It isn’t a whale
gulping you whole into its darkness,
but each precise piranha
ripping its toothful of flesh from your bones
that reddens the current
and shocks you upright at 3:00 a.m.
in a bed a-shiver with nerves.

It isn’t the shrapnel of worry
or disappointments or fright
razoring into your chest,
but the force field of day after day
magnetizing their mini-weights
until they thonk together and strike
—that massive wrecking ball:
a stroke, a breakdown, a heart attack.

It isn’t the first, or the only
—why among thousands in the mirror’s
rearview, one particular blur
happens to hurtle you into the smash-up.
It is—remember?—that tiny bug you brushed off
that creeps out from the shadows and bristles
the giant-millipede nightmare.

Toronto writer Susan Ioannou has varied her work from literary essays and short stories, to novels for young people, but her first love has always been poetry. Her best collections include Clarity Between Clouds (Goose Lane Editions), Where the Light Waits (Ekstasis Editions), Looking Through Stone: Poems about the Earth (Your Scrivener Press), Coming Home: An Old Love Story (Leaf Press), and Looking for Light (Hidden Brook Press). A full Literary CV and more detail about her writing life is online at


To view other poems published in this issue please visit Vallum’s website.

 magazine is also available in digital format. Featuring additional content such as: AUDIO and VIDEO recordings of selected poets, further poems, interviews, essays, and MORE!

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