“If a story is in you … It has to come out.” ~ William Faulkner
I woke at 4:03 this morning,
a not uncommon fact of middle-aged life.
But what rousted me from slumber
wasn’t the siren call of
the porcelain throne.
Inspiration nudged me for snoring
my muse kicked me for stealing
my gut, like an old dog, woke me
to let it out for a walk
to the notebook.
This is the mid-night urge
to relieve myself of a poem
or story that can’t wait until
morning reveille to turn from
night dream to written reverie.
And I never hit that snooze button
when I hear that call.
Wrote this while dinner was cooking tonight, in response to Annie Fuller’s Writing Outside the Lines prompt from this past week. It’s that quote from Faulkner. I’ve been a little tied up with writing something or other a day April and May, but I try like hell to get Annie’s challenge in.
Outside, the ground simmered,
or maybe sizzled,
as pouring rain pocked
the horizon-wide puddles
whenever chains of lightning
strobed one after another.
A surreal scene, yet natural
as gravity that drew
heavy drops earthward
to splash as if the ground
had reached boiling point,
so hot no one ventured
standing in the middle
of this stormy Spring griddle.
As daybreak nudged the
darkness away, prodding
the storm out ahead in
its march to Tuesday,
I cracked open my curtains
and revealed a landscape lush
with greens and obsidian
roadways, and streams chiming
morning prayers like hundreds
of church bells.
Night holds her mysteries close,
within the folds of her velvet cloak.
This is the garment in which she intends
to wrap you, to transform you into
another of her secret children she holds
so snug you can hear her heartbeat.
Perhaps you’ve perceived her wordless
poem in iambic meter, the soft something
that goes buh-bump buh-bump in night,
as you enfold yourself within her embrace,
full of hope to escape the blinding realities
of day, where you’re but a speck of dust
among its billions of souls, rather than
night’s only child there in your bed.
Alone, even if you’re lying close enough
to another you can hear their version
of night’s mysterious limping lullaby.
Buh-bump, buh-bump, buh-bump, until you’re
a castaway floating alone in the soft, black
embrace of another of night’s passages
Day 17’s NaPoWriMo poem, in the form of a nocturne, a musical composition meant to be played at night, usually for piano, and with a tender and melancholy sort of sound.
You’d think otherwise, wouldn’t you,
but sleep has never come easy for me.
Not the tucked-in for the night sleep,
not the snuggled close and content sleep.
Mine is the toss and turn sleep,
the stare at the ceiling dark so long
my eyes adjust to see shadows you’d
never see. Shadows I don’t wish to.
I’d never wake you to tell what I see.
I can’t. If I reach right or left
all I can feel is empty.
Covers twisted and fallen, I turn over
and tell my pillow, but a pillow
will only echo what you lay upon it,
no spontaneity or warmth other than
what I put into it. And still,
sleep evades me, or teases me with
a veiled unconsciousness that lasts
maybe an hour or so, over and over.
So the thing I crave most
is the thing I most fear and despise,
something in the dark that pulls me under
and spits me back out like words
I never said except here. That might be
why sleep does not come easy for me
as it does for you. Because you sleep
just fine, right? Tucked in for the night
and snuggled close and content.
Another night, like so many other nights. Haven’t written about my bête noire in a long time. This morning I couldn’t help but.
All alone while south-bounding
this midnight highway, I’m staring
at the painted lines on the road.
The high beams serve as the conduit
through which I’m reeling
yellow-yellow-yellow into my eyes as I
draw closer to here, to there, please
don’t let it be once more to nowhere.
Now the snow is falling, though
from my aspect behind the wheel
it surges toward me in one long burst
of white and I dare not blink
or I might lose the road altogether,
the touchstone lines now erased.
My eyes must be stinging from all
this gaping into the glare
of faded yellow lines on black,
now motes of white ice dust
streaming upon a beam of light.
I just tell you they’re sweating tears
from the strain as I idly wipe
them aside with the back of my hand.
All I really see is your face out there.
All the rest is mere background…nothing.
All I want is to make it home and ask for
one more chance to make it all —
all the unbroken lines of all our strife,
all the blizzards of guilt I’ve run from since
all I knew was walking. I’ve run out of road.
All I want is back there by you.
In Poem #22 in the April Poem-A-Day slog to May, I’m responding to Robert Lee Brewer’s promo for a piece with “Star (Something)” in its title. Well, you know how Hesch rolls…too cute by half. Mission accomplished, Robert.
There’s an icy down
on the blades of grass.
atoms of winter have scraped
the little green that remains
of the blanket spring and summer
wove upon this bed where now they sleep.
I move outside, slowly stepping
my way west toward
the oaken stump I once built,
with my own blade,
my own knife-edged intent
to bring color to the spot
where light refused to shine.
Upon this veil of rime,
the hazy shape of a man appears,
stealing what I sweated so hard
to free. I turn to discover
the tide of another day
inching over the rooftops,
turning the frost to
a million million prisms
that will soon surrender to dawn
and a wave of dormant green
that inches toward me, warm upon
this shore of a December night.
For sixty round trips of the hour hand of his grandmother’s wooden clock, which he broke some indeterminable time ago, Pål Rønning, had not seen the sun rise above the eastern horizon, which his grandfather told him was out beyond those scrubby trees.
Compasses grew confused about direction this close to the top of the world, just as Pål got confused when he moved to this desolate spot when his parents died in an Oslo car crash, how he got confused even more by the however-many days, or whatever one called them, he had been alone during this horror called Polar Night.
As he lay there by the fire, staring at the images of his grandparents sleeping at the table, staring at the ceiling, he didn’t think anything around him was real anymore, even the winds that knocked at the door he no longer answered.
“I am alone here and will never see anyone again, or maybe all around me is just a dream and I and the darkness are all that is real,” Pål wrote on a page of an undated journal the hunting party out of Longyearbyen found, along with Björn and Maria Rønning, frozen in blood there at the table of their cabin.
What they didn’t find was young Pål Rônning, who had decided to take a midday stroll one night under the Aurora Borealis, so sure that it was noon in Oslo and not something imaginary again like people, April and that great ball in the sky that once was the Sun.
A quick Five Sentence Fiction based on Lillie McGerrins prompt DARKNESS.