To have reached the Finish and found

not the peace which follows writing

but an anguish that so much remains



the neighbour’s cherry tree is weighed

down with new fruit, all for the birds –

these verses will be devoured in much

the same way;


to the fire, to the fire they will go, after

all has been written and done, to the

fire to be burnished or burned, and

what will remain


will tell me if I should run this race again.


©  Ella Wagemakers, 14.14 Dutch time (=  8.14 EST in the US)

Witch 2

Once, I could predict the gender of infants before birth.  If I

focused now, I could still do it.  But how do you do this?

By getting to know the parents.


These days, though, I let it go.  I see the flood and release it

where it needs to be.  Sometimes, pretending not to know

is better, although not for myself.


Lately, I’ve been struck by certain deaths.  I haven’t uttered

a word, but I see them walking around, the stones around

their necks, waiting to jump into the sea.  I see them looking

around, searching for gaps between the rocks, hoping and

not hoping they’ll be noticed, their eyes straight ahead


and then, with unbelievable suddenness, jump off from the

heights, seeing only peace at the bottom of the cliff.



©  Ella Wagemakers, 13.59 Dutch time (=  7.55 EST in the US)


We only want a beach with white sand,

something we can sift through with our fingers

the way sunlight filters through the trees.

But something else will be at work here as we,

too, pass through the warm days like waves

weighing nothing.


Perhaps it is the water that will pass through,

clinging to our bodies, seeking to fill us with

what we’ve lost, that fundamentality city life

has robbed us of, clothing us with its own

brand of affection, embracing us, reminding us

to return to what is less.


We will live again in a hut, waking with the sun,

forgetting for a while the rush of all that we are

not, the dark office walls, the callous desks and

chairs, the indifferent floor, the department

voices, the hands holding phones and tools, the

feet encased in steel boots.


Near the beach, we will eat each day, closer to

the earth, closer to the water and the sky, necks

not needing to strain, fingers to grasp, eyes to

pierce.  We will speak gently again, genuinely,

meaning even every word we do not say, giving

more room to own time.



©  Ella Wagemakers, 12.55 Dutch time (=  6.55 EST in the US)


Let us drink to these final hours!  Let us empty our pens!

The ink has gone into the wine, the wine has flowed like ink,

let us soak the papers in the flood!


This is the way the gods want to be celebrated!  Let us amuse

the muses with some new words, some brilliant drunken

phrases we’d otherwise never use!


We are nearing the end of the race and we have prevailed!  Is

this not what the warriors feel when the enemy has fallen,

the mighty demon of sleep put down?


But this has been more than endurance!  I think of all the

private laughs in the night, the arguments with the ghosts of

my Christmasses past, present and future,


While my husband stayed curled up in a ball in our warm bed,

his nostalgia different to mine, his dreams less wild compared

to what they used to be.  No need to raise


My fist but I’ll grab those waiting laurels at the finish line, just

you wait and see!  There must be some decorative sash lying

around.  I wonder how it will look on me?



©  Ella Wagemakers, 11.32 Dutch time (=  5.32 EST in the US)


A month ago, he’d had enough, poor Jack,

and wondered how to end it all without

upsetting the delicate status quo.


He couldn’t wait for daylight.  He couldn’t

wait till everyone was gone.  Up he ran,

quick as he could, before anyone


had a chance.  There it lay, the crossbow,

strung up and ready to go, and so he pointed

it at himself and fired


in such a way that first it pierced his chin.

His blood spattered in all directions, sorry,

no apologies, but it had to be


this way.  Someone would mop it up later,

someone else always did, and, sure enough,

there she stood, ordering him


not to move, screaming at him not to pull

that bloody arrow out, but oh what did she

know about it all, what did she


know, as she called the amb?  They sent the

heli but before it came he decided he’d had

enough, poor Jack, enough,


and pulled it out before he himself could

have changed his mind.  And there he lay, his

life spilled by his own hand.


©  Ella Wagemakers, 10.59 Dutch time (=  4.59 EST in the US)

Marathon Morning

The sun has risen again, unremarked behind the clouds.  Typical for this country, and as long as it remains dry, fine with me.  Soon I’ll face a plate of pancakes, perhaps rice with two fried eggs and a sausage.

I’ll review what I wrote in the night and decide which heads will roll.  Without a doubt, not mine, although it feels like coconut slush.  There’s something to look forward to, besides food – sleep, and, after that, perhaps a short trip to town.

For now, a photograph of the lavender rhododendron in the backyard.  It’s growing in a corner reached only by the afternoon sun.  There might not be much sun today, but that’s all right.  Afterwards, I’ll eat my rice and eggs and bask in the night’s work.

It feels as though I’ve painted the town in my head a bright red.


©  Ella Wagemakers, 09.22 Dutch time (=  3.22 EST in the US)

The Voyage

He left his village for another, there was simply too much blood.

It coloured his mornings red, his nights, too, and poisoned

all the in-between hours.  He knew that if he lingered he

would hear their fists on his door, see their fingers pry open

his windows, feel their voices in his lungs.


So much noise.  Can’t one just live in quiet peace?

Did the holy one shout his way to the sky?  Who heard him?

Does one always need to be heard this way?


In the fourth village many weeks later, he still had enough legs

to hit the road again.  So many legs, but you are given only two.

You are also only given one head.  He had left father, mother,

sisters.  Perhaps everyone had gone away by now.  In his pocket,

he felt a key but there was nothing left for it to open.  He felt

useless, keeping something useless, for nothing.


Finally, the sea, the wide open sea.  He wanted the sea.  Now,

anything was better than land, especially his land.  He took

out of his pocket his own clenched fist, tight with money.

The boat was waiting to take him far away, he didn’t much care

where as long as it was away.


Too late for phone calls.  Too late for breakfast.  Too late for sleep.

But not too late for the sea.  Not too late for his tired feet.  Not

too late for his head.


The boat was full of people such as he.  Everyone wet with the

waves, wet with fear, wet with cold, wet with keys that no longer

opened doors.


[This poem promises to be a lot longer than what I can write for the marathon, so, for now, this will have to do.]



©  Ella Wagemakers, 08.51 Dutch time (= 2.51 EST in the US)


Some say I am a witch, a comforting thought.

‘My other car is a broom’.


But that means I am free to fly into the night,

to laugh like nothing else matters, to let go of the wheel

because the broom will take me outside the box.


My mother was the first one – she let go of me, cut off

all my roots so that I flew for dear life.  Now, instead

of two wings, I have two wings times three.



©  Ella Wagemakers, 07.59 Dutch time (= 1.59 EST in the US)

7 a.m. Haiku

summer clouds

my eyes more asleep

than the rest of me



red poppies

now bloomed out

as I run out of rouge



June rain

wet sand in my shoes

and a crab




©  Ella Wagemakers, 06.58 Dutch time (= 00.58 EST in the US)

A Photograph

It has to be in sepia, with some of the lighter parts

fading into some past century.


I simply can’t imagine you in colour.  Disney characters

live on colour, are shaped by colour.  You, by contrast,

I associate with scent, if sepia has any scent.


If it has, then the scent of rosewood, as in an antique

box.  Mahogany doesn’t smell of anything, it is simply

dark, but not as dark as ebony.  Your features are dark

enough, too dark to make out.


Except your eyes, which would be almost charcoal.

Almost.  What would really be dark would be your

eyebrows.  The sepia would soften them.


And the rosewood?  For your hair, perhaps?  It would be

shorter than mine.  The colour of dark henna, but

henna has its own scent.  That wouldn’t do, unless sepia

and henna go together.  Yes, that might do the trick.


Rosewood would have been too much.  I would end up

thinking of your arms, which have never embraced me,

or your shoulders.  Even without having ever met you,

I can’t really think of you as a rose.



©  Ella Wagemakers, 05.55 Dutch time (= 23.55 EST in the US)

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