Literature Poetry Shannan Mann

The Lie

Her body was part-whale, part-mouse—behold the lie!
It lives in your belly. Like an unborn baby you mould the lie.

Slice my ears with the jagged stars. What did you ever do
with the gift of music? I buried the violin and told the lie.

This lamp in the ocean. A wolf with feathers for fangs. The woman who bares
her wrist like a rumour. Nothing will change. Try it—kiss, kill, scold the lie.

I fear I will turn to maggots swelling in the rain. I run from clouds
caging your form. I have lost, though once I thought I controlled, the lie.

“No one can see us.”—“The sun is smoke in my city.”
You do not need eyes for (there is no blindfold!) the lie.

Most of the time I laugh at misfortune. I am mad, you are mad—come,
are we both not too old for the leash? For once, with me, uphold the lie.

Day breaks, night falls, time eats itself like a cannibal in heat. You will burn to black
in the Universe’s marriage with Nothing. What ever remains but the cold, the lie?

Am I forgiven, my Lord? Place the gun on my cheek like a mother’s hand.
I begged at your feet for the fortune of faith. You, Dear One, sold the lie.

It writhes in my gut, a worm in my blood, a bird in my groins.
No, no! A song, a scarf, a horse, milk, the sea, a marigold—the lie.

Tonight, I will leave for the mountains, I will leave for the river. I will leave,
Shannan. Stay a while in the thirteenth hour of memory, please—hold the lie.


Shannan Mann has been awarded or placed for the Palette Love and Eros Prize, Foster Poetry Prize, Peatsmoke Summer Contest, Rattle Poetry Prize, Pacific Spirit Poetry Prize and Frontier Award for New Poets. Her poems appear in Rattle, Ocotillo Review, Strange Horizons, & elsewhere. Find her at