The Steeple Chase

Get off my back
this is not dancing
you have sharpened your spurs.

Get off my back
you are giving me
the fingers
behind my head.

Get off my back
you have me pinned
against the ropes
the ref is on his tea break.

Get off my back
I am not carrying you
to my grave.

Get off my back
from up there you are
taller than me.

I will not race you
to the finish line
race you to freedom
I will not count down.

I am not your competitor
you signed me up
without my permission.

I am not your
leap frog.


Golden Delicious

She is sunny
she is sunny side up, my girl
running to meet me.
The other girls look lumpy
with their slumping shoulders
dyed hair and regrowth.
But my one is a beautiful apple
rolling down the drive
out past the school gates.



It is my fault
her toenails
her thighs
the hideous
hair on her arms.

My fault
she has too many books
it’s making her schoolbag

Fat is my fault
I don’t feed her
correctly, don’t limit
her intake.

My fault
the failed marriage
I am simply

No money is my fault
what sort of grown-up
is an actress.

No brothers or sisters
my biggest fault
an unpardonable crime.



It’s a feast or a famine
with sperm
wouldn’t you say?
Some days they can lap at your feet
other days are shorter.

I see flakes of babies
on hands
on shirt fronts
on benches
on car back-seats

The old guy, toothless and cursing
wearing socks and jandals
is full of babies.

The college boy
has left babies
on his sheets this morning.


The Unborn Ones

The brothers and sisters
how stupid of them
to leave it up to me.

Stupid too
the German psychologist’s

One child will now
bury her parents.

The brothers and sisters
salty baby mammals
have returned to the sea

turning into little grey whales.



Bullshit, she says
and I better bloody not be.
I watch her b’s bounce off
the breakfast table,
stinging little orange and black
stick to my hair.


The txt

Mum come upstairz
my throats 2 sore
2 call out 2 u.

In firemother red
I take the stairs
two at a time.

Michele Amas was born in Dunedin in 1961. She has a degree in Performing Arts from The New Zealand Drama School and has spent most of her working life acting and directing for stage and television. Her short film ‘Redial’ which she wrote and directed was selected for competition in the 2002 Venice Film Festival. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and was the Adam prize winner in 2005. Her first book of poetry will be published in 2006. Her work has been published in Sport 33 and online in the literary journal Turbine 05. Her shift from acting to writing poetry came out of a desire to speak from her own script rather than someone else’s. ‘Acting is a great way to escape yourself, to ignore yourself, and when I stopped for a while there was this chattering going on in my head that I’d never heard before, so I just started taking notes.’

Amas comments. ‘ “Daughter” was written out of a desperation to contain a myriad of emotions that living with a teenager forces you to experience daily. In this poem I have attempted to describe the shifting emotional landscape that a mother and child stumble into, quite out of the blue, both unprepared and bewildered – full of blame and guilt, need and love.’

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