Tuesday Poem: How to Pour Madness into a Teacup

How to Pour Madness into a Teacup

She hangs her tears at the front of the house
cuts the rain in half and puts time
in the hot black kettle. She sits in the kitchen
reading the teacup full of small dark tears;

it’s foretold the man in the wood
hovers in the dark rain above the winding path.
The man is talking to her in moons,
she is laughing to hide her tears

and with little time, she secretly
plants the moons in the dark brown bed.
She shivers, thinks the man is watching
as the jokes of the child dance

on the roof of the house. Tidying,
she carefully puts hot rain in the teacup,
sings as she hangs her tears on a string
and watching the dance, thinks herself mad.

Abegail Morley
in collection How to Pour Madness into a Teacup, 2009 Cinnamon Press

This is surreal – like madness. I like the image of putting ‘time in the hot black kettle’, of reading tears in a teacup like tea-leaves. I like the fact that I don’t know, entirely, what the poem means. There’s the curious juxtaposition of tears, dark and rain, the man and the child and the moons. It reminds me of that quote from Anne Sexton – ‘the walk from breakfast to madness’ which so perfectly illustrates the invisible line between domestic normality and a state of unreality.  Perhaps madness is simply a different, extraordinary, way of looking at the ordinary.  The poem is actually part of a sequence and you probably have to read the whole of it. You can read the rest at http://www.abegailmorley.co.uk/


  1. Wow! This poem is incredibly arresting with its use of what I would hazard to call magic realism. The fairytale surreal quality of certain lines reminds me of some of Carol Ann Duffy's poetry. Thanks for posting this, Kathleen! Am definitely going to check out the link.


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