Sentinel Poetry (Online) #60 ISSN 1479-425X

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December 2007  - 5th anniversary issue l Poetry

AMY LICENCE

 

Mars and Venus

 

There was only me and you –

a woman grown small

with disappointment, a man

brutal with frustration.

 

A struggle of hands and mouths –

the collision of

childish dreams and

the blood-call of life.

 

The flood-tide turned –

limbs in retreat

individuals, together

facing failure.

 

Who wielded the knife –

plush-plum in guilt,

blown in on a tide

of past-future ?

 

At my feet, my own carcass –

knees crooked, elbows bent

islands in carmine

the blade between.

 

What is left ?

A man stepping guiltily

towards the door –

a woman silenced.

 

 

Turning Eight.

  

Through August she doggy-paddled against a premonition.

Through chlorine, smiling, in ripple-coloured strokes

for the camera, suspended like a paper-weight,

fixed yet delicate as bubbles in glass.

 

I was that girl, approaching that birthday.

I was that rabbit holed up in that burrow,

when all that was needed was succumbing to sleep

after curtain-close and goodnight kiss.

But the distant dawn flared in imagination

bringing in the crowded nightmare of numbers

and suddenly the unfamiliar room touched me

and held me and would not let me go.

Those were my tears, my thoughts beetling away

as if glimpsed under stones exposed to the light.

Those were my bubbles, blown-fixed forever:

the scratch of future phantoms against the pane.

 

Come September she must climb out of the water,

rinsed and rubbed and blown dry beside the fire.

With her birthday, she is resigned to the tragedy

that eight is ten and ten is twenty ad infinitum.

 

 

The Drowned Man.

 

Hanging there, the drowned man:

mewing mouth and impotent hands,

ingesting his old stories

between despairing breaths.

 

Overhead the seagulls, claw-terrible

and hungry, while fearful children

bait their hooks and cast their lines

desperate to reel him in.

 

And how can ghosts be more real,

more terrible, than the precipice-edge

of your own flesh and blood,

of their present flagellation ?

 

Those bones below stir, embed,

listen as their aged infant cries

and bids adieu: the drowned man hangs

suspended and bobs below range, deep

 

in communion. Their bait untested,

the children do not yet understand

how he will resurface soon, a-splutter,

keen to drown himself again.

 

 

Stark as Stones.

                                                                                

Stark as stones – grind,

unwind, their base fingers rise

surprise, through root, leaf and worm,

infirm, crumbling centuries, seen

between the warm earth’s crust;

the must of static clay chambers

of hearts that ceased

to beat in the dark.

 

Under those trees they felled,

dwelled under omniscient skies,

eyes worn down by the weight,

and fate of preserving the past,

for a glass cased future;

their five toes imprinted,

hinted in the deepest skin’s pores,

flaws where soil and blood merge.

 

I walk upon my mother’s

gaping white jaw,

and more, her smashed

trashed empty pelvis,

inching towards the safe

swathe of distant planets, shielding

fields of leather and carpet,

where yet soil is unknown.

 

I dare not dig in haste

incase I unearth myself,

my health or worse; my toe lodges

splodges in an eye socket,

shocking, of chimeric proportions,

distortions once animated by

monsters more contented

and civilised than myself.

 

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