an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Elliot Harley McKenzie

barbed evolution

Elliot Harley McKenzie

Published on
page 27 of Tarot #6
(June 2023)

I want to sink warmly & whiplike into a honey-filled estuary,
for the tide to turn and take me out to sea
& for my ex lover to die of dysentery.

I want to sink naked into the aching shape of you
merging our flesh in white hot fury………
a fusion of perfect rage swimming through smoking thickets
grass wilting in our wake

I want to sink always into barbed evolution &
dress my heart
in shrewd, briny restrictions
slowly ticking over
like a computer working on updates

I’m a medusoid fungus, a spiralling
line of siphonophores………
king of the pelagic zone

restless phenotypes betray a wearied mitosis
you kiss my inbox and I swoon like a swan-diving shag………

muscled with tentacular seaweed
wild and earnest
as our predecessors
the scaremongering enormity of
a sex – changing fish………

Like the kobudai wrasse
I battle in buck toothed glory
for my spawning rights………

reeling in the ultraconservative
fuckers and bashing their
heads in with the butt of my knife

I want to float like scum in a tidepool,
infinite, romantic………

splashing bright yellow cleaner in the toilet bowl
I scrub……… & i think of you

The fang has found the helpless flesh

Elliot Harley McKenzie

Published on
page 29 of Tarot #6
(June 2023)

Great golden gourds
you pick among the bruised stone fruit
with juices leaking onto plastic
i’m coming up with more and more creative ways to contact you.

I’ll speak your name three times into my dirty laundry
& you’ll hear my voice coming from yours.
From beaches to hollow peaks,
reach wildly, tearing out lichens and scrub

the fang has found the helpless flesh
the feathered form slumps in a death rattle
faces frozen in uncanny snarls
meat sluicing from bone with a wet chewing sound.

a basket of rotting figs on your doorstep
a fish on ice speaks
what was it all for?
milky eyes staring at the fluorescent lights.