There are mornings, more mornings
now, when I try to separate love from
myself. I describe my face to the silence
as a stranger would, to another, after
a brief encounter. I describe my love
to the mirror as a bird would explain
light to another, in the dark. I describe
our time together as a fish would
talk of wetness to another, not knowing.
Your fingers comb through the lines,
trying to distinguish reason from craft.
But a poem is only a corollary. A
consequence that has subsumed its
cause. The glass in our window is
neither inside nor out. The sky becomes
a sky only when we look up. You
describe distance to me as a road would
to another, as a beginning or ending.
The Kiss, by Edvard Munch (Norway) 1897.
Published today in The Ekphrastic Review. Many thanks to the editor, Lorette C. Luzajic
Afterwards is the number of steps it took to
get home, afterwards is an empty home.
Afterwards is washing that has to be brought
in before sunset, dinner that has to be
cooked, bills that have to be paid, afterwards
is hearing the word ‘obituary’ as if for the
first time and wondering why words like
it – estuary and sanctuary – are about peaceful
places. Afterwards is falling asleep on the
couch because the room you slept in for 27
years is suddenly too cold, the TV still on
because silence is no longer a choice. Afterwards
is breaking the present into tolerable pain and
denial, recasting the past into unrelated
memories and denial, framing tomorrow into
impossibilities and denial. Afterwards is a
phone call you cannot make, a god you cannot
forsake. Afterwards is every moment you spend
forgetting that the blood on the officer’s uniform
came from a body you can no longer hold.
Image by Norbu Gyachung (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
Isn’t it strange how things unravel anticlockwise in the
night, as if thoughts, blindfolded, spiral homeward into
the past? In the morning, even in the half-glow of dawn,
you can float away from yourself, changing their direction,
the end of the trembling dark clutched tight in your hand,
deliberately unwinding pain through a labyrinth of forced
possibilities. Time, then, is just a cruel trick of the light.
Or maybe, love is. I remember lying on our backs on the
sand, the sky close, beginning at the end of our skin,
stars finding the hollows under our nails, clouds moving
in dextral whorls around a proximate moon. Or maybe we
were just looking at it wrong. Maybe it was day. Maybe it
was us whirling and there was one nebulous cloud in the
centre blurring the sun. Maybe we weren’t next to each
other, a deception of trajectory and distance and touch,
the twisted path a long way to reach an inevitable end.
Image by Anthony Jon Tyson (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
It’s supposed to be a book, a story, but I wish I could start with
a poem instead, there’s something about leaving things half
said, something about a handful of metaphors and line breaks,
that wear their brevity proudly, there aren’t that many words
in the beginning anyway, just an uncertain awkwardness that
stumbles over ellipses, saying little, saying a little. A verse about
a day that wasn’t supposed to be, but was, about a time that
wasn’t meant to mean anything, but did, about the big things
unremembered, about tiny details that stay in the empty frame
like disconnected dots. There was a crow outside the window that
day, watching, as birds aren’t expected to, but do, like a sadness,
an inadvertent new moon, a crow that became a line in the sky,
in the beginning anyway when there were no words. With a poem, I
can stop here. You never speak. The poem becomes the whole story.
Toril Fisher Fine Art
For the ekphrastic prompt at Real Toads. Also for Poets United Pantry.
And the monk sat, like a cloud, at peace, the way you can
unfurl at a safe distance from people, speaking softly, the
way spring rain writes on leaves, about life and illusion and
the journey of souls that leaves us behind, the way a snake
trades one skin for another. I wanted to ask if I could shed
this skin you touched, memories etched on it like scars that
would never heal. I wanted to ask if I could be washed and
anointed in a sunshine unguent, the way a bride is bathed
before her wedding, healing turmeric running down her
face and neck, the way the old sky is made to masquerade
as a new one each morning. But I am just the moulted life
of a writhing soul, holding on for a flutter, the way a name
is carried in the fist of the wind, for a distance. A sunset drips
yellow, the way time passes, faster when nobody is watching.
Image by Sharon McCutcheon (Picture Prompt provided by Visual Verse)
Even that god,
fleeing a burning heaven,
sheets of fiery air,
paused for a moment,
The skies he had made
for birds and dreams and
the echo of temple bells
were scarred by the breath
of death laden wings
and the sounds of children falling.
Even that god
looking down at what was left
of truth, of earth,
of life, of the living,
he had nowhere
else to go.
Even that god.
Image by Anthony Intraversato (Picture prompt provided by Visual Verse)
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 05, Chapter 06)
A lone tree props up the heavy night, the weight of all that
darkness, of unconsummated dreams, of things that sigh
in the after-light. He watches the unstill sky impaled by the
wounded bark, knows the world is lighter in the sunshine, the
unencumbered blue, the unfettered clouds, that strange
anomaly of time and sight replaced by this impenetrable murk
that watches with its many eyes. He knows something will give
before dawn, but what if the shadows do not rip, what if the
separation of heaven and earth breaks down and the deathly ink
stains all eternity, what if the now is swallowed by that open
mouth and will never be again, he shifts slightly, feeling his
roots dig deeper, the cold seeping into his old, trembling feet.
Wrote this for Mystic Blue Review‘s Ekphrastic Challenge where the prompt was The Starry Night by Van Gogh. The poem has just been published in their fourth issue.
Woman in an Interior, by Vilhelm Hammershoi (Denmark). 1909.
To be like glass, throwing patterns of light instead of dark
shadows, pools of daytime art in infinite detail, every
filigreed ripple of love and fear and guilt and torment, the
excruciating minutiae of the broken heart spilt on hardwood
floors and asphalt roads, climbing brick walls into dimensions
we dare not dream of; but physics will not have it, physics
was born before love, what does it know of spaces with no rules,
of pain, keeping us tethered to the earth while the sky whispers
urgently each dawn; by noon I am reading the murky shapes
like tea leaves, trying to find tomorrow in whatever is left
behind, by dusk, the blur stains the window, the corners are
drawn one by one into the centre, by then, by then, it is too late.
Thank you Lorette C. Luzajic, for publishing my poem at The Ekphrastic Review.
It is the measure of incongruence, the horizon askew,
the wind running amok, the sullen moon a flushed
pink, the world at war with its children, dead in school
yards, drowned in thirsty seas, broken under the rubble
of endless hate. I see you flinch as you read the headline,
another five year old raped and dumped on the side of
the road; a curious fly slips in through the screen door and
surveys the remains of a chocolate muffin as the silence
seeps into the bones of another day that will not begin.
A nameless bird looks out, the words to its song forgotten
in the morning sun; it would make sense, it would all make
sense if the earth had succumbed and spun astray, a flaccid
ball untethered from its orbit, or if all of creation, swathed
in mournful black was biting down on the last trees to stop
itself from screaming. I hear you start the car, I hear it
cough, again, again, as if our air is too toxic to breathe in.
First published on Visual Verse (Vol 05, Chapter 05)
Click on the link to see their picture prompt.