new zealand electronic poetry centre


O L I V I A   M A C A S S E Y

12 Taonga



Olivia Macassey was born in International Women's Year, 1975. She spent her childhood on the edge of the Otama forest in the Coromandel and moved to Auckland in 1991. She works as a freelance graphic artist and is currently completing a PhD in Film Television and Media at the University of Auckland. She lives in Grafton.

Macassey has performed her poetry regularly since 1994, in both group and solo shows, and in festivals. She has read in venues ranging from pubs and cafes, schools, shops, and galleries, to the Aotea Centre and the Auckland Town Hall.


Though largely unpublished, her work has appeared in the following publications: Brief issues 24 & 25 2002; Platform 2001; Tongue in Your Ear volumes 1-6 (1997-2002); Debate 1999; Auckland Live 1996; Craccum 1996.

She has also been featured on the compilation CD Aural Ink 2001, and her work has appeared variously on Triangle Television, in student documentary film, on access radio, and on student radio 95 bfm.


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"Oh dear, how frightened I have been,"
said Little Red Riding Hood, when she was rescued, "it is so dark inside the wolf." (source: JLC and WC Grimm)

I'm worrying about the monsters under the house.
I'm trying to untie that beautiful knot we had all agreed upon
the one that is a serpent, swallowing its tail.

The quickest way to a man's heart
is through his stomach, and as for love,
can it be this – the thousands of papercuts made against the sky
by the short needled pine? I went all the way to the end of the beach
asking myself that famous question.
But we were haemorhaging that year, epistemohaemophilia, nothing was that clear, except the sky
and even that wasn’t watching, well not at first..
He opened his mouth and this gave me the opportunity to slip inside
and start to unravel things.

Oh Otesánek
. I would have fed you with everyone I knew
(and they half knew it)
simple and cruel, as in harsh weather, a good mistress,
accidental death under the machinery of a factory

What will happen to you if you don’t eat your vegetables?
What will happen if you eat too much of the pie
eat seven little kids; or seven small gods, and a rock, drink
all the water in the world, and turn to me?

Is kissing really the reassurance that we don’t have to bite,
the accomplished, formulaic, and quick tongued demonstration
of the boundaries we're willing to keep;
the edges you admit you can see
between me
and the skin of your teeth?

the endless thereness of here has ended
the figures at the other end of the beach turn back
and begin to retrace their
half washed out footprints
already a little surprised to see
where one had scuffed or the other one leaped

Oh Otesánek
, I would feed you to everyone I know, and they know it now
It gets so dark inside the wolf.
Not simple, or cruel. But I didn’t understand
I don’t understand
I won't understand.

We go – down – the garden path
six foot then one foot, then
one, foot, in front of, the other,
we go into the back of the house
one kiss then two kisses;
one, kiss, in stead of, the other,

and staggering. down the last lot of steps
into the cellar
we know it all now
follow the blind, look through the gaps
lift up the latch
and swallow them whole

[brief 24 (July 2002)]




Last updated July 15, 2004