Bex Hainsworth (2023) Walrussey

Poetry frightens me a bit. It’s just so complicated. But when you get it right, as Bex Hainsworth had done in Walrussey, it sounds simple. Like many of the writers of poetry on ABCtales—where her pseudonym was Mistaken Magic—she got ‘cherried’. A poem being especially worthy of attention. She followed the usual route of Poem of the week. Nobody really cares about that stuff, but it’s nice at the time. A little fill-up before going back to normal life.

Her collection of 28 published poems makes her very special because the paradox for poets—more than prose writers—is nobody publishes poetry and even if they do, they don’t publish your poetry. ‘An Octopus Picks Litter at the End of the World’ has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize by her publisher, The Black Cat Poetry Press is Unmistaken Magic indeed.   


An iceberg of green netting floats

in the open ocean. Unmelting, its ropes

sway like a jellyfish tendrils, a forest

of hardened kelp. A swell lifts

the decaying veil, then drops it again,

a terrible shroud


A spinner dolphin hangs

in suspended animation,

eye black as mussels’ shells,

fins holding up knotted chain,

Marley’s ghost, snared harbinger

The web reaches sandwards

to where it is anchored by lobster cages

piled like sunken aviaries, their yellow lichen

glinting with the hidden light of fool’s gold.


Abandoned crab traps are still making a catch,

set by long-dead fishermen whose boats rust in the bay.

Summoned by curiosity, they crawl over the coins of shells,

the burial grounds of their brothers. A chorus of ghostly-clacking

goes unheeded. They do not turn back.


A sea swirls through the blue murk,

considers an easy snack, but can sense death

it does not bring, fears the noose, the macbre collage:


A turtle shell weighing down the gauze like a cannon ball,

a hammerhead who came to scavenge, but spring the trap.


They are caught, collateral, an afterthought.


I don’t have any great difficulty reviewing novels or films or things I’ve seen but when it comes to poetry I’m often wordsmacked. A necessary caution. Because I may suggest Mistaken Magic said and meant this or that, only to be ejected from meaning like the wrong cartridge on a film you never watched, but thought you had. But I’ll plunge in.

Oceans and Welsh Sea are ephemeral and eternal. Even in the bath, ‘Considering the Selkie’ there’s a baptism. The awful truth washes up, tasting of seawater. That man is the planet killer. Even the long-dead fishermen play their part.

‘Marley’s ghost’ and nature’s. Ekphrasis, derived from the Greek words ‘ek,’ meaning out, and ‘phrasis,’ meaning speak, is a literary form that vividly describes visual art, transcending the boundaries between the written and visual realms. Earth and Water. Fire and Air. An ekphratick picture of an ecological disaster, exploring the metamorphosis of man-made objects into organic forms. Nets transform into an ‘iceberg,’ and hardened kelp becomes a ‘forest,’ highlighting the impact of human activity on the natural world.

Free-verse. Lines vary in length. There’s no lack as in water. Non- rigid rhyme or meter allows for a natural flow. It allows watery language space to be. A sense of organic movement. The tidal ebb and flow. The enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, is clear in several places. For example, ‘sway like a jellyfish tendrils’ carries meaning seamlessly into the next line, creating a sense of time on hold but moving like our thoughts.

Her poetry adopts a free verse structure, and its lines vary in length. This lack of a rigid rhyme or meter allows for a natural flow, giving the language a sense of organic movement, akin to the ebb and flow of the ocean. The enjambment, or the continuation of a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, is evident in several places. For example, ‘sway like a jellyfish tendrils’ carries the thought seamlessly into the next line, creating a heightened sense of continuity and meaning.

While Mistaken Magic’s poetry lacks a regular meter, it does possess a rhythmic quality derived from the repetition of sounds and the choice of words. The ‘s’ sounds in ‘sway,’ ‘jellyfish,’ and ‘tendrils’ create a soft, flowing rhythm, evoking the gentle movement of the underwater scene. The rhythmic pattern also shifts with the introduction of harsher sounds like ‘clacking,’ contributing to a tonal contrast.

Her poetry juxtaposes contrasting elements to deepen its meaning:

  1. The imagery of the ‘iceberg of green netting’ juxtaposed with the natural elements of the ocean creates a powerful contrast. This interplay suggests the impact of human intervention on the marine environment, with the synthetic ‘netting’ disrupting the organic beauty of the sea.
  2. The juxtaposition of the ‘spinner dolphin’ in ‘suspended animation’ with the description of a ‘terrible shroud’ creates viscerally a theme in her poetry, a contrast between life and decay. The image of the dolphin, typically associated with vitality is juxtaposed with the decay of the underwater world, drawing attention to man’s environmental murder of our water and seas.
  3. The poem weaves a tapestry of movement and stillness. The jellyfish ‘sway’of  tendrils and the ‘lifts’ and ‘drops’ of the ocean’s swell create poetic motion. Contrasting the ‘suspended animation’ of the spinner dolphin and the description of abandoned objects evokes a stillness, highlights the fragility of our underwater ecosystem, and how we’re destroying them.

A nuanced line structure adds rhythmic qualities and creates the net of deliberate juxtaposition of contrasting elements. ‘An iceberg of green netting floats...’ encapsulates the delicate balance and intricate complexities of the underwater world. The wordplay of language, imagery, and contrast serves to deepen our engagement with the environmental themes explored in the poem. The absence of a rigid structure allows for a more fluid and immersive experience, echoing the ever-changing nature of the marine environment the poem in her collection seeks to portray. Read on.




Scares the X#IT out a me.... but I love to read it..... & theres many poest masters herein in the ABC zone....

Enjoyed this one*....... Cheers


scares the shit out of me too, Kris. cheers. Try poetry at  your peril!


Hi there, celticman! 

I'm so sorry I missed this when you posted, but so glad I've had a chance to read it now. 

You've absolutely blown me away with your kind and thoughtful analysis of 'Ghosting' and Walrussey. I can't thank you for taking the time to give such wonderful feedback on my work - I honestly can't stop grinning! 

Walrussey sold out its first print run and is now onto a second. It's still all very surreal, especially when I think back on my early ABCTales days, but you have given me the nudge I needed to start posting here again!

Thank you again for buying a copy, so pleased you enjoyed it :) 



Well done. I didn't just enjoy it. I learned from it. Keep writing such wonderful poetry and you'll be fine. You might even save the world, (but I doubt it).