Worms

Rainy Road

Image: © “Rainy Road” by Aelle (CC BY-NC 2.0.)

Author: Katharina Schwarck

“Worms” is a response to Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie’s ecopoetry that I wrote for a class on ecopoetics in Spring 2020. It is mostly inspired by her poem “The Spider” which struck me because it renders its true value to a spider, a generally strongly disliked being. It addresses the spider’s importance in the animal kingdom and humans’ unjust aversion against the arachnid (Jamie, 175). “Worms” follows the same dynamic of calling out wrongful antipathy and disgust. The piece deals with a young girl who, as opposed to her peers, is not repulsed by the worms but rather considers them her friends, more so than her fellow humans. I chose to play with pronouns; I employ several occurrences of “they” and “she”. On one hand, this opposes the young girl and her peers, from whom she feels distant. On the other hand, “they” is used for both worms and humans, eliminating their difference and bringing them onto the same level. The girl picks up the worms and tries to protect them, while the other children cry of disgust. She is angry. They step on the worms for the sole reason of being greater in size. She calls them out. The fifth stanza of the first visual shape is a reference to WB Yeats’ Chambermaid songs, the first one of which compares a human being to a worm

God’s love has hidden him
Out of all harm,
Pleasure has made him
Weak as a worm. (Yeats, 307)

I have reversed the simile in the last line and made mankind itself the vehicle of the trope. Humans do not become as weak as worms: for their contempt, they become as weak as themselves. The sixth stanza alludes to Goethe’s “Heidenröslein”, a metaphor for rejected love. A young boy espies a red rose on a heath and finds her so beautiful as to break her. The rose stings him in return, in vain, because she remains, however, broken (Goethe, 307). I find this image oh so representative of many plant and animal deaths, be it roses or bees or ants. The defence mechanism does not suffice against humans who are much more sizable than their fellow species. Consequently, humans need to take even more precautions to recognise and sustain other beings. I have juxtaposed the worms and the heathrose by making my poem “shud” the flower’s pain, giving the worms strength and protecting them from heathrose’s fate. The second visual worm takes the poem back from Goethe’s time to modern day. The worms still come out in rain, expecting no harm. In this stanza, a car kills the annelids, which echoes with Jamie’s “Frogs” (Jamie, 133). I have inserted internal rhymes in these lines; “flood”, “up”, “guts”. They contain plosive sounds which highlight the violence of the content dealt with in the stanza. This intention of drawing in one’s mind mirrors human blindness towards ecological or ethical issues. They are unmistakable, and yet, humanity often fails to pay attention to them. In the last stanza of the poem, the young girl is grown up. To mark this change, I have changed the preposition preceding the pronoun “as she” into “when she”. She still sees the worms, her old friends, and when her eyes meet their suffering, she still cries out.


Works cited:
– Goethe, Johann W. v. “Heidenröslein”. Goethe’s Schriften: Achter Band, Georg Johann Göschen, 1789, pp.105-106
– Jamie, Kathleen. Selected Poems, Picador, 2018
– Yeats, William B. “The Chambermaid’s First Song”. The Collected Works of W. B. Yeats: Volume I: The Poems, 2nd Edition, Simon and Schuster, 1997, p.307

Star-crossed Flowers

daffodil muse

Image: © ELLE

Author: ELLE

Oh, to be born a daffodil,
An emerging seed of sundust
Waking from a numbing sleep
Reaching, slowly, the promises of the surface
Gently crackling the thin iced reminiscence of a silent winter.

The silky honey-coloured petals
Gracefully introducing the son of Céphise
To the distant sound of foreseen decay
For Narcissus’ reflection can only last for so long
Under the sky of spring.

*

Oh, to grow under the name of a rose,
Cursed symbol of serendipity;
Bound to hear the countless selfish soliloquies
Premises to dissatisfied infatuation.
Forced to see the solitude glowing in eyes that once knew love.

Does dusk know that dawn exists?
For the rose surely is unaware of the adversity of winter
And the daffodil is ignorant of the pain of thorns
And yet, –

Pink Combo

Images: ©️ Erika Castrillón

Author: Erika Castrillón

Today I went to the park. I followed the same path I used to seven years before. I asked my cousin if I could use the swing, she said that some girls like me often do it, so I thought it was right.

I started swinging and the air that blew my hair and caressed my skin made me happy. When I was a child, my father used to take me to that park every single afternoon. Seven years ago, the park was made of sand and dry plants. Today, I was going on swings made of steel. Back in my time, I played with wooden ones. I looked down to my legs and drew some little ones, the legs of a six-year-old girl, me. Me in that tender pink t-shirt-short combo my mom knitted for me. My little feet running around the place without thinking of tomorrow. When I was not conscious about my parents getting divorced. When I was not aware of why mom used to cry every afternoon. Today I felt scared. I feared pushing myself so high that I couldn’t go down and scared of going so low that I couldn’t get up and get stocked in that toxic and plastic sand. I felt overwhelmed. My cousin asked if I was ok, so I hid the tears. 

I wondered if I could go so high that I could touch the stars. I think on those 90’s coming of age movies where a group of youthful teenagers goes to a park just to hang out. I saw that shot where a beautiful young girl is swinging. A black and white pic full of feeling. And I felt hopeful that all my dreams would see the light someday. I just closed my eyes and realized that I was alone. I was the only teenager in a place full of kids. In the end, I was the only one swinging. There was just a boy a few steps to my right with a baby. Then a policeman came to me and asked for my age. I told him I wasn’t an adult. He told me, “It’s just ’til twelve years old” Oops, I’m too old to swing.

Leaving

Author: Anonymous

When a fox is trapped
This is a known fact, you know
About foxes, people know this
People know these things about foxes
People think they know many things about foxes
But really nobody knows the important thing about foxes
Nobody knows the really important thing about foxes, which is
The really important thing about foxes is that for them, for all wild things
the squirrels and badgers and teenage girls, the boars and martens and cats
Pain isn’t something they could ever do, not to themselves
Pain is a natural event, pain is like a storm which passes
Or doesn’t pass, a storm which continues on and on
They don’t create pain, they don’t shape it
It shapes them, so when the fox
When the fox is trapped
And it gnaws off
Its own leg
And we
Marvel
At its
bra
ve
ry
And
Its
Sac
ri
fice
We are doing
everything
but understanding it.

 

March 2021

Atlas Suite

Timon's creation

Image: @ Timon Musy

Author: Timon Musy

¤

The ground is flat and dusty,
The owl sings and wonders
Why it is on the moon.
The masks float,
Above the mangrove the candles burn
And no one asks
Why trees would grow on the moon.

On the moon,
There is a telescope.
And with this telescope
We can see the moon.
No one looks at it though,
We only long for magic.
And why would we look at it,
Since there are trees on the moon?

¤ ¤

Two young girls are kissing
In the nebula
Behind the house

The old lady finds
In her bed
Again
Love.

A supernova, somewhere,
Deep in the blackness of space
Consumes itself
Alone.
Nothing’s left,
Yet it existed.

¤ ¤ ¤

The neon light above the door saturates
The coffee machine
The air
The tables
Eyes open the man sleeps against the window.
A drunken and empty cosmonaut suit.
The ground is flat and dusty.

Mother and Cub

Fox

 Image: “Fox” by jans canon is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Author: Sorcha Walsh

The moon was hanging low in the sky as the young mother fox stuck her nose outside the den. She inhaled deeply and saw the whole forest before her – the muddy, wet scent of the leaves on the ground, the blank coolness of the flowing river, and the million busy scents of the animals in the forest. She could smell the birds’ feathers, agitated by their irritated flapping as they bustled around before twilight (the most important part of any bird’s day was when they got to sing). The badgers, too, were starting to creep out of their dens, she could tell by the deep musky scent which lazily and playfully curled its way around each tree. None of these brown, unsaturated smells truly drew her attention, however. She was waiting to catch a hint of the amazing technicolour smell of people.

It had been a long time since she’d ventured out of her den. She had kits to feed, and a mother took care of her young. That was a law which went deeper than most, a law which she felt in her blood and bones. But ever since that year’s mate had failed to return, she had felt something else in her blood and bones: hunger, of a kind she’d never felt before. A gnawing, aching, consuming hunger. So when her milk dried up, she left her growing kits in very bottom of the den and ventured out. She wouldn’t go far, that she knew. But the twin impulses, equally strong, of caring for her young and sating her hunger had raged for weeks. It wasn’t until she couldn’t feed her young any longer that the maternal instinct joined forces with the aching need to fill her belly and she was forced, not by any will of her own but rather the buffeting forces which live inside and rule all animals, to leave.

She sat sniffing outside the den for a number of minutes, waiting to make sure that the coast was clear. This was by no means an easy task – every rodent scurrying by smelled exactly like a meal and after weeks without so much as a scrap of food her instinct to feed was sharply honed. However, she retained just the scrap of self-preservation which required that she wait to have a full picture of the situation before venturing out. Eventually, she did just that, slinking along the forest floor, her bony body sticking to trees and shadows.

Hunting was made difficult by her weakened state. Several times she smelled a rat, close enough that she knew she could stalk it, but in her condition she wasn’t able to move subtly and she inevitably alerted her would-be prey to her presence.

After several failed attempts she smelled a familiar scent, and a most welcome one. Her entire body seemed to lift in the air with joy as she recognised it. It was, it could only be, her mate from that year, who she had thought dead or injured. Surely he was on his way back to her, surely he had been lost. She hurried towards the source of the scent, and found a den. Not thinking, only reacting, she ran to the source of comfort, the source of sustenance, and came upon not only her mate, but another vixen and seven plump young kits, the same age as her own. Bewilderingly, her mate didn’t appear surprised to see her, or concerned for her state. No, he simply placed his lithe, muscular, healthy body between her and the other vixen – and the kits. It was to no avail, however. Propelled by weeks of hunger and an instant of betrayal, her wasted muscles propelled her forward in one bound to push past the two adult foxes and take a cub into her jaws, snapping its neck instantly. And as the rich scent of blood burst onto her tongue like an opening flower, her only thought was of her next bite.

Prose poems ❧

Prose poems

Image: © Lara Lambelet

Author: Lara Lambelet

Her scent

My senses covet the scent of her breasts.

They are now faintly dampened by my tears.

A hindrance to my unwholesome desire, the pungent wreath tantalizes my soul.

 

Obedient

People are sad in the metro.

Tinted in blue, white, sold in lots.

Vague and wandering looks;

don’t predict anything good.

Words bang and choke behind the fabric.

This is the new gregarious instinct; a muzzle for the individual.

It veils the softness of a smile brought to a child;

disarmed in the masked procession of obedient beings.