Past Lives


There is a teddy bear hospital on the

Coffee strip street within the

Coven laden, bookshop burdened

Town I used to live.

The windows were full-bellied with

Stuffed animals and dolls

And arms and legs and torsos

And glass eyes in wooden bowls

That stared disturbingly up

At the guileless passer-by

As a constant curio reminder

That we are all going to die.


I wandered in one day when

The harbor smell hit:

The spicy, fetid warmth

Of the live sheep transport ships.

The shop was dark and dust filled

With lagoons of yellow light

On tables covered with body parts,

Baubles, frills and the like.

I watched a child’s only love be

Rough housed and knocked about

And wondered if the children

Imagined the doctor was a god


Who glues on eyes and re-sets heads,

Shoves stuffing into holes,

His soiled and greasy fingerprints

In places that will never show.

The doll ward was overflowing

With the macabre guise of flesh,

Hanging like Salem wenches,

Their joints sinuous.

A table of severed women,

A killer’s souvenirs,

With wigs gnarled and faded,

Eyes rolling in fear.


I trailed my hand in layers

Of castor-sugar dust,

And lingered until my hair

Gathered all the fragrant must

That rises from the abandoned

Bear paw and doll face

Before repairs remove

The scars of first embrace.

This is reincarnation and in

Some sepia puddle of light

A greasy fingered deity prepares

To remove my hair and eyes.