an Aotearoa poetry journal | ISSN 2744-3248

Poems by Ted Greensmith-West

Witches’ Sabbath

Ted Greensmith-West

Published on
page 24 of Tarot #1
(Dec 2020)

When did we stop marching?
Picket lines made, unmade, remade
from picket fences
torn up by their roots before the cops arrive and
on Karangahape Road
the bumscrew boys whip out their cudgels
and dance the Osculum Inflame —

by moonlight we are witches
by daybreak we are men.

Faeries have secrets —
their ways are not our ways
ways of love
existing in a world of illusion
and sentimental make-believe
incantations around a frothing cauldron
and eaters of children.

Down the streets we chant the Perverts’ Almanac
forms emerge from the Blackthorn
and under the torchlight of a hostile moon
there are naked boys.

The young have secrets in the acoustic dark
the leather-bound dark
as if holding together the pages of our story.

We must acknowledge the numbness of absences
and until a sort of dawn breaks

we are witches,
we are witches.

All the Hipster Poets Have Come Back from the Dead

Ted Greensmith-West

Published on
page 60 of Tarot #1
(Dec 2020)

Building your rejection letters into a pyre
and upon that, building my church
because even in literary publishing
there must be an eponymous “you”
hidden somewhere, lurking
in the depths of your radically indented
stanzas.

How do I reconcile dreams of greatness
with such spectacular failures?

It’s like Scooby and the gang letting loose
an actual ghost and not just an old man
in a white sack.

It’s like the inevitable mathematical outcome
of calling your journal ‘Vicenarian Excesses’
and including my poems about make-up sex.

It’s like being trapped in a portaloo
and expecting it to teleport you to France.

It’s like Jonah and the whale
except the whale is an angel-haired hipster
who boldly proclaims: writer! academic! poet! on her Instagram bio.

You see yourself as the grand arbiter of happiness,
walking artistic success round the block
on a cruelty-free faux leather harness.

Judgement falls right on top of me
like a vindictive anvil out to settle scores
or like stubbing my toe on
the crazy pavement of disappointments.

It’s like having a Nescafé machine
filled with inexcusable love poems.

It’s like being told
you’re the Florence Foster Jenkins of bad poetry
but secretly knowing that
Florence Foster Jenkins is the Florence Foster Jenkins of bad poetry.

I don’t think my poetry is speculative enough
for these dark days
and when everyone else seems to be pushing daisies through pages
all the hipster poets have come back from the dead
with their deconstructed community art projects
and their pixelated nipple tassels
and their syndicated rejection letters.