Archives for posts with tag: night
Corridors

By Fielsvd (Own work) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the corridor

Along the walls,
a green of mint ice-cream,
are plastic chairs
moulded grey for sitting
in the moment before
the cold night coming.

Not wanting contact,
she slips a piece of paper
through the door.


I had an appointment with the renal specialist today. In the hospital corridor I sat with the bulky gel pen and budget A4 writing pad I bought last week in Poundland.

The corridor was painted in the mint green described. The chairs were moulded in grey plastic. I was waiting and also watching and scribbling. Patients and nurses passed down the corridor with pieces of A4 paper, probably print-outs of requests for particular blood tests. Even though these are routine check-up clinics, many people wait with anxiety in those hospital chairs or the consulting rooms. A nurse opened the door of a consulting room and slipped through a printed sheet.

Back at home, to one of Spotify’s Grime soundtracks,  I have been fiddling with my notes. The poem above is a neat example of moments observed now morphed into fiction.

Sullivans-Island-Lighthouse-beach-night

By JonathanLamb (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Beacons for the utterly lost

A bright star led seekers 
    and wise men. 
A bright light gave comfort
to the night 
    and travellers crossing.
A bright beam from the shore
struck ships from death-knell rocks.

Today's nights, made bright with bulbs and glare,
blind the guiding lights
    we still seek everywhere.


I like that these lines read like a carol for the searching, modern spirit. I could half hear it set for voice when I read it through while searching for the title. (This could also have been the influence of Spotify in the background. It isn’t an angry playlist today. Instead it is Hot Hits UK, and right now the Jonas Blue, Dakota remix of Chapman’s ‘Fast Car’.)

I have been thinking quite a bit about our modern lives and how they diffuse the deep resonances of motifs and symbols from the past. Consider the darknesses in the poem: the very depths of night, an unknown travel route and a dark ocean. Our screens and lights illuminate so much of our lives making them visible and navigable. That a bright star or light on a far horizon could provide guidance and encouragement during a journey is something of folklore. It is as quaint and almost as downright silly as talking foxes or birds delivering messages from the faerie realms.

From this, I suspect that the part of us that resonates with fictional motifs recognises these old stirrings, while our modern selves blink it as far as the retina, only to move on with a swipe or tap. Yet for all the bulbs, lights, fluorescent tubes and bright screens, we still use a language of celestial signs and wonders when talking about hoped for beacons. We still seek our lodestars, our North Stars, our guiding stars, our supernovas.

Nyx, Night Goddess by Gustave Moreau (1880)

Gustave Moreau [Public domain], “Nyx, Night Goddess” (1880) via Wikimedia Commons

It was yesterday, on the 6th Jan. coincidentally, when I was glancing over the books in a charity shop that I saw a softback copy of “Nemesis” on the shelf above me.

(As a Hobbit goddess, I sometimes construct the world in terms of the dimensions of where things are in relation to my immediate reach.)

I recalled both this poem and my own reading of the novel a year ago (albeit in a smaller hardback version, borrowed from the library). The poem imagines diary entries transcribed by author Philip Roth as he converses with the ‘moonlit sylph’ who inspires the young woman and love interest in the novel.

All this synchronicity surprised me a little when I came to preparing today’s archive post.

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Books:
In the Ocean: a year of poetry
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness: Selected Poems, 1999 – 2012

View of the Riiser-Larsen Ice Shelf in Antarctica

By Ben Holt – National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (NASA (Image galleries)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


From night’s horizon
sweep in yowls and howls
across the polar plain.
Glacial blue dims.
The sharpest window opens above:
stars minted by the chill.


Today’s prompt for A Poem A Day October was, “Write a poem incorporating the concept of being ‘frozen,’ whether literal or not.”

All day I have been mulling over the idea of ‘frozen’ as a transition state of water, rather than a state of matters set. In preparation for my idea doodling, I found a recording of Sinfonia Antarctica (Vaughan Williams) on Spotify. An image search online yielded this Guardian photo-essay about spending 9 winter months in Antarctica at the Concordia Station. In the article, the clear view of the stars above earth is mentioned.


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Books

Nos Liberavit

“the maiden’s voice soars
and plunges
as she elongates the siren call”

Image “Midnight Harp” courtesy of Esmira

I try to revive a blue whale
with raw eggs from plastic bowls
in different colours
laid out in a wooden fishing boat.
To do this you must put two
or three eggs together in each bowl,
watch their yolks lilt to the tide, then
pour them through the whale’s sieve-like mouth.


This poem is a transcription of a dream I had. The notebook entry of 29/10/12 analyses the stress that probably elicited the scene, “Drowned out by my panic: income! job! career! Aaargh!” Such is the mundane reality that underpins some creative output. I am certain some English teacher in the future will invest the work with a more riveting subliminal meaning.

I have very vivid dreams. Since I was a child, I’ve had vivid dreams. “Afloat”  is another poem based on a nocturnal vision remembered and jotted down. Often my dreams are strong on action, filled with tactility and punctuated with memorable details. Only once I remember hearing music in a dream. When I stayed in South America briefly, I eventually started dreaming in very basic Spanish.

With this poem I conclude my official a Poem a Day for a Month. This bumper month of posts is part of my larger 2×52 project, during which I aim to produce a 104 poems across a year (52 weeks). The idea was to keep writing and producing. Out of 104 poems, some might not be as engaging, some might be readable and a few should, by the law of statistics, must surely be reasonably good. I shall continue to post according to my routine of two poems a week. Sign up to BeadedQuill (see tab in bottom right-hand corner) for these future poems, updates on the aimed for (e)book of the 2×52 project and other news.

Thank you for being part of this month.

Twitter: @BeadedQuill
Facebook: BeadedQuill
Books:
Emily’s Poems for Modern Boys
Shining in Brightness 

Black coats, black pavements, black umbrellas, the rain
Nights black by 20:00. Achoos in the office.
Splutters on the train. Time to switch on the heating and
buy doughnuts in the morning. There has sprung the winter hunger
and it will only grow

On the 19th September 1819, John Keats wrote this lilting ode ‘To Autumn.‘ Images of his autumn’s fruitful harvest jarred with my Thursday of cold snap, rain and ubiquitous black umbrellas.

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Preview my first volume, SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS, here, It includes poems selected from twelve years’ worth of writing in South America, the USA, South Africa and Europe.

The ants in his pants
found a dark crack
and bit at the edges
until at night the worms 
came out and about
looking for food
and found ants, from his pants, 
for company.

Together the roundworms
     and the man-eating ants
enjoyed their pantaloni party.


There we go: an offering from my notebooks that takes a side-step from the usual quaint, observational whimsy to the slightly grotesque. Perhaps you’re a little curious about the origin of these ants and worms? I’ll tell you.

I am one of three siblings who grew up in a suburban South African home filled with pets – hamsters, tortoises, goldfish, silkworms (Yes, they’re pets, too.), cats and dogs . When we were little and restless, our Mum or Margaret, our nanny, would ask, “Do you have ants in your pants?” If you were unlucky enough to sit on a thread of the little Argentinean ants, which populated the kitchen, garden and any other nook in the house over the summer, they would quite happily nip at you. As a child, it didn’t take much to imagine pants full of ants nipping away and making one jumpy.

There is another childhood ant memory. One Sunday afternoon on the television, I caught an extract of a black-and-white movie about carnivorous red ants in the jungle. In my imagination’s memory, the jungle is the Amazon, home to those other flesh-munchers, the piranhas. There was a scene in which one of the explorer men dozed off in the afternoon humidity. By evening, when someone came to wake him, his face had been eaten up by the carnivorous ants. Ever since, I have had a phobia about falling asleep in a humid jungle with a Panama hat over my face and not waking up, for my face has been consumed by rapacious ants.

Pair these ant memories, with Mom or Margaret’s other favourite rhetorical question, “Do you have worms?” Any whinging or teary-ness or overtiredness or unexplained snacking or bottom scratching, would be accompanied by the worm question. Then the dreaded threat would follow, “I am going to check you for worms tonight.” Once it was dark, the little white creatures would inch their inquisitive selves into the world. Inspections were most effective at such times. Worms and the annual worm treatment were such a routine part of our growing up with animals, that all this was a regular feature of our childhood. It is such a shared experience that amongst the three of us, we even have a shorthand ‘worm-dance’ (choreographed by my brother) for, “The worms, they are (out) looking.”

“An arrangement of strangers” provides an example of how incidents from my past provide imagination-compost for a creative piece. While much of my writing springs from personal experience, I really do eschew the conflation of autobiography with my artistic expression. It would please me if the man-eating ants and their roundworm associates have entertained you in their own right. After all, they brought along the pantaloni party.


*pantaloni = plural of pantaloon
I think the addition of this word adds a comic, circus-feel to the final stanza, which in turn taps the picayune and surreal world of flea and ant circuses.

If you’re interested in reading more of my poetry, preview my first volume SHINING IN BRIGHTNESS at blurb.co.uk

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