Final day of Paul Brookes’ challenge and I’m pleased to say I participated every day. Some prompts were more challenging than others; some produced poems grimmer than I enjoy writing. Some drew out memories, unexpected but worth airing now that any fear or unease is long laid to rest.
Thank you, Paul for your generosity in preparing all this and giving us a platform for our work.
Visitors by Terry Chipp
Rose by MJSaucer
between the wardrobe and the door
made of shadow and shifting moonlight
they were always there
still are but now I know who they are
and why they are here.
Their eyes have lost the piercing questioning
and smile gravely
welcoming me to join the endless chain
back and forth stitched with shreds
and shards and sighs of sorrow
cradling moon-pale bones and the sepia rose.
Penultimate day of this challenge and the image is The Trees Were So Much Bigger Then by Terry Chipp.
There was terror then in the vastness of things,
the palpable hot breath stickiness of night,
the lost paths among buildings and trees.
Walking in the valley of the shadow of death,
I would murmur childish pleas
to the great eye beyond the clouds—
show me the way home, not skyward,
the passage to darkness and distant singing,
the beating of cold wings,
just home, to where the birds sing,
and the trees are the right size.
The painting I chose to use for Paul Brookes’ challenge is Seclusion by Terry Chipp.
Between beams of living wood
beneath branch rafters thatched
with leaves lit by sun and moon
is my house.
Music of bird and stream burble
falling leaves and the wind
in spindle bushes is the balm
in this calm pulsing green
the air clean of electric vibes
the twitter of disembodies voices.
Here would be peace heaven
if only the absence of you was
not darker than this patch
of reflected sky.
Today I chose the painting by Terry Chipp Restless as inspiration for day 26 of Paul Brookes’ challenge. It reminds me very much of images of Italian partisans in World War II.
They are never still, the young ones
who pierce the mists of obfuscation,
the cynics and doubters who believe in the stars
but doubt the reality of golf balls
and the great never-never.
They make a noise, the young ones,
when they let the words pour out,
the joie de vivre, soaking in music
and good-time drugs,
but they never lose the north.
They will be there, the young ones
who see the truth, the stars,
who have the dreams,
when the jackboots drum and the batons fall,
defending you, me and a noble idea.
I would have been like them,
I think, once,
The painting for Paul Brookes’ challenge I have chosen is Ponton de pêche by Terry Chipp.
They wade out from the river bank,
picturesque cabanes, gaily painted,
unheated dens, their little boys’ forts
with drawbridge against invaders and
private notices stuck on the track.
They perch above the floodwaters,
fisher kings of the water,
trawling the mud for catfish
and other bottom feeders.
Sheds on stilts, worth more
than city centre stone
to those who would be gods,
the river at their feet.
For Paul Brookes’ challenge. The paintings are Glory to the Newborn King by Marcel Herms and Moonrise by Terry Chipp.
They come with a message, they say,
and it might be peace, might be war,
all depends on how you take it
So many of them know what’s best
for everyone else,
some with their faces hidden,
some bloated and swollen over the glittery screens.
they have ways,
blunt as the muzzle of an assault rifle
or populist prose,
subtle as subliminal advertising.
They drown us in their poisonous diktats,
the swell powerful and dispassionate
as the flood of a moonlit ocean.
For Paul Brookes’ challenge, the paintings are Daussen ist feindlich by Marcel Herms and Making contact by Terry Chipp.
The film outside
Boot-clatter, shrill shriek
silent knife-slip, bullet-rattle,
and blood pools in the shadows.
It’s cold outside,
say the dead,
and we tip-tap, click and post,
trapping the thrill in real time
for global applause.
The paintings for day’s ekphrastic challenge are Macedonian balcony by Terry Chipp and Domoren en dromers by Marcel Herms.
it’s not safe out there, the parents say, too high, the ironwork too open, the façade is crumbling. Don’t go out, they say to the twins, who peer with thin white faces out through the window that is never cleaned, across the street where the reproachful windows glitter, the ones that saw. Don’t go out, like your brother did, climbed the fancy ironwork and fell. Don’t go out. But they leave the window open, as if to tempt them, the little girls who are left, the ones they would have offered in his place
dreaming is drifting
on the dark waves
For today’s challenge I have used both paintings proposed by Paul Brookes, Terry Chipp’s Katrina in the monastery and Marcel Herms’ Devils in disguise.
Our Ladies of Assumption
People aren’t always who they say they are,
places aren’t always what they seem,
a smile does not always mean pleasure,
and sanctuary is not where we think to look.
Colour is not an indication of integrity,
and wealth means nothing more than privilege.
Sin is a figment of the imagination,
but misery is real, hunger hurts.
She sits in the cloistered quiet,
dressed in virginal white,
the collection box bursting with her offering.
In the street, children scratch for worms.
In the street, children scrabble, and
the painted prostitute dabs her eyes,
hands them her hard-won cash.
Small hands flutter in thanks like birds,
the world turns,
and the box, shaken,
rolls the same dice.
For Day 14 of Paul Brookes’ challenge, I have used this startling photo by MJ Saucer and Terry Chipp’s High moon.
If the flames rise high enough,
the oceans full of coral bones
and starved tatters of walrus skin
roll high enough,
tempests and hurricanes blow hard enough,
the piles of dead in quicklime pits
belch corruption strong enough,
will the inferno
tossed from our flailing arms
burn up the moon?