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J S Watts

Voice Hunter

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: for further information.

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