The Rules of Fire, and Yelling about Tropes

A selection of fiery poems from Ana McAllister.


I empty out my soul to you

perform a striptease by removing my armour

piece by piece, grinding to the beats of the kihikihi-wawā

with mouth open, eyes fixed on you

I allow the steel breastplate to graze my nipple

as it falls to the floor and splits open my little toe.

Too infatuated to even notice the pain or blood

I wade through all the discarded armour,

trying to get close enough to touch you

Push past chunks of steel gathered over years of losing at love

then refusing to play the game on their terms anymore.

That’s what I thought this was at first –


I mean, naturally

I never really saw this

as a viable pregnancy

so, I burn what is no longer fruitful

let the nutrients return to the whenua

and now look at you

surrounded by fire

burning up.

You say it’s hard to see in fire

but you do see me wrap my arms around you

lick at your fleshy bits.

You complain about fire being too quick

to burn. Worried about longevity

but I read about this one fire in Australia

that’s been burning for 6,000 years

and I think I can do like, 4,000.

Granted, I may out-live you

but I promise I will sit by your grave.


If you start to fall in love with one of your lovers, leave.

You were hunting for possum skin, not enough kāka feathers to weave an imaginary kākahu huru so large it envelopes your entire body and leaves you floating somewhere in his bed.

When he looks up at you from between your thighs after making a meal of your wairua, do not gently brush his hair between your fingers. Resist the temptation to whisper his name under your heavy wet breath.

When he rests his hand on your lower back, do not fall back into his touch.

When he says ‘wow, you really are beautiful’, do not listen, he is lying. Not about you being beautiful, but about your beauty being seen by his eyes.

When you finish fucking, leave straight away.

You do not belong here. This is not where his sins live. This is where his children sleep.

Do not confuse a good man with a man that loves you.

Yelling With My Full Puku

I was with my ex for a long long time.

Long enough for me to write (and publish)

far too many poems about our relationship

sucking. At a book launch I stood up

In front of a room full of people and read aloud

‘My performative reaction to his performative romance’

laid out how much he had fucked me

over by fucking that white trash from the Hutt.

I read that poem with my full puku

knowing I would be going home to him.

I’m sorry.

We moved far away from the Hutt

We had a beautiful house, with beautiful things.

I had built him into the man he was

leaving that was devastating.

If you were me, what would you have done?


I don’t know if I’ve said this before

but I’m actually a retired sex worker.

I was a damn good one too.

GFE expert. Whore. Slut. Sugarbaby.

I don’t care what the fuck you and your mates call me
as long as your dads remember to tip.

I once had a man tell me that me having a civilian boyfriend

was like a nuclear bomb being used as a paper weight.


I know you’re staying up all night thinking

about what it would be like to have my scent on your lips.

Staring at my body mediated through the

blue screen in your hands. Most people can’t stand

to look directly into the sun, the heat radiating

is overwhelming to their eyes. They turn away,

crumpled beneath her warmth.

I’m so used to seeing the backs of people's heads, no one ever wanting to make eye contact

but you're looking right at me. Maybe it's the blue light. Negating my heat.

But without my light there is nothing, Te kore.

Cum into my ao marama baby and I’ll show you life.

Through dimensions I feel you stretch towards me.

Whisper all my names under your heavy breath.

Gravity pulls you toward me and you start circling my hips.

I'm waiting for you to finally reach out.

Touch my heat.


I Understand Tropes

I understand that artist/activist/hot-girl burnout is a trope,

but burn me out baby cause I’m fucked.

I have burnout after burnout but always manage

to mould together from the ashes.

I have no idea why I bother.

What’s going to change if I stop,

could the world be any worse at this point?

Maybe I should let myself be blown away by the wind.


Walking down Cuba St once and running into 15 ex-lovers is so Wellington.

They all crowd around me asking “How are you? How’s Auckland?

Are you still doing the art thing?”

The art thing was never a thing, I burned those bridges

and let those ashes get carried by the awa.

The art thing would never have worked for me because I get offended too easily.

I carry my hurt feelings with me across the ika of Māui

without ever looking forward, or back,

eyes closed, always looking at my brain.


I understand that drowning under the weight of 2021 is a trope

but let Hine Moana take me cause that shit was fucked.

So many days looking out the same window while my world inside seemed to

pause completely. Outside of the window everyone was spinning even faster.

At least my house felt safe, and I could watch the spinning

through the 4k HD security cameras.

Safety is a thing I’ve learned not to take for granted recently.

My safety has been threatened in so many different ways.

I’m not sure if it’s because of the constantness of the threats of violence,

but I don’t fear it that much anymore. I learnt to carry my keys between my knuckles,

text people where I’ll be and when I should arrive, karakia a

war chant at the rise of the sun, and paint my ikura onto my forehead.

I’m always ready for battle.

I understand that being a wahine Māori who is threatened

with rape by white supremacists is such a trope.

But I’m not 16 anymore and now I will rip off ure with my niho

and smile while the blood drips from my mouth. Sometimes I want to

respond “like that scares me you’ve been raping me, my whānau

and the land for 250 years, try something original next time”.

But I know it’s best not to engage. Don’t engage. Don’t engage. Don’t engage.


I recently said on my Insta that I understand that not every Māori is

>Hine Nui Te Pō vibes hard out< like me, some of us are out here

fully bringing {Papatūānuku vibes}. {Papatūānuku vibes} should be

protected and honored always. That's what I love about our atua

is that we can all see ourselves reflected in their mana and mauri.

I work with >Hine Nui Te Pō< on the regular, me and my manu

pray to her every marama and thank her for the taonga she gives to me

on their journey to her.

I understand that the hot, fat, alter-native, baddie Insta star

having a cis hetero white lover is unexpected, but his hands make me feel like a fire.

My uncle jokes that I’ve managed to find a rare +Māori Pākehā+.

He watches me like I am a galaxy and breaks his knees to accept my wero.

He uses his body to shelter the ashes. He walks me down Cuba St

so I can keep my eyes closed. He installs the security cameras.

He’s the one I forward my location to.

He’s the one who reminds me that my body

deserves pleasure even though it holds pain.

He loves my >Hine Nui Te Pō vibes<.

Feature image: Nuanzhi Zheng 郑暖之。

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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