Madonna in Venice ~ an interpretation

Evy Jacobs/Unsplash

A strange catch, like a sturgeon — fished from the Grand Canal, cavorting about the prow of a boat chartered from Burano where the washing lines dip low. Theodora in lycra, cut up vest, zipped in places, eyes kohled, beads layered — dancing their own dervish while she’s flinging out incense with yesterday’s confetti, gold cupolas hidden in plain sight.

She’s claiming back the spoils under a burnished sun, her blondeness back-combed by a dolfin, lip-synching a cornetto lost to tongue while ducking under bridges. A super-grown Alice, straddling the backwaters where old wooden piles shiver in muddy squalor to…

a poem

Ralph (Ravi) Kayden/Unsplash

I traded in
my parure of cherry
drops and purple grapes
for fairy money,
the fossilised faux pearls
from grandma’s old nest,
a teddy bear’s eye
flat on one side,
gobstopper orbs
from a cocktail choker,
all rattling around in an old biscuit tin.

My sister pointed
to a corner of the playground.
‘Let the swapping begin,’ she said.

Later, my acquisitive nature
developed a kink,
collecting beads of a rarer kind,
outside of the tin,
so to speak.

Northerly starstones
washed from the mouth
of St Cuthbert,
a polished gem the size
of a gull’s egg dangling
Byzantine style,
the wooden quarter-kopek
from a Russian abacus,
Venetian filigrana,
a nephrite comma of Magatama
bitten off by a sun-goddess,
a smattering of chondrite
quartz fallen on a driveway
after a meteor shower.

I poked a silken nerve
through each core,
stringing them


Benigno Hoyuela / Unsplash

The Eve of Saint Nicholas. In a sprawling suburb of Vienna, snow is falling, as thick and as soft as goose feathers. A young girl skips along the pavement, oblivious of the grey ice lurking under the powdery layers. Liesl knows her father is waiting for her, sheltering under the awning of the Gloriette Confiserie, in the window’s rosy glow. And she will run to him and he’ll take her by the hand and lead her through the door that rings like tiny sleigh bells, into the heavenly domain of chocolate delights.

All the well-behaved children look forward to a…

Will Francis/Unsplash

Romance has gone rotten, a brief casualty of history eroded by bad weather and unruly tides. The old gilding scraped back from tarnished memory uncovers the myth of a love boat enslaved to holidays, once painted eau de nil, now ensconced in the seafield, bows unrecognisable, passed over from time to time by migrating mackerel.

Sadly it was a drab craft, flat-bottomed, tethered to a pleasure palace raised above the sea, that arcadia of wrought iron and glass, crowned by a winter garden echoing to shingle’s rasp, where rusty palms expired to the tune of parlour violins. …

A poem

Ruslan Fatihov/Unsplash

I tried to drown you,
but you floated — Pre-Raphaelite,
supine, inviolate,
Lizzie in the bath tub,
strewn with stars and wildflowers,
your wavering motion
taking my thoughts downstream,
coaxed into an ocean

Your tired straps
slipped from shoulders
unkissed — his bleak words
already forming filigree reefs
high above the wreck,
shored by willow,
where transparent tides
cross over,
and shards of regret
dig into delicate flesh.

You were the template
the gods discarded on a whim,

Ondine gone awry,
a lovelorn leaf cast down
upon an ephemeral river
eager to swallow your madness.

Yet no…

Crystal Gard/Unsplash (edited)

The sybarites are horribly hungover,
their cross hatching is a little too heavy,
so they ask Pablo politely
if he could switch to drypoint instead?

For the harem scene,
the adorable magpie has conjured up
a new curtain from old fishing nets
and discarded stars,
but it’s only half-strung,
and she’s now gone back to examine
her latest catch in her darkroom
under the Seine.

Pablo Pygmalion is in a sour mood,
this aguafuerte is a dirty hustle,
scratching backwards like a hen
over scorched ground,
watching the bubbles froth
as they gobble up the lines,
not knowing how the bite will take,
enough to make him…

Ganapathy Kumar/Unsplash (edited)

Lise Colas

writes poetry and short fiction as well as quirky unreliable memoir and lives on the south coast of England.

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