Saturday 1 June 2024

A Poem a Day (671): My guide through the hedgerows

 
I wrote this one for JD Mader's 2minutesgo writing page. If you fancy writing something or reading other people's work, head over there. Cheers :) 

I went for a walk late this afternoon and the light was wild, and this little brown butterfly kept landing on stones in front of me and as I got near it flew on. This happened about seven or eight times. It was awesome. 


My guide through the hedgerows 

It leads me, in flutter,
til spread still on a moss-fed stone
it sits, contemplates, flits upward
to flicker in this slip of spilt sun,
movements sluggish and kind.

It is my spirit guide through giants,
trunks sunk in this ditch deep-dug 
between hedgerows with their spill of purple 
velvet, lemon cups, horns of melting nectar, 
spun pearl-white daisies linking hands. 

Once more it perches, sienna-gold gilded, 
and in its unique timing it lifts again in game, 
shows me its childish side in secret,
waiting for the human to play catch-up
and understand nature’s way of speaking. 

Copyright Vickie Johnstone, June 1, 2024

A Poem a Day (670): One to ten

 
 
One:

all the sacred lists of never done,
the wished upon, bled, un-won.
 
Two:

a struck filament, who knew?
Seeping fire, sweeping through.
 
Three:

in an instant he’s down on one knee,
emoting for all the world to see.
 
Four:

a pool of friends bleat at the door,
full knowledge of the homeless poor.
 
Five:

you get a full calendar to grieve,
suppress your own joy to still live.
 
Six:

he’s standing in line for another fix,
missing, extinct, exiled from the mix.
 
Seven:

they’re all trying to make it leven,
seeing signs full-sail from heaven.
 
Eight:

it’s a time to step inside your fate;
only make sure it’s not too late.
 
Nine:

he said “I want it all to be mine”
and yet he didn’t want to spend a dime.
 
Ten:

she lingered awhile beneath Big Ben,
doused by rain, oblivious to all men.


 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, June 1, 2024


Monday 27 May 2024

A Poem a Day (669): Snapping lines – some hay(na)ku

 
These poems are inspired by a prompt from NaPoWriMo.net. They are not related and are meant to be read separately. 

Prompt from NaPoWriMo.net: a hay(na)ku consists of a three-line stanza, where the first line has one word, the second line has two words and the third line has three words. 
 
 
Time.
Snapping lines
in echo, doubled.


Whispers
sparked, this
never-truant Dark.


Exposed:
inked nightmares,
where erasers stick.


Lines
on repeat,
a rivered blackboard.
 

Youth.
Known. Vanquished.
No time machine.
 
Lace,
stained scarlet.
A wedding marked.
 

Unmasked,
the unsuited;
revenge of distain.
 

Flits,
deft footed,
starts, darts, skyward.
 

Cut,
scooped, stolen.
Jet black curls.
 

Lifted,
endless veil.
Vast pitch unhidden.
 

Rattle,
without hum.
Breath sneaks out.
 

This
one bed –
his whole world.
 

Milk.
Unspilled, capped.
A warning sign.
 

Bells,
and whistles.
Symphony on pause.
 

Journeying,
outward, in.
A wild belonging.
 

Succulent,
fleshed out,
fielding the core.


Wisps,
sacred light,
night’s ultimate shield.

 
Breadcrumbs,
squished rescuers,
directors of travel.


Exile.
Rust. Dust.
A life interred.


 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 27, 2024


Sunday 19 May 2024

A Poem a Day (668): Cabin crew

 
Prompt from NaPoWriMo – Today, I’d like to challenge you to blend these concepts into your own work, by producing a poem that meditates, from a position of tranquillity, on an emotion you have felt powerfully. You might try including a dramatic, declarative statement, like Hass’s “All the new thinking is about loss,” or O’Hara’s “It is easy to be beautiful; it is difficult to appear so.” Or, like, Baudelaire, you might try addressing your feeling directly, as if it were a person you could talk to. There are as many approaches to this as there are poets, and poems.
 


Cabin crew

The cabin crew know it’s grown small,
full circle, sinking in shallow water,
these wood, stripped walls closing in,
bended, rounded, echoes of past sound,
they creak away this endless night.
Life on pause sleeps snug and waits.
 
Skewed, angst-stormed moon creeps up
to hang upon this shroud of cloud.
Fiery sparks of gold dance in formation,
cast kaleidoscopes of fate to scribble down,
simulate fairy lights in a Christmas town.
We only need the fae in filagree to sing.
 
Purest light will hold its sword sheathed,
suck up every strewn casted shadow.
We stand on the edge of endless mist,
our ancestors expectant in our stead.
In the distancing, a wounded bridge lifts,
trembles in its aged, rusted, iron skin.
 
Born from water, we can only adhere,
drawn as full as we are, our emotions
streaming from the Ace of Cups.
A glance back is all it takes sometimes.
In earth, we hibernate below the tumult,
bow down into our wordless dreaming.
 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 19, 2024


A Poem a Day (667): Your calling

 
Prompt from NaPoWriMo.net: I’d like you to try your hand at a minimalist poem. What’s that? Well, a poem that is quite short and doesn’t really try to tell a story, but to quickly and simply capture an image or emotion. There’s even an extreme style of minimalism in the form of one-word and other “highly compressed” poems. You don’t have to go that far, but you might think of your own poem for the day as a form of gesture drawing. Perhaps you might start from a concrete noun with a lot of sensory connotations, like “Butter” or “Sandpaper,” or “Raindrop” and – quickly, lightly – go from there.

 

Your calling

Never written, only felt.



Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 19, 2024


Sunday 12 May 2024

A Poem a Day (666): Coming home

 
Coming home
 
There is movement in the still,
this frozen solidity, a sense of purpose
in the way it swerves, bends, the twist of
an old, forgotten link. A lift across a wide,
barren ocean that time tried to ride out,
erase into a sepia memory on a picture card.
 
In this return, the separated seek to build,
to overcome, forgive and surmount the void,
yet removing one brick could sink it all.
A lost letter, the sealant of an unlived life,
the date-stamped bringer of re-invitation,
the only wish he could never purchase.
 
Among a draft of faces melting into one,
she waits expectantly for him to cross.
He stands still on the other side,
a broken man with a crooked gait.
Here, in the middle, a numbed sense
of dialogue seeks to open its hands.
 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 12, 2024


Wednesday 8 May 2024

A Poem a Day (665): Coasting

 
Coasting
 
It is enough. After the want, the hard graft,
journeying in a bid to rise, the peak of hope,
expectation, only to fall into fruitless coasting,
in secondary. Yet under a stone you may find
scope, breath, being, colour and a little faith.
 
We can walk the line without treading on it,
refresh from water without it passing our lips.
This is an imaginary earth. You sink your feet in
deep, tilt your etched heartlines to the open skies,
while the heady sun shape-shifts into quiet moon.
 
The only souls we can be are ourselves when all else
is done. Do not need. This is your space, carved out by
yourself alone. Here, we shoulder the trees, lest the
burden is too heavy for some. Clouds pass slow,
gather and eject, the sleek cirrus sounding out.
 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 8, 2024


Friday 3 May 2024

A Poem a Day (664): Lightning and the rock

 

I wrote this poem using a prompt from Napowrimo.net. 

 
March 31, 2021, prompt: we’d like to challenge you to spend a few minutes looking for a piece of art that interests you in the online galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Perhaps a floral collar from the tomb of Tutankhamen? Or a Tibetan cavalryman’s suit of armor? Or a gold-and-porcelain flute? After you’ve selected your piece, study the photographs and the accompanying text. And then – write a poem!
www.napowrimo.net/2021/03/


 
Lightning and the rock 
(a sculpture by Nonggirrnga Marawili) 

Lightning and the rock,
razor edge. A trick on time,
itself eaten out in stages,
a flick of tongue, span of life.
Against the sea, we erode.
 
Spit-balls of energy served by sky,
a host of aspirations true glazed,
from which we built our skeleton house,
home to the self, scribbled bones,
a betrayal of kindness. These old panes
our defence against trespass.
 
Here it breathes, this dark glass,
our fractured souls, etched so worn,
the metal withstanding pain.
It is a search for the inside
from outside, the back to front,
tilted heart, aghast, so out of tune,
snug inside this blown bubble.
 
We are staggered by the load,
the lack of fuel, the dissociation.
This steel guard with its pieces
unaligned is our body, uneven scatters of
lines, rusted spine, a sudden sweep
of everything that is, stuffed
inside the whimsical.
 
Between these lightning strikes,
this cage or safety so double-edged,
we peek out, seek to steal out,
breathe the freedom of the blue.
 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, May 3, 2024

The sculpture can be seen here: 
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search?q=CrdPackageIds%3A658



Wednesday 1 May 2024

A Poem a Day (663): Too curious

 
NaPoWriMo April 2024 (www.napowrimo.net) is now over, so to carry on with these cool prompts that get your brain turning, I thought I'd look at the ones from the previous April and write using those. So here goes with Day 1. 

Prompt: take a look through Public Domain Review’s article on The Art of Book Covers. Some of the featured covers are beautiful. Some are distressing. Some are just plain weird (I’m looking at you, “Mr Sweet Potatoes”). With any luck, one or more of these will catch your fancy, and open your mind to some poetic insights.


Too curious
 
Too curious, he said, shouting us down,
too weird, too peculiar, too bold,
too stout, too tall, too small, too colourful.
 
In a word: just too…
 
Too obstinate, too opinionated, too arty,
too confident, too shy, too able, too young,
too old, too beautiful, too plain, too…
 
Too anything. And too here!
 
So we opened the door and left.


 
Vickie Johnstone, May 1, 2024


Tuesday 30 April 2024

A Poem a Day (662): NaPoWriMo Day 30 - Kelpie

 
Day 30

Prompt: we challenge you to write a poem in which the speaker is identified with, or compared to, a character from myth or legend, as in Claire Scott’s poem, Scheherazade at the Doctor’s Office.

www.napowrimo.net

 
 
Kelpie
 
It follows the curves of the Scottish heartland,
cuts into it, a deep V of stone granules,
coasted by ribbons of grass, leaves and moss,
dotted with silk buttercups and bluebells.
 
The redheaded girl treks the dip and the hill,
where the narrow road bends at a rusted gate
stood sentinel between two fences frilled by ivy.
Three stallions stand idle, evenly spaced.
 
One black, one dappled brown, one grey.
The third throws back his mane, and stamps,
holds her expression for a momentary while,
glances away. The weather turns, rain spills.
 
The girl carries down in the other direction,
where the downs rise up again, and twist,
and lean, down into the rested pool of sea,
a gathering place for surfers, but empty now,
 
the tumult none too enticing. A chill wind
cuts. By the rocks a solitary man looks out,
a fringed blanket draped around his shoulders,
hair sodden, hung in tendrils flowing.
 
The girl tugs her hood further over her head,
hands dug deep into her pockets for warmth.
The air chills, sky cracks, and she makes to go,
but the movement shocks him to turn.
 
He looks straight into her eyes, earnest and raw,
something familiar about him, as though she
has met him before, in a shadow moment.
In that second, he smiles, and it lights his face.
 
The intention to go forgotten, she stays put,
almost sculpture. He steps forward, pauses
a bare few feet away, pushes back the wet locks
of his hair, and despite herself, she smiles.
 
There seems nothing else to do in that moment.
It’s just him and the water. On the horizon a dot,
a something moves, but above the nimbus are calming,
the sea smoothing. And the lightning stops.
 
The stranger removes the blanket, folds it in his arms.
He wears a simple grey shirt, faded-out trousers,
and a pair of clumpy shoes. His eyes are jet orbs,
a stark dark contrast to his salt & pepper hair.
 
She wonders if to go, but his expression holds her.
He glances at the sea, sunlight blinking to glisten.
It flickers over the waves like a dance, so hypnotic.
She senses rather than sees the man move sideways.
 
In a moment he is gazing down into her eyes,
runs his fingers through her mermaid hair.
For some reason, she does not feel the need to move.
He points out, where a lone boat mars the still.
 
She waits for him to speak, but he steps away,
moves in even tread towards the edge of water.
In that moment she sees that his shoes are not,
but black hooves, deepening imprints in the sand.
 
The girl watches him saunter towards the soft surf,
where he stops and turns just once, his body shifting
into the powerful shape of the grey stallion, his mane
falling full of stars, eyes glistening with life.
 
Her feet carry her over the sand, crimson hair billowing
in the sacred breeze whipping up from the salted mist,
stretching her hands for the leather bridle with which she
will ride him out into the depths of the windswept sea.
 
Copyright Vickie Johnstone, April 30, 2024