Antonia Clark

For Art

There’s no end to what we claim to do for art.
We aim to be ruthless — not satisfied to make do for art.

It’s not for wealth, fame, polite applause, adulation’s
empty hands. All these we would eschew for art.

We’ve sung to muses, written by lamplight, wept in the dark.
We’ve called the true false and the false true for art.

We’ve surrendered illusions that we once held dear—
and all those lovely darlings that we slew for art.

Selfless as saints who starve, who bleed, but pray
it hasn’t been in vain — all we’ve been through for art.



Spark to tinder, lips to throat, temptation warmed us slowly.
We sipped from desire’s cup and it warmed us slowly.

Cinnamon tea, orange honey — sweet nectar of illusion.
We drank deep, and the liquor charmed us slowly.

We toasted fortune, while dark stars conspired.
Gin with a tincture of doubt disarmed us slowly.

A draught of danger, cold lick of metal on the tongue.
The rusty taste of iron alarmed us slowly.

Blend a dram of nepenthe, add rosemary and rue.
An elixir to banish all that has harmed us slowly.


My Country ’Tis of Thee

Mind the gap, the fracture, your wobbly stance for the nonce.
On these shifting sands, try to regain your stance for the nonce.

Your sins are like stones in our pockets, the creek on the rise.
Come down to the water and join in a ritual dance for the nonce.

You’re muddied and bloody. We’re weary of brambles and mire.
Take off your torn dress and slip into a trance for the nonce.

Your delirious dreams have resolved to a bleak diagnosis.
Revive your old fantasy — freedom’s romance — for the nonce.

Dress up for the party, attired as your finest hour.
Go incognito, while the world looks askance for the nonce.



My hungry heart goes begging, a dog that knows no better.
It chases a tenuous tale in which we loved one another better.

I wait for the skipped beat, numbness, tightness in the chest.
My pulse hammers on, an apology at the end of a letter.

Blame’s an opportunist, given to shifting winds, to ledgers and tabulation.
First one’s wronged, then in the wrong. Now creditor, now debtor.

The past’s provisional, a loose weave of maybe and suppose.
I fashion a plausible history, wear it like a threadbare sweater.

The heart’s a failing engine of desire. Each flutter, each hesitation,
a warning. I tend it like a lover. Some days are worse, some better.


Antonia Clark works as a medical writer and editor. She has taught poetry and fiction writing and is co-administrator of an online poetry forum, The Waters. She is the author of a chapbook, Smoke and Mirrors (2013), and the full-length poetry collection, Chameleon Moon (2014). Her poems and short stories have appeared in numerous print and electronic journals, including Anderbo, The Cortland Review, Eclectica, The Missouri Review, The Pedestal Magazine, Rattle, and Softblow. She loves French picnics and plays French café music on a sparkly purple accordion.