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Past Jack Koo’s shop: A faux pantoum by Frankie McMillan

We kids were drawn to the backs of things. Back of Jack Koo’s shop, wooden crates of rotten bananas, clouds of tiny flies. Back of Solly’s car yards, wrecked parts, oil sumps, then to the backyard of the richest family in the street. We heard music, Frank Sinatra floating over the fence. We peered through a hole in the fence. In the yard a man was shaving a woman’s underarms. We kids started pushing and shoving to get a better look. We heard the man shout and we ran. But after a while, we were drawn back. Back to the fence hole.

The woman wore a red bandana, face tilted to the sun, arms raised behind her head. He was shaving her underarms. We didn’t know if this was love. We kept going back to the fence hole. Frank Sinatra singing … five foot two, eyes of blue … They were the richest family in the street. Same street as Jack Koo’s shop, wooden crates of rotten bananas, clouds of tiny flies. We heard the man shout. He heard us pushing and shoving at the fence hole. He looked up, stared around the yard. Razor flashing. She wore a red bandana, face tilted to the sun, arms raised behind her head. He was shaving her underarms. He was shaving her. This was past Jack Koo’s shop. We didn’t know if this was love.


Hear Frankie McMillan read her piece


Frankie McMillan is a poet and short fiction writer from Aotearoa, New Zealand. Her work appears in Best Microfictions 2022, Best Small Fictions 2021, and other international journals. Her latest book, The wandering nature of us girls (Canterbury University Press), was published in August 2022.

Perfect Match by Sudha Balagopal  |  Bones by Jose Hernandez Diaz  |  Dusk in Ibiza with My Beloved by Aimée Keeble  |  Past Jack Koo’s shop by Frankie McMillan | If a Girl Were an Elephant by Bayveen O’Connell  |  For Georg Christoph Lichtenberg by Josh Russell  |  Terror Tatts by Robert Scottelaro