The purple snail (Purpura patula pansa) is found in the Mixtec villages of the Oaxacan Coast in Mexico. The inhabitants carefully bleed the snails and then return them to the rocks. But due to illegal dyeing and the consumption of snails, the purple snail is now threatened with extinction.


They squeeze my dye onto weaves, the tint
Of Kaisers, Cardinals, heraldry in moon-
Shade, vitality’s blush for Mexican print,
Fertile beauty, woven fabric by the dune.
The Aztecs praised my hue, drawing on flint,
And the Japanese caught us in mid-June.

The rocky glands wept bare throughout June,
As snails died in wooden crates, seeping tint,
No salt to ease the loss of the arid dune.
Remnants of our bodies squashed to print,
Purpure kimonos whispered in moon-
Tones to the bells of wedlock and Samurai flint.

We are but few knights with armour like flint,
Our young, a meat delicacy for the June-
Traders numb to our amethyst tint.
Perhaps we’ll soon be lost to the scenic dune
Where the wash nurtured and the sun’s print
Imbues the sands before a fading moon.

I’m tired of being sewn-up in honeymoon-
Desires, I hardly know myself, a flint-
Veteran, this fight can’t be won in June.
The patriarch bears a fine cartridge of tint
From subterranean depths to the dune,
Trailing a mantra, calligraphy print.

Genesis repeating itself in mauve print.
Winds eat my frailty below a pewter-moon,
As white skirts can-can on the blue tint.
The local dyers don’t bleed us in June,
Just the bounty hunters come with flint-
Like knives and grins, pounding the dune.

From spring to fall it rains shells on the dune,
A peace sign forbids dyeing, in bold print.
We’ve unified arms in the eye of the moon,
Heavy shields, seething mouths and horns of flint.
We marshal our ranks in the month of June,
Mercenaries kill us, seeking weapons of tint.

A helix of tint on a dead flat dune,
Clouds curd the moon in a starless print.
I inch to a flint peak with the crabs, it’s June.


Maroula Blades is an Afro-British poet/writer living in Berlin. She has recently won the Erbacce Prize; Erbacce Press (UK) will publish her first poetry collection in the near future . Works have been published in Kaleidoscope Magazine (US), Trespass Magazine (UK), Words with Jam (UK), The Latin Heritage Foundation (US), Domestic Cherry (UK), Caribbean Writer, Peepal Tree and Cornelsen Verlag (Ger). Her Poetry/Music Programme has been presented on several stages in Berlin. Maroula’s first poetry/music single “Meta Stasis” released by Havavision Records(UK) on the 2.04.2012 is available from I-tunes and Amazon.

This poem is among the entries for the Society of Classical Poets’ 2012 Poetry Competition.

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2 Responses

  1. valentine

    Original subject – good title. Some vivid images and phrases here. The rhymes are a wee bit forced at times (weapons of tint). I wasn’t sure what meter you were aiming for, as there are lines with eight syllables, ten, eleven and twelve, all mixed up. I think if you simplify it and keep the really good bits you’ll have a poem that says a lot. Romans also used purple snails by the way, but only the Emperor could wear it.


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