Brent Cantwell

Brent Cantwell is a New Zealand writer from Timaru, who lives with his family in the hinterland of Queensland, Australia. He teaches high school English and has recently been published in Sweet Mammalian, Turbine/ Kapohau, Brief, Blackmail Press, and Landfall.

I write about ordinary people in extraordinary places and visa versa. I am inspired by time, travel and change. I start with a detail and write until a unique individual or idea emerges.



yogurt makes us sick – as it should –

on the Nile. That’s why

we come here. We want a culture

that breeds and multiplies


in the sun. On these holidays

there’s no time for hygiene

like there is no time for post-cards;

post-cards have been scrubbed clean…


post-cards pin down every perfect

butterfly but yogurt,

yogurt tries to kill you, leaves you –

in a dry hotel – half-alert


watching life from a safe window,

wondering how leafless

we have become. So breath, breath in

some camel-hide roughness.


Feast on their need, and scars as dry

as a papyrus tear.

Sample the sweat-and-stubble of a bus

after Friday prayer.


Gorge on a money-fist hawker

who earned – with a camel –

that priceless-leather age you see

creased into his cackle


and leer. Sample – if you’re able –

the fire of blown sand

and the lost courtesy of tea

brewed here for a thousand


years. Gather matchboxes and call

it poverty. It may

insulate your passing, so take

what you want from today.


You must resist the rising of the bile.

Sick not this yogurt back to the Nile.


Marrakech in the Morning


before the day-camels

and the blazing white places

before the tooth-picked garlic snails

and the balconies of gin


a Bedouin boy

sweeps again last night’s

blown sand from his father’s

air-conditioned stall again


he has a old Yamaha

he knows will get him to Paris

‘cause his father

insists, you’ll never get it going!


Marrakesh has horizons

like everywhere else:

some see a wall of red clay

in a garden of blood oranges


some wake at dawn and sweep

the sand at the edge of the sky