March 2016

poem28 Mar 2016 08:55 am


Her grandmother would nurture them,
teasing them out from beneath stones,
unsnagging them from damp moss.
She’d keep them in her apron pockets,
which were always damp. “These tiny
thingeens are ancient creatures of the sea.
So ye must keep them moist, girleen.
Otherwise they’ll dry out. They’re only tiny now
because their seas have long vanished.
But keep them with you and their seas will return.”

Grandmother kept them safe there in her apron for hours.
Then would let them go again. But before letting them go
she’d hold them on the tip of her forefinger
and lift them up to the sunlight. Then she’d bid
her grand-daughter to look at them. The first time she looked,
she could see that they were transparent under the light,
the inner workings of their bodies like cogs in a machine.
“Mind these thingeens as if they were money,” said her grandmother.

She didn’t really know why her grandmother
put so much importance upon them,
but she trusted her in all things.
That is why she always nurtured them herself,
keeping them safe and moist in her pockets, or else
always had some in her purse or a side section of her handbag.
She came to realise their significance only as she aged,
as she became bent and baggy.

She could feel the sea in her hair,
even though she was miles from any ocean,
and knew that it was the woodlice who bid its presence.
And she could hear waves, ancient as space, crashing all around her.
In time she could hear the woodlice themselves,
their voices like small timepieces ticking seconds.
And seconds that added up to minutes and hours and days and weeks,
and months and years and forever. All of Time was their
conversation, and she listened to every word, until she
was part of that eternal noise. And that noise was creation,
imminent and transcendent. And she knew finally the importance
of minding those woodlice, and wished now that she had someone to tell.

painting: Sitting girl with black apron by Egon Schiele
poem21 Mar 2016 08:55 am

By I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0,

My witchery awakens
with the rising season.
My winter-faded soul
gains strength with each day
we creep past the equinox.
The earth’s aching
with growth so I tie garlands
into my hair, go dazed-headed
from the light —

In this season
the ground-up remains of road-grit
turn into goblin-dust.
Aeroplanes on a clear star-night
become dragons, scales flashing.
I change too, shed my dull winter skin.

Yes: I see the world
through a witch’s lens.
It’s spring, and I awake. We awake.

Photo by I, Luc Viatour, CC BY-SA 3.0,
poem14 Mar 2016 09:22 am
By AYArktos - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

By AYArktos – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5,

Stolen by Nazis,
hidden by priests,
surviving the onslaughts of war
as Warsaw fell around its tomb,
Chopin’s heart, preserved in a jar
of cognac like fruit in a bottle of liqueur,
forebore the years, the visits
of the faithful.

Now scientists amass, eager
as crows on carrion.
Robed in the mysteries of formulae,
perfumed with formaldehyde,
they descend into the crypt,
pry open the vault
that’s played nothing but rests
these two past centuries,
and assail the heart.

A few quick cuts,
the tiniest of samples,
and the organ’s returned
to its jar, the wax resealed,

What, they wonder,
does it have to tell them?
They ask and ask
but it doesn’t speak.

Chopin’s heart knows but
a single language,
not the one they’re listening for.

It pronounces tender nocturnes
in the glare of the noontime lab,
singing of moonlit emeralds glinting
on Aurore’s unclothed breasts.

The scientists continue probing,
attuned to their test-tubes,
to the samples simmering in chemical soups,
to the percussion of the computer’s beeps.

The heart despairs,
wanders through minor-key impromptus,
a blizzard of sharps,
thunders in angry polonaises
that promise tigers rioting in Montmartre.

poem07 Mar 2016 08:48 am
By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Coyau / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0,

  1. Two tickets to the opening performance of La Terrestrienne.
  2. A miniature sarcophagus carved from Denebian chrysoprase.
  3. Four silk shirts, dyed in unfamiliar colors and subtly mis-cut.
  4. Self-inserting unhemmed wormhole pockets (don’t match shirts).
  5. A velvet-lined case containing 3 uncut amethysts.
  6. On closer inspection, inclusions in the flawed stones wriggle.
  7. A lyre whose frame has bitten all who tried to grasp it.
  8. Books bound in scaled skin. All pages are black. Some stick together.
  9. An angular brass whistle bearing the image of something like a dog.
  10. A pamphlet explaining how to exorcise the thing like a dog,
    once the whistle has summoned it. The last pages are missing
    and appear to have been both burnt and chewed off.
  11. A sensory dodecahedron half-full of tourist vidrecordings.
    In the last recording (calm sea, deck chairs, solicitous stewards)
    a whistle is heard. Then there is screaming.