for the artists Olly & Suzi (& the animals)

Mutual Response (click to hear the poem read – sorry for the gravel in my voice, I’ve just regained it after illness)

First there was a line
grace like the breeze
broken and jagged as the earth
smeared with the essential,
clay tainted with sweat

Hand over hand artistic collaborators
paws and hooves animals imprint
bite, scratch, slither a chaotic contribution
intense encounters in the wilds
artists alongside predators in situ
drawn in charcoal, pigment, sepia,
mud, berries, sap, dye, ochre,
sunder ink, rock ash, and blood

Borneo, Nepal, Alaska, the Galapagos
geography defined by one species
charting the dividing lines
bounded territories a Great Escarpment
bleak prophesy portends tales of
timber wolves and cheetahs on the hunt
sketching bloody prints trailing Namib sands
hostile places leading to an inner seeing

Transfixed by snow swept plateaus
Katmai grizzly bears, Mkomazi blue lions
watercolor turtles swim under painted leviathans
enrapturing Cousteau’s angels
heart of darkness beats in black tiger while
Champa Kali charges down a dusty path
and orcas move through the great silence

Adrenaline’s anaconda twisting around
the shark cage of inspiration we see now
with eyes wide to awe and terror
melt water becomes a roaring stream
impregnating the romance of the landscape
fear’s thunder rumbling through impenetrable forests
ice crystals form within the vigil of deepest knowing
dead fox, oryx skull, and scarlet raven calling
spirit pounds in the chambers of conch shells

the story is the wind
it comes from a far off place
and we feel it
as outlaws demarcate
these lines of extinction

Inner Animal (for Olly & Suzi) 2007 Mixed Media on Paper Anna Montgomery

To find out more about the collaborative artists Olly & Suzi and see their artwork go to They have a book out about their work called Artic Desert Ocean Jungle. This poem owes a debt to Joseph Conrad, ‘An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest.’ from Heart of Darkness & to a San Bushman ‘The story is like the wind, it comes from a far off place, and we feel it.’

Posted for the amazing poetry community dVerse Poets Pub for Open Link Night come join us!