Mercedes Webb-Pullman: IIML Victoria University Wellington New Zealand MA in Creative Writing 2011. Her work has appeared online and in print in Aotearoa NZ, Australia, Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, Spain, France, Germany, and Palestine.
This poem came from memories and nostalgia, recalled by a glimpse of a now-deserted cabaret on the shingle at Awatoto.
Where are the 6os cabaret stars?
From the auditorium a warm gust,
a perfumed susurration that
hushes as house lights dim.
Slowly the curtains part.
Dark tiers of seats spread,
sprinkled with glinting eyes and teeth.
Applause, a shifting whisper, builds,
crashes when he appears in the wings,
burning spot-lit as he crosses the stage.
He stands to hand me wand and cape,
gloves and top hat. A rat-tat-tat-tat
drum roll accompanies his bow,
his pencil-drawn moustache beguiling,
scalpel eyes flashing above a smile.
He sketches delusions. I hostess
from the side, extending my arms
in sweeping gestures that invite applause.
I always smile; when he saws me in half
I grimace widely, hiding mirrors and wires.
He can’t hypnotize me. That’s why
I’m his assistant; sparkles, legs, blonde,
stilettos that tilt my tits forward,
tighten my bum.
Blindfolded by a dark scarf, silk cords
knotting my wrists to the frame, I drift.
Time builds tension, ’til the first blade hisses,
thunks into the timber by my ear. This must
He builds a rhythm, placing knives evenly.
I can feel how he stares at me, so intently,
like the pa kids who follow when I drive
my black 47 V8 Coup, their eyes reflecting
off the wet road, distracting me.
I tug my Gina Lollobrigida headscarf down
to hide my face, and it becomes
an umbrella. I’m holding it over us, riding
pillion on a motor scooter along K Road;
we’re both George Wilder, escaping.
We vanish together.