The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Liam Baker

The Smoking Caterpillar's Advice


Once your
darling Angel Death
has laid her
black lace hand
upon you

once your mother
dressed in feathers
has laid her
shrunken breath
before you

once your
father's chariot
has laid
his golden egg
within you

once your lover's flames
have laid their
sunken names
around you

it is so very hard to break free
it is so very hard to breathe
it is impossible to think
so don't

my hands are tied and I am sinking!
you'll never save yourself by thinking

or smoking opium

or drinking

you cannot divorce yourself from the occupation
there is no salvation
there is only the digging in a dark tunnel
forever digging in a tunnel

the darkness is your home

in fear of darkness men build cities
and surround themselves in perpetual light
they seek light in religion
in war, in love, in knowledge

there is no knowledge

those who seek enlightenment
fail to see the darkness that is their home
those who seek enlightenment
fail to see the black flowers
that blossom in the darkness




LIAM BAKER  is a poet and singer-songwriter based in the UK. He is interested in how poetry can be combined with other art-forms; he has made theater using poetry, and has recently shot his first film-poem. In his struggle to maintain mental health, Liam has used music and poetry to give a platform to his inner-voices, and bring his inner-landscapes to life. This is his first published poem.



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