Lying in the post-dawn glare through drawn curtains
I first hear it in my right ear. Not tinnitus, no, not that.
A machine-generated morse, too fast to copy, impossible
to record and slow down for later transcription, far more
complex than dot dot dot, dash dash dash, dot dot dot
on fast repeat. Not a terse message, sent as a burst
not fast enough for that. No, someone is trying
to message me through the fillings in my molars –
an alien transmission from light years in the past
to say ‘We are here’ and to ask ‘Where are you?’
on The Chair Factory at Alfortville by Henri Rousseau
Someone has left a giant's chair at the edge of the water,
big enough for the owner to sit in and soak his corns
or bend down and scoop up crustaceans for breakfast.
A little fisherman, with rod and bait at the wharfside,
has been casting his line all night, catching nothing
and now this neo-Goliath is in position on his throne,
laughing as he lands all manner of piscatorial delights.
A lady watches from the promenade, lips smacking,
Her long tongue whiplashes out, like a chameleon
catching flies. She snatches crayfish from the Titan.
They stick to tastebuds as if drawn to a Velcro magnet.
She gulps down the raw flesh, pincers still snapping,
burps and chortles as the big man secretly weeps.
The detonation first – and then the portal
locks at the echoing retort. He swivels,
watches the wheel spin clockwise to seal
the tunnel behind him. It begins to feel
like a submarine now, as aftershocks rock
the walls and his innards begin to shake.
Festoons of spiders' hammocks dance
above his head, wafting into the distance.
It’s dark but he can see the ghostly webs
well enough, as shivers break his trance.
With a galloping pulse, he takes a chance
to inch ahead, one man's tentative steps,
as the arachnid cribs continue to oscillate,
fade from dawn grey to the dead of night.
The female blackbird lands,
head cocked, on the lawn,
waits for more of her victim
to emerge. A millimetre more
and she drags a writhing worm
from heavy clay, flies to the nest.
A male kingfisher perches
on an overhanging branch,
watches for lunch to turn up.
With a twitch and a snatch
he swipes the stickleback,
takes it home for the chicks.
The man in the suit shuffles
along on his way to the office,
not anticipating anything
outlandish to disrupt his day,
until he’s located, monitored,
sampled, analysed, assimilated.
You asked about our latest insertion.
Next to the second post on the right,
you'll find them, alongside the footpath.
Sorry, we can't say which footpath.
You should be able to work it out
for yourself. Think about it.
Each of them will be lying
under a well-preserved fossil
that we are careful to turn over.
They’ll become cribs, cocoons,
little tumuli, henges, whatever,
to keep them dry, out of view
until the appointed time. Kids
don't collect gryphaea now
so the shells won’t be disturbed.
If you work out where they are,
you may, of course, look at them
but do replace the devil's toenails
after you have observed
what they are harbouring.
We won't activate them for a week
so you still have a little time
to track down their whereabouts
before they go walkabout.
Sharon Larkin’s poems often begin with a visual stimulus but soon become ‘infected’ with psychosocial concerns, as is evident from her poems in ‘Interned at the Food Factory’ (Indigo Dreams, 2019), ‘Dualities’ (Hedgehog Poetry Press, 2020) and over 200 poems in anthologies, magazines and e-zines.
A former civil servant, she now runs Eithon Bridge Publications https://eithonbridge.com, edits 'Good Dadhood’ ezine https://gooddadhood.com and blogs at 'Coming up with the Words' https:/sharonlarkinjones.com.
Sharon has degrees in literature/art history and modern languages, as well as an MA in creative writing. She is proud of her Welsh ancestry and enjoys photography, the countryside and the natural world.