'String says' by Jan Owen | States of Poetry SA - Series Two

in my end is my beginning – just

a rat’s nest coiled in back-shed dust,
a tangle of demented knots

gothic as the Grimms’ dark plots,
a thrumming song of wreak and wreck

(whose satin bed, whose trusting neck?),
the tautened threat from fist to fist,

the carpe diem tug and twist.
My image haunts your DNA,

that tiny ruthless shadow play.
I’m hairshirt-hallowed, gallows shred,

bog-buried hair and voodoo thread,
discord from a black mass choir,

devil’s helix / heaven’s tripwire.
My dreams are rope, I nightly string

up rank despair, the summer swing
to grace the judas tree’s green spread.

Crumble up your holy bread
and feed the crows spaced out along

my cousin wire who codes this song.


This came out of a workshop exercise, a version of Kim’s game – translating objects on a tray: pebble, spoon, nut, string, thimble etc. JJO

Jan Owen

Jan Owen

Jan Owen lives at Aldinga Beach, fifty kilometres south of Adelaide. Her translations from Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal were published in 2015 by Arc Publications. A New and Selected, The Offhand Angel, was published by Eyewear in 2015, and The Wicked Flowers of Charles Baudelaire came out with Shoestring Press in the United Kingdom in 2016. She was awarded the 2016 Philip Hodgins Memorial Medal.