an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Joel LeBlanc

Anniversary of an Earthquake

Joel LeBlanc

Published on
page 30 of Tarot #2
(June 2021)

The way the building shook itself
free of our shapes

until my workplace was gone
and your friends were gone,

until the new city was swaddled in smoke,
taught me to fear the ground.

To fear the eyes and bones
of a brooding father,

with me the child (again), waiting
and wondering if today

is the day when he huffs, and puffs,
and blows our house down?

But a long walk in the park,
surrounded by summer oaks,

reminded me that it was us
who built churches on top of fault lines,

and when the earth rolled over
in its deep dreaming,

we asked, what did I do to deserve this?

We ate poisonous hearts and vomited
ghosts onto our bedsheets

and cried, what did I do to deserve this?

We dripped nightmares into rivers
and longing for whitebait, for water,

we moaned, what did I do to deserve this?

We started wars and buried bullets in neighbours
and when they fired back,

we demanded, what did I do to deserve this?

We chased the shamans and witches
who spoke with moss, with mountains,

to the edges of the woods,
and burned them,

and when the ground heaved with
unknown languages, and all the chimneys fell,

we whispered, what did I do to deserve this?


the elder trees are pregnant with
late summer berries,

the streams chuckle through Hagley Park,
full of eels and spells,

and the mayflies flit about, light with games,
never wondering why, sometimes,

the earth moves.


Joel LeBlanc

Published on
page 58 of Tarot #2
(June 2021)

Shame is found in church,
where women go monster hunting
with glances.

Shame is found in hope;
in needing people and undressing
in front of them.

Shame is found in kindness
offered in the shape of apple pies
to a lover

who then offers jokes
to his friends
shaped like me.

Shame is in the throat
that can’t swallow jokes;
I always choke.

I cough up seeds that give birth
to mountains, to forests, to small shrines
of little shames.

Shame is the fingerprints and scars
I left on my own arms; the way I used my skin
as a pillow to scream into.

Shame is the time lost
when, instead of shaming myself,
I could’ve gone hunting for monster hunters.