Wednesday 15 February 2023

Four Poems by Frances Gaudiano


Doctor Mermaid


She had a doctorate in sea lettuce.

When she walked, she squelched.

The webs between her toes

stuck to the floor

and the sea dripped down her back,


Phytoplankton shimmered in the

     pools she created.

Running her hand through her long tresses,

     The lettuce was spread,

sown into the floorboards.


     When she stepped off the podium,

      finishing her lecture,

She waded through a sea of green.

The harvest began after she left.


The Barnacle’s Penis


The barnacle has a penis

     All out of proportion

to its owner.

     The blue whale

has the largest heart in the sea.

     Man has the longest knife.

It cuts the throat of Poseidon,

filling the ocean with blood.

     The hungry sharks feed,

Growing fat on death.


And the blue whale’s heart

      Breaks in two.

While the barnacle’s penis

      shrivels to nothing.


The Boxing Day Swim


We walk along cliffs screaming with gulls,

The wind whipping my hair wild,

stiff with salt, cheeks slapped red.


We stop to admire seals below,

Lolling in the sand,

Fat sausages at rest.

A flipper lifts, then a tail.

One moves worm-like towards the sea.


The dog at my feet barks to them,

Till reprimanded,

Huddles at my feet.

Clouds fling bitter pellets against us

And the pleading eyes whine for somewhere warmer.


Just one more glimpse of the sleeping seals,

Interrupted by the unexpected.

Figures, four of them,

Crawl from between the rocks –

Completely unencumbered.

Their pink and white bodies step into the surf.

A seal lifts its head,

Curious to see these blubberless creatures

Step into the stone-cold sea,

Their quivering buttocks, enveloped in the foam.


Shivering at the sight, I turn away

With the dog, wincing at the bite of the wind

And head home,

somewhere warmer than Neptune’s embrace.



At the bottom of the stairs


Thick fog of sleep

Slowed my steps down the dark stairs

At the bottom –

A patch of white, on the entry mat.

A stain of unknown origin.

Perhaps a lost cloud had seeped in

Or a flurry of snow,

Or even,

A small, white poodle.


Curious, I crept towards it,

Dipping my toe into what was bright against the night.

No substance there

But moonlight, bathing my feet,

Blessing them with magic.


I could see her then,

Ripe and full, hanging in the sky

Ready to be plucked.

She beckoned:

Go into the woods

Hold hands and dance.

Call me down.

I am waiting.

Frances Gaudiano - Has recently had poems published in Last Stanza, Witches and Pagans and a short story in Mythulu. Last year, Veneficia Press published her novel - The Listener | Veneficia ( Her non-fiction work includes several articles for the veterinary press and a textbook on Veterinary Dermatology.

Her ‘day job’ is as a veterinary nurse, a profession she has enjoyed for nearly thirty years. Prior to becoming a veterinary nurse, Frances earned her M.A. in Dramatic Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She worked in theatre as a stage manager in England, California and Indonesia. She also briefly taught school but soon realised that animals are much easier to work with than children. Currently, Frances resides in Cornwall, England – a beautiful, dramatic place where you can occasionally swim with a seal. 

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