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Pratibha Castle: a poem

Octopus Ride

The cage dangles upside down

on the tip of a tentacle flung,

like a baby's arm,

to its steepest sprawl.

It idles in the breeze,

quivers, my knuckles white,

tight with clutching the metal bar.

A singe of sugar rises from the candy

floss and axle grease, Woolworth’s

cheap scent, shouts, laughter; all

the hurdy gurdy grizzle of the fair.

I breathe like sipping water

in a drought, barely enough

to keep me conscious lest

I fall into a belly-bloating wail

and loose my grip. How might it be

to slip and soar, a swift inscribing secrets,

or the clot that might

have been you slipping

out from between

my legs, to

slump, akimbo,

a crooked star

glinting in the churned up mud,

its essence seeping through

its jelly fish skin. My fingers tire, begin

to fail, open, but the engine judders

back to life. Cogs, once

smooth, stutter me back

to the start.

I clamber out,

stagger through

quicksand crowds,

my face a clown's mask,

and, though my lips curve upwards

as if it's been nothing

more than a lark, my heart

weeps clotted tears.

Pratibha Castle’s work appears in print magazines including Sarasvati, Reach, Fly on the Wall Press, Imspired and various anthologies. It is featured in the online sites The Blue Nib, Impspired and Words for the Wild and is about to appear in Fragmented Voices. She has also published an award-winning pamphlet, A Triptych of Birds and A Few Loose Feathers (Hedgehog Press, 2021).


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