Silence slumbers

The Daily Post prompt is: silence. Appropriate for a migrainy day.


Silence slumbers on the far reaches,

Sand slips between clawing fingers,

And the pounding roar of the surf

Fills every hollow inside the skull.

Where does the darkness hide

When the night is full of light?

And the streetlights throb like open wounds,

Their gaudy lament jingle-jangling

On the hard glitter of the streets?

Silent sleep evades, furtive as cat shadows,

And the clanging of the night train,

Rollocking through the last tunnel,

Draws nearer and louder,

But though I wait with anguished withheld breath,

It never arrives.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

83 thoughts on “Silence slumbers”

  1. Jane this is SO beautiful I just loved this. I re-read it three times, each time I heard it in my head, like a sound of honey. You are such a gifted soul. My favorite lines though they are all so perfect were; Where does the darkness hide

    When the night is full of light?

    And the streetlights throb like open wounds,

      1. I LOVE (and hate) that you put your pain (migraine) to such heady use. What a great contrast with Coleridge, oh I do hope you put all of your migraine poems together in one collection I think that would be such a superb idea – so many of us who get headaches or feel pain could relate and then be envious that whilst in the throws of such pain you can produce this beauty

      2. Seriously it makes me wonder if migraine disorders are also connected to some type of skill/genius, after all they say that about frontal-lobe injury and all sorts of things, including high temperatures, deafness, etc, anyway no compensation when you have the headaches but at least you produce beauty from something painful which in a way is perhaps the best way though I would not wish to replicate it because of all pain, head pain is the worst.

      3. I think migraines do something to the nervous system that distorts and mangles reality. Not surprising good things come out of them if you can only focus well enough to write them down!

      4. wouldn’t it be interesting if they researched and found out they tapped into this highly creative part of our brain that as well as distorting reality was responsible for creative fire, and thus, just like bipolar and other ‘maladies’ the migraine chronicles began! You could be their queen, and I seriously think that’s something that so many would LOVE to read about (I know I would)

      5. I’m sure there is something in that. People who have very safe, unruffled lives unless they are creative geniuses must find it very difficult to put themselves in the skin of someone who has suffered. That’s why Emily Bronte was so extraordinary. Given the life she led, how on earth did she imagine the story of Heathcliff and Cathy? Passion is the overwhelming impression. She was sick, died young, and who knows what strange patterns her brain was making.

      6. EXACTLY! Couldn’t agree more. I’m a glutton for comfort yet I know that is NOT how you produce the absolute best. (Though I admire the temperate who has control over their craft such, that they can dip into extremes without actually having to experience them, a la Stephen King whom I don’t like to read, but admire his productivity and output and ideas). Glad you brought up Emily because it’s a chance to talk about her 🙂 (big Bronte fan). Often wonder that exact thing. How could such a mousy girl create SUCH passion without experiencing it? We seek answers when the answer is right there, in our mistake thinking one must experience to understand and/or experience literally to experience emotively. Reminds me of a joke I once heard, a friend in advertising did a campaign promoting Malta for the Malta Tourism Board. It was their most successful. Invited to be applauded for her amazing work by the customers they told her, you have described and evoked Malta like no-one else could, even if they are a native to Malta, how did you do it? She waffled some answer but the truth was (though never revealed) she NEVER went to Malta, she had a dread of flying so pretended to go and made the entire thing up. I think that says a lot. As for Emily do you think her illness was really a form of anorexia and depression/melancholy that led to consumption often tied to poor-eating, it seems from WH that if she was in any way Cathy, the catching your death of cold on the moors may have been more telling of the authoress than previously considered? Always thought it a little odd all 3 Bronte girls died of consumption (and Branwell from what? liver disease?) within a short period, though I suppose that’s because we so quickly forget the mortality numbers in those days. It’s fascinating I do wish you’d write about that I think you’d do a terrific job of it but I’m sure you have a hundred projects waiting in the wings, put that one in there just incase 🙂

      7. It wasn’t just the famous ones who died of consumption—there were another couple of sisters who died at school pf consumption. I was brought up not far from Haworth, knew the moors and had a healthy dislike of them, as did everyone I knew. It’s hard to say why we should have disliked that landscape so much since there are plenty of empty moors in Ireland. Maybe because they are barren, sheep grazed hills between mills and factories. I find it very hard to imagine what it must have been like for them. Deadly, probably. The people grim and dour, a father who was an immigrant, a mother in poor health, and a terrible inhospitable climate. Maybe they did run over the moors like Cathy, but there would have been no Heathcliff. Passion is what I think they had, in spadesfull. Branwell was a wastrell, a loser. If he had a grain of talent he’d have recognized the artistry of his sisters and gone into a decline for that alone 🙂

      8. Do you think the actual moors were responsible in part for the rise in consumption due to being what? Water logged I suppose? I know what you mean though and that is another good idea (deadly landscapes) I can relate to that and may write about that, although mine would be a council house with a tin of spam. That’s partly because us modern girls tend to romanticize the past but of course, it would have been wretched for them so isolated and that’s what permeates in their literature and fantasy life. Where was the father from? I love the word Wastrell, haven’t heard that in an age, thank you so much for that lovely reminder! (He was such wasn’t he? grr) so many wonderous women of history and as you say, so many who were not famous and not recalled who were equal.

      9. The Brontes were Bruntys from Ireland. Goodness knows what the good folk of Haworth thought of him. I don’t know why so many people developed consumption in those days. Overcrowding in cities helped spread it, but you’d think the moors would be reasonably healthy. They probably didn’t eat enough and it was so fucking cold!

      10. Shame on me for not knowing this! Wow. So they changed their name to Brunty spelling wise from the Irish spelling to the English? My family did the same when we moved to France from Egypt our surname was Hakim and changed to Daquin. Odd that people feel they ought to change their names. Ha! Probably that’s why people got consumption so badly true! Such an awful disease to take the lives of people whom in every other element, were so alive and can you imagine what the Brontes would have done had they lived? It almost hurts to conceive of what they’d have been capable of. I am so very, very biased toward their writing.

      11. Bronte (can’t do the trema) isn’t even English, it’s a rather pretentious Germanic sort of a name. If your family moved to France after the Algerian war I imagine they wouldn’t have wanted to be lumbered with an Arab-sounding name. If the girls had lived and seen a bit of life, they’d have knocked spots off Edith Wharton, however much I like her writing.

      12. There’s me thinking it was actually originally a French name, and yet the accent is Germanic isn’t it? Yes a little pretentious though I also quite like it probably because of the association. They both wrote a lot about Brussels or Belgium or somewhere like that, and also a lot of French, that may have been why I thought it also. I’ve read Villette at least 5 times and still I can go back and cherish it. (I think the classic I have read the most is Madam Bovary, at least ten times). Yes that’s exactly why, the irony was having an arabic sounding name (because Mizrahi Jews are of Arab extraction) but being Jewish (at the time, I’m not practicing neither my parents but grandparents did)

      13. Charlotte went to Brussels (I think) briefly, but then everything about them was brief. One of my favourites is Shirley because we lived next to the old house in the story, a Tudor manor house converted to a girls’ boarding school in the C19th where Charlotte taught (briefly). One of my grandfather’s sisters married a Smith but my grandfather always wrote their name as Mac Gabhann, gobha being the Irish for smith. During the colonial rule, the English refused to acknowledge the Gaelic and names were anglicized forcibly. After independence a lot of people changed their family name back to the original spelling.

      14. I loved Shirley too and never understood why this was the lesser known of the novels, along with one other. A bit like Austin and how the books people know her for are my least favorite. I absolutely loathe Emma but it could be the sheer brilliance of capturing her arrogance that gets my goat. Mac Gabhann is Smith in Irish? Good grief! Given a choice the former every time! Why I wonder did the English stamp out so much beauty? A naive question going back to your point about colonialism and how it ruined all the native/indigenous cultures so irreparably. Can you even fathom what the world would have been like today had we not been wrecked by colonialism?

      15. I’m glad you know Shirley. It isn’t well known at all and is a great story, somewhere between Jane Austen and Mrs Gaskell. The colonisers could have done it so differently. Like trading with instead of exploiting. But that was not the way of some peoples and yes, the world would be a far different place if they’d just asked nicely instead of taking.

      16. Exactly. I must confess to not getting on with reading Gaskell as well as I ought (being a good feminist and all) I find her a little twee at times, which I know is wrong of me. Exactly. Trading rather than exploiting. This is as true today as then, but the damage is done and now everyone is paying the price except those who have no conscience. They had a good piece about that in the Tim Severen book where they go to Vinland for the first time and end up killing the natives for no real reason at all except fear. Sigh.

      17. HA! Me too actually he’s the thinking woman’s crumpet 😉 (except for being gay) a very compelling actor (a rare thing). I feel much that way too about GOOD adaptations.

      18. He is! Alas! Married to a man. Been with him for ages. He’s such a hunk (in a thinking way) and an extraordinary actor couldn’t agree more!

      19. I won’t go down the path of the Beliebers who cry because Justin won’t ever be dating one of them (how stupid can you get???). I’m pleased he’s been with the same partner for years. It’s fidelity that counts and he goes up even higher in my estimation. Lucky husband 🙂

      20. His husband is a very famous actor, more so than he in some ways, I forget his name. Faithfulness seems to be a dying art, I’m glad some still appreciate it 🙂

      21. When I find out that a politician has been through several spouses I automatically mark them down as untrustworthy. Anybody can make a mistake, and especially those who marry young. But to keep repeating the same mistakes? I wouldn’t want someone like that deciding policy for me.

      22. Agreed. Likewise. Then again I’d rather a cad who admits to being a cad than someone who pretends to be happily married but is actually in the closet or cheating on his wife. I abhor cheating because to me, if you want to sleep around, be single, if you want to stay with one person, marry. Also agree w/u that if someone keeps making the same mistakes smacks of insincerity, possibly bad judgment.

      23. Exactly. And truth is, a habit is a habit. Few who have say, taken drugs, stop doing so, unless they’re given a reason to (consequence) same goes for cheating, without consequence, it probably emboldens them to get away with it again

      24. Totally agree. Lamenting over the travesty of politics here though it’s really world-wide. Perhaps politicians are just so because they are the egocentric liers attracted to the job.

      25. I know what I was going to say the other day to you! I thought it but was away from home. I suppose you’ve no doubt read Edna O Brian. I recall reading her when very young, about young irish girls – just brilliant stuff – anyway that’s who I recalled when we were talking about Ireland and wanted to share

      26. I enjoyed The Country Girls too. She has written very astutely about that awful period of Irish history that lasted from the 30s to the 90s when the priests took over from the English. I’m glad she’s still around to see how far we’ve come—finally!

      27. Very. I thought so also – and she’s very prolific yet most of her books are real quality and keen observations, I did love the humor of them too, set against the starkness, very cleverly observed.

      28. And she mixed humor so well, as too much would have lost the serious part and too little would maybe have been too much to bear? I also liked James Herriotts books set in Yorkshire? About a local vet, they had that same humor and sadness.

      29. Yes I did see a couple, they were ‘ok’ not nearly the quality of his writing and atmosphere though. But as you say, rarely do TV or films manage to conjure the climbs and heights of a favorite book – the travesty being so many knowing a story through a film rather than the wonderful book it came from!

      30. Surprisingly, that’s true of the Harry Potter books. I never made it past the first one, and only saw (inadvertently) odd bits of the films when the kids watched them, but I realize now that often when you hear kids talk about ‘Harry Potter’ it’s the film version they’ve seen and the idea that the book might be in any way different/better is completely alien to them.

      31. Neither did I. Couldn’t agree more (and ditto only saw pieces of the first film and turned the channel). Interesting how beloved it is, interesting when everyone loves something and you’re wondering why?

      32. I remember when the first book came out and thinking that sounds good. But my eldest was only a tot and I didn’t more notice than that. She certainly tapped into a rich vein. I don’t get it, but millions do.

      33. Right? Neither do I, though I’m glad for her it does beg the question, what’s the magic formula and why when we read it, do we not ‘grasp’ that magic formula in appreciation? I suspect it’s about timing and gaps/needs in the market-place and also what the publishers in their infinite wisdom (!) ‘decide’ we are going to like!

      34. I think it was somehow refreshingly new as an idea at the time. I think I’d believe in it more if they didn’t have magic wands. That seems so childish to me. The kind of thing that’s only suitable in pantomimes to give tiny tots a thrill (or a laugh).

      35. Yes, like they say, some things don’t age well. All fine in kids books from the fifties, not so much nowadays. Also it’s hard when it’s already been done incredibly well but maybe we’ve stumbled upon the why. If others have not read the books we refer to, or think of, then to them this is new, original, interesting? Like a re-make of a film we know the original and love it, loathe the re-make but to someone who has never seen the original?

      36. Exactly. I do think it’s like that with lots of things. Fashion being a prime example. My mom would cringe when as a teen I’d call her up and say ‘I am wearing bell bottoms’ because she’d been through that in the sixties and felt my generation was just repeating hers which to a large extent every generation does. And each time they feel they are the ones who ‘know’ and have the authority on what is original. Thus, we recycle our passions with each successive generation and maybe it weakens it each time getting less and less ‘special’ if say, we compare Leonardo’s genius with what is considered genius today. Or maybe we simply inculcate ourselves with this notion our generation is best, and thus, we appreciate a book that’s really not original because it belongs to our era and not someone elses?

      37. It’s partly ignorance, on both sides. I cringe when I hear Beyoncé’s voice described as ‘incredible’ and I’m told her songs are ‘classic’. When I’ve been scraped off the ceiling I’m told I just don’t listen to anything that isn’t my generation. I admit it. But are they right about the talent of some of these people? Maybe I am closed when it comes to appreciation of some music, but then, my children don’t know much about any music older than Motown.

      38. Oh I’m with you there. No. Incredible is Shirley Bassey singing at aged 85 without back-up or Streisand, but you’re branded racist if you say you don’t like someone who is of color, whether you yourself are of color or not and that is silly because people’s likes and dislikes are not always indicative of prejudice. I don’t either (listen to anything of the now-scene) and I’m proud of that! Not knocking the kids who like it, (they don’t know better, ha ha ha!) but we don’t ‘have’ to like it. Sad that such beautiful music of old is nearly forgotten. I do like erik satie a great deal.

      39. My sister, the one I was in sibling rivalry with, went through an Erik Satie phase when she was in her teens. Consequently I hated him. I heard something on the radio once that made me smile. Some programme had used a bit of Satie for its generique and a listener had written in asking for more details of the music that she had understood was called ‘Chiropedie’ but who was Erik’s Aunty?

      40. Well I can understand that, as associations with someone you have had a fractious relationship with are almost impossible to like. I feel that way about many things.

      41. You really make me laugh. I admit I don’t like Cynthia as a name for similar reasons! (Poor Judy, Poor Cynthia)

      42. Agreed. It is interesting to find the roots as they are often quite odd! I think that’s very true, we all have prejudices though some would swear up and down they have none

      43. I wonder about that. It always seems we shatter innocence by our wrong belief that we know better, from the ‘missionaries’ onward. What a world could exist had we realized we know so little and others, whom we believe without knowledge, so much

      44. It’s easier to exploit and expropriate people who ‘don’t know better’. Peaceful peoples who have no desire to exploit, invade or dominate eventually die out or become like us. We are the dominant force, the terrible success story, like rats and bluebottles.

      45. Very true and well said. Oft thought we were akin to blue bottles, so true. Your poem today was breathtaking btw

      46. Are you kidding? I think you’ve taken some fairy dust of late, your poetry is so wonderful I’m gnashing my teeth!

      47. Don’t gnash your teeth. Your poems are splendid. They need picking over, like a turnstone with pebbles on the beach. They’re not easy poems, they’re a poet’s poems. I’m a writer who dumps the flowery prose into short lines and calls it poetry 🙂

      48. Good lord, if you are a writer who dumps the flowery prose then all our greats are merely watery eyed river water collectors. Nope. You have a lot of talent, I’m not the only one who sees that – everyone who has the joy of knowing you does. I think you’re so much more than that. I’d say more like a magician with words and worlds. You juggle them. And when you render your decision it’s always with an exactitude but also a muse. I have actually saved a few of yours on my desktop to read again, that’s how much I appreciated them. And I never do that!

      49. Blimey! I don’t know what to say. Maybe, is that really me you’re talking about? There’s something in the blood, a love of words and how they fit together. Irish is as Irish does 🙂

      50. It is you I’m talking about. I recall when I first started on WP I would see your work and be too intimidated to comment on it, but I watched and learned and appreciated from afar. Ordinary people and writers, rarely provoke such responses my friend

      51. I am humbled. If you only knew how difficult it was posting those first poems. Writing is one thing. I sort of assumed I could do that. We were taught at home and at school from an early age that writing was a natural artistic process within the reach of everyone. But poetry was special. Poets were special people and poems were more sacred than prayers. If I produce anything that someone as talented as yourself considers a poem, I feel I’ve achieved something.

      52. Since some wish to transplant the very rich into ‘new’ cloned or otherwise bodies, much like ‘uploading’ our brains, there may come a day when this really occurs in which case I am glad for not being rich

  2. I hope you’re feeling better.
    This lines are beautiful, but the feeling is jittery and clangorous.
    The light you mention makes me think of Van Gogh. I think he may have had migraines, too.
    I really like this painting. I can’t tell if the woman looks serene or careworn, or a bit of both. I like the old sewing machine. Hmmm. . .story prompt. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s