Circular in Wonderland

Laura Gunnells Miller

Circular in Wonderland

Alice plunges
into smallishness

on the scale of garden mushrooms
   converses with a caterpillar

   whose smoke rings
wriggle like a segmented worm

with five hearts—
   the queen would be proud

now, hand in hand or fin and claw
   circles soon entangle this tale

whether watches run late
   teacups roll into hedgehogs

   madly racing roses for no reason
or poetizing with cats and crustaceans,

tear-mongered seas
cry off with her head

too enormous to float
ideas engulfed in debate

or just right
as bait for a Cheshire-ized

Laura Gunnells Miller resides in southeast Tennessee. Her recent poetry appears in Artemis Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, American Diversity Report, Salvation South, Tennessee Voices, and elsewhere.

Backstory: Addicted to Ekphrastic poetry, I begin many of my works with visual prompts like photographs or paintings. The image for this poem was a line drawing of a fish whose tail is a segmented worm, yet its mouth is stuffed with a spongy, capped mushroom. The bizarre marriage of the images evoked life cycles and psychedelic curiosities of certain mushrooms. Eventually, the earthworm’s five hearts launched the romp through Wonderland. And suggested by the mushroom-eating, worm-tailed fish in the original prompt, the images in the poem swirl to bite its own tail.

Editor’s Notes: A fanciful poem with strong allusions to “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll.

Image Credit: “Worm” by Enne Tesse [reproduced here with permission from the artist] served as Rattle’s August 2022 Ekphrastic prompt.

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