Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Four Sublime Poems by Cheryl Snell


What Tie Means


The twist of wire closing the sourdough,

the score of some game, the method

for dyeing our comeback sixties shirts;

the squeeze of a silk four-in-hand, tin cans

rattling our car’s tailpipe. What you do

with your hiking boots— those hooks and laces—

before you step on the wet world.

I’m not talking about any of that.

There’s only this: dinner on the simmer, 

you stalled in traffic, hand clenching the horn

until gridlock moves. When it does, the car

takes it from there—tires furrowing slick streets,

garage door drawing up, our history bound up

in a kiss.


Hocus Pocus

A magician pulls an angel out of his hat.

It rises to the roof of his life, wings tucked in

with misdirected prayers. The wings are not important─

useful only to bite down on, like fingernails, 

or to pull out, like strands of hair. 


The hat is another story. Before everything in it 

vanishes like old gold coins, the angel must recognize 

that the man without his magic is the same man 

who caused the ruination of her wings.


The roar announces itself with breath

strongman enough to swallow the world.

Takes the mouth aback, lips stretched,

teeth bared, that runaway tongue fierce

in the right light. Fills the room with blood

and curdles it. Lifts the hair along

the neck and spine, the way it did when

the neighbour girl held the sharp-clawed tabby

to your face. You were three, standing

just out of mother’s sight, knee-deep in snow.

Had you known how to growl, your mouth

would not have opened and closed on silence

already swallowed, you would have twisted sound

from your throat and lobbed it at the cat, and the girl,

the blue shadows on the snow. You went mute instead,

voice smothered as if stuffed inside your toy cat

with all the glass-eyed kittens, the zipper along its belly

always running up and down, opening and closing.

She can’t help it, people say. She’s got a disorder.

Once, you said that the sound of a lion’s roar

can travel five miles, but the howling in your head

is a sound only you can hear.

Social Life with Collectives


a turmoil of porpoises   a shiver of sharks   a prickle of porcupines

a shrewdness of apes   a sleuth of bears    a sault of lions   

a tribe of humans   a nag of grandparents    an ingratitude of children   

a delusion of creatives  a revelation of scientists  a doctrine of doctors   
an apron of nurses    a worship of writers   a pomposity of pundits   


a cache of weapons   a shoulder of bullets   a target of bullseyes   
an ambush of predators     prey is uncountable

Cheryl Snell is a poet. Novelist. Pianist. Aficionado of old music and new art. Fluent in sub-text. A  multiple Best of the Net nominee, her work has been published in a few hundred literary journals and anthologies over the years.



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