The Fortune-Teller

The Fortune-Teller

My poem ‘The Fortune-Teller’ has been selected for publication in Short and Twisted 2010, an annual publication of short stories and poetry with a twist. I am very honoured and I am particularly happy because this poem has great meaning for me. The book will be available in May.

The Fortune-Teller

My brother went to see a fortune teller

who said he would die at the age of twenty-one.

That sharp thorn of thought stuck in my mind.


One day he was riding

a freeway on his motorbike

and the road rearranged his brain.


They patched him up at the hospital

and he walked out with no scars

visible to passers-by.


When he turned twenty-two

I laughed out loud with relief

and hid that thorn in my tin of memorabilia.


One day I took the thorn out of my tin

and showed my mother, laughing as I reminded her of the story

with a frown she said

but he did die, didn’t he.

42 thoughts on “The Fortune-Teller

  1. —on something else entirely—it probably isn’t to many people..but the idea of a ‘twitter’ being attacked is–well, consider the words, just the words ‘twitter’ ‘attack’ and am I not mistaken or does this not sound ‘funny’???

    1. That is funny. Sorry about the comment that followed – I couldn’t work out how you could be reading my tweets, until I remembered I linked them to my blog (getting a wee bit paranoid or just late at night).

  2. Glad you like the poem – it is exactly the way it read – nothing but the truth so help me God!

    1. okay. um, but it does present some interesting ambiguity –did he die or not —and either way–what does this mean for ‘you’ or ‘mother’.
      Do please understand that I consider this a ‘good’ thing for poetry when it makes one wonder what’s afoot.
      –Take the novella, The Turn of the Screw—well, if one dismisses the story as the rantings of an unwell mind than so what about the ghosts. BUT if one considers the narrator reliable and sane–then the story becomes very scary indeed.
      mmm…have rather rambled…sorry…but my thoughts or some such mush..
      —morning for me—something else for you I think…

    1. That is to you. He didn’t die but has brain damage so in effect the brother we knew did die. Thanks for commenting.

  3. Hi Garielle. Just stopping by to leave an invitation for you, and anyone else so inclined, to bring a haiku to the poetry buffet at mi casa. And if you’d like to do a photo link too, please do! waves~~~~~

    1. I love haiku but haven’t written any myself. Graham Nunn is the king of haiku (he has left a comment on my blog) and has done some fantastic stuff. One day I will dip my tootsies into that arena. Thanks for the invite. Your blog is getting very busy – well deserved of course.

  4. Maybe it’s because I’m a ‘non-poet’ but I really see a great idea here for a short story. Have you considered that kind of incarnation for the Fortune Teller?

    1. I think you’re right – because of the twist at the end. To be honest I hadn’t thought of it. I have on the other hand considered writing a novel on the subject – I’ve got enough material for a whole series (it’s got all the elements – religion, rebellion, sex, drugs, music, motorbike gangs, street life, murder …) I’m just waiting for the ending.

      1. Sounds great. It’s the perfect twist for a short story. For a novel, it’d be ideal as a way to end a ripping first chapter. The book would then move onto the ramifications. What he was like. What she was like, and the way the event has changed her. The nature of fate. The choices we make, etc, etc. And all those elements you’re already prepared for. Chuck in a few kangaroos and you’ve got yourself an Aussie classic.

        1. Ha,ha!- not sure about the kangaroos though (not many of them in the city) – I’ll save them for a kids book. I’ll pick your brain some more when I get started I think!

  5. this is an intriguing poem Gabrielle that opens itself up for a number of different interpretations and leaves you pining for more.

    1. How strange that this is the first poem you commented on – this is the one that has most meaning for me (very personal – took me years to be able to write something about this issue – wasn’t going to try but suddenly it just came out of my head).

  6. Oh Gabrielle, your poem gave me the shivers. So powerful, and so much captured in your well-chosen words. You paint incredible pictures with your poetry. Congratulations on the poem’s publication! It’s well-deserved.

  7. Hope you take it as a compliment, I find your poetry…non-poetry. When I read you, I have the same feeling that when I read Prévert.
    Beautifully simple and powerfull.

    1. That is a great compliment and thank you dear Benedicte. My philosophy with writing in general and poetry in particular is to take the complex and reduce to the simple and powerful and hopefully moving. I would like poetry to be read by people who are not just other poets or the elite. I believe most people love poetry, they just don’t know it.

  8. I agree and feel the same way about visual art, people are touch by art but are intimidated by all the brouhaha around it. I am glad you liked the compliment!

  9. I’m glad this poem has found a home for publication because it’s very, very good. The line, “and the road rearranged his brain” is so powerful, matter-of-fact, and sad. I lost a brother when he was 21, and so the poem has particular and personal meaning to me, as well.

  10. I can’t tell you how much I am moved by this poem, Gabrielle. It is chilling. I have experienced several fortunes that have come true and in a more metaphorical sense than outlined by the fortune teller. I was told that the children I would have after my first born would all die. And while I didn’t literally have any more children I was actually unable to have any more due to illness, so in a sense my children did all die.

    You are a brilliant poet. It is a pleasure to read your work.

    1. You’re too kind Selma. Bloody fortune-tellers! I went to the dentist once and the bloody dentist started getting some vibes from me and told me my fortune (which I thought was highly unethical). She told me I would have 3 children. I have 2, but my husband is a bit like my 3rd child – ha,ha. I never went back to that dentist.

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