Tag Archives: Split Twist Apocalypse

Nina Parmenter, ‘A Spell for Motherhood’

Take a mountain. Scale the pink-arsed flanks of it,
limb over limb. Find Poseidon. Extract from him a wave
and a horse’s hoof. Pluck a tree; kill the grip of it
by showing it your thoughts. Make your peace with the grave.
Eat apples, all of them. Taste in them the sin
of being a woman. Let that smack you in the gut,
you deserve it. Straddle the equator. Suck up its spin,
take it with you; feel your body snapping shut.
Learn to count each breath as an act of sedition.
Pull the lungs from a sleeping leopard. Be a speck.
Be a planet. Be a long-dead apparition.
Stuff a storm into your patch pocket, huge and wet,
but tell no one. Invent two new ways of shucking
a heart from a blown glass moon. Find a man. Fuck him.


Nina Parmenter writes: “This poem (first published by Atrium Poetry) was written in an online workshop in response to the prompt “a spell”. I wanted my spell to be impossible, to reflect the ineffability of motherhood, but I also wanted to talk about how the act of giving birth puts us right on the threshold of life and death. I felt that some kind of form was right for a spell, but needed the poem to feel raw rather than singy-songy, so I chose this unmetered sonnet form.
The last line was really a happy accident; I wrote the penultimate line (which originally ended with sucking, not shucking!) and then thought, “What rhymes with sucking?… OH.”  

Nina Parmenter‘s first collection “Split, Twist Apocalypse” is published by Indigo Dreams. Her work has appeared in Snakeskin, Light, Allegro, Raceme, Honest Ulsterman, The Lyric and Potcake Chapbooks ‘Houses and Homes Forever’. Her home, work and family are in Wiltshire.

Photo: “Magic Spell: Forward!” by RoguePriest is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Using form: Refrain; Nina Parmenter, ‘Sense’

I am a bag of chemicals
with charge for eighty years,
I am a gassy mirage
that winks as oblivion nears.
Around me swill the stars,
my thoughts, the gods and insanity,
and nothing makes sense but this leaf
as it dances, drunk on gravity.

I am a pointless voice track
on a puff piece of DNA,
I am the ooze that awoke
and decided to live anyway.
Around me swings the void,
nirvana and calamity,
and nothing makes sense but the sea
as it dances, drunk on gravity.


Nina Parmenter writes: “In 2021, in my strenuous efforts not to write pandemic poems, I probably wrote a lot of pandemic poems. This one, about focusing on tiny moments in nature to avoid thinking about the big scary things is a great example! I made it a foreword to my collection ‘Split, Twist, Apocalypse‘ because its slightly jolly air of existential dread sets the tone for the book nicely, I think.”

Editor’s comment: As with popular songs as well as verse forms such as the ballade, villanelle, triolet and rondeau, the use of a refrain (whether exact or varied) strengthens the poem by bringing the conclusion of each stanza back to a core image or message.

Nina Parmenter has no time to write poetry, but does it anyway. Her work has appeared in Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, Light, The New Verse News, Ink, Sweat & Tears, and the Potcake Chapbook ‘Houses and Homes Forever’. Her home, work and family are in Wiltshire.

Time Lapse of Stars During Earth’s Rotation” by Image Catalog is marked with CC0 1.0.