Owen Lucas

In Shandong province, a madman stands
In a suit of bees. Assistants surround him,
And pour on more bees, which cover the
Patches of his skin that remain exposed.
His teeth glow as he grins triumphantly,
His eyes closed and his fists balled in the
Black, swarming air. He seems to provoke
Them to destroy him, to take his body on.

However, in another photograph, there
Is little motion of any kind, and almost no
Colour. A woman stands at a destroyed
Opening in the side of an apartment block.
She seems to be between floors, in the
Stairwell. It is a shelled building in Aleppo.
The aperture in which she is visible is
Narrow, and she herself is narrow and pale,
Dressed in a white hijab with a bright red
Scarf hanging at her side. She leans against
The crumbling concrete, her body and her
Her head, like a devotional figure. Her
Expression is one of sadness and humour.
You long somehow to reach her down from
Where she stands, to hold and kiss her,
To mollify her in her disdainful mourning.

Goodness is a quality of no little delicacy.
There are the pains we call down upon us,
And the pains visited sans consultation.
When the blight came down mercilessly
And we were amputated one from the other,
It became at that time a fallible choice
Only between one suit of bees and another.

Owen Lucas is a British writer living in Norwalk, Connecticut. His poetry, fiction and translations have been published in more than thirty journals in the US, Britain and Canada. During 2013, twenty-two of his ekphrasis poems were serialized by Mountain Tales Press. Other recent credits include Off the Coast, Vector Press, Pacifica, Lost in Thought, RiverLit, Contemporary Poetry 2 and Paper Nautilus, with new work out soon in Qwerty and Free State Review.