Deadspeak (Jennifer Liston)



It’s that time of the month again:
time to open the lowest drawer
of the dustiest dresser. Sit awhile.
Gaze at gauze enfolding precious.
Peel it back, fingers trembling.
There it waits.
My pelt of wolf.

I lift it out. The weight of it.
Grey and thick and fibrous fur,
smell of a thousand ancient forests,
odour of caribou’d Arctic tundra:
I faint in lupine overwhelm.

I step into the rear legs first
body quivers at the contact
boundaries that separate me from
Canis lupus liquefy.
Front legs, head, and lastly, shoulders;
metamorphosis complete.

That month-old scent of blood and flesh of deer.
I’m ravenous, salivating. Need to eat.
This is alien territory. Prowl
around the room, out and down the stairs.
Claws click-clacking on the parquet floor.
Scentual overpower. Big bad clock
hammers human moments. Caught the cat
just there last time. Kitty disappeared.
Rifle kitchen bin. Scanty leftovers.

Out back door. Head for easy picking
chickens. Minor uproar, fur and feathers
flying. Tasty morsel. Need me more
substantial prey. Hear the howls, dash
over fields to join my pack, my mate,
my pups.
Oh how they’ve grown.
How grown.
How want to stay.
How this.
How home.
How like before.
How human mate won’t miss me.


Jennifer Liston is originally from Galway, Ireland, and now lives in Adelaide, South Australia. She has published three poetry collections and her poems have appeared in journals and anthologies such as Jacket2, The Canberra Times, The Found Poetry Review, Cordite Poetry Review, Transnational Literature and Best Australian Poems. She has a Bachelor of Electronic Engineering from the University of Limerick, Ireland and an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Adelaide. You can read her work and about her rescued poetry at and