Ankh Spice

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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.

the poems

Have mercy

Written following Hurricane Dorian,

September 2019

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              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

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              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.

This poem did not
stand a chance

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           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)

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