt said he’s ‘hotter than at least five heaters’


a conservative estimate  especially by hip hop standards
Earl could’ve said ‘at least ten’    no one would question him

I’m like  two maybe   but they’re those little round Briscoes ones
that whisper ghosts of burnt hair    and exploited labour
but Wellington’s cold in July   soooooo    whatareyagonnado?

I think Earl was referring to      Mitsubishi Heat Pumps™
as seen on TV      with      former NZ cricket captain
Stephen Fleming    of which Stephen is only three             tops

Earl’s hotter than Stephen             and
Stephen’s the face             of the whole operation!

I’m falling in and out of love        with my own mediocrity
society welcomes             my outline
like a tax cut             my             overstuffed skin
tote bag             lumps             folds        billowing
contracting        like an out of tune           flesh accordion

Seth Rogen was voted             sexiest man alive             we all
simultaneously exhaled             I even had the audacity to trial
a wide-brimmed felt hat and overalls…         overalls!
like some             intergalactic pilgrim
 sent to the new world             to disappoint people

my laziness is sexy because its performative      like
a game show where contestants see how long they can go
not calling their parents       or       a sequined recliner
in this world     it helps to be         kind and funny
I mean             it helps to be                   kind of funny

most people would   rather be hot than endearing
I want a jealous fan club I can             neglect emotionally
I want             strangers who meet me in passing at parties
to decide upon request          that yes they would die

to save me             from a minor inconvenience

wrapping themselves in tinfoil    during a lightning storm
  to          charge my phone
engraving       my internet usernames and passwords
onto their tombstones
flying me to an             ancient Swedish commune
sewing themselves into a bear suit       and self immolating
so i can finally           become the Mayqueen

I wouldn’t die for me             but I’ll buy
progressively looser sweaters       stuff myself
into black                   ‘skinny jeans’                       grow
my beard to hide                   a disappearing jawline

and someone will call me             Jonah Hill-chic
or             neo-masc farmcore  or             pre-dad bod
and  put me in             a fucking heatpump ad
 and on the way home             from the shoot
I’ll listen to Earl             and we’ll both know the truth


Jordan Hamel (he/him) is a Pōneke-based poet and performer. He was the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Slam champion and represented Aotearoa at the World Poetry Slam Champs. He is the co-editor of Stasis Journal and co-editor of a forthcoming Climate Change Poetry Anthology from AUP. He has poems in Poetry NZ Yearbook, Landfall, The Spinoff, Mayhem, takahē, Sport, Mimicry and elsewhere.