About the Author

Claire Kelly

Claire Kelly's work has been published in various literary journals, including The Malahat Review, Exile Quarterly, Event, and Prism International. Her chapbook, Ur-Moth, was published in 2016 by Frog Hollow Press. Maunder is her first full-length collection. She lives and writes in Edmonton, Alberta.

Books by this Author
One Thing — Then Another

Tick, Tick, Tick Went the Machine in the Bushes


(a post-pre-post-apocalyptic poem)


The old saying

plump in his ears.

Red sky at night,

scrapmen take fright.

Red sky in dawn,

scrapmen are calm.


So he pitches a camp at pink dusk,

gulps a lungful of moisture,

vapour on the tongue.

Knowledge of stormpaths—

rain that’s cheekbone-driven,

or that gusts between shoulder blades

and sends his rucksack a-clattering.


The man with the past in his pack,

he’s a noise everyone avoids.


With each footfall or windburst,

always that discordant, rackety echo—

the world is not sweet in the end.

He remembers honeycomb sweetness

but also the sting and the sleep

of deep-breathed smoke.


What of the din? Sound so over-

lapping it seemed monolithic

but was divisible, like damn near

everything is. Down to

a single mortuary bee

bearing the dead away

from the hive. More dead than a hive.


Pull the machinery apart, pull it



The ground a tip of cursed sprocket,

of doohickey, of chrome carnage.


Pull it apart

and take it away.


Some had been told

of palaces of tile and copper

where instead of squatting

like a pure toad in the scrubland,

people sat and shat, bathed in

battery-suckled, handheld light—

the sin of mass diversion—

before having their hands

sudsed and sprayed down,

before paying alms to hot air,

palms up like a beggar’s.


Mostly his old-folks jawed

through post-harvest smoke,

the smoke of tight rooms,

the hearth hot from fires ever-stoked—

constant cooking mixed with winter smells—

windows shut tight, bodies musky most days,

more than musky on others, dried herbs hung high,

and damp clothes placed near the heat

overpowering anything subtle. Until all talk

turned to good and evil, prized

and untouchable, morals and scraps.


How it was plain wrong

to owe things allegiance

you wouldn’t pay

to another, your own

lover couldn’t light

you up that way.


So he keeps on hauling.

On his shoulders the straps

digging in, as he carries

another sack full of smithereens,

metallic forgottens,


west and away,

for good and always.

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