Poem of the Month

Wild Honey by Clare Finnimore

A spider’s web spun across Nepali cliffs

And the white monkey’s hand reaching down for his

Shows his inheritance as surely as the shaman said.

The long ropes

Woven from bamboo

The intricate knots on each step

To prevent side slip.


The father tells the boy his dream is

Portent – it’s how his life will be.

Clumsy at school, his classmates call him weak.

But Rongkemi spirit flames

His soul.

At 15 the first climb proves him a man.


A cold stone warning in his gut

when his first wife dies.

But he waits in calm

‘Til rhododendrons cover the mountainside,

the ripening season, and the journey begins.

Two days through dense jungle, discarded shoes

and quickening night,

the fire quenched at dawn.

Three sacrificial hens a blood memory.

Whilst he drank deep from the gourd.


Filtering light

Brightens as the canopy recedes.

They navigate in the sound of a crashing waterfall

The icy river

where now his feet clutch slippery stones.

The Tanje hunters

Move forward inexorably.


Above the clouds spirits watch

Wild honeybees unwilling to leave their nests

Parted by smoke and incense

Of burning leaves

Three hundred feet below.


Step by step the beckoning cliffs.

Machete and mask

his only aid.

Up and up.

And sheer


Near the top an overhang

The ladder outswings

In mid air.


Far below his shouts were heard

And pulleys on the collecting basket

stay the spin.

His heart is beating fast

No monkey hand to reach for

And everywhere stung by angry bees

His face, his hands his eyes


See the hexagonal stickiness

Worlds he will desecrate.

Hallucinogenic honey dripping from his hands.

Scooped into the basket

in a funnel of noise

Pivoting in a slipstream

Of fury.


No successor can be found

After his hunting years are spent

The bees and traders long gone

And the tribes unwilling

To be a spectacle.

The last of their kind.