Tag Archives: love

alchemy of flame

lost in a labyrinth of mirrors
the lives I chose not to live
tease me with their gold-red glitter
and against their glazed silence
the cries of long-faded passion echo
suffering and joy indistinguishable

where is the thread to guide me?

I have been seeking that tantric alchemy
that transforms the bitter almond tang
of old love’s pain into rich bright mead
now the drink simmers before me
its scent brims with sweet intoxication
saying wisdom has tempered the poison

does temptation cloud my seeing?

in the crucible metal shivers and curdles
before melting in consummation
to be shaped by the whim of the vessel
into which it once chose to throw itself
the first hot breath of that forging
traces my skin with sensual intent

should I give myself to the fire?

This started with a readwritepoem prompt about other lives… and took off in an unexpected direction.

The photo is Goblet of cognac, originally uploaded by Andrejs Jegorovs.


What remains…


some things are smashed beyond recall
some truths can no longer be spoken
the path between us, like a wailing wall,

littered with fragments of two hearts, broken
so that with any step closer, a fragment is crushed
a soul is seared to feel old wounds reopen

how sudden were the days that rushed
us headlong to this wounded end
all our sweet harmony so rudely hushed

I know what you want, but will not pretend
can’t protect myself without causing you pain
only walk away from what I cannot mend

how beautiful our world when love reigned
how bright those days before our fall
but now, ah, see what remains!

Sometimes prompts and events come together. Today I received an e-mail from my ex – I hadn’t expected to hear from him again, and sadly everything he said brought home to me how badly our communication is broken, and how much pain he is in right now. And with this in my mind I came across a  visual prompt on poefusion called “stages of grief”. Touching off words that slipped naturally into a terza rima structure. And all the time, echoing in my mind, the melancholy passion of a tango:

Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado,
en el pasado de mi vida.
Tres cosas lleva mi alma herida:
Amor, Pesar, Dolor.
Hoy vas a entrar en mi pasado,
hoy nuevas sendas tomaremos.
Que grande ha sido nuestro amor
y, sin embargo, ay,
mira lo que quedo!

Today you will become part of my past
the past of my life
There are three things in my wounded soul –
love, regret, and pain
Today you will become part of my past
Today we will take new paths
How great our love once was
And yet, ay!, see what is left of it!

~Los Mareados, lyrics by Juan Carlos Cobian, my own translation


When I watch myself reflected in your eyes
Why do I see an ocean, surging deep?

What is it that makes you fear to set sail?
My waters run deep – but they are not cruel.
I caress many shores – yet endlessly return
with the constant loyalty of the tides.

I am no foam-born goddess. Just a woman
who knows her light too well to hide in fear
The wave-glitter is not a stabbing searchlight
Just my mind’s joy calling you to dance with me.

Meantime, my loneliness is oceans-wide
salty with my tears of longing for a man
who can surf the rip-curl of my beating heart
and come safe to the haven of my embrace.

Why do I see you staring like a grown man
clutching waterwings in a clammy hand?


The photo is Mermaid in the Ocean, originally uploaded by snuglyteaddybear2007.

The room in my heart

There was a room in my heart
its walls stained by the tides of tears
and the jagged graffiti of hurtful words
its floors sagging from old expectations
and cluttered with the lead-grey jetsam
of our broken hopes.

I spent a year cleaning the room in my heart
Scrubbing the walls with shredding tissues
soaked in the tears and snot brought up
from the deepest secrets of my heart.
Separating out what was mine to repair
from what was yours.

Now, outside the room in my heart
Sits a bag full of the clutter that you
left behind you, said you did not own.
If you dare to open the zip, you’ll see
the parting gifts that my hands have made
from our love’s flotsam.

Your private door to the room in my heart
has vanished forever. So you’ll have to imagine
how freshly the colours gleam. How the walls
(stripped back to stone and plastered anew)
are damp-proofed and caressed with sun.
But not for you.

For the room in my heart is at last swept clean.
And its new door is ready to open.

A few days ago I sent my last message in the recent e-mail exchange with my ex. Gently, and affectionately – but also firmly, having set my boundaries and said what I needed to say. Which actually was surprisingly little!

I’m now pretty sure that he won’t respond. Which is absolutely fine with me. There was very little chance we could regain anything meaningful. What I wanted was to express some things I had been unable to say at the time. And feel that I had brought the messiness of last year to an appropriate end. An end that is fitting for the spirit of the good times rather than fraught with the pain of the bad times.

For several hours after I sent the message I felt a deep sense of peace and joy. And this poem tries to capture some of that feeling.

Enthralled heart

I look back at memories blurred by long-ago tears
And cannot recall why my heart was so eager
To trap itself in a cage of hopes and fears
In the hope of a reward that now appears so meagre

Locked up my willpower, threw away the key
Abandoned my self esteem for the poor substitute
Of glittering compliments that seemed as true to me
As the later criticism I gave up the power to refute

And peering back at those tear-faded remembrances
I feel pity and anger for him as well as for me
For the fear and confusion that were such hindrances
That they ended our love short of what we dreamed it could be

But even after months of working to free my heart from pain
Still there’s a part of me that longs to be enthralled again.

Why is it that, even when we know how painful being in love can be, we still want to fall in love again? Of course our wants change – I certainly don’t want to end up feeling so trapped and helpless again. And I’d happily swap the dizzy happiness of love’s intoxication for the stability that was so lacking in my last relationship.

But still there’s part of me that hankers for that intoxication. Those days when the world just seems brilliant with emotion. I don’t know how to explain its attraction – but I know that while the wiser part of me is cautious, there is still a part of me that longs to be enthralled again. (Enthralled seems the perfect word for this blissful imprisonment!) I suppose part-cautious, part-hopeful is a good position to be in, given the pain and the happiness that relationships can bring.

For the monday mural at poefusion – artwork by Brian at photobucket.

Awkward doubts – two poems

Awkward questions

I was once a rather quiet sceptic.
Tolerant of others’ cherished illusions,
(even those that seemed rather septic)
and unwilling to provoke confusion.
Why should I dampen their enthusiasm
with awkward questions and doubts
that might perhaps reveal the chasm
between what their faith made them shout
and what, meanwhile, I quietly thought.
But it always seemed that their credulity
was far too easily bought.
And having once let faith make a fool of me,
I know that faith that’s blind is no harmless charm
and I’ve heard too often of beliefs having effects that are fatal.
(If you doubt that belief can do active harm
Consider Nicaragua’s mortality rates – maternal and pre-natal).
So I find I must, politely but firmly, refuse
to tolerate sermonising in dissenting silence
(however good may appear the sermon’s news)
And so, without resorting to violence
I now ensure my doubts get said.
I try not to let dogma thrive uninterrupted,
or tacitly permit narrow-mindedness to spread.
And though it can sometimes seem disruptive,
I won’t believe someone’s words just because
they claim that they have seen the light.
When someone preaches fanatically about the wonders of Oz
I’d rather mention their emerald specs than be dishonestly polite!


Doubt and fear

Even when my eyes were damp with tears
You wouldn’t hold me close. Left me lonely.
I, the sceptic who wanted to believe in you.

For you feared my doubts would interfere
With the strange things you needed to believe.
You, who told me I was afraid of what was true.

But it was not my awkward doubts, but your tearing fears
That in the end were fatal to our love. How we grieved!
We, who had not imagined the pain our love could turn into.

And so you rejected me, and disappeared
To chase your illusions uninterrupted. With only
They who would not challenge your strange world view.

Mere differences of opinion can’t tear friends or lovers apart
It is only fear that has the power to choke the loving heart.


These two poems were written for the Friday Five at Poefusion – to write a poem including the words sceptic, awkward, uninterrupted, fatal, damp.

The first one is roughly clerihewish – deliberately using clumsy or eccentric rhymes and odd line lengths, which seemed to support the idea of awkwardness. The reference to Nicaragua was inspired by this article.

The second poem is more or less a sonnet – though the rhyme scheme (ABC ADC ADC ABC EE) isn’t typical. And I’ve thrown in a pronoun pattern too. I did wonder whether it would be better to use just the first twelve lines without the “moral” at the end – what do you think?

Though they may seem very different in mood, there is a definite connection between the events in the second poem and the attitude expressed in the first.

Disentanglement – a villanelle

The threads that bound our love were tangled like a strangling fishing line,
For we were drawn together and driven apart by our insecurities and fears.
Now all that remains is one pure strand reaching out to your heart from mine

Sailing high and proud like triumphant kites, it was our joy to intertwine
But though we dreamed of soaring united beyond life’s prosaic frontiers,
The threads that bound our love were tangled like a strangling fishing line.

We had barely begun to enjoy the richness of our love’s intoxicating wine,
Before the drink was tainted by arguments where love is reduced to sneers.
Now all that remains is one pure strand reaching out to your heart from mine.

Love cannot flourish when entwined in fear like a tree by a suffocating vine,
And though we tried to be honest, dispensing with insecurity’s masking veneers,
The threads that bound our love were tangled like a strangling fishing line.

Some threads were cruelly ripped away, others faded with the passing of time.
Mine were starved by your cruel silence, yours drowned by my unbearable tears
Now all that remains is one pure strand reaching out to your heart from mine.

So now, I walk on, strong and alone, choosing not to be angry or to pine.
My heart still sends out compassion and love, even if your heart never hears.
The threads that bound our love were tangled like a strangling fishing line;
Now all that remains is one pure strand reaching out to your heart from mine.

I’ve been wanting to write a villanelle for some time, but it’s such a difficult form that I never seemed to get beyond the first verse. But then this morning I wrote a free verse poem whose subject seemed a suitable candidate for this tangled repetitive form.

It was quite a struggle to fit the repeated refrains into the verses in a way that made sense both in the immediate context and in the overall story of the poem, particularly when allowed to use only two rhymes throughout the entirel poem! There are still a few corners that would benefit from polishing, but I’m still very proud of myself for having produced my first functioning villanelle!

I’d be interested to know what people think about these two different poems based around the same idea and imagery. Does the repetition and convolution of the villanelle form make a better poem, or is the original’s greater freshness more effective?