Sings the moon

I haven’t done a cleave poem for a long time and thought I was due for a bit of self-inflicted punishment. I’m adding it to the dverse open link night because these poems are so hard to write, and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.

If you don’t know what a cleave poem is, it’s a three in one poem. Each side is a separate poem to be read vertically, one side dark, the other light, opposites. But they can be  read horizontally as a single poem too.


Loud the city silence                 sings the moon

Breaking glassy fragments      in a sea of darkness

All about                                      the brittle stars blink and listen

I stop my ears                              to the swell tide’s refrain.

Though scraps of anger            ride on peaceful calm,

White or red                                 sails full of dawning

Grow round and full                  like moons on water

Fruiting in the heat                    lily blossoms, reflections

Of a summer night                     in a still forest pool.


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.

89 thoughts on “Sings the moon”

  1. The world is like one giant empty city with just one person in it and that one person looks at the changing seasons the rise and lower of the sun and moon and even the animals that change with them.

    1. That’s a lovely way of putting it. The whole poem is told by that one person, and each side of the poem corresponds to a different view point, one trapped in the unpleasant aspects of the city, the other on the outside with a knowledge only of the natural world.

    1. It’s like a Rubik’s Cube with words 🙂 Three in one, and all three have to make sense separately AND the two separate strands should be opposites. Go on. I dare you 🙂

    1. It’s one to try if you need an intellectual challenge 🙂 It has to be read as two poems, one on each side, where both make sense read separately and tell opposite stories. But the whole thing has to make a single poem that also makes sense. I like the idea of this form, the way is uses both meanings of the word ‘cleave’ —to separate and to join. It’s neat, but it needs a lot of fiddling with.

    1. I’m undecided about it as a poetic form since it has to be put together like a military operation. It’s more for the sense of achievement that I like it—so hard to write!

  2. Nicely done, Jane! (And with a singing moon, too.) 🙂 I like your images and interesting word choices.

    Now this makes me want to write one–as well as do all the cool prompts I’ve been seeing, but haven’t had a chance to get to yet.

    1. I’m glad you like this, Merril. I’m always pleased when I’ve finished a cleave poem and got it to make sense all the ways you have to read it. It’s so brain-twisting!

  3. Brilliant work, Jane. I didn’t set out to “cleave” but maybe with a bit of tinkering I could make it work better.
    Yours is so atmospheric and each line so rich in detail. I have used an isolated line from another poet’s work as a title before (giving credit, of course). Yours is like a cornucopia of titles!

    1. I’m glad you like this! Your poem is in a class of its own, Victoria. It’s like two voices murmuring, or the chorus in a play. f you did try to piece the two halves together, it would make a great cleave poem, but the original stands on its own merits 🙂

    1. Thank you! It isn’t a form I use often because it’s more like putting a 3D puzzle together than writing poetry, but just occasionally, the result is worth it 🙂

  4. I read your comment from the responds to the first.

    At first read…I did see the poem as a one person coming from other different points of view as how they feel and interpret the city itself. You brought a taste that is delicious and vibrant.

      1. The city itself is tough and carries a load of good and bad within people or the environment. However which one might feel about it.

        You did a magnificent job and capturing every detail that tells the meaning behind the poem.

      2. Cities are part of humanity, warts and all. But we have to learn to make them friendlier or they’ll kill us. Thanks for the compliment, Charlie, I appreciate it 🙂

      3. True. Balancing out ourselves to rid off the negativity that drains us in. We must be stronger than low and reach the strength that is us to make things better and center.

        Your very welcome. 🙂

    1. I need to bolster my self-confidence. It’s a hellishly difficult form to get to work out right, and I have to prove to myself that I can do it. It’s safer than climbing mountains or parachuting 😉

  5. Okay yes, I can see how writing this is a form of torture. You do it well. That either means you’re an above average poet, or you’re into abuse. Either way, it’s a wonderful poem.

    1. If it’s easy, I distrust it 🙂 Thanks Charley. I was particularly pleased with this poem because it’s such a difficult form. Sometimes you can twist the words around for hours and the thing just doesn’t gel. This one did, miraculously!

  6. You’re a devil in disguise, Jane! Now you’ve reminded me of how wonderful cleave poems can be, I’m more than tempted to have a go at one today!
    This one of your is a stunner! I especially love those ‘glassy fragments’ of the loud ‘city silence’ and the ‘brittle stars’ that ‘blink and listen to the swell tide’s refrain’.’

    1. I’m glad you like it, Kim. I started another one yesterday evening and gave up. It was too complicated to get my head round. I reworked it into a simpler poem this morning instead.

  7. It’s an interesting device, sort of a cubist take on mood. The linear read nailed it, the vertical columns were icier — forcing an abstract read — but invited a triune read. Well done.

    1. Thanks Brendan. It is like writing in 3D with the light and dark sharing the same cube but on opposite sides. I’m glad you like the result. Sometimes it’s a mess.

  8. What a cool form…I think we should give it a go as a prompt at dVerse sometime! I love the merging of the positive perspective with the negative. It creates an entirely different mood doesn’t it?
    Gayle ~

    1. Thank you! If you can see why it’s difficult, you’ve read what I thought I’d written, if you see what I mean, with the contrasting sides. I think of it as a triptych, heaven one side, hell the other, and in the middle, the sum of the parts.

      1. I think I did read what you thought you had written because you appear to have understood what I wrote about what I thought you had written. 😉

    1. It’s hard to think in terms of opposites in the same phrase. Often though I think it’s luck that makes this form work. Sometimes no amount of fiddling will make it turn out right.

  9. Ooh, I like this and I like the idea of this. I’ve never heard of a cleave poem before. I imagine there are some happy accidents of language that occur during the writing process. I love “sings the moon in a sea of darkness.”

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