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  • Guest Writer

Backfire! 

By Geena Slow


Look out at the grasslands, gulp, and get going.  

Better guzzle some water. Pretend you’re Rango, a reptile seeking power

Blink in the dust, exfoliate your eyes until the wind crackles a laugh. 

I couldn’t help but notice you noticing me noticing you. 

Stamp out a cigarette with your bare feet. Swallow the sting 

like you are the problem. Feel your tongue flicker out and in like a

lizard. Taste the cumin. Hear the mosquitos. Whistle something happy.

I’m down to one layer of skin already. 

Side-step the possum on the yellow lines with its jaw hanging open in

an infinite scream, like that man on the bridge with intensities for sky 

but with sharp teeth and fur. Pick an orange prairie flower  

and let it fall gently. It ain’t pretty, but if looked at the right way, kind of is. 

Pretty soon, I’m going to start seeing my insides.  

The clouds stain smoke-scarlet. The fire is licking its way 

through the landscape, like you, hungry and a little lost. 

Leaving behind glossy and oddly familiar sketches of trees and simmering fences.

Burn everything but Shakespeare. 

Walk past the helicopters circling like flies in the golden orb of the sun,

Battling the haze for control of the hills. 

Something stirs in the West  

as the evening eats itself up  

with its own light.


 

Geena Slow is a wide eyed graduate of Te Herenga Waka Victoria University from a small mining town. She wants to walk and write in forests everywhere around the world. If you’re interested, her work is featured in Starling, Overcom, and 2023 Ōrongohau Best New Zealand Poems.

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