J S Watts
I am looking for an absent voice,
seeking it in the unlikeliest places:
the black, leaf hungry wood, bird full,
the mud drenched field frozen by wailing wind.
Amongst the dark empty echoes
under the dripping glacial rock
was, perhaps, too obvious,
but the fading myth music
reflected untold possibilities.
The glittering applause decorating
the slapstick, sequined circus
was an interesting side-step
even if it didn’t totally produce
a glass-crunching octave,
though maybe it did. I couldn’t hear.
Cracked can deliver as much raw damage
as shattered by a shriek,
but does it more discreetly
so you don’t notice until nothing has crept in.
I’ve forgotten the fleeing salt taste
of the sound I’m hunting,
assuming I’ve ever even touched it,
tasted it, known it,
which I sometimes doubt.
Autumn is already here
and my taste buds are withering.
I have become my own ventriloquist.
Each leaf rustles in a different key.
She has tried this line before
but only forced the words further
into the thickening straightjacket
she is trying to shed.
Stasis is an end
not a start.
The universe flows
on and she
is trying to flow with it
within its calming gush
slick impatient fish
giving herself over and up
yanking out the hooks and anchors
that clutch like black bramble barbs
clinging ferociously as she tries to pass
tearing her to stay
when she wants to pour forward
or at least away.
Letting go is trust
a pencil suddenly rolling across a plain flat pad
to the call of an unseen incline.
She has no propulsion
no sun chariot to carry her
except her will
the gold-rush call
the feeling that there is more
a direction to plunge into.
Mother through a mirror, darkly
I study myself in the mirror of your face
old scars showing where life’s silvering has worn.
Thirty-three years down, this too will frame me
should I live so long.
I’m not sure I want to.
There are worse things than death.
Tomorrow is the fourth of July, independence somewhere
not here. Yours lies tangled up
in soiled bandages and heavy duty adult nappies
thrown away with the waste
in toxic yellow plastic bags littering
the untended wilderness of your once prized front garden.
You lie deflated in bed or tethered
invisibly to the damp jail of your chair
helpless as a homeless newborn
but without fresh promises to grow into.
Your world stale and tarnished.
You cling to it with a ferocity
you cannot muster for forgotten everyday things.
I watch a lifetime of frustration
crawl painfully over the furrows of your face.
I wonder how long it will take
before the mirror is sheeted
under their accumulating weight.
J.S.Watts is a UK poet and novelist who weaves the fantastical and the literary with other vibrant strands to create glowing, multi-faceted writing. Her work has appeared in publications in Britain, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the States and has been broadcast on BBC and Independent Radio. She lives in the UK and has performed her poetry across much of Britain, though there are still places she’d love to visit.
To date, J.S. has published nine books: three full poetry collections, “Cats and Other Myths”, “Years Ago You Coloured Me” and “Underword”, plus multi-award nominated SF poetry pamphlet, “Songs of Steelyard Sue” and her more recent pamphlet, “The Submerged Sea”. Her novels are “A Darker Moon” – dark fiction and “Witchlight”, “Old Light” and “Elderlight” – urban fantasy. See: www.jswatts.co.uk for further information.