Five Poems by Lorelei Bacht

The Nature of this Beast

It was only my mind
Drawing stars on a cloth over your face,
Imagining constellations,
Thinking you my father,
Brother in arms of undertow –
Magnificent scarecrow
I made, but made no time, no space
To see the underside of you.

I was fascinated with your fascination
With me, the large flowers you patiently
Grew on the inside of my skin,
How you decorated the air
Around my messy hair,
Which you mistook for a forest –
How effortlessly you catapulted meaning
Onto whatever came out of my lips
And believed me a witch.

I don’t know what you want,
But I do not have it.


The Glass Ceiling

How long the night hours
Must have appeared to the lonely,
Suffocating fish.

Rice paper gills that rise and fall,
Tremble, tremble, tremble – no more.
An empty sock, the colour gone,
A toy too slippery to hold
The children’s attention.

My first impulse
Is to stay put; yours is to run.
Man must happen, after all,
No matter how brutal
Or inconsiderate the path
He has chosen.

He disregards warnings,
Drives without a helmet.
Whatever pulls him, he will fall
And insist on falling. He will
Claim to love it, and reinvent
Himself as the downbeat husband.

I’ll let him off the hook –
It’s just like in the books, until:
The car crash or the broken hand.
Then he will ask for help again,
From his official attendant.

All night, the fish claimed to resent
Moral judgement.

But perhaps,
With his last gasp,
He came to see
That it did not make any sense
To jump out of the tank.


And Here in the Still

There is no music soft
Enough to ease my pain
Sound of the rain
I am learning to feel
The contours of my own
Emptiness

Not yet aware of what awaits
Awake at half past two
Way too early to make
Life-changing decisions
I sit in bed vast expenses
Of nothing in my head

That I may be a bird
Or better yet a stone
Cease to feel abandon
Hope which was the shape
Of my prison now by the door
I notice half in disbelief
There never was a lock

No wheel to spin no narrative
To dream into being
Silence an unexpected gift
Underneath everything
Hiding in the minutes between
The loose flakes of my existence
Bursting open

Unaware of the subterranean
The slow but certain
Work of pain he marvels
At my timing if I did
Not explode then
Upon impact
Why shatter now like glass


House Arrest

ur lives suspended in a glass bottle:
No air, no other place to go at the weekend
But home, where all there is to do is care
For the children and avoid having each other.

We drink our morning coffee in slow sips,
Savouring the feeling of looking occupied,
Making small talk, failing to fill the minuscule
Spaces left around the dark matter of your affair.

Day after day, I work through my unrequited
Sentiments and learn not to care. You explain:
You deserve a life just like in the books;
It is not your fault that you have read them.

I discover my middle-aged husband to be a young
Victorian lady, reading forbidden novels in the barn,
Dreaming of romance, something else, while I am
Denied any choice, right, agency, desire.


The Chase Itself

In his armchair, I began to perceive
The radical asymmetry of courtship:
One wanted; the other one wanting –
A blank, a starting point of pure
Intentionality. What is a man, if not
A collision course, a catastrophe

Seeking to happen? And I, where it
Happens. Day after day, I will receive,
Entice, convince that I am the ocean,
Profess an unbounded taste for sailors,
Their pipes, greasy laughter, complete
Absence of personality. The sailor sails

The sea and that is it. For him: an eternal
Quest for a home, another home, yet
Another. He cannot sit at the table.
As for the fishwife: an understanding,
Barely audible at first, then increasingly
Loud, a cloud bursting open,

Rumble, grumble, roll of hailstorm
On the deck. Wisdom of the siren:

You can never win the game
Of incompletion.


Lorelei Bacht is a European poet living in Asia. She writes about ruins, real and imagined. Her recent work has appeared and/or is forthcoming in Visitant, Quail Bell, The Wondrous Real, Not Deer Magazine and Abridged. You can find her on Twitter @bachtlorelei. She is also on Instagram @lorelei.bacht.writer and @the.cheated.wife.writes.

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