Three Poems by David Mohan


The Night Women


You find them in every town—
the night women, dressing the dead.

Distant relatives, maiden aunts,
dark cousins that haunt funerals,

their knack is turning up
at wakes, afters, leading choruses

of circling sobs, the trays of cups,
a clutch of black rosary beads.

These women are never loved—
widows call them eye-plucking crows,

neighbours dismiss them as gossips,
but when they have seconds alone

with a corpse, one takes out scissors,
another her needle, the other, thread,

and in the pause of a house in grief,
between the sounding of one creak

and a sigh in the next bedroom,
these women set to work.


The Comets

The people we knew first time round
leave our orbit on carousels.

Those meetings are portents, red
daubs stopping traffic for millennia.

In their absence imagine stone debris
circling, Perseid showers, broken clocks.

We tail the after-burn dirt tracks
of their passing, picking up strands;

our sensors weighing hot echoes
of when love combed out space dust…


The Mermaid Fishes for Seaweed

I forget your forms, how loops exhale,
expand, letting your waves come in—
streams to make the beach archipelagos.
Islands surge up between the sands;
ruts and cobbles fold when touched…

And when the tide is out you strew
weed everywhere like combat zone dead,
carcasses from battles fought at sea.
Rarely-seen rocks emerge glistening
with weed still living like somebody’s hair.

If I take a sloop of it home, its pods
intestinal, like washed-up remains
of the sea’s abattoir, how long will it live
out of its element? How long in the air
before it withers through a lack of storm?




David Mohan has been published in or has work forthcoming in Stirring, Poetry Salzburg Review, New World Writing and A Clean Well-Lighted Place. In 2012 he won the Café Writers’ International Poetry Competition.