The Star Talers

A Grimm Mythpunk Poem

The Star Talers
Image by Stephanie Berghaeuser

The boy had been hollow rose

Carved out from the hip bones of his mother

Beautiful as a choked out sob against silk pillows

Beautiful as a neck bent back swanlike to display the pulse

Beautiful as an eggshell is to crush and feel the yellow juice spill down

And lap



Once. Once he had been that hole

A space to fill with so much Other Blood

Now he stands on the banks of a bright river, Old,

Full, frayed, and spilling out onto the bank

No one comes near

The fear of all the screaming demons, stench and blade sharp thorns that close around him

Holds the world away

But still he will stay

He heard a story once; a whisper, rumour, gossip or snatch of song that clung like a butterfly to his sleeve – there is a land across the river, where you can see the stars fall to earth and in their fierce, full, burning beauty there is peace.

So he will stay.

He has, after all, come this far and though he has no boat, no bridge, no strength, no way

To cross that bright water still

he will stay

until the wind, rain, earth, and sun turn his leather into crusted bark and his hair hangs down black branches into the bright water ; marking the furthest reach of his great yearn and strain,

A Poison Tree, black against a spill of cream,

dark berried and barbed,

the reason

and the shame



once again.


The girl had been the canvas for their Art


That was their excuse

And what did it matter? She wore her soul like amber and jet

around her neck

So what should she care?

When they flayed off her silks, her skin, her flesh, her hair

When her eyes and tongue were burnt away

And she walked proud in her bones, her soul gleaming topaz and garnet round her waist

They took their knives


and into her splintering marrow



The weight of their names

Her vandalised frame

Their scars in grim, bold, calm, displays

And what

if she grew fatigued one day and laid down in the ink dark arms

of the cold bright river and whispered

“Carry me away”...

She heard a story once; a whisper, rumour, gossip, or snatch of song that clung like city smog to her hair – there is a land across the river, where you can see the stars fall to earth and if they fall into a poor girl’s hand, they become Talers and she can buy herself sweet freedom and a taste of sky.


“I will be your boat” The girl whispered from the water

The boat that was also a skeleton

The skeleton that was also a girl

“I will carry you and we will see the stars fall together.”

And the old man who was almost a tree, heaved up his twisted roots

And stepped into her.


And when the stars fell, they were not Talers,


They were only tears

But when the universe was cried away,

The old man’s palm, was crossed with silver.

surreal poetry
Penny Blake
Penny Blake
Read next: Poem: New Life
Penny Blake

Story topics: Natural Living, Equality, Diversity, Geek Culture.

I write and review non-fiction and fiction that explores science,

culture, identity and power.

See all posts by Penny Blake