About Bats: The Chiroptera Sonnets by Paul Brookes

brown bat

photo by James Wainscoat (unsplash)

  1. The Alcathoe

Home high in splits, cracks and loose tree bark,
near water. I hear it in two ways. Crash
of tumble. Soft echo in our Hunting Dark.
Trees are Hardnesses in our flying Dash.

I may swarm He may chase me. We may
retreat to Darker and make young. Suckles
in my pouch. Then let it hang, while away
I skim leaves, snatch prey mid flight, food rustle

crunchy backed echoes, always hunt echoes
back. Amongst others know it’s cry and smell.
I hold it in my wings, soon its own wings
will learn flight in the Dark, it’s ears know well

a landscape of returning sound, nose scent
of prey, weathered woods, know home’s high ascent.

2. On Mexican Free-Tailed 1/3

To feed my baby I hunt from Lightdark
to Darklight. I remember its making.
He slowly, comes on grabs Her at the start
always by ear, the jaw, or neck, pulling
Her out of our crowd, moves onto Her back
biting scruff of Her neck. Holds Her. She yanks
away , He chirps faintly. She squeaks. Now back
with us Her face wounds bleed. She is pregnant.

He moves slowly onto my back, His ears
held low and eyes closed.. No neck-biting or
calls. I do not resist;  I groom myself, my ears
or sleep. Cold Time comes so we fly to Warm.

I give birth clinging upside down to stark
Dark thumbs and feet grasp. It wont fall to Dark.

Mexican Free-Tailed 2/3 Suckling
My baby is born naked, eyes open.
I carefully clean and nurse it. New-born
attached to me by thread. It'll be eaten
if it falls Below by hard scuttlers brawn.
I won't rescue it. We learn each other's
scent and voice before we separate. I
pull away to dislodge Bloodsac, unmother.
When dried it falls off child . Tenacious my
young use large feet and thumbs to hold on to 
Hard. It's tiny sharp teeth cling to mothers
or others. I put it among young, who
squeak, jostle, and crawl over each other.
After Hunt, find its call, muzzle top of it's head,
sniff, talk, raise my folded wing. It's breastfed.

A Mexican Free-Tailed 3/3 First Flight
I avoid several mid-air crashes
a breath. Rely on my untested guide
senses. Break my wings, get Belowed bashes
I'll be swarmed, stripped to bone in a breath's Wide.
First time I flew outside with our swarm, told
to watch for feathered claws that lie in wait
I found my first winged hard case, snatched by bold
one who jammed my echo. Learnt my mistake.
When Cold Time arrives we will fly to Warm. 
Gather outside entry to our Dark Home.
We will rise upwards, our gust makers form 
shapes in air in flight to our second Home.
We must rest and hang the journey, refresh. 
Mother says new home's food is tasty, fresh.

3. Barbastelle

All our food have ears, so we must use stealth.
They hear our echoes, make their own so we
hear theirs and think it ours. We must change depth
of our echo so they cannot hear. Free

to hunt, until they find new ways to stop
us. In flight I glean water as I skim
it, flit quick, echo up at Tallness top.
New echo works. Food is no longer thin.

Dark colder sooner. In Long Cold we must
enter Slow Time. Heart to few from many
beats, gathered together in Hard Dark roost.
All flitterers we ate feed our bellies.

Come Long Warm this heart will beat quicker, these
wings unfold hungry for flight and release.

4. The Golden-Crowned Flying Fox

I restrain Her from behind, bite Her neck. 
I approach Her, lick Her. She rejects me. 
I lick myself. Scratch my head, lick, flex 
my wing. Flap it. Flap it. Fan my body. 

It's too hot. As newborn my mother groomed 
me while she breastfed me. I lick my friend. 
We mock-bite, mock-wrestle. Recall she bloomed. 
Her wings shaking, Her chasing, biting ends, 

she rejects me. I hang sometimes by 
one foot, sometimes two, eyes open I stare 
around. I shake my wings, chase, bite, defy. 
Rub my neck or shoulder along branch share 

what's mine. Widely open my wings. Sleep, eyes 
closed wings around myself. Wake to more tries

5. A Bechstein's

I can smell the Tallness Tapper in Dark 
of its abandoned home. Come Dark outside 
I glean leaves to find food. Once our wings marked 
length, breadth of ancient Tallness in our glide.

It is ever less, and so are we. Shear 
beak carved out this roost in living Tallness 
beside water. Temporary home here 
we females move from Tall to Tall Darkness. 

beside water. Temporary home here 
we females move from Tall to Tall Darkness. 
He stays out there, sometimes on His own. We 
huddle together for warmth in Long Cold. 

When we swarm to find Him,to make babies. 
We make the New and listen to the Old. 
I hear the living Tallnesses tale tell 
amongst themselves about who stands who fell. 

6. Honduran White Bat

Briefly stay in many leaf homes we make.
First our teeth cut holes on leaf underside,
our feet and thumbs grab hold, our thumbs pull, take
it downwards, break some leaf fibers, decide

to abandon it. Continue others.
I and three more stay with Him in one, two
Long Darknesses, then move to another.
I cut and reshape other homes. Blown through

by gust or damaged by heavy rain I
abandon. He Often grooms himself, cuts
no work on our homes. Some groom and work. My
baby play shapes a broken leaf. Such

sharpen their making skills, use mouth and thumb.
Soon they will be shaping their own homespun.

7. The Ghost Bat

I see feathered ones silhouette against
Lightdark .It's chatter distinctive. In the 
Hollow Darkness I eat its head first. Wrenched
feet and wings pile up underneath me.
I brought it to ground, my thumb claws held 
it down, my wings enveloped it, my teeth
bit its neck, until it's squawk and flap stilled.
I suckled at mother's teat till my teeth
grew sharp. Sat and waited for prey with her.
She taught me how to call, hear their echoes.
Their croak and slither, skitter and flitter.
Told me invisible barbs, no one knows
when or how they appear will shred our wings 
no matter how we struggle against things

8. Brown Long-Eared

At rest I tuck my ears under my wings, 
or curl them back. I fly low and slow, 
hear their flutter, I follow tight stalling 
turns, my nose makes sounds returned as echo

heard by my ears, almost as big as me. 
I hover glean leaves, as I get closer 
whisper pulses echo a buzz. I see 
their uneatable wings that I'll render

onto waste piles underneath where I feast. 
Before Long Cold Her and I make a child. 
Then both of us will Slow Time, do the least. 
Start of Long Warm She births a nipple thrived. 

Holds to her and her milk while she hunts Dark. 
Her rich sup will bring it up to see its mark. 

Arachnida Sonnets by Paul Brookes (an occasional series)

The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

Introducing the Marine Sonnets by Paul Brookes

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind: Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead

Arachnida Sonnets by Paul Brookes (an occasional series)

photo by Marcel Herms (c)
1. The Dust Mite

I'm blind and mostly water. We smell one
another out, along with delicious
dander, dead skin and hair. Clamber on
and over each other in dank, darkness.

I cast my skin while growing. Float on air.
I had six legs until my other two
grew. Soon as I'm fully grown I need Her.
We sniff each other out, touch a way through.

Her eggs are sticky. Light alarms us, clump
and huddle together for safety.
Alarm over our nose tracks source of plump
sweet, huge crumbs. Leave small droppings constantly.

My world is what my senses touch and smell.
Maybe you can't see or feel me as well.

2. A Crab Spider (for Pearl Pirie)

I wait. In here I wait. For their arrival.
I have changed my colour to be unseen.
They want pollen. They land on a petal,
walk inside here towards the unforeseen

my open front legs that clasp shut around 
them. My fangs pierce their body, inject 
venom, suck out their juices. On the ground
their empty husks sweetness uncollected.

He's very careful when courting suspects
I may eat him. Smaller He sneaks, crawls on. 
Choose leaf tip, fold it over, a pocket 
for my babies, I guard till I pass on.

I imitated a flower one time.
Clung to tallness, ready to dine.

3. The Jumping Spider (for Angela Johnston and Z.D. Dicks)

I wave my front legs to attract her. She 
turns away. I pattern thump, buzz and scrape 
in line with my movements. She hears me 
through her legs, doesn't see what I create. 

I dance and sing to every female 
I meet. Need them to see me as mate 
meat. Most times I survive Her when I fail. 
Both of us need to raise our knees bright spot 

together. She walks away. I'm hungry. 
My legs hear live meat on my leaf. I glue 
a thread to leaf tip, leap stealthily 
on it, chew into suckable juice brew. 

Fed, I will dance and sing to another. 
Flee being food for those I discover. 

4. Oak Leaf Gall Mites (for Maria Mazzenga)

Expecting, I enter Her gall through small 
opening. My saliva paralyses 
Her young. I feed on them. My sons are all
first, fully grown. Wait as their sisters rise

out of me to mate with them then sons die
without feeding. Their pregnant sisters eat
Her remaining young. Soon daughters will fly
when they fall outside, bite into live meat.

They may find the hole from which a stalk grows, 
bite to numb the skin and feed on the juices.
They may land on those with wings and follow
feeding and breeding. Hosts have their uses.

We feed on lives much larger than ourselves.
to make many more of our small selves.

5.  A Golden Orb Weaver (for Andres Rojas and Sarah Connor)

There are times when I need to eat it all.
The shapes I make with the pattern, my silk.
As I repair broken threads, restore small
tensions, linkages to the one thread's ilk.

All five of Him wait at my pattern's edge.
Wait for that moment when I am ready
to make babies. I keep them on a ledge.
I will wrap my babies in a leaf. See

that they are safe away from Coming Cold
that will kill me. As I did they will float
wherever warm air takes them, make a bold
statement between Tallnesses, a bright note.

An invisible trap to meat, a new
shape. All their own, creation, as fresh view

6. The Tick (for Connie Bacchus)

Each large blood meal helps me grow. Warm air flow
I hatch from my egg. Hungry, climb Tall scrub,
back legs hold on close to an edge, I slow
wave my front legs in front of me. Heat rubs

past, I reach out, grab warm-blood thread bury
into it to find bare skin. My long gob
edged with spines and grooved channel hurries
my saliva into it, feeds blood globs

into me. My pair of long barbed rods hooked
at ends, puncture, and with each swim stroke
sink deeper into soft skin. Once full, unhook,
fall to undergrowth moult, morph. Wait next folk.

Might mate on this skin, then die. She will too
after giving birth to more of me and you.

7. Money Spider (for Susan Darlington)

l float above you, land, make a pattern
I hang beneath it, wait Meat Fall to snag
itself on my threads. for it to happen.
Meat was scarce where I was. Strong gust ragged

my legs, I spun out light threads, gust took us
all Up and Away. There I never ate,
until I landed here. He, courteous
plucks a message down my silk lines. Vibrates

a wish not to be eaten. I may grant.
How many of Him have I seen? I make
sounds with my mouth. My legs sense a distant
movement. Maybe Him. Ate Him by mistake.

I do enjoy His company sometimes.
I prefer my own, between my mealtimes

8. Harvest Mite (for Jane Cornwell)

As a youth I ate skin, might have been yours.
Out of our eggs each was born with only six
legs, massed we wait to swarm on, puncture, gorge,
through thin skin, dissolve inner skin, fix

ourselves over four light lines, fall into soil.
Feed on Tall juices, grow another pair
of legs. I feast on other's eggs. Want to spoil
Her, lead Her to stalked packet I placed there.

It is all me. She must decide whether
to take it. She taps it lightly, if accepts,
moves herself over it, and into her.
I stand apart, see what of me she's kept.

The inner skin of another gave me
youth. She lays bits of me under a tree. 

9. on Tarantula (for Mike Stone)

I am here because I have no choice. None.
In Cold Time I plug my burrow with rocks, 
soil, and silk , survive in stillness. Summon
stored fat reserves until warmth unplugs locks.
I hear Him stroke silk top of my burrow,
He taps his request, holds me above him.
I lay my eggs on a silk bed, cover
with silk, guard them till they hatch, leave 
this dim.
A change is coming. I am lethargic.
White seeps through my joints. I lay on my back.
I leave my old self behind. Renewed. Wick.
I step outside and am stabbed by Her tact.
Hauls me to Her burrow. Lays eggs on me.
Hatched, they eat me alive. They are hungry.

10. The Scorpion (for Dr. Sara Louise Wheeler)

Born soft. Stay on mam's back till get harder.
Uneaten, scarper. Rock crack is home. Wait.
Wait. Perfectly still. Comes nearer.
Meat comes close enough to touch. Sees too late.
Grabbed. My strong claws hold on, while my tail whips
down again, again, again. It's torpid.
I tear it into small pieces, to bits, 
spit strong juices , melt it, sup the liquid.
He's found me. I walk away. Grabs and twists
me. Places His pincer-like mouth on mine.
With His own opens my large claws, resists.
Pushes me back, I push Him back. He lines
me up with his packet. Scarpers. I bear
soft young ones in my precarious care.

11. Diving Bell Spider (for Gabrielle)

Down I spin a canopy between stems. 
I break surface, capture Bright air globe 
round my hairy abs, sink and release them 
under the canopy, my Home, abode. 

Creatures swim into my silk, kill with my bite. 
Enlarge my bubble Home, drag in dead Meat. 
My home shrinks so surface, again for Bright. 
He chases me out of my bubble, greets 

me, we caress each others legs, go back 
inside my Home where He chases me once 
more. Stays while I build a big white egg sac. 
It fills half my bubble. Guard my youmg ones. 

Born. they eat way out into worldlier 
Cold Time I dive deeper, build sturdier 

12. The Writing Spider (for David L O'Nan & Robin Wright)

Can you see shapes I make, away from gust?
This zigzag in the middle where I sit
Come Dark I eat every thread, Come Dusk
I will make it , put new zigzag in it.

He plucks my thread. Wants to make our babies.
Once he has done his job, he dies. I wrap
him in silk and will eat him Untidies
my immaculate web. I sup his sap.

Come Dark I lay my eggs on a silk sheet
cover them with another silk layer
then a protective brownish silk. Make sheet
into ball with upturned neck. Guard and care.

First Hard Cold I will die, my babies born
in next Warm, breeze uplifts their silk, their form.

The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

Introducing the Marine Sonnets by Paul Brookes

The Marine Sonnets by Paul Brookes

1. The Seawatch

I watch the sea as the sea watches me.
The changing colour of my surfaces,
Waves blown by gust, what my tides, what my sea
leaves on the shoreline of my many faces.

The lagan and flotsam and derelict
and jetsam. Two buoys of my eyes bobbing
anchored in a silt of images mixed.
Always memories waxing and waning.

My inside sea watched by the sea outside.
Speaks to sea beasts moving in my blood.
I rise to where the waves move to imbibe
breath before I dive below livelihood.
The sea is me, I am the sea, watching.
I am a dying sea, a dried up thing.

2. The Rockpool

Before the tide turns I wend my own way.
Starfish tube-feet caress my mussel beds
Beadlet, snakelocks anemones snare prey,
sting it with their tentacles, and shore crabs

scrupulously pick over carcasses.
From under my fringing seaweed shannies
and prawns dart to shelter in crevices,
overhangs, safe and secure nooks and crannies.

One minute I am scorched by sharp sunlight,
next I'm cold enough to ripple shivers.
Soon it'll wash over and we unite.
Soon I'll have new creatures to discover.
In the wane I'll have my own way,
Every to and fro never the same.

3. Herring Gull

The Sideways walker in my beak I drop
from Up to crack it open. My flockmates
and me enjoy the meat. I ask you to stop,
know me by my actions,my voice, translate

my language to yours, must note position
of my head, wings and tail, to my perch.
They're stronger, bigger, spread wings expression
saying this is mine, I won't share, go search

for your own. Wet Leaf fall we feed on soft squirm appear out of soil, we trample - ground
to make them rise. Her submissive begs stop
me attacking, upright I mew a sound.

Synchronise head tossings, I sick up rest undigested meal for her. We choose nest. 

4. A Strandline

I welcome the abandoned, discarded
and lost. My creatures scavenge arrivals.
Sandhoppers hide in day under stranded
debris, emerge to feed when darkness calls.

Find in me ambergris from a sperm whales 
intestines, sea beans, coconuts and sea hearts, plastic packaging and nurdles,
egg capsules of sharks, skates and rays, spongy

pale whelk egg cases, cuttlebones, moulted 
crab shells. I am never the same. Four tides
change my shape, what I am, how I'm molded.
I can't hold on to you, others decide.

I'm not permanent, secure or stable.
Have to let you go. Inevitable

5. The Sand Dune

A youngster, I am blown about scatter.
Roots arrive, dig into me, I grow here, hid
behind something from elsewhere, what matters.
Marram grass. Youngsters make a seaward bid,
sheltering me. I am background. My lime
rich shell sand, home to burrowing bees, quick
digger Wasps, sand swimming sand snakes.
In time
I grow older, taller, more chaotic.
Soon I may have a lake and marsh grass,
Later Sea buckthorn, birch. I am woodland.
My oaks rise, sunlight blooms through leaves, wings pass
in between branches. My youth blown sand.
I was near a sea but now I'm forest.
I hear my trees converse. Life never rests.

6. The Sturgeon

Bottom feeder. I live in two waters. 
Sense their electric impulses vibrate, 
suck into my mouth all their shells and claws. 
Soon move from Deep to brackish water. Wait 

until I am used to warmer Narrow, 
release my sticky eggs. My babies swim 
seaward. Get used to brackish in Shallow 
before move into Deep, not over rim. 

Above dredge our living, scarifying 
life, haul us up into light and dryness. 
Harvest our babies before their birthing. 
Hunted my ancestors rich meatiness. 
Deep returned I may leap, keep the reason 
a mystery, splash my flat sides, frisson. 

7. Therapy

Listen, soft crash of my waves alter your brain patterns, feel my sand exfoliate, 
your skin as my unevenness makes floor 
walk harder, works your calves and thighs. A state 

of meditation lulls, slows your heart beat, 
deepens your breath. My blue sky and sun shoot  
up your bodies feel good drugs, my heat 
and negative ions ensure reboot. 

I massage the vagus nerve in your neck, 
enough for all this to happen. Watch fish 
in rockpools provide aquariums check 
your stress, rejuvenate a hug and kiss. 

I'm health resort, recommunion, 
refresher, renewer, good reunion. 

8. Beachcomber

Gale force Eight or more with an Easterly 
throws things on my shores, material drifts
on my strongest waves and currents, firmly
North to South. Comb me as my gales desist

start to subside or veer West. See patches
of weed and black coal amongst my rocks.
Delve into huge feet thick seaweed masses
Find rare ,warm Baltic amber in same spots

as coal and Whitby jet. Prove real amber
sandpaper it and smell Pine tree resin.
My fossils, bullet shaped Belemnites are
with curled Ammonites released from within.

Don't get caught by my rising tide, falling
cliffs. Every find, a story calling

9. The Barnacle

Before I make my shell, I float in search 
for a permanent place to live. My home 
is beside others, where waves swell and lurch 
I stick my head beside them. Make my dome, 

secrete six plates outside myself. Include 
four as one to open and close with ebb. 
Aswim, I went through many changes, food 
swam ahead of me, I chased, as it fled. 

I stand on my head and eat with my feet. 
My glue will outlast me. Incoming tide 
makes me open to sift food brush and sweep 
it into my shell to my head, inside. 

I grow, enlarge my home, with neighbour 
I make babies, who one eyed leave my door. 

10. Rocky Shores

My high tide mark periwinkles, limpets, breaking wave spray moistens, incoming tides 
and storms envelop them. Exposed in its 
drying heat and extreme cold lichen thrives. 

My seabed's shoreward fringe between upper 
and lower, dried twice a day, barnacles , algae, mussels, sea palms. Sea cucumber 
catches passing prey in its tentacles. 

My scoured fissures, fractures and joints, abrased 
and weathered rock refreshed every time 
with new water, my pools isolated 
when it withdraws, small worlds redefined. 

Every tide renews, sculpts, refugees new blood, 
reinvigorates, new life, new food. 

11. Doggerlands

Below the waters of the German Sea rests 
imagination bound with histories. 
Massive creatures roamed valleys and forests, 
folk hunted them down for wondrous stories. 

In firelight told how they killed great toothed beasts 
whilst feasting on the monster's meat and bones, 
Then the landslide., waters rose and all ceased. 
Their remains tell tales to fish, crabs and stones.

Above they farm the gust that turns the blades. 
Ferries wend their way to the other shore. 
The sea now beast that harbours other trades. 
A sunken land to be discovered once more. 

A sea becomes land, as land becomes sea 
Geography of our narratives legacy. 

12. Pelagic

We are not dry land, we are open sea.
Marine snow, always falling detritus,
feed zooplankton, organisms in deep sea,
where sunlight cannot reach you will find us.

We are more different deeper you go.
Muscular bodies become flabby, strong
ossified bones become weak, eyes so
large, sensitive, small, heart too, pressured throng.

Lantern fish, a sound scattering layer,
deeper when the moon is out, if a cloud
passes over moon, it becomes shallower.
Night ascent, day return to cold, dark crowd.

Depth changes the way we live, how we are.
Shallower, more predators, under stars

13. Marine Plants (List Poem)

Eel Grass, Sea Grass or Grass Wrack, Dwarf Eel Grass
or Sea Grass, Marram Grass, Sand Sedge, Hound's Tongue
Sea Couch, Sea Rocket , Common Scurvygrass,
Sea Kale, Yellow Horned Poppy, Adder's Tongue.
Sea Holly, Sea Spurge, Sea Stock, Sea Spleenwort,
Autumn Lady's Tresses, Rock Sea Spurrey,
Ray's Knotgrass, Sea Milkwort, Long-spiked Glasswort,
Sea Beet, Sea Stork's-bill, Lesser Sea Spurrey.
English Scurvygrass, Shore Dock, Autumn Squill,
Common Glasswort,  Sea Arrow-grass, Rock Samphire,
Cord-grass, Sand or Warren Crocus, Spring Squill, 
Sea Pink, Sea Daffodil, Golden Samphire.
Saltwort, Buck's-horn Plantain, Sea Plantain,
Sea Campion, Sea Aster, Sea Purslane.

14. A Breakwater

I watch the giving and taking away.
Waves give gift of shells, drag away castles.
Waders long beaks punctuate my seaspray.
Old wood headland divides and crackles.

I have two sides, updrift and downdrift. Trap
sediments, prevent longshore drift, make beach.
I'm a hand held under a running tap.
I cut gust into two. Firm in waves reach.

Soon I'm to be replaced, "i'm in decay.
My timber is rotting, brackets rusting.
I have done my job, as well as I may.
I'll be broken up, lobbed in a waste bin.

Creatures on me always losing their homes.
Tide is ever changing, it's in my bones.

15. Sanderling Shanty

Stab the sand, my little ones, while it's out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 
We flew from cold, my little ones, watch out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows.

Yank the worm, my little ones, while it's out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 
Stab shells, my little ones, don't get caught out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 

Scurry, scamper, my little ones, surf's out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 
Stab jelly, my little ones, ebb's out. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 

In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 
In it comes, retreat, retreat, my fellows. 


The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind:   Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead

The Insect Sonnets by Paul Brookes

(c) Marcel Herms
(c) Marcel Herms
1. Sweet Pollen

Bigger wing beat gusts me from sweet pollen
billows, I must stick to its surface amid
buffet and blast. Now heavier, taken,
away from scented trail back home I skid.
Track my trail through vibration pulses, map
I will dance when home is reached to tell all
where sweet pollen will be found, waggle tap
the route after unloading my food haul.
As light fades our head sensors flop, my legs
wrap around others, I rehearse my days
forage, retrace my flight, my complex steps
mark vibration changes that radiate.
Bright warmth lifts our heads from sleep to again,
find our memory way, avoid harsh rain. 

2. We Poisoners

l Ingest, store poison for feathers, her. 
Changed in white she must be stillness.
I wait outside her cocoon, her wings fettered,
unstretched, un-inflated, I pass fullness,
into her with a generous capsuled gift,
attracted by her poison plumes, invasive
insects mandibles, legs glued globule gripped. Our red warnings briefly adhesive.
Our bulbous bairns nosh on green flesh deadly
to others. Chew it to stalks till hunger
crawls ever broader, masses in deathly
carcasses litter path to fresh fodder.
Death and sex infest grub and danger times.
Wrapped as one, alert and vital and mine 

3. A Stag Beetle

Scratch decayed wood until it splinters. Hunt 
these spikes for soft white wood swallow inside. 
Indigestible I make a hard front, 
swallow soil ready to throw back up outside. 
Create a smooth cover, give myself horns, 
six legs, two wings all soft and white. Don't know 
how I know how, where, and what shapes to form, 
nor what light is, till lust makes me go, 
shift this bulk, these wings buzz into hot bright. 
There can be a few in battle for her. 
My heavy horns twist, locked in long fight 
to straddle her. Must turn them all over. 
Hungered in dark most of my life. 
Brief lusty flight, fight and sex in the light

4.  A Turnip Moth

Under I wait till dark. Light lessens. Beak 
stab shakes where I am. Dark. Out from Under 
chew tender stem. Move back Under when heat 
of many Over brightens. Asunder 
I dig. Push asunder. Turn and turn and 
turn. Under under. Legs tendril lengthen. 
Softness to float in the Over expand. 
I hear now, inside trembles at sound when 
others outside call in dark to know where 
they are, and what meals move around the dark 
Soft and wet I push asunder to air. 
Listen in bright while softness rustles hard. 
Even insects remember their young times. 
Pests like weeds try to survive humankind. 

5. Cockroaches

In dark wet safe. Lowness my leg hairs tell. 
If Else moves I know change in this tight Air. 
My young molt, as I did, get harder shells. 
Company is good. In dark am aware 
food with my two long, long noses that come 
out of my head, bounce, dangle, flick in front. 
Good grub I tell others when I find some. 
All will be eaten always on this hunt. 
My young eat my waste among mounds 
of cast 
skins, egg cases and the dead. A crack let 
me in to snuggle in warm corners fast 
settle in your grease, droppings, food for pets 
You horrify me with your pure cleanliness. 
Live in shittip, I'll join you in the mess

6. The Housefly

My feet smell you first. I may leave my waste 
on your skin, or on your meal. I adore 
your sweat and dead skin. I make tasty paste 
by vomiting on it. My sticky pads for 
walking upside down. Drawn towards sunlight, 
I bounce back off an invisible force. 
If still I jump her or bang her in flight. 
So many hers to have can't stop or pause. 
Born into waste, I squirmed, deeper under. 
I changed, climbed towards warm daylight, stretched wings. 
As warm light disappears I find shelter. 
sleep. Tomorrow repeat everything. 
We'd wallow in waste if there were no flies. 
Praise them, their short lives, work and enterprise 

7. "I Forage"

I forage, chew wood pulp for my babies 
who give me sweetness in return. When 
they're bigger I'll dismember aphids, fleas 
and spiders to take home for them. 

My queen who gave birth to me will outlive 
me. At night I'm still, or repair fly 
babies broken rooms. At warm light give 
flight ,and scratch out fibre until I die. 

I lay my own babies once, another 
found out and ate them. I tend to my queen's. 
As light dims sooner and days get colder 
I get slower, stiller, food for the dream. 

It's too easy, a mechanically 
designed existence, reality is messy

8. Before I

Before I break the Surface of the world 
I live another life beneath where light 
falls differently. I eat Small that curl 
in front, while Larger see me tasty bite. 
Hidden behind long stems I wait and wait. 
Quick squirt of breath behind to catch the Slow. 
Grab it with my hooks drag it to my gape. 
Climb Up a stem and shed Old Skins as I grow. 
Need forces me to break Surface in Dark 
where I learn to breathe before final shuck. 
Let limbs and wings harden into flights start. 
He grabs my neck, I arch my back, Eggstruck. 
I return to Suface, slice open stem. 
Lay my eggs for life to begin again. 

9.  As An Egg
I fell to the Bottom of a dark world, 
I dug beneath the Flow when hunger's need 
led me to what falls and lands, what unfurled 
as my mouth brushes grazed hardness for feed. 

Sometimes I hid under these hardnesses, 
when Larger mouths turned, tipped others over. 
As grew, left behind smaller carcasses 
of myself. At my last shuck I massed air 

that blew me to a brighter warm Surface, 
where these wings dried out, I climbed stems to shed, 
the last part of myself. Now I join the race 
into swarm to be grabbed, give birth, float dead. 

I lived most of my life bottom feeding 
the light, continued self before yielding. 

10. Barkfly

Born beneath a spun web into a herd, 
we grind lichen in our jaws out of ruts 
and channels in the Tallness of the world. 
We chew the dead too. Move as one clutch. 

A slender rod from my mouth braces me 
while I prise up the food, clean the Tallness. 
Our mouths also spin layers wrap gently 
round and over a billow of whiteness. 

Once the Tallskin cleaned we eat this cover. 
With icy coldness coming our herd thins. 
I will have babies, I am a mother. 
I lay and web my herd on new Tallskin. 

Some of us have wings, some of us don't. Some 
run rather than fly when danger comes. 

11. Grasshopper

I break my hard shell against sharp cold,
find soft shoots and grass to eat in the warm.
As I grow out my young selves into old
I eat tougher stems, and my wings take form.

My stomach hears sounds. droplets from above
knock you off of a stem, drown you in their fall.
My large back legs move me up into rough
air which thunders inside, I land and call

rub leg against wing, she arrives, is bigger
than I. I climb her. Droplets break a wing,
knock her sideways so I topple, shiver
onto sodden soil, float into dying.

Here I look into world as it passes.
Drown in this flow as it flutters, flashes.

12. The Stonefly

Above the Flow, under the Hard I rest.
I have no mouth to eat. I must find her.
Masses of us move with the Flow, find best
place to change, avoid quick mouths of hunger

as they rise through the Flow, know where we're bound.
Wait for our small bodies to arrive
above. Survivors climb ashore. I pound
the ground with my stomach, then listen. Strive

to hear her answering tap and we pair
She quick dips her our eggs into the Flow.
I must tap again, meet more breed and share
until no more changes to undergo.

I avoided being food for others,
so I could be myself in another.

13.  A Thrips

Once out of my egg I suck fresh plant juice.
fall to the ground, find dark under dead leaves.
New wings clap and fling me in air, let loose
my body into sky. I sense her needs.

Another is here. We flick our bellies
into each other, and kill with our teeth.
While we fight a male moves in to best please
her. I kill one, flick other off the leaf.

She is bigger than me. We swap signals.
I climb up. Stroke her sides with my mid legs.
We link. I give of myself. Ends in pulls,
to break apart. Cuts stem she lays our eggs.

She outlives me, but I will still go on.
It is all about going on, once we're gone.

14. Earwigs

We crawl out of our eggs and eat them.
Mam guards us against those that would eat us,
feeds us what she's caught or found, dead stems,
hard and soft shelled, rotted out of darkness.

Shimmery semi circular hind wings I first fold lengthwise, then crosswise curl my belly, use my pincers tuck in last of exposed wing. Mam ate all unwise

young who didn't leave her. I left her nest.
I investigate all nook, cranny, slit.
I smell her, tap, stroke her with my forceps.
We make a home, she lays, insists I flit.

Even home is temporary. All fleet.
I hide in darkness, wings folded and neat.

15. An Aphid

Born pregnant, I pierce stem suck plant sap. 
They keep away those that would eat us. 
They stroke our sides, encourage from our backs 
sweet droplets. If no sap left they take us 

to fresh soft plants. They tore off my fresh wings 
so I have to stay here and suck this sap. 
I grew them because we were sucking 
dry. They only want the sweetness off our backs. 

My young pop out of me, all pregnant . 
The ants carried us over to fresh sap. 
Out of myself my young pierce new plant. 
I watch ants sip the sweetness off their backs. 

We are kept producing sweetness and young. 
until we die, cosseted all our lifelong. 

16. A Pond Skater

My front legs grab a snorkel, pull it out. 
I suck juices from its owner, my four 
other legs balancing on bubbles pout. 
So if wave comes I'll rise to waters floor. 

Astride her if she does not submit I'll 
tap the water for predators to come. 
She's under me. I make sure she knows she'll 
be eaten first. She submits to my thrum. 
I flew here when I was small, attracted 
by its glints of light I saw from above. 
When food is scarce our young are snacks. 
A tongue eats me if I'm not quick enough. 

Speed and alertness to subtle changes 
in vibrations around me mark dangers. 

17. A Whirligig Beetle (for Steve Ely)

I see Above and Below in same look. 
My foul billows deter large mouths beneath. 
Once lived Below, caught food when I was hooked 
to bottom by my stomach anchors teeth. 

I breathed through gills, impelled climbed to Above, 
clambered up stem, hooks dug in I hung there, 
from spit and some dirt, I spun enough 
to change my long body to short, rounder. 

Dead and dying I find on this Surface 
I capture with my front legs. If all dries, 
I'll climb a stem, unpack wings out their case, 
rise to find a reflection from the skies. 

I paddle in circles, dive Below, climb 
Above to avoid dangerous times.  

photo provided by Andy MacGregor
18. The Green Lacewing (for Andy MacGregor)

Suspended in air on a thread of spit 
from a leaf I am born.I suck juices 
out of each one, their dried out shells I stick 
onto myself, hunt more. Sip their oozes. 

Older now I only feed on honeydew, 
nectar and pollen. My stomach hears her 
trembled reply to my song passes through 
leaf to her. Feel her resonant glimmer. 

When Colder arrives I hide in dead leaves. 
My colour fades until Warmer return. 
With my bright wing colour back I receive 
an urge to search for sweetness and relearn 

in a fresh new world its sources, and soon 
I will sing to her again, hear her tune

19. The Head Lice

I need to find a place to lay my eggs.
Find a spot close to a clearing. Bottom
of this stem. Not humid or wet, perfect.
I cement in just before the long stem

enters the Blood Field. They'll not starve here, stab
for a regular blood meal in Darkness.
My six claws help me climb Tallness, nab
a He to make more young. Avoid Brightness.

Sometimes sudden these Tallness rent apart.
We scatter for cover. Dark is safety.
So many young die when the cleansing starts.
We can't be drowned, but combed carefully.

We live in your tall forests, you sustain
us with your lifeblood, and pests we remain.

20. The Flea

Young, I ate my own shed skin, others hair, 
waste, dead skin cells. I was all mouth, no legs. 
I avoided light, burrow into the threadbare. 
I fold in half, spin silk around myself. 

It is sticky. I deliberately 
gather up sand,soil, threads, bulk the inside 
with silk. I get legs. Still. Wait stealthily, 
for passing heat to make me leap outside. 

My body is hard plated. Hairs secure 
me in the close fur. I puncture, pump warm 
feed into my stomach. He is here. Sure 
He'll have me, claws clasped, legs wrapped to my form. 

I can't bear young if I starve. I will keep 
Waiting for passing warm to make me leap . 

21. The Snakefly

Vigorously tremor my abs for long 
time, answer His dogged drawn out judders . 
His signals more intense stronger 
than mine. Hear my wing flutter. 

We hear one another up through our legs. 
His quivers vibrating mine.When He stops 
signaling, I make short vigorous thrums. 
Our antennae shake. We touch gobs, 

fluttering wings. Lunge and bite. Together 
we arch, intertwine feelers, mouths contact. 
We graze cheeks. He lunges, drives me hither. 
I start on him, sometimes. Start the attacks. 
Our faces touch, again. He lunges, sends 
me backwards. We walk off, separate wends. 

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in Fevers of the Mind:   Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead

The Unresolveables (An Heroic Crown Sonnet Sequence) by Paul Brookes at (sonnets 1-15)

  1. Sat At Tideline With
Sat at tideline with all my belongings. 
Longings in belongings. No you can't. Don't
Wave waxing pulls my stuff, drags itl Slipping.
It can't have it. I won't give in. I won't

Ripple recedes as it pulls away from me.
Then it rises, swoops like bloody murder.
Sucks at my frames, pictures of family.
Don't remember what I've lost. I suffer

from losing nothing. People tell me what
I've lost. I'm none the wiser. I need my bag.
They steal my bag. Then help me find it. That's
why I carry it with me. My keys they rag.

They lift up stuff, say It's here. Discovered
My photos, my ornaments, all gathered.

2. All Gathered

My photos, my ornaments, all gathered
into me beside a sea that steals, hoards.
I painted three cat pictures. I'm mithered,
I can't recall their names. Lose the cord.

Hoppy had only three legs. Long haired love.
In life you collect things for a reason,
then forget the reason.  Heaven's above.
I need to write stuff down. Where's my pen gone?

My pen is in my bag. Someone's stolen
my bag. "Let me help you look." Says carer.
In my pile of valuables, well hidden.
What do I need my pen for? Waves closer.

We are steadfast and keen in preserving
against receding waves that keep pulling.

3. Against

against receding waves that keep pulling.
Everyday is new to me. Folk tell
me something new everyday.  I'm mulling
over I belong here, here is not hell.

I have a husband who makes the tea, there
behind the counter. Folk confuse me when
they say so sorry but they need to share,
my husband is dead. They don't make sense.

Show photos of me with a strange cute man.
I nod sweetly. Hold hands. They're clearly mad.
Steven, my husband, bring us tea, kind and
sensitive. He goes along with their sad

news. Waves pull all value I have hoarded
all away from me, memories tethered.

4. All Away

All away from me, memories tethered
by fragility. Lacks strength of spider's
web, or ship's anchor rope. Stranger blethered
I have two sons. One no longer with us.

Competitive. Aspired. One capricious.
Dead. Blue and white rope he used. My son, Brave.
Bravest he ever was. Wouldn't let us
hug him. Let me put my hands on his brave

shoulders. Then he pushed away. As if to
say I'm strong enough to stand on my own.
Isn't that brave? You know he had blue
and white rope round his neck. He was known

as brilliant yachtsman. Memories slipped
by my frantic grasp to prevent their drift. 

5. Frantic Grasp

By my frantic grasp to prevent their drift
I try to keep all safe. I have sons. O,
how wonderful! These are them, are they? Sift
through the photos. They’re cute.
You have to go?

Please hold my hand just a little longer.
Thankyou. I won beauty contests. Youthful.
I sold microwaves to throngs as youngster.
Managed teams, won prizes. Being truthful.

Do you like my hat? It’s a summer one.
Please stay a bit longer. Don’t like it here.
No, really. I don’t. Lonely when you’ve gone.
Go then. See if I care. Don’t leave me dear.

Someone visited me? Photos. My minds
into forgottenness. They are reminders.

6. They Are

into forgottenness. They are reminders.
Photos remember what is forgotten.
Who are these people? I wake from slumber
to strangers smiling back at me. Fiction.

They mean nothing to me. Why are they framed,
and in my room? These clothes aren’t mine. Someone’s
swapped them! Mine had sewn cotton labels, named.
I’m sure they did. In here they are all cons.

Come into my room in waves, steal what can.
I know what they’re about. Won’t fool me blind.
What do you mean what am I doing? Man,
this is my room. It isn’t? Please help me find

my room. At seas edge I can feel waves lift.
How did I find myself here, a spindrift?


7. I Find Myself

How did I find myself here, a spindrift?
Not enough tea in this. It’s just water.
Sugar. Can you put more sugar in it?
What’s your name? Thankyou. That tastes much better.

I need the loo. Can you help me? Always
somebody screams in here. You like my hat?.
I need the loo. Where you going? Away?
O, I know her she’s nice. Yes, love. Toilet.

She’s screaming again. I’m going to lie
down on my bed, love. Will you stay with me?
My clothes no longer fit. They need to buy
me more, that aren’t so tight. I like pretty.

Carried coal in on his back. My father.
Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?

8. Edge or Earth's

“Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?
What do words mean? Getting more like pictures.
What are they showing me? What is this for?
A pen. What do you do with it? Mixtures

of tiny lines. That’s pretty.” Because she
can’t write, but enjoys the sounds I’m making
these verses up for her. I read so she
can listen, recording what she’s saying.

I have to report how she interacts
with other people in here. Make sure she
takes her medication else, she’ll fall back
and her condition worsen more quickly.

Sentences she says really get to me:
“Only strangers now, who say they know me.”

9. Only Strangers Now

“Only strangers now, who say they know me.”
She says. I don’t want to add to her words,
only take away some if she lets me.
Her talk blooms with allusion, mystery.

Her son says she has books by Rod Mckuen,
“Listen to the Warm” , Russian Yevgeny
Yevtushenko, “Selected Poems”. When
I mention names, she has no memory.

She sings “The sun has got his hat on. Hip,
hip, hooray. The sun has got his hat on.”
One hand on top of her summer hat lifts
it in time so it flops to the rhythm.

Other times gentleness is hers, and yours
“Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.”

10. Hold My Hand, Take Me

“Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.”
All patients are locked in permanently.
Each has their own en-suite room and their doors
only open to their key cards. Toiletries

are extra fees we access from accounts
set up by their loved ones. Sometimes we ask
for relatives to bring in more clothes. Counts
If we can email, text or phone with facts.

Loved ones updated with latest virus
news, how can visit after negative
test result. Before, windows clean glass
to see them through. We think/act positive.

She waits for them while we show we care.
“They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere”

11. Nowhere

“They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere”
We try to make it somehow like a home
from home. An opportunity to share
their past lives. Their fresh animated tone

the event is in the here and now for
them. It is never them for us. We use
first names all the time. Hold it in great store
as a family. Our wordsmith we’ll choose

to call Pam taps her shoulders when she talks
of her dad who would carry packed sackfuls
of coal on his back. Pam when she slow walks
with you steadies herself against her falls.

Always walk pace of slowest ones. She roars:
“I can recall. How did I reach these shores?”

12. These Shores

“I can recall. How did I reach these shores?”
Pam was transferred from an emergency
care place, after neighbour saw her outdoors
pacing her front garden. Community

welfare came out with police to remove
her, as a danger to herself and others.
Her late husband had already been moved
into a respite place to recover.

She had not been taking the drugs prescribed,
so rapid decline inevitable.
Back on regular medication, slide
to a lower plateau less possible.

We can slow the process, not stop decline.
“Did I come to this place with things of mine?”

13. I Come to

“Did I come to this place with things of mine?”
Powered attorneys brought Pam’s belongings,
her husband having died in the meantime.
Soon, all will be unbelongings.

Belonging only in the heads of those
who knew her. She will leave her words, art:
sketches she made of her three cats of whose
names: Hoppy and Missy, she knew by heart.

It is sad to talk of someone living
as if they have already passed away.
Some relatives are shocked to find filling
body of one they knew is a strangers gaze.

Professional, you can’t help get close: her rhyme:
“Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?”

14. Wave For

“Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?”
Pam talks of ocean as taker away
of value she’s gathered on the shoreline.
Unaware others are with her each day.

A strange time for all, when keen avoidance
of others has been the key to our health.
We have felt loss sharply, hugs and street dance,
a dosey do, a time outside ourselves.

Locked in Pam is a stranger to all this,
perhaps she has noted the extra cleaning,
masks so she can’t see our smiling faces.
Her world smaller, stranger each new morning.

I’ll leave the final words to her: she sings
“Sat at tideline with all my belongings.”

15. The Unresolvables

Sat at tideline with all my belongings.
My photos, my ornaments, all gathered
against receding waves that keep pulling
all away from me, memories tethered

by my frantic grasp to prevent their drift
into forgottenness. They are reminders.
How did I find myself here, a spindrift?
Water’s edge or earth’s end? Which is kinder?

Only strangers now, who say they know me.
Hold my hand, take me down long corridors.
They have photos. It looks like me, Nowhere
I can recall. How did I reach these shores?

Did I come to this place with things of mine?
Is that wave for mine? Is it now my time?

-Paul Brookes


 Anthology Post: Finding a Wonderland in Alice by Paul Brookes (poetry)

3 Poems by Paul Brookes in FOTM Poetry Digest Issue 2 Her Fiftieth, Her Fur Elise, A Black Bead