an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Joanne Tasker

Secrets Spill and Trust Breaks

Joanne Tasker

Published on
page 20 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

You’re an asshole
and I’m an introvert
I’m sorry
I can’t accept your apology.

I shouldn’t have come here
when you’re already a bottle deep
and I’m one insensitive comment away
from the breaking point.
I wasn’t the only one
to leave with hurt feelings.
Doesn’t that make it my fault?

And this isn’t the first time
I’ve inadvertently ruined things.
I’m swallowing the apology back
because I wasn’t the one who said
all of the crap, you were spilling
secrets around like confetti;
it falls to the floor in a great spectacle.
You can’t just put it back
once it’s used up.

You’re making me glad I guarded
the secrets I have that hurt the most.
The ones you’d want to know
because they have the potential
to ruin a reputation.
But I never wanted to know yours
and you made me choose a side:
a conscientious objector
forced to take up arms.

You knew when I showed up
that I carried heartache.
And you reached into my chest
tore my heart apart with claws
you must have grown overnight.
Because I never saw them there before.

It’s such a relief when you leave
me in the hallway crying.
And you get in the taxi.
I imagine you in the centre of the nightclub:
bloodstains on your dress,
twirling on the dancefloor
as if the whole world revolves around you,
taking up space,
demanding attention,
running bloodied hands
up a stranger’s arms,
whispering into his ear
a secret for a secret,
because that’s how you collect them.

And he’s probably stupid enough
to open his mouth
because there is something about you
that’s easy to trust.

But secrets spill
and trust breaks.
Friendship fades.
Some mistakes
are made twice.
I’m not sorry
I can’t accept your apology.

The Girl Who Is Dying

Joanne Tasker

Published on
page 28 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

I am the last whispered breath
laced with traces of cyanide
still clinging to my teeth.
I am a foam at the mouth mess
of thrashing limbs
heart beating like waves against the shore
after an earthquake.

I am the girl who is dying
and won’t let you hear the end of it.

I am fingernails slicing my own throat
scream like the chalkboard in third grade
as nails graze the surface
and you shiver in your bones.

I am a high-speed collision.
The horrid clash of metal
so loud it swallows the cries of pain
that even the dying cannot hear
because I am the ringing in their ears.
They bleed out quietly.
Unseen under the wreck that is me.

I am the girl who will do anything
for the world’s attention.

Wait for the impact;
tragedy has a ripple effect.
I am the x-marks-the-spot
of the bomb drop.
The mushroom cloud overhead
stretches out like an umbrella

but acid rain isn’t the same as water:
it’ll burn thorough your skin
tragedy doesn’t build character.

I am the girl who is dying,
but just wait for the impact.

Satan’s Hymn

Joanne Tasker

Published on
page 32 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

I shiver as you dance on the grave of God
pages torn from the bible for sheet music
then set alight with a flick of Satan’s tongue

your words are pretty and sharp
like the way a knife glints under artificial light

you whisper sins like sweet nothings
I taste your depravity lingering on my lips
mouth the words
while my body sings a different tune

you call angels whores
and claim to have fucked them from heaven

the clattering of broken halos
the scream of falling angels
this is the heartbeat of hell

I flinch as you throw me in the fire
softness of my skin stripped to ribbons of flesh
then set alight with a flick of Satan’s tongue

you make agony euphoric
as you flirt with death and the Devil

sweet lyrics and a soft rhythm
but the two lovers turn on one another
like the gun you turn against the crowd
and fire for impact

you make suffering seductive
as the flames of hell fall from your mouth

you claim them
the disgraced devout
the unworthy worshipers
show them the passions of rage

and then set them alight
with a flick
of Satan’s tongue

Casual Sex on the Night of a Mass Murder

Joanne Tasker

Published on
page 52 of Tarot #3
(Dec 2021)

fire unable to quench itself
burns beneath my skin
it’s anger
it’s the headline news
it’s the late-night nudes

it’s the dancing of your fingertips
against my clit
the trigger press
my crumpled dress

it’s the face of the shooter
the corpses he left dead
and your hands pulling me close
then letting me go

the way my neck tingles beneath your lips
the way you move between my hips
wet red leaks from their mouths
their insides spill out

I see them stumbling along
hear the screaming and gunfire as if it’s a song
but you are here
saying nothing

beneath my eyelids
bloodied bodies
blood shed from bullet holes in the back of the head
breath sucked from broken lungs

but there you are


you roll away
head finds pillow
theirs found ground
where they had just rested to pray
and I think about the sound

I think about how it is silent now