by Alexander Te Pohe

elements by Alexander Te Pohe

content warning: contains references to physical and emotional abuse


three figures of my nightmares
rise from the ocean
of my
human shapes,
waist deep in waves.

the ghosts open their mouths
like fish. sound
does not
forth. with
each gasp, water pours out.

they waver as water crashes
through them. it tumbles
onto the
carrying their
rubbish to my feet.

i don’t move. the three men
stare at my figure
on the
i stare back, willing
them to make a move.

they only sway back,
forth, with each
push/pull of
sea. waiting.
waiting. waiting. for what.


it is locked away. carried in a pelican’s mouth.
left to float in the starlight.
the clouds hold many secrets.

there is nothing to say. nothing to say.
we are fine. everything is. everything.
the key is to smile. a simple twitch of the mouth.

on a windy day i hear echoes of my secrets.
the crack of a belt, a child’s cry.
my own words whoosh past me.

i cannot quite get the words to leave my mouth.
an apology would imply a wrongdoing.
i am a good person. i am. they all say i am.

it is a cycle: birds are released from me,
they become clouds, everything is fine,
until it isn’t. another bird takes flight.


the hands that held burn too, i find red fingerprints on myself daily, your fiery touch burned generations, a kinda fucked up legacy, a lightning strike, burning them and me, the embers of your rage are forever alight


my land holds memories.
they mingle in the soil with the
worms. sometimes i press my ear
to the dirt to hear them speak.

they console me as i cry.
telling me they will
carry my hurt for
a little while if i wish.

i stay there for hours to
listen. they comfort me,
telling me they believe me.
the hurt i feel is valid.

my land holds memories.
generations have passed over it. no-one is
forgotten. no joy or hurt unrecorded.
all is remembered.
that is enough.