Here on this mythic island, sirens ascend
to the cadence of beating waves.
I tell you I am but a spectator,
one who stumbled into this,
but I recall the timing,
trying to control the rasp and surge.

I stand, gather grace about my shoulders.
Porcine beasts snort and snuffle —
echoing, echoing. Pale skin
translucent, crystalline
as a half-measure of sea water.
It’s destiny, I think; it’s revelation

If all tomorrows became agony by design,
would I?
Would I daub my blistered heel with salve
and venture on? Thrive? Even prevail?

I burn, dream fever dregs, names
powerful as demi-gods,
but names I’ve scanned all seem my own.
My totem is gauche, empty,
both plundered and fulfilled.
This is a last desperate chance;
I filter my hubris until it runs clear.
I arrived here I a fool, but tell me,
at whose behest?


Ann Howells edited Illya’s Honey for eighteen years. Her books are: Under a Lone Star (Village Books, 2016), Cattlemen & Cadillacs, an anthology of D/FW poets she edited (Dallas Poets Community Press, 2016), So Long As We Speak Their Names (Kelsay Books, 2019), and Painting the Pinwheel Sky (Assure Press, 2020). Her four chapbooks include Black Crow in Flight, published through Main Street Rag’s 2007 competition, and Softly Beating Wings which won the 2017 William D. Barney Competition (Blackbead Books). Ann’s work appears in Spillway,