from Issue #3: Poetry by Lindsay Tuggle

Photo (CC) Rachel Titiriga @ Flickr

Photo (CC) Rachel Titiriga @ Flickr


The Bone House 

In the thralldom of debt
there is said to be honour among thieves,

martyrs, hair-eaters and others
beset by archive fever.

An oracle of sleep preceded
the resurrectionist’s calling.

Against all agonies you push through
shades of bone assuming old faces.

An unrepentant guest
her arrival marked by bells

as in some cavern mourners
choke on mouths of light.


There is nothing more seductive
than a ghost

except perhaps the invitation
of an ambiguous wound.

She carried that letter
in her pocket for days,

‘always thought drowning
was such a pretty way to die’

(danger is when
the hand returns).

I don’t remember the rest
but it was given as

an anatomical treatise
on the laughter of

leaves against skin:
elegy for a floating world..


It was a relief to no longer be seen
…………………… hollow.

Her fists curl into organs
as she fumbles through
…………………..the open door.

All the old grievances aglow
with the lucidity of dust.

Shame ruins your taste
for the delights of melancholia.

After the whip comes down
there’s only so much charm

a girl can stand..


She was just there
in the asphalt,

a biological gift

Behind the trailer
clothed in anaesthetic
an actress with no mouth.

The unblemished girl
in the plaid silk dress

seeks mutiny in
stolen cigarettes
and snowstorms.


In my dream
I saw us both unblamed

so, now
we can navigate blind
alleys without enlisting

the kindness of strangers.




The Heretics’ Asylum

Her god never condoned
the murder of horses.

After the killing spree
the local thaumaturge
traced upon her neck
a diagram of bones.

The absent face
regrew, leaving only
a pale scar to border
sleeping limbs.

She will never leave this place—

this appellation
in the eyes of the church,
a mid-stream persuasion toward

the beguiling mechanism
of belief, dressed up for
a core of materialists..


Accurate use of the electrical machine
was unusual in their circle.

The physician knows nothing
of angels with proper names.

Reverence is permitted only
toward unseen patients,

an innate distrust of that
which can be embodied
in a creed.

It would be useless
to attempt so minor a feat
as the removal of bones
from the throat.

A residuum of facts exist
surrounding fringe medicine:

the cure by faith as
a demand for marvels.

Her calculated regard
for uncritical adherents
results in a book of wonders,
based on antipathy..


My sister could have won this race
if she’d had enough breath.

Years later I utter her name as my own
against the echo of a blank stage.

Beneath this corpulent delirium
doctors see a potential corpse
to which a ghost is loosely attached.

To enter the incubation chamber
you must provoke
the knife, the drug, and the spell.

Sleep with the fourth book
beneath your pillow.

Safety is unkempt seclusion:
a wilderness of paralysis..


In the absence of habitual dreaming
she complains of the walls.

Falling is the only certainty.

The evangelist’s call is
a labour of recognition.

The origin of the delusion
was only her own hair.

After the manifestation of clouds
it is no longer a comfort to know
the source of that torment

there is no terror equal to
the particularity of a name.



Lindsay tuggle

Lindsay Tuggle grew up in the Southern United States, and migrated to Australia eleven years ago. She now divides her time between the two countries and is working on a book of elegies.  Lindsay’s poetry has been commissioned by the Red Room Company and published in literary journals such as HEAT, Mascara, and Contrappasso Issue #1.  Her poem “Anamnesis” was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry.  In 2011, she undertook an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship. In 2012, she was a John W. Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

from issue #1: Poetry by Lindsay Tuggle

Where Moderns Have No Myths


The reproduction of the eye
incised beneath the rendering of lashes

Some days her face obliterates my own.

The elder as afterthought
flashes of our biological ruin.

Welcome to the end of the line.
The flowers are changed daily.

Photography is forbidden
but you may leave an offering.

Still there’s something to be said
for such high baroque entropy.

The walls have been hollowed
for your convenience.

Kindly note the exit nearest
what was last your body.

In order to emerge from a transaction
unharmed, simply withdraw the possession.

What remains after the end:
One sister is never enough.


We missed the labor
of absorbing small wars.

Let’s be honest—
the weather helped.

Say you lived in Sarasota
because it sounds better.

All the old voices in tandem
Requiem for a wayward daughter

And all that banality,
thick as thieves who can’t

halt the slow curl of kudzu
over stolen cars.


Habit is a dead gardener.

In the first place,
she’s slimmer now, peculiar

in the way of martyrs and other
unwelcome guests

those who revel in deceit and
the sleep of open houses

the inaudible patience of machinery
blindness in a room full of corners.

Votives and alabaster aside,
if there’s one thing I’ll never be

it’s sentimental.

Inflight Hospitality

‘The only thing that
can occupy a seat
(other than a Guest)
is a cello.’

The border arrives
in altitude
as an excess
of ascent or descent.

Beyond Wichita
grids trace threshing
patterned swirls from
tractors, an occasional
dappling of green
around the edges.

The   Ghost   beside   me
is           not       a        cellist.

Cloud Seeds

within this cumulus milieu
high spectacles unveil her
as supplicant

curling into cave gutters
her sleepshirt       billows
toward covered bridges.

the suppression of hail
was once common in airports.

since we have undertaken
the seeding of clouds
there’s a perpetual saline rust.

it’s alright she says
iodide becomes her.
we’re all redheads now.

the celsius rebellion started here.
the weathermen meant no harm.

after the salt harvest
the toxicity of silver is approximated.

algal blooms induce
hanging weather:    39º
and humid with a slight breeze.
for swaying affect.

we bathe in siltwater
ignore the encumbrance of moss
or irrigated dresses.

we all know
(have been told)
beauty is thirst.

drifts of pollen follow
the reclamation of damages,
a flourish of voluntary dissolution.


where do the dead go?

past my raincoat
under her cul de sac

there are so many ways out.

Hunting with Dick Cheney
an elegy

The explosion that is my face
always was political.

I descend
wearing my dead
in brooches
of curling hair and ash.

Count the days he lay unfound
with my footsteps.

Is posthumous retrieval
anything other than semantic?

Antigone would know
the sanctity of a name.

The pretty suicide guide
says the beautiful ones
never destroy their faces.

I am sorry she did not know
you were such a lady.

© 2012 Lindsay Tuggle
from Contrappasso Magazine #1, August 2012

* * * * *


LINDSAY TUGGLE’s poetry has been published in HEAT, commissioned by the Red Room Company, and included in various journals and anthologies in the US and Australia. In 2009, her poem “Anamnesis” was awarded second prize in the Val Vallis Award for Poetry. In 2012, she is the recipient of an Australian Academy of the Humanities Travelling Fellowship. Lindsay grew up in the Southern United States, and migrated to Australia eleven years ago. She now lives in Austinmer, where she is working on a book of elegies.