Ankh Spice

the poet

Ankh Spice is a sea-obsessed poet from Aotearoa (New Zealand). His poetry has appeared in a number of online and printed publications internationally. He often uses natural imagery, myth and strong derealisation to explore the personal and shared traumas that keep us unsettled, environmental issues, and the drive to persist against our odds. Two of his poems were nominated for the 2020 Pushcart Prize courtesy of Rhythm & Bones and Black Bough Poetry.

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the poems

Have mercy

Written following Hurricane Dorian,

September 2019

00:00 / 01:44

This island opens the iris of her day, calm
curve of bay all visioning glass
 
deepsight clear to the seabed stones, each
a distinct sharp note, becalmed
in unstirring kelps
 
oh yes here
the huge animal of the world is all lull
but I turn where the trail ends in a groan
     the road inhaled by her winter 
heaving
 
and on your side
of her body that same skin murmuring wet nothings 
down there where the road was
is tearing holes in itself right this
second
 
and if we are any kind of people
we know what to do with an animal struggling
just to breathe
 
when did we close our eyes so tightly we forgot
that desperate creatures fight hard and close
more eyes as they go down
gasping
 
So from me running caught between breaths
to you caught in her throat
I can’t say anything except      oh god you know
you know she never wanted this

New cloth

00:00 / 01:27

Your pattern pinned itself to the fray of me
the first day. Not yet stitched, aligning
fragile tissue, judging bias –  the wounded
cut carefully
always holding their breath.
 
When they remade you, I slept
on a hospital couch with your dress, bundled
like a woollen heart, to my nose. Five hours
inhaling-exhaling bargains
a short time to outfit a whole woman
into her own dear self.
 
We tied knots with every colour we could find.
 
Understand, love always gets down to the wisp
beyond fabric, to stroke
the finest thread of a person – our making looms
us legacies of holes – 
you fear cutting yourself short, me
born running with scissors, and all of us
rippling fast towards the great unravelling
 
Yet the great thumping treadle of a heart can still say
now you’re mending – billow with the wind.

00:00 / 02:03

Begotten, I failed to thrive, all at once
and for years after, perhaps
                                                            this poem will be rejected before it can speak
from spite. I learned young that 
every strand and bead of us is base, self-
interested only in making more
of itself
                                                            this poem will know it can never be good enough
Here is a sore-tooth socket of a truth
for a tongue to test – 
we persist by errors
in our replication, success
for this whole bolt of shivering animal fabric
is in the dropped stitches, in
failing to be perfect
                                                            this poem will blame itself for signalling predators
this also describes a number of fathers
selfish patterns unstrung, then unshuttled, without
any binding, so
                                                            this poem will unravel red threads into the sea
                                                            this poem will fail to finish even that
I have stopped you going on. I did not
beget, I have
not made anything at all of myself
                                                            this poem was stillborn
I pick up this small body
of work, headed for the coffin-drawer, and it is still
warm and so
                                                            blameless
a great rack-and-rattle shakes the mistake of it from my hands, even
despite resurrecting you, it begins to speak:
This poem was still
born

Publishing credits

Have mercy: Kissing Dynamite (Issue 10)

New cloth: Rhythm & Bones (Issue 6)
This poem did not stand a chance: The Failure Baler (Issue 1)

© original authors 2020

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