He Who Burned Down The Temple by Zoë Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

They said he was on a good errand:

but what proof do you have of that.


He had good stories to tell –

filling the ears of a hundred servants

all invited to gather and to listen and feast

upon words, the noises – they came as before

and when he had finished declaiming

all who had heard, said he’d spoken well.


These listeners stayed there awhile

eyes fixed upon stars,

sitting at the outer edge of a circle,

these men of worth, sitting, as if they were great

and wealthy chieftains, little to do, little to say.


He explained it all in pleasing well-meant language,

words that count when nothing else will please .


On the third night, he set out for home,

bade them farewell with the firmest kind of oaths,

sailed his ship to the north of the glacier

then out into the shelter of the islands.


It may be that what he did was good but I expect that bad rather than good will come of it.

There Is A Man At The Foot Of The Bed by Zöe Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe


first on his belly;

then flipping, crabwise, upside down.


belly up, then belly down.


First dragging, nose along carpet-edge,

snouting through dust-bunnies.

Then erect;

twisting, thrashing, grinding against the footboard.


I know you can see him too,

if only out of the corner of your eye.


He parading himself,

flashing in and out of our eye line.


His contorting body, black

oily Lycra –


showing every fibrous muscle cluster,

every twitch of nerve.


It is a grotesque display;

like a dying wasp – yet my eyes keep

returning to the spot he inhabits.

Peripheral but not quite out of vision.


This man I cannot draw attention to,

the one I know you see is there –

but will not mention.


How Sweet the Bells Sound, Now the Nuns Are Dead by Zöe Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

…………From The Jew of Malta, by Christopher Marlowe


They found the last one –

up in the bell tower

hung like the crucifix on a rosary,

a candle snuffed at her feet

a bell rope tied round her neck.

Her weight, pendulum-like;

moving the bell clapper –

metal grinding metal,

resonating hum of notes dropping away

– fragments, like questions.


She hung –

trying to chime the call for mass –

for evening vespers.

But the bells defied her –

taking on voices – singing out –

nursery rhymes,



breakaway Broadway hits.

No longer restrained in dogma.

The bells all sound sweeter, now the last Nun is Dead.

The Curb Alongside by Zöe Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

A woman, stationed precisely

between statues of George Washington;

faces destroyed by weather;

the crush and heave;

endless; dug beneath

the sturdy squalor;

the visible lunatics;

stunned; baffled; fleshless;

blazing with lesions;

the pungent, meaty-smoke;

the bleat and the strum,

of three boys,

and a girl

chasing pigeons.

A quick spatter of an awkward moment,

she turns her mouth away;

offering her cheek;

a corner of reluctant reflex.

Big Dog Man by Zöe Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

Man with the big dog,

he always –

Man with a BIG dog, he always …

Big MAN with the big dog,

he always –

Big man with the DOG,

he always –

he always –

always –



Big Dog

Big Man


big dog always with man

man always with dog

he – man


he – dog



Big dog, big dog, big dog, MAN.

Man with the big dog,

he always –

always man

always dog

always –

always –

always –



Man with the big dog,


Carbon Footprint by Zöe Sîobhan Howarth-Lowe

In my lifespan,

so far reaching 22 years,

I have owned 3 computers,

3 games consoles (despite the fact I don’t really use them)

and 3 mobile phones,

the first of which would have lasted forever, but,

in a freak accident my dad ran his car over it.

I can’t drive, but I did have a moped –

but I crashed twice and got rid.

I have voted in 1 election – (you made me)

but I won’t say who for. (Yellow)

I can ride a bike, swim (just about), speak French

and have that crazy allele that lets me roll up my tongue.

I have drank 0 cups of tea, smoked 0 cigarettes –

the only nail polish I own is black.

I have eaten:

1516 Apples

1232 Loaves of Bread

243 tins of Baked Beans

3125 Carrots

669 kilos of Spuds

181 kilograms of Chocolate (mostly without you)

and 345 Chickens.

I have bought over 2000 books,

borrowed over 3000

and never returned at least 5 (one’s yours, I’m sorry).

I have spoken 32,301,600 words

written nearly as many,

but lost most of them in workshop.

I have had 30,025 dreams,

most of which were nightmares,

some in black and white,

some sound-only, (but always your voice)

and some so real – they remain

like false memories –

when I wake up the next morning.

I have blinked 119,376,303 times,

walked over 4450 miles,

cried 34 pints of tears (25 pints were for you),

shed 588 skins (but for you I haven’t changed once),

experienced over 834,200,000 heartbeats,

I have lost my virginity once,

had sex with one person,

and (I think you should know this)

have only ever fallen in love once.