Poetry round-up – September 2016

I spent a good chunk of July and August working on our (unsuccessful) house sale, which involved scaffolding, replacing siding, water-blasting, cleaning windows, painting the roof and far, far too much gardening. This didn’t leave much time for writing, and it’s really good to be back behind the keyboard.

Autumn by stealth

How eagerly
we awaited your bloom –
casting sweet
names to the wind.
How easily
time bent the
Please don’t fall.

Irrational pause

all that matter
bluster and billow
tamed and trapped
in cheap frames.
Still they move,
as hands fumble
and images



Untangle please
this knotted gut
and iron flat
my brow –
My worries can’t
be cleanly cut,
but you,
you do –


Smile, so defiantly vapid
and self-aware
one last time
let that thin skein of delight
fray across your face
until it tickles mine.

August 2016

Present Dreams

“Obstruct the rays of incidence,”
the Ancient One advised,
“And bend them to a single point,
until the embers rise.”
I held the glass and watched his words
come flickering to flame –
but as it spread he vanished,
leaving me to take the blame.
If you look upon the ashen shell
or taste these charred remains,
you’ll know his crooked fingers
and the throbbing of his veins.
He doesn’t come to hurt you,
but delights in nasty games –
and when that breath infests your ear
you’ll know his many names.

And so my story issued out,
yet still these children sleep!
So I sit and strop my sickle
while the sultry shadows creep.

If you should stir,
or leave the bed –
or even make a peep –
Well, my games are made for playing
and the Reaper lives to reap.


This blue isn’t;
it’s clear
where it surrounds
the boy
who drifts
buoyed and blown
away, but unable to blow
those last lung-lingering
bubbles that divide
and yet define
the deep, the dreamer
and the day
still floating above.

Sauron’s Equilibrium

The shadow permeates this realm, each eve,
The conqueror of everything we saw –
But see no longer, until dawn’s reprieve,
Revealing once again what reigned before.
Our meagre preparations for the night,
The bolted door, and lover’s dread embrace,
Are lies before the fading of the light,
Which seeps inside and bids our world displace.
Or so the Shadow’s agents would contend,
But shadow can’t in isolation grow:
Without the light, the shadow has no end –
Nor can it shape, nor any substance know.
So turn the switch, and beckon in the gloom –
Let shadows have their life – until we light the room.

Same shit, different eyes

blankWhat matters context, save Perspective’s key,
When contemplating dull captivity?
For words would take unmitigated flight;
But knowledge binds them into black and white.
And so, ascribing malice to the spheres –
Expecting that to dry the convict’s tears –
May err in fact, while still remaining true:
His weeping may to other cause be due.
So in this case, the context is your claim,
And your perspective is itself to blame:
You sigh at fate, and pin it on the stars,
While he escapes by looking through the bars.

I wrote this piece in response to a #FieryVerse prompt on Twitter, using the following excerpt from The Canterbury Tales, beginning line 1083:

For Goddes love, tak al in pacience
Our prisoun, for it may non other be;
Fortune hath yeven us this adversitee.
Som wikke aspect or disposicioun
Of Saturne, by sum constellacioun,
Hath yeven us this, al-though we hadde it sworn;
So stood the heven whan that we were born;
We moste endure it: this is the short and pleyn.’

The prompt used this translation:

For God’s love, take things patiently, have sense,
Think! We are prisoners and shall always be.
Fortune has given us this adversity,
Some wicked planetary dispensation,
Some Saturn’s trick or evil constellation,
Has given us this, and Heaven, though we had sworn,
The contrary, so stood when we were born.
We must endure it, that’s the long and short.

The passage comes from The Knightes Tale (autocorrect is having a field day with Chaucer) and is spoken by Arcite, who seeks to console his fellow prisoner Palamon. [SPOILERS?] Palamon has just seen Emelya in the garden, and completely lost his shit because her beauty is overwhelming. Arcite hears the cries, assumes they’re the despair of incarceration, and tries to console his cellmate with the above cheery passage about predestination.

It was a challenge to shift from the more comfortable Shakespearean ABAB rhyme scheme to Chaucer’s rhyming couplet pentameter, but a fun one:  would play again.