guest poet

Lisa Reily – Three poems

The Friendship is Over

Sped along a track in a high speed sled,
secured against flailing in a special flying suit,
a chimp with windblast burns on his face;
his fear grimace, almost a human smile –
the perfect disposition for space travel.

Hundreds of macaques in secret boxes,
transported on regular passenger planes;
their teeth chatter, they can hardly move;
and oblivious, we sit in economy class,
complaining about the food and leg room.

A mother monkey drugged, her milky nipples
deliberately taped; her baby cries, shakes her;
but she cannot wake to feed him; she falls
in her attempt, to the sound of human laughter;
she is an experiment, on childhood neglect.

Sad-eyed macaques in empty steel cages pick
at bottle top apparatus jutting from their heads,
like they are bottles of soft drink; only blood,
not soft drink, drips slowly down their cheeks;
and chemicals, not sugars, stream into their brains.

A captive chimpanzee taught sign language
accumulates the vocabulary of a human child,
and befriends the scientists who taught him;
the experiment over, they prod him with needles,
and give him AIDS; the friendship is over.

First published in Nine Muses Poetry


you cannot hear spirit in this city, Annie,
only the sound of stilettos
clacking along the footways of East Croydon,
the buzz of new phones
passing homeless men under blankets; packets of chips
and longlife croissants placed beside them.

on the tube, people attached
to electric cords, detached
from conversation, nothing friendly,
except for a man who offers
to carry my bags up the stairs.

you cannot hear spirit in this city, Annie,
but away from here, amid the green

are wildflowers,
tiny white with yellow centres,
carried on salt wet air
across the North Sea, along the cliffs
of Thanet Path,

the stone church, cold, crumbling;
I touch the brittle concrete,
where a brick once existed;
heed nameless graves,
the glare of white sky, and black
clumps of dirt, churned to the surface.

I feel you here, Annie,
as a gull hovers overhead
like a child’s kite; as two terriers
bob over long grass, appearing, disappearing;

as bike riders pass and say ‘morning’,
a three-legged dog moves faster
than all of us, and
Sorrell drops a dead bird at my feet.

First published in Amaryllis

and you, little bird

tiny bodies rest on air, swift
above the sea, distant sapphire,
sparkling mint, and lime; specks of mud
routinely and lovingly placed,
one thousand trips to-and-fro
create your home; tidy, complete,
on the roof of our balcony

we watch you speed, thrust
into your miniature doorway
to little brown-and-white faces,
black beaks open, the door to your home
so small, your body squeezed inside;

open sea silver in the evening,
the red-tiled roof upon which you sit
amid olives and plump figs (each day we wonder,
will we still be here when they ripen),
the old grey tortoise in the garden, and you,
little bird, your sweet voice and gentle presence,
your droppings on our balcony railing
a small price to pay, a holiday gift,

and above, your tiny body, your perfect nest,
a clay masterpiece;

until one day she arrives
when we are not home, mops
the balcony of dust,
lights a smoke, sucks in the view;
our sea breeze she strangles
with white paper lanterns,
the railing you decorated
she wipes to clean perfection;
when we return, your home is gone

only space
where you once lived;

a broom handle against the wall,
her stick to beat your hard work away;
a brown piñata above her head
that she must be rid of—
hit hit hit that unwelcome thing down;
your heart work swept into a dustpan,
hidden in a garbage bag;

tonight, crisp white lanterns glow
on our clean balcony, her cigarette, half-smoked,
rests in a bird-shaped ashtray,

while you fly free, and homeless
on the wind

First published in Panoplyzine


Lisa Reily is a former literacy consultant, dance director and teacher from Australia. Her poetry and stories have been published in several journals, such as Amaryllis, Panoplyzine, Riggwelter and River Teeth Journal’s Beautiful Things. Lisa is currently a full-time budget traveller. You can find her at

5 comments on “Lisa Reily – Three poems

  1. Pingback: Three Poems by Lisa Reily | lisa reily

  2. Congratulations, Lisa! Really happy to see these important poems republished. Thank you, too, to Gillian!

  3. Reblogged this on Ion Corcos and commented:
    Three poems by my partner, Lisa Reily. Thank you, too, to Gillian Prew, for republishing them!

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