LION WOMAN

Unto the forest she drags herself

spectral Queen with more than a bite-

quite the talker.

Lion woman could cut out your tongue

devastate you like meteorites

flung like punches under satellites

mistaken for comets.

The noble trees mark her transit

some stand, others are sold to the ground

like chopped limbs, barbecued

to lessen the risk

of caving in your skull.

Lion woman with her atlas hands

nothing but clear cracks and tears

from chemical burns

walks half full, fear fossilised here

in the wake of man.

She wants nebulas for irises

the warm hug of a space suit

like the tin foil blankets

they give you outside a hospital room-

at least then they’d save her.

She yearns to pluck the stars

and keep them near her poached heart

but they already belong to the galaxy

and the moon has the sun’s love.

 

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CALENTURE

There is a sense of belonging

in wanting to touch the sun in gentle strokes

to smooth it in, acrylic smudge,

valley of yellow on your shoulders-

two proud beacons burning, feeding us with enough light to grow

from the rotting bark that has pulled apart to nothing.

The ends of my hands hold firm the beach rope that has longingly

held together our sleepy boat house

strawberry red cuts, gentle stings

and there is little now except the words that tremble

that rip apart my throat like a tangled mess of phone cord

spilling over berry bruised organs exposed for bird pickings

as the line breaks.

How is it that you slip so silently to garner wood and ill- strung words

when death turns under every stone

unscathed, when the wind slices so neatly at my cheeks

and its been weeks since we’ve seen home-

now nothing more than the fire we blow through our hands

to keep our lungs from collapsing.

TRIOP [EULOGY III]

Body serrated

The kind of monster you expect from a puddle

Leaf-like

So little time

Sift this temporary grounding through my gills

Tusked faeries hunting females

Toads rutting in the gloom

Eggs left in the dirt

Tadpoles grow legs

Crawl free

We are microscopic cannibals

Cloning ourselves, splitting in stress

Of the daylight death swelling

Above our heads

The choking that’s to come

That small, mud-born

Egg-sacked ghosts of ourselves

We will sleep until the rain falls

MONSTER

Let me read your palm little astronaut

You’re gonna outlive so many comets and stars

Let’s dig up dinosaur bones in the backyard

And lob tennis balls at prospective meteors

I’ll be the monster under your bed

‘Cos you make me feel giant

With all the motherly might of mountains.

I’ll always see myself as kinda frightful

Like a dragon in skin-costume

All scales and spikes

My tongue hungry and blue

I’ll eat you up for supper lovely

If you nick one more chip off my plate

I’ll make a necklace of all your baby teeth

 

I know why monsters keep children

Your sleep is time travel

You are my lonely history outgrown

My copy

Our matching genes linked like constellations above our sleeping heads

I’ll be a better monster than mine were

I won’t squeeze you too tight

I’ll let you sleep little caveman

I’ll let you gnaw at my wrists

And fight me with blankets

I’ll let you love me beyond my stitches

Love me like the velveteen rabbit

With the stuffing all knocked out of it

LEAF EULOGY

There is no shame in undressing

But I can’t help feeling

If the trees had teeth they’d be gritted

Down to the gums

As the cold licks them clean.

I’ve been thinking a lot about hurricanes

People and possessions and cars

Torn away on unknown currents

Houses buckling and spilling their contents. Exorcisms

Everything gone with one sweep of tide

pollution spat into a swirl of Godawful senselessness.

How our losses end up in landfills or tangles of wheezing gulls and turtles.

Our impermanence fossilised in plastic

Junk that we’ve buried in the frenzy of squirrels

Knowing the winter will starve us

Knowing as we wait on the roofs of our lot,

No one has sent the boats or helicopters for us.

And wood, wood knows how to rot,

Even rock doesn’t know how to let the tide

Scape it so smooth.

If we could lose our bones like beachwood

If we could slip out of our hair and teeth

And ability and family and homes

The way trees release their leaves

Rot that smells so sweet

Ripe with pips and seed

The concrete filling live

With curled spirits

of bugs and frogs and mushrooms and mice and

I never learned how to conker

All these tiny losses

Mouse curved and twitching all over with whiskers,

Skin dried to bird’s-chest fineness,

Tail loose with sleep,

Frost at its nose,

So brittle you can see skeleton

Too fine to be bone

What will be left of you?

Not even a pip at the centre, not even stone.

BED HEADS.

I turn over to you restless, fingertips at your jaw

I’ve been waiting on you, I’ve been all on my own

and I think you know.

 

The sun has crawled into bed with us,

seeping into our clothes

wrapping her arms around the smalls of our backs-

and I’ll give each day of my life

for that familiar nose, field of pollen specks

and the way it nuzzles the warmth of my neck.

 

Snowed in, I nudge at the covers avalanching you

wake you like lightning in Arizona

hitting deserts, fingers feathered out

like the hours that you licked tenderly from my face

lifting up my head like the wilted sunflowers-

darling they broke me.

 

This generation gave birth to machines

manufactured dreams suscitated with thumbs

an art collective, and we’re just two bed heads

two fuzzy bums keeping out the cold.

I FELT THE EARTH SHAKE- BEN ZAMO

It’s okay; we can both take the blame

I’ll take on most ‘cause you don’t need that again

But your frown remains

Determined that my being around means I’m kinder

Means I’m caring

And I suppose you’re not wrong

I just dare not think of the reality:

You lacking sleep

Unpacking memories in a rented apartment

Playing Tetris with your feelings

As though squeezing your eyes closed will make them disappear

Your ceiling feels like it’s getting lower

And you’re slower to respond

I don’t think much of what’s going on

You’re just-        distracted

That’s it

I think it’s a little bit of both of our faults

Because I didn’t realise you were still scratching love letters into her front door

Slumped

The cold floor numbing your bones

Vaguely hoping she’s not home soon

I just want to be there to tell you it’s ‘Alright!’

Hold tight

Pull your weighted body home

Pretend I don’t notice how you change with the moon

I’ll ready myself to take your hand

Turn it over

Pick out the splinters as my stomach churns

Learns all the ways you wish you could change her mind

And your eyes spill secrets

Hitched breaths

Turned head to hide them

I’m not blind

Still, I don’t ask you the ‘why’s that have been hiding in my mouth

My lips can’t quite pronounce them

When you’re sending me thank yous in your Halliwell smiles

Insisting I’m kinder than

I am

A blessing of poor decisions

I kiss away the dampness on your cheeks

Use the saltiness to soothe my chapped lips and hiss

Your body shakes the bed

Tries to break away

Struggling to catch your breath

Pushing me-

Back

The attack of memories still plaguing blue

And you

Somehow apologising

Still crying

And I’m prying at fingertips

Apologies kissed in pink welts on my wrist

I-

Had a hollow heart when empty arms held me

Couldn’t breathe

And like I wished my mum’s arms were hers

I know you wish these lips weren’t mine

Even as you remind yourself that time will change things

And I’m scared because I wanted to prove that some people stay

But I’ve never known a pain that makes the Earth shake.

 

Ben Zamo