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Genna Gardini

Genna Gardini

Thursday, 31 October 2013 13:05

How I Hate You

How I hate you, other girl,
is not how I hate myself.

It’s not even how I hate the story
you want to hear while we bunk PE,

imagining me soaking at your shoulder
like it is a desert and my apology is the hose.

I am not some rubber attached to a tap.
I am not even the tap.

I am the whole fucking hydration system.

I am the reservoir dug low in your thinking
and piped back through your brain.

I am the structure that keeps you flicking
and alive,

that gives you the sense to even know you
are in pain.

I am the dam. You build me because you want me.

You see your own face, which is never my face,
across the surface of it and understand

that how I hate you
is how I look at you at all.


Genna Gardini

Wednesday, 12 December 2012 16:41



This girl sits down opposite me,

her shirt white and riding the space between the passage door
and the bed. Slipping out the packaging like something just soaped
and now asleep in its towel. Expanding, as I count the thread.

She swivels, closer, in her chair.

And there's this canine flash of content. What hides beneath
the hamper and its lid. Her skin is packed like a fresh steak
of rubber. Like a piece of untreated whalebone. Like a fin.

Turning me left as I wouldn't aim in to wanting to touch
the place where her clothes had lifted.

I remember saying this must be an easier thing for other people.

When I think of us as younger, as fourteen,
I think of your small but forever body causing something in me
to stir, which I called (and wrote) maternal so I had an excuse
to touch it, monitoring my hands but never my mouth, loving you
and terrified of you because your judgement was like your face,
both pocked and cyclical.

It's this I came to and went from. Wrecking,

ashamed of what'd happened in the spare room at your Auntie Pam's,
where I had to do the dipping because you wouldn't play the man,
envying you your blonde and wanness, your shock at reading the YOU
magazine phrase for what we did against your Ouma's historical lampshade,

wanting your reluctance, also, for myself.
Monday, 30 April 2012 02:00

On Words

She said, "Love the only thing that lives is letters."

The truth is a clamour, is a great rocking vibration
that's brittle and sex-shelled. That's listening, a conch.

I've looked into that mouth, and asked: Did I know you
from my self's start?

From the first crustacean dollop of my brain, where both
the speaking and the tongue are still sitting, undrained?

Our lives wonder each other, disassemble like engines,
the process sudden, apparent.

Stop midspeech, take the motor out your talk.

Click the conversation from its context into a grammar
even your mother used like false teeth: a means to an end
she could take off at night. Only knowing herself when she
was just gums.

Words shamed me, so I loved them.

Laundered and spelt, I've felt each sentence as strain,
a thin membrane pulled between throat and head until
I called from the nodes of my chest, instead, humming:
Is this where I learn into myself?

Already the writing sheets above me, cursive and prophesying,
doing meaning mean justice, doublestitched against time.

But sometimes here,

but sometimes here you'll talk of language like a lover,
like a white-wash of water outside a church in the Karoo.

And this is how it separates you.
Saturday, 03 September 2011 02:00

Art Critic at the Beach

This seawood is just spool.

It's green and long as a projector's tongue. And the rock it's on
seems plastic-knifed. Debowled, like an old VHS. It doesn't work for me.

But then, suddenly, the sea arrives and edits the scene out, awkwardly
washing towards, replacing. I have my suspicions about the whole thing

and scan the horizon for junior curators. And parking.

Down a ways, my girlfriend plays at the tide while I find some paper
to put this on. She kneels and welcomes the water:

I think she's sure I'm writing about her now, her body angled
so I may describe the ocean as it fleshes fresh her every part.
Is she checking if I missed that? It's no problem, she can restart.

She raises her hand to a wave, the reception of her face stopped,
her arm stick and familiar (she beaming "Aerial!" I scribbling "Mop.")-
I'm fairly certain she's not noticed the condom tangling near her slop.

I'll wait for her to walk back.
Sunday, 07 November 2010 02:00


Siya handles his Blackberry like a small child,
mother-board and horizontal. He names it Bill,
clicks it into its crib, letting the noise of that fit
seal and rope the air, like a monitor.

When Bill breaks, he carries it into my room,
the cover of his hands cupped, a cot.

I put my finger to its face, which is foreign,
and blinking, which is remindful of options
outside the manual. "Fucked," he tells me.
Wednesday, 01 October 2008 02:00

the woods

You went by yourself while the boys were asleep,
out the pullout window,
rolling back its skin like an automated rind,
dripping down the back of things,
in your underfeet.
It's not the woods but it might as well be-
a forest from the same box as a scanner,
it's the photocopied wild,
trees mincing grey and angled, tonguing the duplication,
steeling themselves.
You have a sense that it will only have what it can divide
and your lungs stiffen as if they've been insulted,
turning the kind of blue you find at the bottom of the cooler box.
When you were younger you could not tell the difference
between the 5 and 50c coins
and you always chose the pink that tasted like toilet fluid.

"Being around you is basically having one long nasal-drip" he said,
without looking up.
The three girls laid their hands on me the day we drove to the Airport,
Benoni folding out the car into a poor-white's tablecloth.
I was thinking about a trip to Zimbabwe, when I was eight,
where we broiled at the border, my shorts made of the seat
and my skin the colour of Michele's hair,
 the same hypoallergenic beige as the grass.
We weren't allowed to listen to the radio, for fear of flattening the battery,
so the sawdust was our soundtrack.

These are things you would like to tell the pink feet that rub at you,
damp kindling in a bed that never catches on,
but the lady at reception is the only one who will answer your questions
and you share an understanding of the stomach, of the quiet
that takes you into an outside you have left alone
for as long as it has belonged to your brother.
The day we discovered the woods I tripped,
my ankle working the icing in
until the snow had a familiar wear to it,
a towel raw on my tongue,
the small skin of my nose scraped against a tap.
I was certain I would break through
before I felt your hand on my wrist.
You always waited for me at the top of things.