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Candlestick Press: Twenty-One Poems About Wonky Animals



 by Leah Larwood

after Charles Bukowski’s ‘Bluebird’

there’s a jackdaw in my head
she’s in charge of the dark matter

calls the shots from the back room
light bulb swinging above her desk

I hear her typing late at night
the quiet genius that stays behind.

now and then she pokes her beak
through the trapdoor of my day

while I fidget, sip weak coffee
she listens to stories in the room

collects novel faces, tiny voices
chatters voicemails in my dreams.

when we meet a friendly stranger
and I’m tangled or feeling coy

I toss her the attic key and say
sure, let’s see what you’ve got.

now she wants to stay out and
I’m like, what now jitterbug?

they can’t see too much of you.
but after a pisco sour too many

she slinks back out the small door
of my mouth. she’s not so sly.

as we glide into bed that night
I watch her skinny belly rise

softly stroke her flaky beak
slur, shh that’s right stay close

you can keep that key, for now.

Published by Poetry News © 2016

The Cake Mixture
by Leah Larwood
after Edip Cansever


a woman searching for
emptiness of being

creams butter and
sugar in a mixing bowl

one, two, three yolks
and a tiny piece of shell

she leaves the shell
a moth enters the room

she adds the coldness
of milk and evening air

echoes of mothers
calling their children

the darkness in the room
she places in the bowl

conversations from her body
muffled like folded egg whites

loud edges of dreams
a French nursery rhyme

she makes a well and places
rubble from her mind

her shadow
counting each precious breath

she peers at the purple sky
drops an eclipse in the batter

the cake mixture puffs
sighs just a little

then a deafening calm.
yet the woman keeps adding things.

Published by The Poetry Society © 2018

Alchemy of sleep

by Leah Larwood


When night turns to ice, and where
walls turn to rain turn to sea, after
half light turns to day dark, and where

beds turn to urns and time turns to you,
and sky turns to dust. Where door opens
to field, and wild fear turns to white gold.

Come morning, train times unravel
hairlines yet the day still snores, and
you bear the cold war of your dream.

Published on Ink, Sweat and Tears © 2019

Gold Divers
by Leah Larwood


Your heart and my heart are very,
very old friends ~ Hafiz

Cadence had a tendency to lie down
in the middle of the road to think.
It was the one place she found Hope –
the one other mother that felt like her.
Each mother was chin-deep in childhoods:
their own, their child’s, that webbed space between.
Speaking in tongues, the women occasionally levitated
every time they had a certain kind of dream.
They both awoke at the same time.
A hand in each other’s pocket, they walked for eons.
Everything can be illuminated by water,
or most things.
At day raw, in the unkempt darkness
the two women knelt by the lake and
submerged their entire heads and shoulders;
the lakebed spoke back to them.
What sung to them was their whole beings
like autumn’s dusky melancholy.
Everything they didn’t know they wanted
was there, buried weather under water.
They turned to each other, eyes like Neptune
and kissed. Each diving deeper,
they pulled out their six year old selves and
sacks of hidden treasures covered in algae.
They emerged steadfast and dizzy,
two entirely whole beings, at large.
On their way back to their husbands,
they walked straight into a place
with broad grins, pink gin, silence
and the strange narrow vision of it all.
It wasn’t even a bar, more of a broom cupboard
pressed up against blue velvet wallpaper.
They opened their sacks onto the table
and everything spilled out.



Published in Mslexia magazine © 2019

From under the wardrobe

by Leah Larwood

From under the wardrobe

the naked bulb on the ceiling
is an oddly lit glass balloon,

bobbing riskily upside down
in the winter sky.

There’s an unfriendly quality
in my shoulder;

I’m packed like a fugitive’s
suitcase, roughly. Buried

under hanged clothes
that belong to me. When I fell,

I saw flickering street lights
and his slurred yawn.

The winged doors flapped
open, fixed around me

like a mother’s jaws. I lie
awake inside my casket,

counting each crushed breath,
I wait for kinder voices

to reach me. The only thing
I recognise is the white tilted sky.

Published on Ink, Sweat and Tears © 2021

Hypnogogic sleep at the hairdressers 

I like stealing hairgrips 
from your apron pocket,
that dangerous space 
between your groin and hip
presses lax against my arm.

Shaped in your palms, 
my bouncing layers 
swing to the swish 
of your scissor snip,
my eyelids hang low

and the buzz of
salon white noise
sends me back in utero.
Now there’s a juju 
behind my eyes, gold

saliva from a candle light 
that jolts, and I drift 
to the beach of tears. 
Resting in the underbelly 
of sleep – I sail 

to an empty place
wide awake, out 
at sea, until your hand 
tests my shoulder,
a trashy magazine falls.

You smooth out 
my poker-straight 
rescued mane. 
I’m truckled pink.
You take back 
the hair grip.

Published in New Welsh Review ©  2022

Golden Shadow  
After Hafiz


When you are lonely in the darkness of night,
Diving into rain clouds with chalk in your eyes,
If only you knew your astonishing light.

While the wind seems to know when all is not right,
In your head there’s a jackdaw telling you lies
When you are lonely in the darkness of night.

Like the acorn in awe of oak’s noble height, 
You can’t weather hope only yearn to be wise.
If only you knew your astonishing light.

You even burn silk, talk the sun into fight.
Shadow, why are you too brilliant a prize
When you are lonely in the darkness of night?

You cling to an envy of lotus in white,
Step out of the magic you try to disguise.
If only you knew your astonishing light.

When you feel happy spinning fast in flight,
I wish I could show you the dazzling skies.
When you are lonely in the darkness of night,
If only you knew your astonishing light.


Published in Alchemy Spoon  ©  2022

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