The Breakfast Machine

Behind a wood sliding door
the whistling and grinding
of a great machine
brings us slowly, inexorably
towards breakfast.

Even the keenest eyes
of the imagination,
will not inform you
what kind of alchemy
is at work there.

The chicken is the thing
that troubles me most,
as she crosses the kitchen
on squeaky tin legs
emerges at the serving hatch

cocks her head to one side,
takes in the room
with the bead of an eye
shrieks out with a voice
like grating glass:

Scrambled, poached, boiled,
scrambled, poached, boiled.


Once in the whole history of darkness,
a whirring contraption of metal and plastic
took on the shape of a bird.

When it found it could fly
when it found it had no heart-beat
it lifted itself into the night like a howl.

Later, it swooped down to land,
fed on the souls escaping,
and souls too snared to move an inch.

Light came in sheet flashes,
insisted pictures through the eye of the bird,
drove deep into what passed for its heart.

Cat and Mouse

Mouse knows what passes for reality
in this upside-down world of a house,
only cat is baffled on a daily basis.

That red means go, and green is stop
on days that contain the letter 'n'
is no help to the cat who's illiterate.

Mouse is used to the slow dance
of the afternoon when the cuckoo clock
snoozes, head nestled under its wing.

Cat wants blood; wants something to happen;
imagines a claw's neat incision;
the mess of gristle, the fragility of bone.

Cat craves love, in this house without laps;
wishes himself into a bed of softness;
dreams of the square regularity of meals.

It's Sunday today, giving Mouse the red light
to seek fun in an un-mouse-like way.
Mouse stands on two legs, begins to howl.

And the howl is much like that of a wolf,
a wolf in microcosm, but still a wolf all the same.
Cat covers his ears with his paws. Cat weeps.


On the third day, she draws the sun
into her mouth and swallows it whole.
It glows in her throat, sinks down
to her stomach, bubbles through
her insides, like molten gold.

On the fourth day, she lets the moon
enter her, plant its seed in her womb,
grows its silver children, till strong enough
to swim into the nightlong sky,
and take their place among the heavens.

On the fifth day she takes the sea into her hands,
runs it through her fingers like silk.
She puts fishes into coral baskets for her children;
waits from them to haul them up
to fill their greedy mouths.

On the sixth day, she cuts her skin
with her own sharpened nails, drips blood
into deep black earth, falls to her knees.
She watches trees and animals grow up
from the ground as she becomes weaker.

On the seventh day, she is barely breathing.
She hears the postman and the phone
that keeps ringing.  She is aware of a light,
which she thinks is the sun, burning her eyes.
For two days, for two days, she rests.

      Helen Ivory 2007