by | Jan 8, 2021 | January 2021 Writing | 5 comments

Hollow or womb

Sidewalks don’t welcome

Trees, birds, even rats turn their backs

Emptiness engages

See the silent ripple as children pass

Proscribe until nothing is become

Pythia, have you finally left the temple

Fleet in the wisp of the formless others


Under the light of the full moon

A moon that is dead to me

I imagine the ascent of Maria

Ave Cavitas

Sever all moves through and around

Anatta, I am not allowed to rot

The trees, the birds, the rats

Witness my confused wandering


The waters no longer retreat

Even my Shisha lacks compassion

The howls of wolves lead me up Parnassus

Barren Arsinoe no longer feeds me

With still no end to this flood

Keep your psycholinguisticuss off of me

Art for art indeed


Discombobulated, I offer no black ram

And Pythia will no longer see me


This sludge

I wander onto moonless Giona

Through the window, another window

A figure moves back and forth dancing

Wind shifts a twig and the figure dances

Hollow or womb


  1. Meg Tuite

    WOW, John!! First I have to acknowledge how your work has jumped forward and the language is masterful! outstanding!
    “Fleet in the wisp of the formless others”
    “Witness my confused wandering”
    “And Pythia will no longer see me”
    “hollow or womb”
    the ends of each stanza tell their own tale.
    ” psycholinguisticuss” LOVE!
    So much rhythm and musicality in this poem.
    And the first line of each stanza:
    “Hollow or womb”
    “Under the light of the full moon”
    “The waters no longer retreat”
    “This sludge”
    Another story within the story within the poem.
    My only suggestion:
    “A figure moves back and forth dancing
    Wind shifts a twig and the figure dances”

    ‘figure’ and ‘dance’ ‘dancing’
    Can you drop into the depths of language here. Give the reader another image to take in.
    Great work here! LOVE!

  2. Constance Malloy

    Hi John, Love that you begin and end with the same “Hollow or womb.” A comment. A question. Poetry is sometimes the hardest for me to comment on, because I always feel like I need to sit with it quite long to absorb it all. That being said, the thing that struck me most about this is the rhythm. I just keep reading it for the pure joy of the words as they are arranged. Thanks!

  3. Jonathan Cardew

    Really enjoyed this piece, John! Aside from language and form, what I loved most about this was the strong voice of the narrator. This poem is like an incantation, an ancient Greek prayer to the gods. Love all the allusions to ancient Greece–this piece has a mythic and legendary feel.

  4. David O'Connor

    Trees, birds, even rats turn their backs–this line has a great sound and rhythm. Overall, lovely sound and the mythical/classical references add rather than distract. As I was reading, I kept seeing quatrains, I wonder what that would do to the look? Lovely, sparse, and exact(& exacting). Thanks for sharing!

  5. Sara Comito

    Hi John, this has a woosh of movement from beginning to end. It feels like the narration is a dancer rendered helpless by some mysterious music. I like the hint of sight rhyme between womb, welcome, become, moon for instance. I feel like you let yourself get swept away and we get to flow with it.

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