Stephen Watt

Tumbling from swings, Charlotte’s skull clomped
off paving, splintering bone shavings
into the soft tissue of her brain.

Excited when it pressed, her nature changed.

In witching hours, she walked around undressed,
strange as the shadowlight of the mirror’s spell
in her attic psychomanteum, speaking with the dead
about a museum of night terrors,
a mausoleum of unholy beings
that torment her during waking hours.

Employed as a coffin maker by Co-op Funeral Care,
Charlotte devoted herself to woodwork
in her workshop, modelling pine and oak,
mahogany ashes caskets
and satin, oyster-quilted suites
until her legs fell heavy; her heart did not beat.

No pulse        No voice        No choice

but to walk, move, invisible in the city clamour
past street-lit buskers
like someone wearing slippers,
a shuffling mute. Buses hurtled through her,
en route to suburb destinations, oblivious
to Charlotte’s spectre standing with hands raised.

But these are waking days. She is alive,
whipped into hypnosis by things we do not notice
in mid-afternoon moods. Something
from the city boneyards covets her subconscious,
intrudes her lucidity
like insomnia could be something haunted

and without sleep, Charlotte’s exhausted brain
pokes once again,
leading her back to the attic psychomanteum.


Stephen Watt is Dumbarton FC’s poet-in-residence. Author of two collections, Spit (2012) and Optograms, Stephen became Scotland’s first crime poet at Bloody Scotland crime writing festival and is one half of the gothic spoken word/music collaboration Neon Poltergeist.