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Amanda Earl :: Three poems from Syn

this body, desire

antidote to fretting.
bliss that colours the sun.
pain has a reputation for beauty.
turquoise is a sure sign of a bruise:
nerve endings, amethyst in the blood imperial.
to be intimate is mystical:
intricate designs in the dream cortex in red coral.

notoriously subjective.
an ecstasy of shirred silk over bone.
an old soul with an infinite life span
caged in mortal bone disguise:
skin, hair, pink lips.

uncorked from dark glass ideals.
each drop is pointed light behind the knee,
 on the right shoulder,
on the left,
on the nape of the neck.

I want to touch you but you don’t know who I am.
you insist on belonging and I will never.


isn’t encre de Chine lamp-black and still in the small hours. I’d love to say it’s a peaceful garden where flowers of the night are velour and jasmine-scented. I’d like to believe that sleep does no harm.

In the formless dark, a lurid magisterium of fears and despair undermines the day’s achievements with the skulking insecurities. 

When the late hour becomes insufferable in its hue of shadows and too heavy to bear, eyelids bruised with fatigue have no choice but to shut.

The breath and the heartbeat slow. All conscious sensations give way to ghosts in red hoods, the feather rustle of the unknown, anticipating a fresh kill, a carnival of garish anxieties shuffling while neurons fire and innocuous sounds are translated into the sinister shrieks and howls of the guard dog at the gates of terror which open when you close your eyes and surrender.

Sleep is a Cocteau other world of rippling mirrors where time moves irrationally from speed to slow motion. No wonder at five am, you wake in a sweat, your mouth sore from gritting your teeth, your body stiff and cramped from a night spent curled up on the bed in a tight ball of distress, fending off the monster of memories and the grim reaper’s advances again.

Goddess Of The Middle Years

Persephone in her middle years doesn’t pine
for the Underworld. She’s given up pomegranates.
And Eve her red fruit and snakes.

Medusa has cut her hair and refuses to stare.
Leonora rides white horses.
Georgia combs the desert for bones.

Kahlo dances. Zelda cavorts with young men.
Cleopatra paints her eyes the colour of midnight
and lies naked beneath the Sphinx.

Djuna, bless her heart, dangles off buildings
whilst wearing a cloche hat.
Amelia flies over infinite skies.

Mary Queen of Scots wears scarves
to cover her neck. The Lady of the Lake
keeps the sword for herself.

The goddess of the middle years desire lovers who commit unpremeditated intimacies. No promises. She floats. Pink has a certain delicatesse. She wakes up in late summer sweat. She is blessed with a library of innumerable books and a whimsical imagination, varieties of strong black tea, kindreds, a darling husband equal to her shenanigans, former lovers who still long for her. She writes in black ink on unlined pages, seduced by the unfurling of the cursive into eccentric characters, the sound of bells, decadent and indecipherable scrawls. She refuses to be erased. Loves to be called beautiful by strangers. Will gaze back in return. 

Amanda Earl is a poet, visual poet, fiction writer and publisher who lives in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Her books are Kiki (Chaudiere Books, 2014), Coming Together Presents Amanda Earl (Coming Together, 2014) and A World of Yes (DevilHouse, 2015). Amanda is the managing editor of and the fallen angel of AngelHousePress. More info is available at and connect with Amanda on Twitter @KikiFolle.

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issue twenty-seven :: January/February 2022

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about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.