Silence Burns Midnight Blue

Your poetry is a breaking of water, a
birth pang, let us talk instead of
seeds. Of skin. Of earth. Of before.
What did you really mean when you
wrote of love? How distant is the word
from the thought? Is silence the purest
word, stripped of pretence, emotion
submitting naked to the starlight? If I
imagine you -without words- silence burns
midnight blue, is the colour of afternoon
lust, I sense you like a second
wound, a noiseless picking of scab from
an unseen cut. I do not speak. Silence is where
we go when we go beyond love, where
we spool back our lines, unmask our
metaphors, where we accept that the
poem is a false reckoning, realize that silence
is a euphemism for scream.

Who hoards rain clouds in the desert?

There the universe stores vats of virgin happiness, doling
it out like a grim faced Scrooge, while we wait, bowl in

hand, wanting more. Always wanting more. We are made
of longing and hunger. And everywhere we look, is a giant

supermarket feeding that emptiness. Everything in excess,
marked down, on luscious display, the seed of the first apple

feverishly multiplying on every shelf of every aisle and our
hands reaching constantly to fill the ever growing void. Except

for happiness. For that, there is a line and a quota and a price.
We pretend not to see each other. Who will admit to such

privation? We study the signs from a distance. Perhaps, it
is another sorrow, another wound, another word that brings

you here. Does my skin turn transparent as I stand? Do you know
the scars inside? You will not turn your head. I will not call. How

much longer? Who hoards rain clouds in the desert? No one
warned me to save my smile. To save the light in your eyes.

How Else?

Of course, the easiest explanation is
the most difficult to conceive, but how

else can we account for the perfection
of randomness, for the precision of

evolution that allows us to stare at
sunsets, forgive the asymmetry of an

orange-gold death and almost consider
a meticulous god as we would the

improbability of life; how else can we
account for love when it is over, isn’t

pain much better borne if we know it
was scripted, if we were not picked by

the arbitrary raising of an eye; all
these nights, the moon there, hauntingly

beautiful and yet so alone, this surfeit of
emptiness has to be someone else’s fault.

The Way It Works, Or Doesn’t

the way it works, or doesn’t,
one piece of evidence points to another, on and on, even as the search
changes and the seeker
becomes another person, then another;
but not all things are clues, some things just are,
they don’t say anything, won’t go anywhere,
your breath on my skin was not a portent, but I didn’t know that until later,
until it was too late to stop moving,
until it was too late to stop crying;
some things we take along with us, half carrying, half dragging,
their screams incoherent, their eyes streaming, bright like dying stars,
by the time I realised I had found myself,
by the time I figured out why there were no footprints to follow,
by the time I came back to where I began,
where it began,
my head was pounding,
there were welts on my soul, the shape of your fingers,
something you had said was still a bleeding wound;
your walking away was not a sign,
not a symptom of an incoming deluge,
my clothes were wet,
there was water in my shoes,
there were no clues, not even rain,
not even a ripple,
some things just are,
some days, it doesn’t work,
we cannot walk on water.

Without Really Touching

It’s the way eyes adjust to the dark, slowly the
shapes emerge, you discern without really

seeing, the way your body adapts to sleep and
the dreams appear, you soar without really flying,

the way your senses sharpen in the wilderness,
the fear rises, you can tell there’s danger without

really knowing- the dark falls quiet and my ears
accommodate the silence, softly the voices begin,

yours and mine, saying the same things, words
that sound the same, mean the same, hurt the

same, we hear without really listening- the way
time bends across barren wasteland, days pass

without really touching, the way alone corrects
for loneliness, yearning without really loving.


a sigh
a shrug
a half turn of the head-
each one a complete sentence,
the silence falling neatly
between the lines,
the angle of the unspoken to
the illusion of hope-
like her finger tracing an
invisible flower
on an unseen table,
what grows from the remains
of broken promises?


A Crow That Became A Line

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.


This atheism is a real thing, matter, with
my name, my eyes, my whisper that sticks

to the roof of the mouth, a stalactite of
frozen disbelief stemming from the heart,

a pain you stoke with your prayer. I could
trade it with you, as a talisman, as a kiss,

as an objet d’art- here, hold it, cold from
the fever of reason, tasting of ice and

incalculable mornings, yours, if you can
give me what only I can seek, what only I

can want. I see your uncertainties crease,
your chin question, the unspeakable rush

to a point on your tongue. I want to tell you
not to hesitate, not to turn away, I want to

tell you that this too is just like love, like
waiting, this too is only an article of faith.



For the midweek prompt at Poets United: “What I think about myself”. A different approach from what I wrote on the same subject in Nov, 2017:  Thirteen Ways Of Looking at Myself.


Someone Drew A Line

the circles of hell tighten around your waist,
swirling winds unfasten the last of your hesitation,

you cannot resist the ragged breath of a punishing gale,
you unfold in its vortex as helpless as the original sin,
the forbidden is warm in its proximity,
the error intoxicating in its carnal blush,

someone drew a line,
someone shifted the shadows of right and wrong,
someone moved the gates of paradise,
someone turned love, in a game of chinese whispers, to lust,

eager, the inferno bends its mouth,
the heat shifts slowly, unhesitating, down your soul.

Sandro Boticelli: Chart of Hell


For the Poet’s United midweek motif: Lust.  Also linking to the Tuesday Platform at Toads.

Of Love Poems

You can’t write a love poem these days, even the poem doesn’t want
it, it wants to be a marching song, an outraged movement, a raving

anthem with bloodstained robes and flesh under its nails, a sunset
that bounces back from the horizon to reclaim its space. We are

inside-out bards, cynicism dripping from our quills, the words to our
sonnets curling their lips in disdain, love somehow staring at itself

from the mirror with an eyebrow raised. We need new words to write
of softness, of walking, even through grit, even through graveyards,

carry our verses like brides in palanquins, like whispers over opened
wounds, like musk deer leaping over rotting carcasses, like saffron

floating in mugs of steaming kahwah, in the distance, the snow
dressed Kashmir mountains cradling the gentlest light, ghazals spilling

down the valleys, we need new words, a new form of poetry, that
smells of apples, moves yellow like the mustard fields, that is not

afraid to be a love song, even when all there is, is an uncomfortable
silence, a threadbare metaphor and a somewhat embarrassed poem.