stdClass Object
(
    [ID] => 7246
    [post_author] => 6
    [post_date] => 2015-03-12 20:30:09
    [post_date_gmt] => 2015-03-12 20:30:09
    [post_content] => He's been stitched-up; two gummed, black-threaded eyes
Squint back across the decades in surprise
Through spiteful chinks of sunlight, acrid smoke,
Screwed-up against some wicked tribal joke.
His rictus has been sewn into a smile,
A tight-lipped dandy, puckered into style,
The clearing where his grisly fame began
Still broods beneath the kinks of wood-stained tan.
Flayed leather now,
his features smoked and cured,
His niche in culture gruesomely secured,
The needled grin is fixed, drawn back and set
Bone-dry in its reflective cabinet.
A hundred years ago he strayed alone
Towards this room of ritual skin and bone,
Believed in spirits, drank, was secretive
With knives and fish-hooks, dreamed his seed would live,
Sheathed his penis, sweated half the night
On invocations, prayed, prepared to fight,
And felt, perhaps, the moon's leaf-parted shine
Move up his legs and bathe his severed spine;
His head hacked off, half-baked into this face
That swings and grins inside its airless case.
Hung-up, he seems to twitch at each dropped word,
As if, although we whisper, he had heard,
And stares through us to what we cannot see,
Our unstitched smiles, their pale atrocity.
    [post_title] => A Shrunken Head
    [post_excerpt] => 
    [post_status] => publish
    [comment_status] => closed
    [ping_status] => closed
    [post_password] => 
    [post_name] => a-shrunken-head
    [to_ping] => 
    [pinged] => 
    [post_modified] => 2019-04-04 10:50:19
    [post_modified_gmt] => 2019-04-04 10:50:19
    [post_content_filtered] => 
    [post_parent] => 0
    [guid] => http://poetrysociety.org.uk.gridhosted.co.uk/?post_type=poems&p=7246
    [menu_order] => 0
    [post_type] => poems
    [post_mime_type] => 
    [comment_count] => 0
    [filter] => raw
    [meta_data] => stdClass Object
        (
            [wpcf-published-in] => 
            [wpcf-date-published] => 1991
            [wpcf-summary-description] => 
            [wpcf-rights-information] => 
            [wpcf-poem-award] => 1st Prize, National Poetry Competition 1991
            [wpcf_pr_belongs] => 
        )

    [poet_data] => stdClass Object
        (
            [ID] => 7244
            [forename] => 
            [surname] => 
            [title] => John Levett
            [slug] => john-levett
            [content] => John Levett was joint winner of the 1991 National Poetry Competition with his poem 'A Shrunken Head'. His latest collection is The Nick of Time published by Shoestring Press in 2014.
        )

)
stdClass Object
(
    [ID] => 7244
    [forename] => 
    [surname] => 
    [title] => John Levett
    [slug] => john-levett
    [content] => John Levett was joint winner of the 1991 National Poetry Competition with his poem 'A Shrunken Head'. His latest collection is The Nick of Time published by Shoestring Press in 2014.
)

A Shrunken Head

John Levett

He’s been stitched-up; two gummed, black-threaded eyes
Squint back across the decades in surprise
Through spiteful chinks of sunlight, acrid smoke,
Screwed-up against some wicked tribal joke.
His rictus has been sewn into a smile,
A tight-lipped dandy, puckered into style,
The clearing where his grisly fame began
Still broods beneath the kinks of wood-stained tan.
Flayed leather now,
his features smoked and cured,
His niche in culture gruesomely secured,
The needled grin is fixed, drawn back and set
Bone-dry in its reflective cabinet.
A hundred years ago he strayed alone
Towards this room of ritual skin and bone,
Believed in spirits, drank, was secretive
With knives and fish-hooks, dreamed his seed would live,
Sheathed his penis, sweated half the night
On invocations, prayed, prepared to fight,
And felt, perhaps, the moon’s leaf-parted shine
Move up his legs and bathe his severed spine;
His head hacked off, half-baked into this face
That swings and grins inside its airless case.
Hung-up, he seems to twitch at each dropped word,
As if, although we whisper, he had heard,
And stares through us to what we cannot see,
Our unstitched smiles, their pale atrocity.