The Clockwork Box – Featured Poet Anthony Lawrence


Archery




When the last ashes of my marriage had blown away
I joined an archery club. I wasn’t ready
for the intimacy of dating scenes
like Asian cuisine or digital photography.
I liked the singular nature of target,
bow, drawstring, arrow. Six months in
I entered a competition. I loved taming my pulse
with stopped breath, standing side-on, balanced
between repose and equipoise,
dispatching pointed lengths of light.
I won a trophy and was invited to dinner.
I laughed with my body, not just my face.
Dinner led to breakfast by a lake. I liked him.
A friend said, cruelly,
that he was target practice.
At the range he asked me to join him
on a hunting trip. I declined. Disappointment
was a dark blue glaze that passed over him.
When he persisted, I left the club.
When he phoned I didn’t answer.
When he knocked on my door, I froze.
The day he approached me in the car park
I saw him through the viewfinder of my stare,
my focus winged, withdrawn
and then, under pressure, released.
When I reached him there were shadows
like dried blood on his shirt. He said something
the wind could not translate. When I opened
the car door he flinched visibly, as if
something feathered had flown past his face.


Welcome


A pair of swallows
fly out from under the iron gate
like offcuts of shadow
an onsite manager
had swept aside with his yard broom.
I say Welcome and turn
to see who had spoken.


A Condensed History of Witchcraft

First came the need to rhyme, because companion planting
was never enough on its own. A flax seed pressed into soil 
in light from a just-risen moon became a brood parasite
& a guarantee that seasonal abundance was forthcoming.
Having bloodied her mouth with blackberry juice & a lie 
about intimacy, she made the eyes on moth wings open 
& close like passwords, then passed unnoticed by woods-
men into hickory smoke. Then came the planetary signs 
like stars burning out in threes & fours, & comets with 
tails of ice flying forever, & once or twice to be seen by 
those who say we are pinned to the planet yet released
simultaneously. Spells of course, & how they were lived 
not invented, to be gifted or cast for healing in dactyls 
hooded as falconry. Flames feathered when shavings 
of iron were fed to them, or hallmarks were stamped 
into silver. Old age was a handbook on how to tell 
narcotic from edible narrowstem, like a bodice pulled in 
by a crisscross of lace, then unhooked by starfall.
Hair when burned had the animal reek of closure.
The word extinction was still glowing at the forge
and the names of children were entered like charms
into lined black ledgers to be summoned when memory 
falters then fails in fire & earth.


Chickens



As chickens seem to love the sound of rain on the tin
roof of their shed, they are also drawn
to the embering glow of a flower I drip-fed
with tonic water, the quinine in its veins 
appearing as blue in the black light I wired 
to a branch in the garden where the Gold 
Laced Wyandotte, a breed with plumage
like tiny amber flames outlined in charcoal 
congregate as if in homage to the flower’s thin 
pool of light, and when it rains, they scuff 
and shuffle away to their shed, leaving one 
luminous moment for another.


A Spell


It wasn’t the eye
that grew inside
another mouth
he used for fun
that opened in
his neck it was
the second heart
that kept apace
with everything
he threw at it
including spittle
spells & dirt
its chambers lit
with cross-cut
sections he had
rigged with red
& yellow bulbs
to showcase how
free radicals go
around the hip
machinery we
are made from
Here we go he
liked to say be-
fore the trap
door in his head
swung open to
reveal the twin
clocks he’d wind
by walking slow
he was a man
for every scene
where B-grade
love is made on
ocean stones or
single beds he
cobbled together
from petrol tins
& orange crates
his second heart
was famous for
the sound it made
when he was with-
in singing range
of domestic birds
with liner notes
for mating calls
it made a series
of quips & over-
exaggerated trills
when he’d stand
astride the pool
he consulted for
morning rituals
the eye inside
the mouth his neck
revealed until 
two hearts were 
keeping time
with birds he loved
to feed & name
a beating wing
a clockwork heart
a dovetailed box
for a brain.



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