Tag Archives: sonnet

Ochre afternoon

Ochre afternoon sifts as dry as daydreams
Dim horizon lies brittle-hard as bone
Just shadows play – just echoes laugh and scream
Who hears my aching heart singing alone?

Hoop and hopscotch memories are all washed out
Bleached arcades will not echo to my voice
Tears of ripped up rainbows fail in the drought
My soul weeps quietly at the end of choice

Ghosts have no shadows by night or day
Yet creepier far than the midnight hour
Are these sad streets where only shadows play
A childhood shorn of youth’s maturing flower

No living warms these streets we used to know
Just empty dreams that faded long ago.

Thanks to Christine for sharing the image above , “Melancholy and Mystery of a Street,” by De Chirico, which triggered this poem – this is all part of a read write poem prompt where various people shared different poems, pictures or songs that have inspired them.

Sorry to share two melancholy poems in a row… things are basically fine but I just need to work a few sad reflections out of my mind!


Time to leave…

I’ve written two poems for the latest totally optional prompts, time to leave. Which struck me with particular relevance because I’m due to leave the country where I currently live and work in exactly a month from today.

The first poem I wrote, the second to appear here, seemed a bit bland, though did capture some of what I was feeling. And then I came across the Friday 5 at Poefusion – to write a poem using the words apiculate, sedulous, blisters, pheromones, earmarked. And out came another poem that I liked better.

Time is apiculate
Like a drop of water on a leaf vein I roll
towards the point where I will be
flicked into the void.

Each night I awaken many times
my sheets churned in imitation of my paper-littered office
On my bedside desk a notebook dozes
Waiting to grant absolution for these night-time frettings
I scribble down new tasks, gripping the pen
hard enough to get blisters.

And so the new day opens with each hour already
earmarked for another score of sedulous steps
towards the ending.

And yet despite each day’s struggles,
the boulder rolls back, every evening,
with a cargo of new tasks to trouble my sleeping.

Sometimes my tired body
catches a whiff of pheromones.
As if something is waiting for me
beyond these deadline-fenced days. But what?

Is it the scent of the fresh-mown grass
where I will roll with sheer joy
like a horse still sweaty from its just-removed harness?

Or does it presage the scent
of another sort of rolling entirely?



Once these winding streets looked new
Waiting to be walked and seen
Once the flawless sky of blue
was a treat, not just routine

Once the flavour of papaya
Welcomed me to my new place
Once I struggled and enquired
And now I babble at a rapid pace

Once my colleagues here were strangers
And now I know them far too well.
Once I was nervous of unknown dangers
Yet habit quickly broke fear’s spell.

How it all looks different, now I know
That very soon it will be time to go.


Trying to stitch everything up in time
Isn’t saving me, it’s driving me crazy
The needle whirrs along an erratic line
Stabbing a finger, which I lick, too lazy
To find a plaster to protect the work
From the blackberry stains of my blood
The cliff of the Deadline seems to lurk
Ahead of me, obscured by thick cloud.
Trying to listen to everything, voices blur –
I’m not taking care of myself. Going too fast,
My mother tells me – I irritably must concur
But the future is devoured by a ravenous past
And I keep on stitching with my feverish hand
As time runs between my fingers like sand.

With a month to go before my current job finishes, life is a bit mad. And while I definitely need the distraction of blogging, I don’t have much time for it! So seeing this week’s challenge at The Miss Rumphius effect struck me as perfect:

Ten-Minute Spill. Write a ten-line poem. The poem must include a proverb, adage, or familiar phrase that you have changed in some way, as well as five of the following words:

  • cliff
  • needle
  • voice
  • whir
  • blackberry
  • cloud
  • mother
  • lick
  • I ended up with a sonnet using all the words, but just squeaking in under the 10 minute threshold which I was quite pleased by! And writing in a rush seemed very appropriate to the topic, as well as the time available!


    The world is splintering. Tearing apart
    Each day a slow-motion explosion
    Of the fragments of my aching heart
    Fighting to contain erupting emotion

    Arms ache to close the ruptures (yours too weak
    To do more than wish to return my embrace)
    Tears unite our flesh, pressed cheek to cheek
    As if resisting the separation we soon must face.

    Yet how can mere arms contain the storm?
    The ripping in my chest can only echo your pain
    Not take it away – I can’t even keep you warm!
    And each embrace is closer to never again.

    Tangled in the racing fuse our arms strain to hold
    Our world safe for one more hug before it can explode.

    Of all the words I’ve read this week, these, from the powerful and poignant blog The Price of Love, were the ones that stayed with me, and turned into a poem:

    “I hugged her and comforted her as best I could, feeling her pain heaving through the sobs against my chest. I held her then, but what more could I do when I was tearing down the middle inside?”

    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.


    In the windows of countless stories across the earth
    Candles flicker bravely in endless nights of waiting
    A light to guide absent feet back to home and hearth
    A path back to love, lit for a lost soul’s navigating.

    Stories speak of patient love, always waiting to forgive
    But the casual storyteller never seems to count the cost
    Of the vigil – for “endless” is easily written, but far harder to live
    In being faithful to the wanderer, the waiting soul too is lost

    Yet futile self-sacrifice still retains a glamorous magnetism
    Although waiting seems to take less courage than moving on
    But life continues to send nudges of reviving pragmatism,
    As if saying, don’t waste precious hours in endless hanging on.

    The cost of heroic waiting is more than the human soul can handle
    And so, arising with stiffened limbs, I blow out the candle.


    The germ for this poem came from two sources – first a dimly remembered scene from a film (I think it was War and Peace) of a candle burning in a window as a woman kept vigil for the man she loved. And secondly a song by Duparc (Au pays ou se fait la guerre), depicting a woman waiting endlessly in her tower for her lover long beyond the point when it seems possible he will return. And, as in my earlier poem, Myths, it seemed to me that this was an image of heroic tragedy that could very easily become a trap.

    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.