‘Siegfried’s Homecoming’ and other poems by Suzanne Stapleton

Siegfried’s Homecoming

You come home from the war
at least a third emptier than you were,
Like all the words were scooped from your head
with the butt of a rifle
that you constructed with your own hands
and demolished too,
leaving so much of yourself in the barrel.

The teeth in your gums white crosses and country lines,
none of them belonging to you anymore,
rattle like augury bones in your sleep
because in the night you are some twisted, ugly thing
like a trout gasping for breath
on the floor of a fishing boat,
running from the yawning mouth at your heart
to get away from what remains here :
a battlefield.

You come home from the war and leave your love behind
in the hands of a poet,
a soldier whose eyes stare out at you in each nightmare
the claiming mark of his blood splattered across your face and emblazoned on your soul,
his smile tinged mustard yellow in your memory
but his hands so vivid;
pencil, pages, and the pistol,
flickering
callouses against your cheek
trampled into the mud
sonnets painted into your skin
frozen in his favourite shade of indigo.

You are dreaming of the hospital that had become,
by virtue of his presence,
your home –
and here is the battlefield stretched out again before you
but you are tired of fighting without him,
waiting for one more cloudless day in August,
50 years away he is a bruise in khaki pyjamas,
and you come home from the war,
finally,
into his arms.

Aorta

I will give myself to the sea
to the sunset
to the stars
I want to be unravelled by something greater than two hands

cracked apart at the ribs
in feast
a hollow empire no longer
filled with cloudless sky
venom dripping from my ears

“Eat” he hisses holding
a ventricle to my lips
bloody and raw
my own; still warm
pouring rain

He takes a bite
tearing chunks with glittering pillars of jagged salt licks
this is how it is done
how you get a dying bird to eat
or freeze in the night

ribs a ladder exposed that my body
might cower beneath
leaking blue blue sky
mouth agape
puffing clouds into the darkness for him to drink

the bird with no wings
choking on aorta

a sacrifice to the stars.

Eclipse

The woman lives
when the shadow of the moon
falls ebony on the earth
and the trees of her forest
are like burnt matchsticks
on scorched fields
she lingers then –
like smoke in the dark,
until we meet
in the appointed place,
two black holes in the abyss of the cosmos and
she opens
a nightmare mouth,
words slithering forth
– the tip of the tongue the teeth and the lips –
dripping from her chin
in jet black ink
“Are you ready?” she screeches
a crow
a banshee in the graveyard
I cannot speak, cannot see anything but the ink that rolls like a wave from her lips
dark and terrible
a blood moon
“I See you” she calls with open arms
a lover’s embrace
but the shadow is receding
drawing you to the heart of the forest
and she reaches for you once more
your hand twitches
the path is tangled
brambles whip and thorns claw
and you both understand
time is up
“Never again.” She croaks splayed against a tree-trunk “Never again”
the woman fades with the last of the shadow
she cannot return
and you are alone again
hands shaking in the sun
lips covered in ink

Don’t Cry

The milk spills
and spills
and spills,
the table still set in neat little rows –
too long for the runner –
dripping onto chairs and floor in swathes of ivory,
but the milk is always spilling in this house
running from eyes and mouths and ears –
this is what it means to grow up,
crying years of spilled milk
like they’ll help fill the seats with warm bodies
or light the candles’ stumpy wicks,
where you sleep just to keep the weeping at bay,
in the hopes that somehow,
it’s all just a dream,
but you wake up every morning at 7 on the dot
with milk crusted in each eye and bottles surrounding the bed,
milk teeth standing guard beneath the pillows,
like maybe you were a mother,
once,
or a child;
like you still are.

You Are the Sun

You are the sun,
calling lowly to the galaxy,
tragic and celestial,
40 billion light years from the closest star,
and the moon rings like a bell;
earthquake vibrations across the vacuum of space,
echoes roll over your skin, just whispers of what once was,
like a house that has already been burned down,
alarm still shrieking into the shell
that this is danger,
this is living,
but the moon is too far to hear a warning over
the bell tolls,
an angelus to Sirius and Orion and
Pyxis,
and the sun is farther still, drowning in a sea of silent stars,
baying softly of loneliness and terror to the empty night,
I am the moon,
you, the sun.
in the end, we are all just houses,
waiting to be burned down.

A Witch Hunt

Tear it all down
it is built on rot,
the sickly sweet cologne of wonderland decay,
and we are starving
but watch it wither,
feral smiles painted bloody across our cheeks,
prodding at the scars with witches nails,
hunters in the fray;
spitting poison and daggers and shards of glass,
leaving small disasters in our wake,
too many to fathom
still, we are starving,
tearing the world apart at the seams
from within,
demanding:
you peel back the curtain
and you will witness the ruins
filled with our skeletons picked clean,
but the flood water is rising,
and we have been so hungry…
peel back the curtain.
we are done waiting.

Siegfried’s Homecoming and other poems are © Suzanne Stapleton

Suzanne Stapleton is a nineteen-year-old emerging writer and Dublin native. She is currently a student of Film and Broadcasting in DIT, and often can be found writing poems instead of working on her scripts. Having spent most of her childhood writing, 2017 marks the first time Suzanne has shared any of her poetry with anyone outside of her immediate group of close friends. Her poems span a range of topics, including history, womanhood, and growth, but most are forms of self exploration and catharsis.

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