Sunflowers

It rained all summer long
and the few sunflowers 
not devoured by slugs 
turned their green faces in
towards our windows.
We wiped circles in the 
condensation just to see 
them beaming at us like 
expectant children waiting 
for a birthday party to begin. 

Don’t ask me to explain
why they are real and 
I'm too tired to care 
if you believe me
but we are ghost fodder. 
When it rains so much 
sedge grips your tongue
and words are waterlogged
as air through sodden lungs,
then apparitions come.

A vengeful spirit hacked 
them down with a toy sword
because it hurts to be left out 
while everyone is having fun.
They lay with broken necks 
and giant leaves palm up
the way a good photographer
might document the victims 
of a massacre or cyclone, 
seeing beauty in despair.

Afterwards it sat alone 
in a bare room with 
blackout curtains drawn,
pulling wilting petals 
from a severed head.
A mere slip of a thing
pale with dark circles
under huge eyes in the 
half-light, like a child 
cradling a broken doll.

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Mana

I reasoned it away at first 
imagining I’d glimpsed 
a flitting shape, a flickering
—the way a lighter 

or a glinting flick-knife 
in an undecided hand might.
In some kinds of light
her looming shadow spills 
what lives beneath the skin

a lithe, elastic silhouette
with wings and fine antennae.
It’s in the way she milks 
the restless sleeper using 
a technique akin to keyhole surgery

seeking the psyche’s viscid 
nectaries until they cede,
with her protruding tongue;
and sealing them with yellow
brimstones when she’s done. 

First published by Corvid Queen 5th May 2022 
https://corvidqueen.com/stories/mana-katerina-neocleous


Gargoyles

When their hearts and bodies
ached, they imagined beings
able to transcend toil
only love made tolerable;
and the hurt, embryonic wings

reluctantly unfolding
from sore shoulders like
horse chestnut leaves.
More cloister bat than angel
these mute creatures

summoned in desperation
can’t offer hope or salvation;
but they’ll sit with you all day
though you refuse their comfort –
until you’re less lonely than them.

0
8
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An earlier version first published in IS&T 2017. Also in my first collection, Wish (Maytree Press 2019).

Vedbaek

I pick a path by grey-light
to grave 8 at Vedbaek
on the moon’s far plateaus,
among its arid lakes
and crumbling catacombs.

Here is the Mesolithic
mother laid to rest
six thousand years ago,
cradling a child with
two knives by its side

borne with a final blessing
on a swan’s great wing –
to reach eternal Spring.

mother maiden crone anthology pic
An earlier version Published in ‘Maiden Mother Crone’ an Anthology edited by Katie Metcalfe, Slice Of The Moon Press (2020)