Sunday, 24 November 2019

A Poem a Day (117): Brush

Here's another one I wrote for JD Mader's 2minutesgo website last week.


He paints a life in seconds,
An image of use, departed feathers,
Where the grasses stand tall
Sucking nutrition from the sun.

Sparrows squawk, dip and hide,
Finding rest on the highest limbs.
These woods offer silent repose,
An escape from the grey metal grind.

He circles wonder to render order,
Colour trickles through his hands.
The Cumulus sail, gather to roll in,
But supper can wait, time still.

Copyright Vickie Johnstone, November 16, 2019

Saturday, 23 November 2019

A Poem a Day (116): Tick

Here's one I wrote for JD Mader's 2minutesgo website last week.


It’s time,
The clock says it’s time
For all hours, minutes, seconds to
Unwind, sinking, swimming into mist.
The telling time.

The seeker waits in the wings,
Frozen in the dream state humming.
Nimbus rolls in darkest thunder
To keep the fireflies buzzing.
White candles flicker in the burn,
A hint of sage sweeps the air.
He listens to this dark electric,
Sparks tripping off beyond the veil.

The puppeteer resides in corners,
Moving pieces around his board,
Stuck in this stasis, in rehearsal,
Not seeking a reversal of his fate.
He ushers full sound upon this stage,
Ringing a bell for the Pharisee, who
Like the witch, has far to travail.

Copyright Vickie Johnstone, November 16, 2019

Thursday, 14 November 2019

Narcissus and the artist

I came across an interesting or bizarre comment – however you want to look at it – the other day that poetry is narcissistic. The commenter thought that every poet writes about themselves and things that are only happening to them. From a personal point of view, I think I’d be a great cure for insomnia if that was the case!

So is everyone who creates something just writing about themselves?

Is everyone who is an artist or creates anything at all a narcissist?

By extension, is a story writer a narcissist? Are all those characters just the writer in disguise, acting out echoes of their own life?
Is a songwriter – and I think of songs as poems with a chorus – just a narcissist writing about their own experience and nothing else?
Is an architect a narcissist in designing a building? Is it just a big replica of his…?
Is a painter always painting a reflection of themselves or their own life?
Is a director always imitating himself in his movies?
Where does that leave the autobiographer? Mega narcissist?
And are parents who create a child the ultimate narcissists, creating something in their own image?

Well, of course not.

It’s quite funny really when you think about it.

With a story of fiction, it’s pretty obvious who the characters are. They usually have names. But then some are written in the first-person ‘I’ and that isn’t the author. Poetry runs the same. The ‘I’ in a poem is not always the author. With some writers, the ‘I’ is never the author, sometimes it is, and I guess for some, it might always be. But a lot of the time, the ‘I’ is a character made up by the poet – the Everyman or Everywoman, the existential being. Like fiction. If the ‘I’ gets too big for his boots, the author can always bump him off. And some poems head into the abstract, representing something else. Others are like little paintings of scenes.

In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter who was known for his beauty and loved everything beautiful. He was proud, looked down on those who loved him, and in the end he fell in love with his own reflection in a stream, laid down next to it, stayed there and died of thirst. (I love Ovid!)

So, there you go. Feeling thirsty?

You’ve created something. You’re an artist. Are you therefore a narcissist?


Sunday, 10 November 2019

A Poem a Day (115): Joker

Written for JD Mader's 2minutesgo website – head over there to write, read and comment every weekend... I watched The Joker on Friday. Dark and uncomfortably brilliant. 


When the deluge breaks he lets it sweep
Over him,

A burning caress he once yearned for
And now despises, invents a name.
These emotions he keeps locked inside,
Beyond him,
Feelings wretched, still wrecking.

In this fiery red glow he will dance,
Papering limbs in this cold numbness
Scourging through him, day in, day out,
Inside him.

It is his tempest, his alone; a jumbled mind
Cast adrift, signing, searching for insight
He can never hope to find.
And he knows he cannot be helped.

The murmurs will never calm, be quiet.
These blurred echoes of long jagged days –
A boy, a lost mother, a yard stripped dark,
Doors locked, pain, pitch black pain
Upon him.

This rain whips, cleansing scars etched so
Deep, reminding him of what was once,
Who he was once, the man he failed to
Become. Becoming a little less each day.

When the deluge calls, he dances a little,
Edging away from the fire serenading him
To come outside.

Copyright Vickie Johnstone, November 9, 2019