Manuscript in Invisible Ink

Manuscript in Invisible Ink

by Ann Howells

language verging

            on a language, or so the silence said.

                                                       Bruce Bond Accen

Manuscript crumpled or burned,

scratched on a windowsill, chiseled in granite:

manuscript of a silent muse, inflammatory,

unfurling wings, weighted with ballast.

Manuscript melting like tears in rain,

inscribed with owl’s quill. Graffiti

on a bathroom wall, seeping from the brain’s

deepest crenellations, wafting myrrh

and frankincense, reeking pheromones.

Manuscript in coned hat, whirling,

shed like a second skin. Blazing neon,

folded crib notes, hanging in the alley

behind the tattoo parlor after hours.

Buried with father’s foreskin. Falling

to its knees: Mea culpa. Stunted

by cigarette smoke. Caught by moon’s gravity,

marinated in virgin olive oil, postman’s

two-note whistle. Manuscript morphing

like cloud above treetops. First person

singular. From an abandoned lover. Manuscript

gilded with barnacles, written

with non-dominant hand, pulled from behind

a stranger’s ear, drenched in blood

of the empty chalice, of the dead

letters. Curled with menstrual cramps.

Floating like ambergris. Wormwood tunneled

through and through. Sharp as regret.

Manuscript of infinite deception: in Braille,

in Morse, in Aboriginal clicks.

A thousand thousand light bulbs bursting.


Ann Howells, of Dallas, Texas, edited Illya’s Honey eighteen years. Her books are: Under a Lone Star (Village Books, 2016) and a D/FW anthology she edited, Cattlemen & Cadillacs (Dallas Poets Community, 2016). Her chapbook, Softly Beating Wings (Blackbead, 2017), was published as winner of the William D. Barney Chapbook Contest. Her latest collection, So Long As We Speak Their Names, a series of poems centered around watermen on the Chesapeake Bay, will be released in spring from Bowen Books. Recent work has appeared in Chiron Review, I-70 Review, Paddock Review, San Pedro River Review, and The Langdon Review.

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