Poems That Stretch And Contract

Snails Among Bones


Quiet, and listen; a blade of grass is impregnated by the sand,

Blown across by southern winds that hoover the Sahara.

But the grass doesn’t matter; it’s a backdrop.

The backdrop doesn’t matter; it’s a blade of grass.

A bird of violet blue flies like a nationalist overhead

But don’t worry much about him; he’s only skyscape.

What does matter – I’m afraid to ask!

Don’t look at the boy. Listen; if you look at him he might look up

He might see the grass, see the bird, see the nothingness of them

But mistake them for a whirlwind of a something.

You know?

He might just miss, the boy crouching in his father’s shadow,

The snail dragging itself through a pile of bones.

An open graveyard; listen; death abandoned by the centuries

In the forgotten countryside that also doesn’t matter (used to matter).

Snail, skull, darkness, must, rot;

The boy grins giddily and his father lays his hand on his shoulder.

His father will soon jump down into the chapel’s open graveyard

And pick the death-humping snails for Sunday lunch.

But that doesn’t matter, quiet; what does matter?

Don’t say it. The boy might hear you;

Quiet!              The bones glimmering with snail-slime

That doesn’t matter but for the boy:

That’s all that matters.

It’s not about watching his father crawling anciently through the graveyard

It’s not  about the death-fixated snails that will die boiled in a Torquemada pan

It’s not about the sun’s failure to penetrate that dank pit like a bowel masticating dead grass.

That’s all that matters for the boy.

But quiet; listen; fine

The boy will never see anything like this ever again

And that matters a little, that marigold-truth, but what matters most

  • Quiet –

Is that he will spend his life trying to see, wanting to see

What he can never see again.


Book Stall


Can books rust? This book rusts, as it awaits

Its foretold owner like a prophesied slave-owner.

In the stall where gypsy shadows stalk the walls of Rome

The rusting book awaits he that must come.


He comes wandering happily, family old and young in tow,

He is happy because he is here and he buys the book

Because he wants to export this happiness back home;

Like a Napoleon melting down the Baroque silver of old.


The book sees and knows nothing – it is a book.

It knows only the name of he who buys it,

He who takes it away from the tropical stall

In Rome’s clime of Mediterranean sunset.


Though the book knows its fate

It knows nothing of its details.


Neither does its buyer;

Neither does fate itself really know.




A knife falls on the shoulder bone.

Sharpness meets hardness.

The slicing begins and the sound of sawing reeks.

Blood oozes and feels more like water.

Cutting closer to the marrow like the earth’s core.

Strike the knife now like a hammer.

Knife upon knife like tough lesbians.

And the bone splits apart no longer bone but food.

No longer animal but conduit.

Isn’t it condiment?

No, a conduit.

Conduit of happiness that has its own

Expiry date.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. Fine poems with complex, multiple perspectives … echoes of TS Eliot, perhaps?


    1. justinfenech says:

      Many thanks! I’m not a fan of TS Eliot, but that doesn’t mean his influence didn’t permeate.

      Liked by 1 person

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