after the painting The Minotaur, GF Watts 1885
He frees a low moan over the ocean
disturbing dewlaps where his hide's too loose.
It echoes through his hollow prison.
His pale eyes, in sockets that look bruised,
peer into milky sky. Better to turn his ears
towards the place they always come
to listen for a bellow or a song.
They always come, bring youths with skin
like his, bring maids he'll sniff to find
the smell of suckling. He'll lower his empty
shoulders, searching for one of his own kind.
Unsatisfied, he'll toss them, unthread flesh.
Waiting, his bare chest presses into stone.
His huge hand squashes a bird.
Lesley Mountain has lived in the North East of England longer than she's lived anywhere but people still ask her where she comes from (Sheffield since you ask). For many years the nearest she came to creative writing was social work reports pleading leniency for boys who'd pinched milk bottles off doorsteps. However she took up writing 12 years ago and now writes poetry and short stories. Her first poetry pamphlet Hunting the Air was published by Vane Women Press in 2004.
Her poem Advent Calendar was projected onto a building in Spennymoor as part of Arts UK Dazzle and Attract Project, December 2004.
In 2007 she reached the final shortlist for the Cinnamon Press Poetry Collection Award and she is published in the competition anthology Shape Shifting (ed. Jan Fortune-Woods) as well as widely in other magazines and anthologies. She is a part time tutor on Open College of the Arts writing courses.
She also works with people with learning disabilities, improving access to community activities. Any time left over is devoted to a wild garden and a tame bicycle. She is also currently helping to organise NE1's Words, a programme on NE1 FM community radio station.
She says "I saw the painting on which this poem is based on the arts page of a newspaper. I was struck by the fact that although it was meant to portray something frightening, the main emotions I picked up were isolation and loneliness. The painting was very powerful and I wanted to convey some of that power."
Read an update from Lesley, and her subsequent Poem on the Month: Poppy emerging.
Follow the link for a list of other Poems of the Month.
Monster © 2007 Lesley Mountain: used with permission.
Copyright of this poem remains with the poet: please do not download or republish without permission.
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This page last updated 13th September 2007