Word-Salad Sal

From The Shadow Thorns sequence

Sally, or Sal (she prefers just one ‘l’),
Tosses her salads of words in the bowl
Of her head – to her ears their chiming swells

To meanings sublimer than literal
Definitions; she has her own aural
Vocabulary where rhyming words spell

Incantatory patterns sans codas;
Sal’s a disciple of clanging, those slurs
Of homonyms under legato curves –

Continuous streams of inchoate verbs
And nouns jumbled up that ramble and swerve
Into surreal realms of symbolist verse:

Blue sheep hibiscus the sinspit remiss
Forcibly thumps with ashmagical hiss,
Binsmiles toke furious pinviruses …

No sip of absinthe required but the fizz
Of Sal’s muggy anis-green eyes for this
Verbal refulgence of instinctive gifts –

Still more to her vaudeville repertoire:
Dusting L. N. Fowler busts with chamois
Of polishing breaths and buffs of a char

As if she could rub off each sooty scar
Of head-mapping lexicon; Sal can spar
With the best at esoteric chutzpah:

Darwin’s father, after Galápagos,
Measured his son’s head noting its index
Had changed shape, enlarged, as if embossed

By burgeoning lobes swollen as moss
With new absorbed knowledge in the cramped truss
Of his stretched skull; a red-plush colobus

With jutting brow: his physiognomy
Had adapted to its own strange theories,
Orang-utan ginger groups tangling his pre-

-hensile beard in metacarpal lobbies F
or man’s tapering apery… Therapies
Blunt psychic destinations of species.

[Notes: clanging: a random association of word sounds rather than meanings which can manifest verbally in certain thought disorders or psychoses chamois: a polishing cloth made from antelope leather].

Stephen of the Silent Laughter

From The Shadow Thorns sequence

Stephen is the fount of silent laughter
Throwing his head back flashing the rafters
Of his mouth’s raised roof spot-lit by tartars

On his stardusted teeth – nothing dafter
Than a dumb ventriloquist’s silent barter;
Still he howls in mime for some time after

The phantom act has ceased its repartee
Exclusive to his ears, a tulpa in a sparkly
Jacket that struts the stage of his head’s flea-

Pit for japes, gags, rib-tickling ribaldry –
He clutches his splitting sides, sighs, then breathes
Slowly, respite before tripping seedy

Stand-up clubs’ smuttier titillations –
Rocks in his chair again to gradations
Of muted amusement: gasped hesitations

Before creasing snigger, then the gestation
From jest to hysterical constellations’
Rustling stars of discolourations,

Mercurised craters, stained against the black
Hole of his throat as his head launches back
With a mask of hilarity at the voiceless crack,

His air-locked jaw’s cranked wider, tongue-jacked,
The vacuum of his lunar laugh is trapped
In a sound-void – the sparkly jacket’s strapped;

Stephen floats weightlessly over a stage
Of private laughter in his skull’s droll cage
Punctured by hisses to punch-lines, each sage

Gag-glinted eye, a ripening greengage,
Twinkling with but seriously-s assuage
Tags or restraints for a gagged laugh’s baggage.

[Note: tulpa: a ‘thought-form’ (Buddhism)]

These poems are from Morrison’s new mental health residency-related volume, Captive Dragons/The Shadow Thorns (Waterloo Press/Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).

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