William Stephenson

The Coin Changers

William Stephenson

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Falconio’s lab shows blackout curtains to the street. 

Inside, an anglepoise casts light silver as a shilling

onto the dish where ten-pence pieces sprout nubs

that sharpen into claws.  Falconio nudges the crabs

into a sand tray.  They jingle as they copulate

and spawn clutches of black-eyed eggs at night.


His partner Amor sews Mexican doubloons

into a glittering headdress she calls Montezuma. 

The coins grow forked tongues, feathers, scales,

horns.  Spawn of Quetzalcoatl, plumed serpent,

patron deity of traders.  The little reptiles slobber

as Amor loosens a guinea-pig’s guts with a dagger.


Midnight, midwinter, Amor buries her MasterCard

in compost.  By March a slender shoot emerges.

Amor sprays Miracle-Gro over the boy’s crown,

temple, neck and spine.  Falconio ushers you in.

A beginning is a tantalising time, he whispers.

Listen.  Can you hear our beauty breathing?


William Stephenson


WilliamStephenson’s poems have appeared in EnvoiIotaMagmaOrbis, The North and The Rialto.  His first full collection Travellers and Avatars was shortlisted for the Live Canon First Collection Prize and will appear in 2017/18.  His pamphlets are Rain Dancers in the Data Cloud (Templar, 2012) and Source Code (Ravenglass, 2013): http://chesterrep.openrepository.com/cdr/bitstream/10034/336895/11/Stephenson-source+code.pdf