after “The Ballad of Othello Clemence” by George Elliott Clarke

A ghost, I no longer know how to weep yet grieve
the madness of false words believed. I recollect
how I adored recitations of your exploits,
how I traced the outline of your calloused hands,
your biceps, your lips; marking them
……with my scent, curling against you, my home—

how whispers tore apart your thoughts
‘til only my death would reassure you

……I could love no other. Your fear
that I might abandon all we’d known of passion
stoked by cruel allegations and a token stolen.
Far, far from home now we are estranged
now your grasping hands, empty.
Throughout the severing void, unending
sorrow throbs     the tempo of my mother’s keening.


Jan Jorgensen is the editor of sitting duck press and founder of the Lawn Chair Soirée, a monthly literary gathering which takes place on the unceded territory of Tiohtià:ke (Montreal). Her poetry can be found in Vallum, Kola Magazine, Montréal Serai, 2020: An Anthology of Poetry with Drawings by Bill Liebeskind, and on her website. She was a finalist in the 2019 Vallum Chapbook Competition.