Poetry Shelf Monday Poem: Holly Painter’s ‘Cryptic Crossword XLI’


Cryptic Crossword XLI



For a short agony, icy needles

strain. Hush, I say, accepting bold


crystalline pollen, each intricate

crown, impress, hollowed lace, or ruffle,

every second darned together with

cold spell, a photograph


of the white season, when crisp noises –

broken jars left ragged – slice

down with unending savagery.



Hoarfrost lullaby

Cellophane crinkle and snap

Winter’s jagged fur


©Holly Painter


Holly Painter is the author of the poetry collection Excerpts from a Natural History (Titus Books, 2015). Her work has appeared in Sport, Landfall, the New Zealand Listener, JAAM, Arena, Barrelhouse, the Cream City Review, and others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Canterbury and lives with her wife and son in Vermont, where she teaches writing and literature at the University of Vermont. Holly is currently working on a non-fiction book on obsolete jobs and a poetry collection based on cryptic crosswords. Find out at Holly’s website.


My review of Excerpts from a Natural History






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