Lois P. Jones (South Pasadena, California, USA)



Liz Berry: From the moment I read this dark, extraordinary poem it haunted me. It's mysterious, unsettling, blends the mythic with the real and is just so beautifully written. It's full of emotional charge and is taut with intensity and violence.
And that ending, oh my goodness that ending!







In your next life you will be

birthed in needles

of hoarfrost, your eyes still

in the blue gauze between

this world and the next

and I will kneel so close

you will smell the hot iron

waiting to singe

your skin. You’ll hear

the crackle of the flame

and your throat will prickle

with stars. I’ll wrap your shins

in nettle and this shelter will fall

deeply into zero. This is the start

of your suffering for the children,

            yours who became

the wanderers, beaten between

the withers, broken and unridable

in the world’s dark loam. There is

no animal to save you now

no purling stream to fold

shame into, not even the jackdaw

as witness, or a single crofter

awake in this cat’s eye hour.

Revenge tries on its black

bridle then drapes it over

the swinging fence.

Father, I will not take out

your eyes but I will brand you

with the word you fear

and you will wear it

and you will wear it

and give up everything to winter.









poem © Lois P Jones