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in chapbook, Songs For Lesser Gods, erbacce press, 2009,
ISBN 978-1-9065885-4-0


The Chelonian Expert


They inhabit his rooms, primeval

relics, regard him with black eyes

seeded in skull pods.


Sometimes he caresses their shells,

able to distinguish minutiae,

seeking symmetry


in hard curves, conves squabs

of brown and black and gold,

exquisite sanctuary.


His wife describes indifference

though secretly despises cold chelonian



Warm bloods indue panic,

their hot, soft brilliance, twitch

of blood under skin


and sump of flesh, jellyfished

over clean and linear bone,

sour mat of hair.


Naked by the mirror, he traces

clavicle and sternum with

a curious finger,


the bump of floating ribs,

his pleading heart, tick-tockative

in its cage.


She finds him, on his back,

helpless to right himself, rocking,

slowly                slowly.



(Chelonian: belonging to the order of Chelonia, comprising turtles and tortoises).


Lesley Quayle


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chapbook -
"Songs for Lesser Gods",
erbacce press


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