M.T.C. Cronin, Australia
the law of crimes
did mr. virgo have knowledge of the possibilties

Elizabeth Pickett, Canada
indigo eyes



M.T.C. Cronin, Australia
Lawyer specializing in feminist jurisprudence (90s), award winning poet, working on her doctorate, Poetry and Law: Discourses of the Social Heart

The Law of Crimes

"Unsolved crimes tend to remain unsolved..."
Comment from a newspaper article.

of course I'm lying said the man who climbed
and picked the highest lemon from the tree
said the drummer who did not drum
said the woman eating shit from a spoon
chirped the bird guiding men to honey
clucked the pork chicken and the old lady
out of practice with the poor
lying said the saint in today's labour market
said three burning stars trying to catch sight
of themselves in the mirror through
a barely opened window
also claimed the young girl ending love
and another bottling the spices of hell
and we too said the self-professed
who could be anything they chose
and as well the authors of their own reason
I was lying said the grandfather
pretending to be water issuing from rock
and so was I said the book
which was the sum of all books

all who spoke claimed to speak falsely
and the dignity around them
held no lies or contests and all in the end
were happy that unsolved crimes
tend to remain unsolved... until
it is alleged the dreamer asked:
"what of the solved; were they, then,
ever unsolved?"

Did Mr Virgo Have Knowledge of the Possibilities?

The seven judges had names
(not so sure about faces)
and it had taken them
quite a bit of time
to get qualified
In skill, in inventiveness,
in the ability (of each) to
take up from the point
indicated by a sign

The first had a fish
feeding on his chest
and a big instinct
His sky was full
of the clouds
from Biblical movies
and his face a temple
hewn from solid rock
He listened to
the defence of provocation
With her swinging hips
and red mouth
And said
A woman could drive
a man to drink

The second was
a little man
who spoke in a long blue hiss
hiss hiss hiss
All other syllables
he had left at home
for his wife
to wash with his socks
He was sympathetic
and vicious
And you don't have to guess
to whom ...

The third and fourth
were two old men
with a sack of bricks
and broken windows
One no longer
made his own decisions
The other always wavered

The fifth believed
a woman was his leg
- his fucking leg -
to stand on
and couldn't understand
how they'd learned to read
and get jobs
(that paid!)
In his mind he saw
a beauty, waiting
for a bus
with her bursting case
and he thought
This woman should
have kept her mouth

Number six was
a little tricky
analytic and synthetic
and had once "truly"
represented the people
He was always
saying things like
Did you sleep well?
Did they give you a meal?
Have you looked around
the city?
He believed in doing
the best he could
(isn't life wonderful?)
and was always making
attempts at discovery
He was suspicious of the man
Problem was
He believed in one truth
And so was suspicious
of the woman as well
(even though
she was dead)

And the seventh
Well he was head honcho
He stuck his pliers in
To "extract" the truth
After weeks of evidence
After yeast-filled days
of deliberation
rising up to fill the
annals of history
He asked:
"But did Mr Virgo
have full knowledge
of the possibilities?

Surely he must have realized
that if he pushed her over
the cliff she'd hurt herself?

Surely he must have known
the day of the week?

I don't think so!

He knocked both her front
teeth out
Then sat on the top step
and cried"

'Mummy' he cried
But he didn't know
whose mother she was


Elizabeth Pickett, Canada


1. Island

The colour of anger is red but my flesh
floats purple blue islands of pain
at the temple
throat the azure choked water
of a southern sea seizure
at the tip of a peninsula the toe
of a boot in my belly

I float in a body of water

My body is an island
raised shelves of volcanic
mud and sediment
pebbly and black
ridge my ribcage

Head bent red
back bent
the hard coral of your hatred
a reef around my mouth

eyes bruised indigo

2. Battered Woman: Ask Me Why I Don't Leave

I am a beast of burden
something struck dumb
by its own mythology
stuck in a cattle car
in whisperless summer heat

I wait
not knowing that I wait
destination unknown

(there can be no journey without destination)

I stand shoulder to hide
with unknown others of my kind
we cannot look
from side to side

We sweat. We swat uselessly
at gnats and flies

I cannot remember the cowslips and clover or
anything dew-covered
that once I ate and sipped
under a blue bell of sky

I do not know the slaughterhouse waiting
when the track is repaired

Empty eyes
and heart
that fails to recognize


Suffering deep within a skull
brained senseless

If the Northern Lights
blew down from the sky and into me
I might be knocked
from this be-stilled train car
and into a heart
that moves

I cannot call the light alone

I do not know the light
is there

3. Knuckles

Eyes bruised indigo until

I pull them

from their sockets and
carry them clacking like marbles
in a deep velvet bag

In the blackness a game of magic
make a wish and they will be
cat's eyes and in the darkness
they will see

a landscape
arid formless
an outer space orbit
where indigo eyes
might dream

I carry the bones of your fingers
and knuckles in a black velvet bag

with my eyes

4. The Plot Twists. And Your Fingers

Your knuckles inhabit me
long after you are gone

Now I remove them
from their velvet bag
stuff them into jars
alongside peppers and cukes
pearl onions and hard-boiled eggs

Cure them in brine
in heat-sealed jars

Labeled and stored
till that day
when I twist the lid

Hear the tart snap
of released vacuum
and chew the salty bitter
crunch of bone

and my own

digest what has been preserved

shame bitterness pain


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