Missy

Her skin is fair, lightly freckled and starkly
contrasts her ambiguous demeanour.
I always tip my cap, ‘Good day, Miss,’
but she never casts a glance.
I carry on my way, meandering
deep in wild thoughts that are always
honeysuckle, blue grass, rosehips
and my Miss.
The sun beats down on she and us,
but when my Miss smiles, the heavens open
and it pours, dare I say, it rains tears.
My thinking is, it can not compete
with the lovely lady who does not care
if I live or die, because I know us to be just
a part of my wildest dreams –
the place I go to swiftly as I pass
the dingy, rusted via duct
on my way to work –
I pass that way often, my dreams,
so as not to be seduced by the muggy
waters of brown stench lying along my trail.
Deep down, I think it may just take time.
Today, anyway, I saw a glimmer,
a near warming at the corners of her mouth,
but it could have been the damp, or
maybe, just maybe, as she meanders
to her dress shop,
bypassing her own thoughts and dreams, she is
smiling as she thinks of me.
Maybe.
But, ah, I hear the whistle. Time for work.
Until tomorrow then, Miss.

Ketley

Ketley was a burly man, and because of our differences over the years, he and I stood at the end of an aching pole; his muscled arms were bent on pulling in that monster.  He often snarled mid heave.  I was sure, at times, he would have loved the head on that line to have been mine.  I may have been wrong, but I had chills that morning on the river; strong notions, dare I say it, that I couldn’t cast aside.

He froze my core with his backward glances as he caught me reminiscing.  I knew how wrong, but at the same time, how tantalising my dalliances had been with his shapely fair-haired, sassy woman, whom I did love with all my heart.

Had I been altogether spoiled for choices, I could have kept her, instead of being plainly faced with death’s place underground.  So, I kissed her farewell and braced myself for the wrath of Ketley, but why we had to meet here of all places  was not a curiosity to me.

His sights were held firmly on that there bleak as hell’s charmed water, and god knows what he thought was underneath it all.

“Give me that small hook, will you?” He growled at me with a threatened animal growl – that low noise in its throat – usually, it meant it was angry.  He looked at me hard, and that always made me go cold.  He was angry.

What he called a small hook could have suspended a small calf.  The cold steel was sharp and grey,  and it looked like it could pierce three men at a time – and I was just one.  Still, I had trusted him all of my life, and I didn’t necessarily want to stop now.  Also, I had an escape planned.

I handed the hook to him as I recoiled involuntarily, and at the same time, I watched my sweat be flung into the Four Corners of a god-an awful night’s sea swell.  He swung the steely crook over the boat’s edge and it soon took hold of the hellish, glistening creature he had managed to draw alongside us.  It was magnificent. It was huge!  God almighty, it could have been the devil.  I’d never seen a catch that size.  Heh, in my mind, he should have rode off majestically then and there on that critter!

But instead, he started talking, and not in the angry voice I’d anticipated for most of the night; he was too watchful of the water, and seemingly, any possible onlookers.  I sat back away from him just in case.  He seemed calm and collected as he (just like that) asked me if I felt confident enough to run his livery, and that he ‘knew for damn sure’ I could take care of his wife.  But what about his three kids?

I stammered for quite a while, both inside and out – the words just would not come.  My mouth?  Well, that giant fish from hell was looking mighty interested in its large space as my jaw got wider and wider.   Despite the abundance of torrid sea water, my mouth just plain dried.

“Just as I thought.”  His creased to bust eyebrows all of a sudden burst.  He savagely continued with,  “Thinkin’ with yer groin, but with actions of a jellyfish.  So, yeah, meet yer maker, squirt!|

Plunging into the freezing dark perdition of my predicament, I felt a hitherto calming warmth, as if hell froze for me all that was bad.  Ketley saw wrongdoing and acted… and  I, at the time, only saw curvaceous smiles, fear, her desperation and a hallelujah heaven awaitin’, and so, I indeed acted.  But who was right?

By now that great creature of a fish was as damn inconsequential as one might get.  And me?  I was a goner, but also didn’t altogether mightily care two hoots.  Ketley went home, she froze as she always did and turned for warmth to another, who soon joined me in purgatory for cosy chats and fishing and good times.  I knew just by commons sense, she would soon be joining me.

A Haunting

Pablo Picasso ~ ‘Muse’

A shadow’s clear face –
is that my haunted muse?

I too am wary of past’s ghosts,
squeezed by daylight
into ethereal painted diaphanous
landscapes,

and where equally pellucid capes
waft in the nothingness
of such a delicate dimension.

Sunshine filters
through the interstices
of arching trees –
their spindly finger shadows
pierce the throb
of my ripened veins
resting
under the mirror
of spider branches
hanging lazily –

adust words
tease the vastly hollow chambers
of my heart and mind

whilst unwanted ghosts, these stark
strangers, pass by me
trying to scavenge my thoughts –
thoughts once hid, but which now bustle briskly
under this fair poplar – but adamantly
refuse daylight in their presence

my muse blows timidly
to rustle up my tired parchments
not scratched since autumn opened its eyes
on the majestic fade of green –

before it reawakens – under these dreaming spires,
I will write a sonnet for her –

to coax, to not be afraid of ghosts,
nor reconcile me with my own
by her very absence –

me thinks I’ll keep it safe in heart,
away from prying eyes and strangers’ judgement
at least until summer comes again.

I see you, haunted muse
come out from the shadows.

Thoughts for Ukraine

A Bloodthirsty Fool

pinning a note on the wall –
artillery takes my
loved one away again

Quote of the day.

“All in all, Russia has shot itself in both feet, the balls, and finally in the head.”

And something to remember:

“When I despair, I remember that all through history
the ways of truth and love have always won.
There have been tyrants, and murderers,
and for a time they can seem invincible,
but in the end they always fall.
Think of it–always.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Cherish the Mortal

Murillo

I speak low lest
my love evaporates
before e’en kissed
by your infant’s breath,
and beg before day’s
whispered hush
ascends to nightfall;
small child, look at me
one last time
before you crawl away as slow
as time roams vast.

Too soon,
tomorrow’s
branches laced
with the chirp of sweet song
will bow to cradle this dear life –
and since time nor death
show mercy –
warm arms
shall send him safely
unto a strange, beatific world,
where all will be waiting

all, except for me.

Dreaded Whispers

Strokes of moonlight smother
the inflorescent
whispers of the smoke bush –

fighting, but wavering against twilight’s
ghostly dreams,
it drapes the water,
pondering depth and death,

and, whereupon streaks of my childhood run
wildly ‘til they bleed into the perfect pink wash –
disrupted only briefly by daubs of
my more morbid notions –

a thousand indigo butterflies
dotted like inky death
become pinned to the eerie flatness of still water
and life –

finally, my drowning memories
are absorbed by stagnant fluid –
the whispers are hushed in the black, dead air
where mosquitoes live instead,
and for the first time, I begin to thrive.

Such a Tiny Thing

Wishing you all the best for this season! Take care and stay safe! Today, years later, this poem resonates with me because of what we are all going through, and who we have lost, and our resilience. The tone is hushed, but strong and fast, as we encourage the bird to fight to fly and to finally sleep after all its endeavours to survive. Just, as I imagine, like us all.

Sing little bird,
fly overhead,
rest in the trees’
wavering breeze.

Lift the curtain high at dawn
let the flickering candles yawn.

Tall trees aglow,
clouds full of snow,
laden with light,
sing black on white,
snow flurry sneeze
small feathers freeze.

Fly little bird
lift up and fight,
go little bird
circle the light,
sleep little bird,
a peaceful goodnight.

Try little bird,
lift your wings while you’re still singing
soon the night will warm your dreaming.

Fly little bird
reach for the night,
go little bird,
shy winter’s light.

Warm your body, melt the snow
for the daylight crisp below.

Go little bird,
sleep little bird,
find the songs you sweetly sing,
nestle there ’til winter’s still.

Go little bird,
up to the night,
fly little bird
soundly tonight.

See the moon she’s smiling for you
shivering stars their arms are open too,

so go little bird,
fly little bird,
high little bird,
hush little bird,

soon will come the voices of the morn
joyous little creature of our dawn.

Go little bird,
fly little bird,
sleep little bird,
twilight is heard.
Go little bird…
go.

Shah Jahan

Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal as a tomb for his favourite wife, Mumtaz. He longed to preserve the love that he had for her.  With its creation, love, magnificence and memory has been preserved. I had the privilege of falling on the stairs inside that lead to the tombs proper on a visit – a treat from my dad while we were visiting family in India.  The anniversary of his death and the reason for my blog is coming up, and I am taking a moment.

Shah Jahan

She wilted, and he slept for one year,
fading like the blush of twilight –
riches do not protect the human flesh
or soul –

death permeates even our innermost
love.

In his darkest dreams, grief struck at his aching bones
and tortured sinews;
the surrounds of a heart heavy from drought,
until, he was woken with a vision to transform
her death into beauty – as she was in life
so she shall be in slumber.

‘No more tear drops on cheeks
that pain compared to her touch,
but across the naked sky,
to prolong this innermost sorrow,

just the last one –

a gesture to sear my longing
in this lonely, mournful place –
the last cry will be affixed
vapour
laden with jewels and precious
splendour
to pierce the clouds
saddened and heaving constantly
as sorrow.

On the south bank, ribbons
of the Yamuna river will stare
at a true reflection of beauty
created from your passing –
it will remain a last kiss on the cheek
from my final tear as it rolls
through Agra.

Your splendour will ignite
a restful place, and make magical
this white opal – as opaque,
as my grief
and as magnificent
as you my love, Mumtaz –

soon we will sleep until we can
no longer, and we leave together
through the ghosted marble
of the Iwan.’

Silently, I Go

Words tremble and form on my lips.
In the middle of nowhere,
on an old, abandoned field’s
icy, quiet calm – I can
see those words as frosted air,
palpable, almost real.
Almost.
The memory of ecstasy
ripples vehemently in rifts,
saying, ‘don’t let go –
don’t let go of the moment,
the tenderness and the journey
that has begun –
don’t let go of the time invested
and the heart’s own life span,’ –
I clap my mitts together hard.
I need to hear another voice
in the heavy, thick dullness
of meaningless, inside this bitterly
cold wilderness – an expansion
of existence.
Inside this perfect ring of O,
caution and doubt is excluded
by the wintry tourniquet
and deep seated bleakness.
Within this rink of fire,
I have found a plan;
idly scraped into the dense snow’s
virgin white territory
are thoughts and decision making –
a bittersweet means to an end.
I exhale and words reverberate –
detached.
Let loose, they do their own thing.
I believe that trust is its own reward,
and love is a consequence
of that very airing –
so, I let them breathe.
My lips tremble from more words,
although I can’t hear them, they spill
and the cold lets them sit there.
Sat on the snow, memories
cosy up to them,
of when tears made me choke
and lies made me half blind –
now they both
thaw like a discarded
ice lolly bleeding into the impacted
prisms hidden in this pristine
foundation.
I rub my insulated woollen hand
over the small pond’s glass
to see a lifetime spent asking
why amid my mind’s sighs to half
answered questions and doubts,
and painful bouts of inertia.
I find a heavy rock, and listening
only to the whispers between
my thighs’ nylon energy,
I smash it into a face
in the ice –
all of those things are finally
released and surface through the shards
of their confinement –
roaming prisoners cut loose
to set me free,
to crawl out onto the debris.
Wading knee deep I try to remember
what was instilled in me;
I was taught to swim and love,
and trust in rewards,
I was loved and I am loved,
a consequence of not sinking –
swim freely.
The temperature plummets
within, and still knee deep, I am caught
in the ice of limbo
like a reluctant, unbaptised infant
who already knows its own mind.
Today, it is not as simple; revisited
once again, by dark clouds that come
to smother me with their words –
they take their place in the queue
in this time lapse of a snowy day
where whiter clouds come and go,
but like my words they are seldom
realised, and so I have to withdraw
into a quiet blackness – the Narnia sheen
of glistening reason is too bright,
too stark, too vivid when shouts scream
from it.
The pool of unhurried water is a starkly
black dilation –
of a welcoming eye – the pupil inside
this giant O.
I fall into its gaze, and like yours
it swallows me up.

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