The Insect Sonnets (an occasional series) 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. 

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)

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

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

1.         Her Hole

A rabbit hole falls into her.

The pocket watch looks at the rabbit

and know it’s late.


The big hand claps the little hand

to see such fun.


How will the door enter Alice?

Alice says  I am cake. Eat me.


The door takes a bite of her hand.

It grows and grows

I am too big to enter you, now,

says the door.

I am a bottle. Drink me,


The door sups her

and enters her.

2.         Shuffle

A pack of playing cards

decide to play inside her.


They shuffle her into black

and red, divide her into suits,


Her heart becomes diamonds

Her hands spades,

Her legs clubs

Her torso hearts.


Alice says Off with her head!

to the Queen of her heart,

but the Queen topples

the suits and escapes.


Alice has two thumbs:

Tweedledee and Tweedledum

she twiddles in thought.

3.         Tea Party

Teapot is fast asleep

curled inside the dormouse

curled inside Alice.


Her table lays the cloth.

The cloth places the teapot,

cups and saucers.

A hat and watch sit on

the only two chairs.


Take a seat.

They say in chorus.


“There are no seats”

Alice answers.

All the seats taken then.


Is it the month of your time?

Ask the hat and the watch


“It’s ALWAYS the month of my time

while I’m alive.


You ought to eat and drink less.

You’ll get fat.


I  have had my fill, she replies

You haven’t had anything


Less is more, she answers

and leaves the table

inside her

4.         The Door

Suddenly she feels the alarm

of  the biological pocket watch

inside her.


Where, o where could they be.

O, my little hand, o my big hand.

Alice will kill me if I can’t find her

bracelet and mobile.


Alice wants to say she has those

already but searches her pockets

and can’t find anything.


A door sits beside her

as she begins to cry.

Through her tears she sees

a painting of a tree on the door.


Soon her tears make waves,

she swims, but her arms

get tired, so she clambers

on the door where she is dry.


She thinks she fell asleep

and opens the tree on the door

and finds herself on the naughty step

of some stairs and a voice says:


“Is that you, Alice? You spend

far too much time outside.

Go inside and get some fresh

air and vitamin D from the sun.”


She checks her wrist and pockets

and sighs. The tears

must have washed the bracelet

back on her wrist, mobile in her pocket.


5.         The Mushroom

sits on a caterpillar

behind Alice’s eyes

The mushroom engrossed

in its mobile phone,


Alice says to it:

How are you?


I love change too much.

Change isn’t quick enough,

Says the mushroom.

This Caterpillar should have

pupated and flown.


Why? Asks Alice.


I’m not sure. You

and I should be wrinklies.

You a middle aged woman,

and I mulch for something

creative and growing.


Time is too slack. Should

buck its ideas up. If you see

it about give what it for from me.


And Alice tries but can get

no more from mobiled mushroom.

6.         The Watch

She hears the biological pocket watch inside her

say  I’m slow, so slow. I’ll be early

and Alice wants me

not too early, not too late

but prompt. O, my little hand,

my big hand.


In its more haste less speed

Alice sees something drop

from its pocket.


It is a silver nomination bracelet,

and a mobile phone.


Alice picks them up

and shouts after the watch

but it has gone.


So she tries on the bracelet

and it fits. The mobile won’t

work because you have

 to key in

the correct code.


That’ll teach it to look after things,

she thinks.

7.         Reduces

A court rises in her.

A scroll unfurls and reads from

her biological pocket watch

Tarts have stolen the Knave.


Alice is the judge.

Alice is the Knave.

The judge is the accused.

The accused is the judge.


Testimony transcribes the witnesses.

The spaces between their words testify.


Hat says the party is always ending.

He does not know when

it began to end.


Off with the head

of the guilty, Alice says.

Evidence is an atom.


Alice is guilty, says

the heart of the Queen.


Alice feels herself getting smaller.

She cannot see over

her desk.


Alice has disappeared,

says her pocket watch

Everything gets smaller.

Bracelet and mobile left on the chair.


Alice feels these are the worst

days of her death that glorious

summer afternoon she finds herself

beneath a tree in a stranger place.


Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017),  She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Please Take Change (, 2018), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He is a contributing writer of Literati Magazine and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Recently had work broadcast on BBC Radio 3 The Verb. Paul also runs a poetry blog site for book reviews, art, poetry, and more! Follow on Twitter @PaulDragonwolf1 “Curator and Editor of Wombwell Rainbow Book Interviews and poetry and artwork challenges”. YouTube site: “Poetry Is A Bag For Life”, Soundcloud is “The Wombwell Rainbow” Facebook: Paul Brookes – Writer and Photographer

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

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

Featured image is from Sincerely Media.

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


You would have been

fifty this mayday, sis

five in the car, you drive.

nail in the tyre, too much

wine last night you celebrate

a workmate’s birthday

drive down the motorway

to pick up your son from school

a bottle of wine a night

amasses fat in your face

a business built from zilch

debts you hide from view

grieving for a mother

dead three years

bumps in the road

nails in your tire

car leaps over reservation

somersaults onto bank

and back again

the other four crawl out

sit on the bank

watch firemen cut you out

your excess weight

squashed against steering column

the only one to die

only thirty five

finally, with mum

I celebrate your fiftieth

my dear, dear love.

Her Fur Elise

I awake to Beethoven as Mam taps the upright

Piano downstairs in the through lounge

where morning light highlights dark brown dining table

And varnished coffee table both polished

with Pledge until you see yourself. Later

chemo will make her petite fingers fat,

Fur Elise break into fragments as disease progresses

and piano sold as her hands come to rest.

A Black Bead

I was given in Fifties by an Indian guru

in Madras with advice “Keep this

and you’ll be alright.” Correctly guessed

I had two girlfriends.

Eighty one now with asbestosis

a cough that hacks​

at his body more each time we meet.

-You’re so thin dad?

-He said I’d be dead at eighty two.

-Where is it?

-I can’t find it.

-I’d best start preparing now.

-It’s a joke,

he says and spits

into his half full spitbag.

I find the blue paper

he wrote the prophecy on

dated 1962

the year I was conceived,

and take a photo of it with my mobile.

I give it to him

in the hope he’ll notice

it says he’ll die at 84.

He died at 83.

BIO: Paul Brookes is a shop asst. His chapbooks include The Fabulous Invention Of Barnsley, (Dearne Community Arts, 1993). The Headpoke and Firewedding (Alien Buddha Press, 2017), A World Where and She Needs That Edge (Nixes Mate Press, 2017, 2018) The Spermbot Blues (OpPRESS, 2017), Port Of Souls (Alien Buddha Press, 2018),Please Take Change (, 2018)

Forthcoming Stubborn Sod, (Alien Buddha Press, 2019), As Folk Over Yonder ( Afterworld Books, 2019). He edits The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

greyscale photo of grand piano

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)