Near and Far.The Teratogen Sonnet Series. Poem. Video. Norman Ball


“The death camps were not built in the Gobi Desert. And when barbarism challenged, the humanities, the arts, philosophic thought proved not only largely impotent but often collaborative with despotism and massacre,”

–George Steiner, from ‘A New Literacy’, The Kenyon Review, 24:1, Winter 2007, 10-24


Teratogen 1: Sex on the Brain


“Thy nakedness shall be uncovered,

yea, thy shame shall be seen…”—Isaiah 47:3


This mission is a sin. What kind of spaz-

tic draws vigor from pornographic veins

or penis-headed parodies of ass?


But you’re no baby, Baby. Holy weans

alive, I could not diaper your fine mess.

You soil all metaphor. I’ll author blame:

My labs, my country tis of thee. My shame

is writ uncovered on your face. No less

you’d scare Sears’ portrait guy.


And yet I’m drawn

to parse the prick that promenades your head.

They told us, Horus, Set, the Golden Dawn:


a Third Eye—neither naked, neither dead

of shameless form would, near the end, arrive

commending those whose fear brought it alive.


Teratogen 2: Cabbage Patch Moll


“Hence world picture, when understood

essentially, does not mean a picture of the

world but the world conceived and grasped

as picture.” –Martin Heidegger


You vandalize distress at no small cost

through nylon skein and cabbage patch

disguise. This manhunt though is long since lost.

All have been found. First paparazzi snatched


unguarded moments. Then we watched gray puffs

televise precision. Your face

is pixelated aftermath that stuffs

everything in the close-up. Common place


covers all bases. Where’s the intimate

to hide? The convict is a partial judge

on all subjects of visual merit. Split

my screen and your forehead suggests a smudge-

print. We share the mounting headcount’s ripe bruise.

For I no longer feel eyewitness news.


Teratogen 3: Thumbelina, Dance


“…advanced forms of biological warfare that can ‘target’ specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.” –from Project for a New American Century (PNAC) Manifesto, 2000


We vet foot bills. Are pissed-on borders worth

a mongrel birth? doG gone us Pentagon.

Hotdog Girl rolls so we might rule the earth?


Our barking men of outrage are all gone.

Lassie’s come home to her unleashing hour.

Stream? I cannot stream out into the streets.

Fluoride neutered all my upright power.

I’ll litter no more dog-days in these sheets.


Poor pup, you play dead well. No, we’ll not lift

you up. One burp and you could well explode

across complicit shoulders. To the swift

life opens up. As for an honest road

with cars to chase, let’s first define your legs.

Right now you are a thumb. How motion begs.


Teratogen 4: Waterboy


“No, you people are drinkin’ the wrong water.”

–from The Water Boy, the movie (1998)


 Suffer this baby floating on the earth

amphibious. Grace alone can mend

fluidic pustules. Please make haste. No berth

so wide of God, nor time-belabored End-


time should deflate ascent. Prospects look grim

for god-speed. Though we tire of boils and sore



Oh procrastinating seraphim,

whitewash no more. These mutants wash ashore.

Our amniotic seas now euthanize.


Please hear, oh Lord, water-boy’s gurgled cries.

His isotopic lungs cannot advance

beyond collapse. How does he stand a chance

of reaching Heaven, waterlogged on Earth?

The New Disorder liquefies at birth.


Teratogen 5: Burpee Girl


“Satan said: ‘I am not the one to prostrate

myself to a human being, whom You created

from sounding clay of altered black smooth

mud.” –Quran 15:30-35


Christian soldier, you battle your mortgage

with Abd al-Chuckee puppet-strings away,

sculpted like a Mujaheedin porridge

from amber waves of O, so gamma ray.


Our acronym-cadavers cyphered this.

The Pentagon got wind of ill-wind skies.

Re-baseline victory. All vectors miss

these eyesores too contained to leak out cries.


Children, don’t play! The cradle robs the grave

before the grave has time to rob your wild

unripened stares. Uranium defiled

His altered mud. God’s breath we, breathless, waive.


Dead verse tomatoes horror. Who’ll baptize

the Burpee Girl with ovulating eyes?


Teratogen 6: Improvised Existential Denouement (IED)


Up close you could be anybody’s child-

care scandal. Hamburger Hill limps beside

your fresh pink meat. While no one looked, life filed

your backstroke down to blisters. They will hide

your books in study hall. Who will arrest


this mutant form now terrorizing cells?

Without a clear and sewn-up threat the West

cannot hold the line. Deformity spells


doom. No tight-knit group of key advisors

props up your bloated puppet-string regime.

Sit up. Exude malevolence. Your sores

must find themselves else war will lose its steam


pressed irony. Don’t make us make Big Macs.

Cater our events. Weather our attacks.


Teratogen 7: Baby Skeletor (Brought to You by ‘Masters of the Universe’)


“Skeletor’s face accidentally got splashed with acid and he sacrificed his face to

survive.” –from ‘Masters of the Universe’, a Mattel media franchise


Before ill-winds impinged on faultless weather,

I had a barrow glazed with rain for you.

I’d wheel you to the bus-stop, but why lever

a father’s guilt atop your unhinged glue?


I’m loath to hold you up for God to see,

nor shower you with blue comforts. Why not flee

my too-short arms, your wails so out of key?

You scream small monster none the least at me.


I’ll prop you up at school if you insist.

But stand-up kids are cruel. They will resist

the womb’s last weapon, shrunken in their midst.

The universe won’t stoop. You are the grist

for chemistry swept under bazaar rug,

a Hazmat spill, the morning-after drug.
This series first appeared in The New Formalist, then Cinemension. Teratogen sonnets 5 and 7 will appear in ‘The Phoenix Rising from the Ashes: Anthology of sonnets of the early third millennium Friesen Press, Victoria, B.C., Canada, 2013.
NORMAN BALL (BA Political Science/Econ, Washington & Lee University; MBA, George Washington University) is a well-travelled Scots-American businessman, author and poet whose essays have appeared in Counterpunch, The Western Muslim and elsewhere. His new book “Between River and Rock: How I Resolved Television in Six Easy Payments” is available here. Two essay collections, “How Can We Make Your Power More Comfortable?” and “The Frantic Force” are spoken of here and here. His recent collection of poetry “Serpentrope” is published from White Violet Press. He can be reached at All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop All the Babble of the Souk. Robin Ouzman Hislop

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Living Her Passion.Poem.Richard Doiron


She comes to him at night
in the secret world of dreaming
and she comes, also,
when reverie descends,
like so much summer rain,
to occupy the day itself.
She comes, unfettered,
unmasked, a deluge, disarming.
In the earliest of hours,
she is the promise of the sun.
At noon, she describes the night,
replete with wine and roses.
She cares not a whit
for the whimsies of deniers,
decriers, the deities of decorum.
She comes not to advance,
to enhance, to embellish
the shores of sanctimony.
She comes to uphold
the virtues of love, the verities
of which are more than mirrors
affixed to their walls,
the same reflecting but the rigid rule
of their perfidious page.
She comes to alert, to assert,
to avow. Here to deter the dagger and
the dart, fulfilling the heart, engaging
the soul, she courts her cause,
on a bed that’s ablaze, burning, a blaze,
burning, burning, burning!



-Richard Doiron, 66, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada,
work in print since 1964. A graduate in journalism, has read
at national and international literary festivals, his work read
at the United Nations and the World Congress of Poetry &
Cultures. Has published an estimated 1000 poems. Twice
nominated for the Governor-General’s Award (Canada);
recipient of the World Poetry Lifetime Achievement Award 2012.

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This Bone That I Found. Poem.Torre A. DeVito

Walking in the woods I found a hollow bone,
Whose flesh had been the meal of worms.
It was hollow and smooth, bleached by the sun:
And insects had cleaned the marrow.
Ah, that in life I am like this bone,
that all my gifts be used up,
offered upon a platter that is licked-clean,
sopped-up, slurped out, and savored.
Oh, that in death my body is used up
so completely that there is nothing left
and at the resurrection it is renewed:
smooth and clean and white as this bone;
this bone that I found, while walking 
in the wood, this hollow bone,
stripped by worms – hollow, smooth,
and bleached by the sun.

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Crime Fiction.Poem.Mitchell Geller

Mitchell Geller

In books by Christie, Sayers and Ngaio Marsh
the mystery writer observes this dictum:
A man or woman, venal cruel and harsh,
shot, stabbed or poisoned, must be the first victim.
With Corpse Number Two, the rules relax;
A kindly person, warm, or even saintly,
dispatched (so the “perp” can cover his tracks)
for sensing whodunit, however faintly.
Henceforth, clues and alibis alike are flimsy —
has someone stolen Madam’s secateurs?
If so, why do Alleyn, Poirot or Wimsey
deduce the fingerprints they bear are hers?
Yet how they charm! Stale plots, dull dialogue,
Manor house murders and footsteps in fog.

The new ones differ — brilliant PD James
created a brooding detective-poet.
Anne Perry’s historical oeuvre proclaims
Victorians were kinky, though loath to show it.
The kudos trenchant Ruth Rendell has garnered
extend to her alias, Barbara Vine,
and sly diabolical Robert Barnard
lampoons England’s bleak, bureaucratic decline.
Where once the motives were classic and clean —
the quartet: love, loathing, lucre and lust —
now sociopathy dominates the scene;
victims dismembered, leather-clad and trussed.
The grey cells are augmented in our day
by Freud and forensics and DNA.

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Coral Reveries (3).Poem. Audio. Ian Irvine (Hobson)

Tree of Life

Image: ‘Darwin’s Tree of Life’ [from public domain image, drawn by Darwin]



Ian Irvine Hobson. Audio Version.

Poems: (3.)


(i.) Their Massive God

(ii.)The Noble Love of Freedom

(iii.) To Inhabit the Fields of Time


Poems by Ian Irvine (Hobson), copyright all rights reserved.


Please Note: many of these poems meditate upon or, in some cases rework/recombine, random phrases appearing in the 2nd edition of Charles Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle. The first edition of the work appeared in 1839. I hope I have done some justice to the natural lyricism evident in Darwin’s relaxed prose style.



Their Massive God


Whether I killed their God,

one and massive.

book-tombed, with chiselled words

on granite—his puny reign,

mere millennia—

was not the issue.


Mine was the gambler’s fear, for

the mist-wrapped hull of the new

drifts only slowly into view

contrasts with the rotting hulk of God

(as slowly sinking).

How will they endure

this unbearable in-between?



The Noble Love of Freedom


In the forest,

with huge butterflies

that float

among horses and men

such brilliant colours!

– they flit

from shade

to sunshine

I find it dreamy

to think of her

and ignore the granite hills

steep and bare


They tell a story

steep and bare

of runaway slaves

and the moon was dim

(a few fireflies)

and we came upon a desert

followed by a wasteland

of marshes and lagoons

heard the sea’s sullen roar

off in the distance.


We tethered the horses

but they refused to settle.


We tethered the horses

on a sandy plain

next morning, more salt lagoons

and a few stunted trees.

The nights grew hot, and

a dim moon on white sand.


Became aware

(the exact moment is not recorded)

of a problem with the horses.


We bathed in lakes and lagoons

traversed pastures ruined by ants’ nests

passed forests with lofty trees.


Every morning more horses

bitten and infected

until one evening

I saw it in the gloom

suctioned to a horse’s back

a large vampire bat.


I found it dream-like

blatant in the gloom

(How could I ignore the granite hills?)


But then I saw it

suctioned to a horse’s back


a large vampire bat.



To Inhabit the Fields of Time


The more I observe

‘mother nature’, the less

God I see,

the more in need of a God

(or gods)

I become. Even as I

refuse to believe their

broadcast baloney.


The idea gnaws.


I came upon a parasite

in some distant jungle—

it gives me wild ideas, and though

the doctors work their alchemy

I still feel ‘inhabited’. Besides

my son in a coffin.


So many blind millennia—

and still they refuse to see.

But is my vision true—

unencumbered by faith

(my daughter, my daughter)?


The clear and terrible beauty

of aeons of methodical suffering.

He never did intervene. If

he exists, he’s a patient sadist

or useless as the carnivores

of all ages, thrive and



Ian Irvine Photo

Ian Irvine is an Australian-based poet/lyricist, fiction writer and non-fiction writer. His work has featured in many Australian and international publications, including Fire (UK) ‘Anthology of 20th Century and Contemporary Poets,’ (2008) which contained the work of poets from over 60 nations.His work has also appeared in a number of Australian national poetry anthologies, and he is the author of three books and co-editor of many more (including Scintillae 2012, an anthology of work by over 50 Victorian and international writers and poets). He currently teaches writing and literature at Bendigo TAFE and Victoria University (Melbourne) and lives with fellow writer Sue King-Smith and their children on a 5 acre block near Bendigo, Australia.
Links related to his work are as follows:


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