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.



The Funeral


I should wear my Gaia pendant

to the funeral supper

and eat bright foods.

Perhaps the stone she

holds aloft in tapered hands

will change colour like my eyes do

whenever I cry,

from gray to green as if

imperfection were washed

away by grief, and

not the reverse

which we know to be true.

Grief stains and impedes,

like seduction,

everything we do.

I should wear black and

not this carnal red

that will make Gaia

spit jeweled light despite  what

I consume.  When she makes the

sun her descant

and murmurs: ‘Who has died?’

I will answer: ‘Me.’

And she: ‘It is a lie.’

And I will see

my lavish flesh

supped upon, my fertility

not gone,

my hands pressed against sodden dirt.



Featured image The Goddess by Anastasiya Kimachenko




Clock Face


I start like a slow ticking clock, wound

by your thin fingers (notched

and bald), beveled

nails catching the hem of my hair,

my naked jaw, my trapped hands,

a winking pulse in the veridical circle

of your days.

You say I am accustomed to my cracked face:

all the distortions that seem real

are not.  All the unwashed corners

of leaping periphery just

crooked lips thrown in spectrum

against my ruined history, while

I am curled like the spine of a cat

around the body of

your twinkling breath.

Yellow Flowers at 4000 Feet



They appeared suddenly, a fleece

of yellow, a mustard beard

on white rock,


fluid and arbitrary,

existing as if ordered by Persephone

to girdle the mountain


in crisp abandon,

all light captured and then freed

to eyes accustomed to only green.


So much is seen

at just this level, like a skirt

will settle


about the knees of a kneeling girl.

Receding rubble shaking blooms loose,

irretrievable.  And the caught


in a cat’s paw of sun needling through

the nimbus, descending

like blonde blood between hillock fissures.


Flowers at 4000 feet trapped


sea level blue and dizzy spring


their trefoil petals dusted and doused

in the rock god’s shadow,

his warm falsetto


piercing the moss and gravel,

all dolor transfixed

by exceptional yellow.

This New House – a poem


The creases at the corners of your eyes and the smooth

oleander mound of hip are what I miss the most.

They are a kedge to me.

This new house and you not here long enough to have left

any forensics, siphoned away without cloture

(necessity devoured you),

my latest little death an umlaut above you

and me knee deep in wish bones.

You can hear the train from this new house;

I listen and the fences widen and the charcoal night

seems like an emancipation –

a terrifying freedom like the dark wardrobe I hid in as a child.

I feel the cuffs of coat sleeves lift the

down of my cheek and long to be found.



The animals have their favourite spots

squared away in this new house,

marked off with tufts of fur and fine scent.

I have hung pictures without your consultation and torn out

the old vegetable garden, coiled like braid in the corner of the yard.

I read poetry and buy books and in the evening

when the sunset hangs burnt over the eaves,

I smell the remnants of the last ruined words we spoke.

I smoke too much.  I drink beer.

We ask: ‘Does separation suit us’?

You are working hard for this new house

and not living in it.  Peaceful, untroubled, devoid

of voices that touch.  I am worried your favourite spots

in this new house may be obsolete.