A Distillation after John Jarmain1
Bells in the grey-faced murk
View pride, black prayer.
she bickers with the wax beneath her nail
Lilies keep in powdered wrecks, bending
Crowded by hope brittle,
bloodless, all-bone wrists
into prayer without a god
post without a seal and half a wall,
scratching, scrawling, Recall glory crossing wire deserts
ink-blot creeping where memory was
In garlands of rusted men,
her fingers pressing like a forehead
And finding against his fame in the sand.
Ten days of fly-screen vacant chaos—
Days of green-eyed face, foaming remains
the flag flies
hangnails tear ribbons from her
And half a holy ground. skin
she is made thin through the peephole
Smoking powder flowers of a door whose bell never sings,
Halt the dark grim as the doormat’s flat sober grin
she petals, presses talcum powder into her pores
slips, pours over magazines,
and its unrung bells,
she will wait, she thinks,
The flecks of minefield fame; until
The lilies watch warm men she can’t
Become a single remember his
1The Distillation is a novel verse form, devised by Joshua Judson. It takes an existing poem, with an even number of lines, then a poem is written using only the words from the original. It must be exactly half the original line count and retain the poem’s title.
Words by Coco Cottam. Art by Millie Dean-Lewis.