Frances Atkinson lives in Melbourne. Her poems have been published in Heat.

queen isabel

sitting in the drawing room
no bigger than your thumbnail
queen Isabel sucks a bon bon


a novel, lost in the folds of her gown
madonna pink, virgin blue
all the childish colours
hair smelling of burnt lemons


spitting the toffee high in the air
bunched satin as she arches her neck
a fresco unbalanced for a moment

sleepy now

putting off bed – the wardrobe witch
behind winter furs drums her fingers
sheets turned down, sharp as envelopes
invisible bat snot smeared end to end

unlaced, Isabelle cups her hand
a china bowl wishing for a night of sleep
her sweetie, just a thin disc under her tongue

Teaching Bees to Sting

The size of a furry knuckle
they career around the graves
thwacking into the palms
their drone a kind of dawning

you sit on the steps dusted in gold
sucking the rough side of mint
leafing through the guide – a litany of

until one targets you from a distance
maintaining eye-level, a black knotted thing
it travels as if wading through water
a lurching bee in love with only you

spitting out the leaf, your conical hat
slips off as your wrist flicks forward
in the stillness the only sign of violence done
is a hollow pok – unconscious now

beside your banana drink
we wait for another bus and pass
the time with a miniature fan
that gently divides
the black and yellow fur