Mercedes Webb-Pullman ~ Tamara

This city is a book, a cage, a woman,
Queen of a Kingdom, its walls covered
in signs: messages, directions for Marco Polo,
erasures, holes, posters layering the history
of quelled rebellions. Exiled husband attacks,
backed by: Turkish forces, markets, harvests,
banks. Victory belongs to eyes of fresh water
pearls from an Oriental river.

Above the spate on a bleak crag a tower broods,
ancient, rocky. Light glows at night like sympathy
from a room at the top with a billowy bed, where
a woman, beauteous, legs spread, waits to ensnare
traveler or cavalier. She’s also a virgin.

Farewell she calls. The traveler plunges to the river
or is pushed. Her voice is the voice of a woman,
a city, a cage, a Queen, the voice of an unopened
book on a shelf in the library that is this world;
faint weeping, tender
and sweet.


Tamara is a city in Italo Calvino’s novel Invisible Cities which explores imagination through the description of cities visited by Marco Polo. The city was named for Queen Tamar of Georgia, whose reputation was shredded by men who tried to control her and her country.


Mercedes Webb-Pullman graduated from the International Institute of Modern Letters, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand with her MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of Tasseography (2014) Track Tales (Truth Serum Press, 2017) and The Jean Genie (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2018). Her poems, and the odd short story, have appeared online (Bone Orchard Poetry, Caesura, Connotations, Danse Macabre, The Electronic Bridge, 4th Floor, Main Street Rag, Otoliths, Reconfigurations, Scum, Swamp, Pure Slush, Turbine, among others) and in print (Mana magazine, Poets to the People; Poetry from Lembas Cafe 2009, The 2010 Readstrange Collection, PoetryNZ Yearbook, many anthologies from Kind of a Hurricane Press, and the Danse Macabre anthologies Amour SombreBelles-Lettres, Hauptfriedhof, and Weihnachtsmarkt (Hammer & Anvil Books, 2017 & 2018). She has also won the Wellington Cafe Poetry contest in 2010, and wrote a foreword for their collection of 2012 contest entrants, which included another of her poems. Since then she has been awarded 3rd prize in United Poets Laureate International Poetry Contest 2015, and is particularly proud of having a haiku (the only one from New Zealand) in 100 Haiku for Peace, an international publication in five languages. Her lucky number is 8. Blue. She lives in Paraparaumu Beach, New Zealand.

Mercedes Webb-Pullman is Danse Macabre’s 2019-2020 Artist-in-Residence. More of her captivating poetry will appear Fridays this month and in DM 126 ~ Vergeltung. Previous Artists-in-Residence include Peter Weltner and Peter Marra.

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