All her life she has been
eating herself.
As a girl beginning with her
feet where she washed the
feet of others with her long

Only at certain times was the
taste palatable.

At adolescence she consumed
her breasts before others could
take them.

Always she remained silent in the
agony. Though there was a little
blood, letting no one know, because
they could not understand,

except for the watcher following
when she slid from her mother’s

always hushed but ever conscious
moving among shadows,
among dreams.

When she married she ate her
heart before it could be served
as a red roast to an unworthy

She ate her children, three
of them, one by one, a
child flesh trinity lest

the world consume them as a
sacrifice to self.

At the end there was nothing
left to eat, not even

a thought.

Bergman’s Island

He must have known, must have had
whispers of impending mortality. Else
why would he have allowed the documentary
to be filmed at his Fårö Island home in the

More reclusive than a hermit crab, here
like one of his flowing films, his work, fears,
regrets surged out as the sea just beyond
his windows.

The sea, power, mind, dark dark consciousness.

The conversation, like some Swedish Baron
surveying the coming horde, the end, rolled
out as a 16 mm projector. The Seventh
Seal, and in his eyes the camera captured Bocklin’s
Isle of the Dead.

Broke his life down into pieces, reflection of the broken
lives that permeated his work, the
thoughts that god should not be discussed, rather
the holiness in man.

And the island, carved by a giant’s fist from Baltic
rock, set like some brooding medieval fortress in the
black sea, crags and turrets, savage waterfalls spilling
from cliff face into the fathomless sea, the dark swell
of consciousness oozing from the beach and the fatted

These are stark scenes fit for a Sybil’s eye, monstrous
myth waiting to be plumbed by a master of human

Revealed in the intimate conversation caressed by a
loving camera:

death here, illness, betrayal, bleakness, insanity
all on an island mind microcosm that bespoke
angels and saints, dragons and prophets, devils
and humans etched by the mysterious, vegetative
smell of eternity.

The moment when he said that Ingrid can’t not
be; I can feel her presence, I can’t feel her if she doesn’t
exist, can I?

There at the end of the play, indifferent to man,
alive in a world of ghosts, willing prisoner of
his own oeuvre.

Unrequited Harmony

She gazed at the bookshelves behind her
therapist: Freud, but no Jung or Skinner.
The therapist, musing at her over his
cigar, as he had done for a decade,
thought that somewhere along the way
she had lost her original harmony.

He listened to her self-made myth,
an eternal war, a continually moving
day-to-day movie frame, she the star

Simulacrum conjured up like a bare
mannequin painted over with the day’s
chosen colors, she said that she
heard from the past a
saxophone blowing out forgotten meaning.

The horn that he blew like some wingless
angel on a roof top
shreds her thoughts like papier-mâché,
a piñata that cannot be burst even without
a mask.

A piece of flecked amber floats on her throat
as she herself hangs inside his vanished
tunes, plays the part again and again,

while her therapist watches through sullied
glasses, bored with the same non-reconciliation,
eternal act three frozen like the red ear-rings,
suspended statues, blood-drops arcing down
from her pierced flesh, the way that
he bloodied her with his music,

those lost tunes forever save in the
movie of the mind, and like the therapist’s
thoughts, floats away.

The Part’s the Thing

The one that you play every
day, that role from the womb, the
hopeless dream of being that caterwauled
out the minute you left mother’s dark
ocean, knowing that you are a
fraud. Everyone is.

Whether on the bus or subway, in office or
grocery store, home or away, your part
that day the same, a gulf full of wretched
smiles the part you are with others, the
thing you are alone.

Others: the girl with a nose ring that interests
a fly, the zombie that hasn’t eaten, the pop-princess
who forgot her lines, the priest who forgot his
god. And so it goes.

Alone: you sweat out vertigo emptiness, hunger
to be exposed. Every articulation, every gesture a
Pinocchio moment, every thought shattered Memorex.
To smile is to bare teeth at the intruders. You could
become an eccentric recluse with cats and dogs
and food ordered out. Then playing a part becomes
secondary to the terror of living or of making wrong
gestures, of talking where all speech becomes
babbled lies.

But no. This will not do. Reality is diabolical.
To remain in the box is futile. The world drips
in one corroded drop at a time.
No one thinks to ask whether all is truth or
deception. Whether you are genuine or a wound up

None of this matters no more than an ant
crawling over a container of half-eaten rice.
Even you, dimwitted, cannot guess that this is
apathy, a constructed theater where the lights
are low.

No. You will play out this part until it is
emptied, the way that you have played out
all the other parts, and then you will shuck
it off, like all the others left behind as
sloughed off skin-beings, one by one.

Syntax of Nothing

Undesirable, though not untouchable the
weather wears her as a divine
spiral like autumn skirts tight about the
hemlines of waiting trees.

Her dancing is adored though he can no
longer join in, because she is gone into
the waves, her last story spit out, etched
on the tongue like some epileptic explanation,

muddy syntax vibrated out by someone
else explaining that the rain we once
walked through is razored now, and
though October fattens through round grapes,

acorns, no microphone can hold the red
scribbled song that you sang before
your last smile to me spread like a

on a potter’s clay wheel, and
I could not catch a single note,
could not be angry at God,
could do nothing but listen to nothing.


“Consumption,” “Bergman’s Island,” “Unrequited Harmony,” and “Syntax of Nothing” are excerpts from Ralph Monday’s new poetry chapbook, Bergman’s Island and Other Poems. You can purchase the book from Terror House Press here.