Tuesday 21 May 2024

Five Poems by L. Lois






the muse shows up 
puzzling from where 


other times I call it 
from its lair 





Oriah Told Me So in the October Sunshine  


Elisabeth meets 
so the belly 
of Frank 
will burst open 
in wild laughter 


these are things a mother 
can't imagine but her 
son did 
with Lois 
who believes the truth is 
a wise old grey wolf 
finding the way to a rainbow ending



Nothing's Perfect, Really 


frenetic isn't 
a bad 
state to be 


even if it’s 
to sustain 
with dignity 




Now What? 


I just graduated 
from a ten week 
course in domestic 
from my city's 
women's shelter 


I learned 
that what I 
was violent 

even if I never 
knew it then 


this was 
helpful, appreciated 
and enlightening, 
so I asked what 
course I could take 


only to discover 
that the non-profit 
had not thought 
to anticipate my 


Thieveries of Time, Moonbeams of Patience



"… silver clamp
to fasten this dream, end it unseen."
Agha Shahid Ali "The Correspondent"


standing on her tippy toes 
arms up to reach the lip of the box 
a tear slides down her cheek 
landing at her feet, beside the roll of postage stamps 


grandmother said to wait patiently 
Isabetty feared never waking up again 
she rubbed her eyes each morning 
as she read 


words scratched into the soft wooden 
walls of her prison 
"Wings will come to take you 
if the ground doesn't swallow you whole" 


after Gramma fell asleep 
drifting to the dust of her ancient spirit 
Isabetty counted the days 
notching the smooth cedar floorboards 


three times the box 
had been lifted, once moved 
twice the lid opened 
again today 


sudden – like the first time 
Isabetty scrambled from behind 
the Queen's head wound 
‘round the postmaster’s cardboard core 

blindly waving at the bright expanse 

the lid creaked on its hinge 
its deafening shrieks rebounding 
from the walls 


she covered her ears 
fell flat 
like a hat pin 
straight on the floor 



her grey school uniform, flaming red hair 
piled up in a halo of curls 
spilling over the jagged edge 
of the crown long since hidden 


a fiery red forgotten girl 
laying beside the stamps 
no one used 
the likeness of a dead Queen 


Gramma's words scrawled 
dust markings 
Isabetty began to cry 
quietly at first, then louder as hours passed 


a toy soldier stood on another bookshelf 
holding his post 
after the move to the library 
from the boy's bedroom in the old house 


standing guard 
unsure why 
the boy was a young man in college now 
graduating in June 


Garrison Commander Johnson 
used to hold a regiment 
before the unit was scattered, got separated 
he could shoot a man from ten feet 


with his standard-issue musket 
his bugle tied to a twisted brown cord 
hanging down his back 
for morning reveille 


Johnson took his bearings 
the small box on the top shelf 
of the bookcase across the unlit room 
desperate weeping 


coming from where the maid 
with the rosewood-handle duster 
worked earlier 
stopping to look inside from her perch on the ladder 



moonlight shone now 
through the far window 
and on clear nights like this 
the flowers in the vase on the mantel started to dance 


the paintings of horses on the hunt 
swayed like pendulums on heavy embroidered ribbon 
anchored to their picture hooks 
while the carpet swaths of blue appeared like a lake 

Isabetty's tears filled her wooden prison 
and three stamps fell away from the coil 
quickly floating to the surface 
slipping out on the cascading overflow 


through the crack 
between the lid and wall 
over the edge 
down the length of the bookshelf 


a pair of Queens caught on the frayed ends 
of tassels holding 
the heavy green velvet curtain 
wet glue stuck to loose threads 


and outside the window 
wispy clouds parted on the night breeze 
the full moon 
wafting its magic inside in syncopated gusts 


the Queen's faces 
smiled more broadly 
even as the saltiness continued to pour 
Isabetty sobbed unaware 


her sounds now buried 
deep under the water 
Commander Johnson watched 
the curtain billow like an unfettered jib 



he grabbed the loose threads of the closest tassel 
as the stamps, catching a puff of the breeze 
sailed towards him 
he leapt, swinging his legs up 


above his head 
like a high jumper 
one push and a fierce grunt 
crashing down in a heap 


two shelves below the pouring lidded box 
scrambling to his feet 
he grabbed the tendril of potted ivy 
rappelling up its slippery, speckled arm 


to heave onto the top shelf 
crouching to move sideways 
orienting himself on the far side of the box 
away from the waterfall 


scooting under the imposing clasp 
anchored firmly through a hole 
with a silver button 
holding tight with metal-on-metal friction 


a short distance away, Johnson saw 
three spools of thread and a thimble, 
he rolled them under the clasp 
two standing upright, side-by-side 


the thimble as a stepping stool 
kneeling on top, leaning over, 
he grabbed the third spool’s thread-end 
secured through the edge's locking slit 


hauled it up to the top of the tower 
laying flat on his stomach 
he hoisted the thimble in a bear hug 
repositioning it to step on 


Johnson popped 
the clasp open 
shoulder-blade leveraged 
against the box 



water dripping down over his stiff soldier’s cap 
his epaulettes taking the soaking 
the lid jumped up an inch 
on its old hinge 


pulling himself up to the lip 
he dove straight in 
diamond tears, sparkling 
bounced wall-to-wall in the water 


Isabetty's golden crown 
shone below her billowing ruby curls 
Commander Johnson picked her up 
pushed off from the bottom 


clearing the surface 
he grabbed the edge 
left arm still 
around Isabetty's waist 


she woke with a start 
as fresh air hit her face 
sweet dust of grandmother 
suddenly glittering in the moonbeams


L. Lois lives in an urban hermitage where trauma-informed themes flow during walks by the ocean. She is pivoting through her grandmother-era, figuring out why her bevy of adult children don’t have babies, nor time. Her essays have appeared in the Globe and Mail, her recent poetry In Parentheses and Woodland Pattern.

1 comment:

  1. David Hutcheson-Tipton22 May 2024 at 18:34

    Thank you for these poems. You beautifully (and awkwardly, when called for) experiment with the use of white space and condensed lines. Well done!


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