his face is an alloy
he keeps his dreams
buried under the
enamel coat he wears
for unconscious

tonight is different
he writhes in the
stagnant sheets
with a hollow head
thoughts bounce
inside and echoes cascade
into archetypes holding
his stare and turning
the prayer shaped
hands into fists

only strangers can tame
a swollen psyche
it feels like a bruise
but heals under
a canter of laughter

hours will
tell you its time
to rest and let
the kernels of misery
climb out your spiderlike

follow the purr
of the shadows where
the thrum of journal music
collects folds chuckles
whirls twitters and pours
into the pliant chamber
in his skull
tremors and calm
daggers evanesce
much like the tea
that wakes him

the soft milk
glides over
the soldier spoon
chemicals coalesce
his eyes newspaper
the events

the headlines rinse his thoughts
and stay as a reminder like
that gypsy laundry laughing
in the backyard

poetry, Reviews

winter succubus. | WritersCafe.org

she ekes at my psyche 

trailing icy fingerprints
through the hallways of my heart,
while whispering the truths that hurt –
the ones i know better
than to acknowledge…
she knows the chinks in my armour,
after all, she cut them all out
in the first place
in winter months
her thoughts hold sway
and i recede
huddled within the safety
of my trusty bolthole
she prowls the perimeter
keeping watch
and while her insidious murmurs
can slide through the floorboards
or between the planks i nailed
over the only way in
(or out)
she herself is unable
to ghost her icicle touch
along my pale flesh
now if i can only hold out til spring…

© 2010 jenniewren (J.W. Bouwman)


the one he buried

there was a small soul
who buried a hole
right underneath his
own carpet today

he thought that if he
could take enough
hysteria and squash it
into his jamjar with a
few simple fingers
people would come to watch

some healer had said
that putting your problems
in a jar overnight would
help you sink into the
swaddling momentum of peace

this morning he sat on his
bed and watched
the blister events
whirl wrapple quiver and
cry behind the tears of
peanut butter

watching it made him
late for work when a small
trickle of pathos rippled
down into the ground and
just above the lid

a few flies began
to sit there and watch
him hatch more
stone solid emotions

he cut his nails though
his grandmother
said a clean griever was
a righteous believer in
the book

she absorbed at night
today he only had a jar
to use and process the
heavy twinges for now.

that was ample enough
for his stamp of serenity
other folks grilled their
voices in waves of coffee
and headlines which
then made them scatter off
to imminent events

he finished his toast
wiped his hands
scrubbed his mouth
and got up feeling lighter

he pulled out the virile
tongue of his shoes and
tied the arms of laces
together to keep his
feet inside of the
brown arms that collected
at a heavy knot and

looked like a noose




By Sarah Frost

How sad that it has come to this
my father an old man driving me and his grandson, asleep in the baby seat,
through the Eastern Cape interior to the airport
from where we will return, as if we were swallows and the holiday a winter,
to our warmer home, and he will make the two hour journey back
to my mother and the sea
alone in their big white car, a craven gull.

I whirl the dial of the iPod
with my forefinger, scanning on screen the music he has downloaded.

Songs were always the antidote for our unspoken conflict, pooling like snake venom in the blood, lyrics too –
I remember him, skinny, young, passionate, finding Dylan Thomas’s ‘Fern Hill’/ /reading stanzas, jubilant, from the bath to me in the next room;
‘nothing I cared in the lamb-white days/ that time would take me/ by the shadow of my own hand/ up to the loft where the moon is always rising’.
It is still the only poem I’ve ever memorised.

I ask about the Stones’ ‘little Red Rooster,’
he replies, ‘it reminds me of dancing at raunchy parties’.
Nothing irresistible about you now Dad, smaller, greyer, with every year,
fishing surreptitiously under your seat
for the last turquoise Smarty from the box we just shared,
your hand unsteady as it was when you reached for mine
and held on to it as if it were a rope,
and you the one falling, wrenched away.

We were watching the documentary on Dylan (No Direction Home)
on my laptop. I remember you, visiting, just you, on a summer’s night
cradled with the iPod in the hammock on my verandah,
crooning with Dylan ‘she’s got everything she needs/
she’s an artist/ she don’t look back’.

Your inexplicable and therefore frightening fury
as you told me about our ancestors, and how to write well
I had to honour them too.

My great-grandfather, stern, distant, a stranger, wrote to me
on pale green Croxley paper
his writing frail against the formality of the black-inked lines.

In the troubled departure hall,
you kiss us both goodbye and I turn away irresolute, unforgiving
to walk through the X-ray arch,
your gaze on my shoulders a faint touch for the child you forsook,
the woman you call your daughter,
who, angry, the damage done, carries your dwindling fire into the future.

The man standing at the side of the woman writing
had an indelible tattoo of loss etched onto his face
every needle prick a leaving.


Open up

I can see tubes hurt you

Pain bleach you

a clear sense of who you are marred the stone age contempt

now vanishing from your crippled lips.

I think I like what I see

I like the strong thrumming of your heart

When we lay blanketed in the bone silence

It was the other night

That you said the frost in the morning

Caught your eye,

It dripped, clear tears, that ran over the

The murk and sludge of


I like your sense of things that

Trigger behind your eyes catching the unspoken

In a crackling snapshot,

Into the dark dense ringlets,

Of blanket and fog.

At night you’re relaxed,

Almost more alive, when your head

Melts into my chest, your whisper pours

through the room like a cat.

I have never forgot you, or your

plain faces. Your mornings then

lifted you lightly, telling you to

pick the plums.

When you are gone and the telephone restlessly

ticks, the newspaper lies buried under

your brushes…

I go to the bed, lie there, with the noise

Inside of me,

The room is full of you, the cemented scents,

And the bed that buried your boredom. I cannot

Hear your crying

Just watch the crumbs.

* * *

I listen to your words left


seeping through

the duvet.