Light – renga completed

Come and stand beside me at the window,
the world out there is waiting for us.
The day broke early, light scattering, looking
for refuge from the delusions of the night –
all those dreams shattered, now a thousand shards,
melting and fading in the sunlight. I still reach for them,
a sudden refraction bewilders the senses
while day’s mundane routine veils a private loss,
as if the rhythm of this ordinary day
contains some charm to hold our lives suspended
believing yet we hold the sway
the tweak of light, a spark adrift confirms –
and is belief enough? A single spark,
a single flame that shudders in the wind?
When there’s nothing else? but a faith in a
far flung dawn, another light – scattering
diffracted rays that owe their very beauty
to the barrier that defines their limit.
Prisms bursting colour beyond the origin
diffusing value now through the opened window.


Sarahsouthwest and Petrujviljoen Jan 2018

The completed renga! Thank you, P, for a very enjoyable collaboration





It’s never – for Jilly’s jade challenge

It’s never about birds in poetry;
it is about our inadequate,
marrow-filled bones that
weigh us down
reminding us of the immediacy
of the dust.

It’s never about stars in poetry;
it’s about the darkness
that sits in our bellies
waiting to swallow

It’s never about sunsets in poetry;
it’s about the endings
we fear, cold and alone,

It’s never about oceans in poetry;
it’s about finding somewhere
firm to stand,

This is a completion of Jilly’s poem, for her November casting bricks challenge. Her words are in italics, and mine follow. 

Renga ~1 sarah/qbit

These days the bus is always late
But someone handed me a flyer saying “HOPE”

Some instinct makes me read instead of toss –
“Ha’penny Oracle, Promise everlasting”

It’s getting dark, and rain is trickling
Down my neck. I need a promise

I turn towards warmth to get some faith
But numpty publican calls “Time!”

Fat assed idiot, that’s him. You’d think
A man might have a little charity.

With rancid slang I have to face
A bitter truth or two

There is more truth in bitter
Than all your whiskey lies

Salvation Army up the road
And a cup of tea

Tambourine oracle
Jingling promises

Jangling bones
Shaking like dice, ready to roll

Ice cubes rattle in a glass
Rain rattles on the window

I drain the hope, slog the queue,
The bus is still late



Tah dah! The finished piece – a collaboration between me (thanking you) and qbit, who is a bit of a star. This was for Jilly’s October Challenge

Narcotic – a brick for Jilly

I hold the needle, paused above my vein
pump a fist to watch it rise and bulge like
hungry goldfish lip-quivering for a grain
of tetra flake craving; a perma-blight.
What night-terror stands naked in the hail
leaves me gill-gasping, ravening for you
a gritty fix for this rapacious frail
Body, that yearns for something like the truth
Yet all I feed myself is empty lies –
False hope, false love, false joy, false everything –
A twisted ugliness that aches and cries,
Leaving me yearning, lost and grimacing –
My face and body coiled in painful bitterness
Empty of fullness, full of emptiness.

Jilly asked us to complete a sonnet, which as any fule kno goes abab cdcd efef gg. I’m not mad keen on sonnets – it’s that punchline thing which I struggle with – but I made an effort for Jilly because she is great. This is for the October casting bricks thing.

A blessing for my daughter…

I am casting a brick here, for Jilly . I have borrowed this form from Imelda,, who used the form for her challenge last month. This is what she said then:

When I was thinking of a challenge to post in Jill’s collaborative poetry challenge, I was thinking of writing a Quatern.  I love the repeating patterns in a Quatern.  I think I love shadow poetry in general.  But, as I was reading about Quaterns again, I came across another shadow poetry form that I have not done yet, a Retourne.  I thought it will be a lovely form to try.  Essentially, a Retourne is  a poem that has 4 quatrains with 8 syllables on each line. The lines do not need to rhyme.  In a Retourne,  next three lines of the first stanza become the first line of the succeeding quatrains.  As you can see, I used the second line of the first stanza to begin the first line of the second stanza.  So, the third stanza should have the third line of the first stanza as the first line, and so on.

I think it’s a lovely form for a collaborative poem. I’ve just done the first stanza for you. It’s a blessing – for my daughter, who will be 16 tomorrow (gulp!)

May your heart sing like the ocean,
May the air be clear around you,
May your midnight flame burn bright,
May your feet find firm ground to stand…

Words – casting bricks.

Words, once set free, blend in the wind
breathing a timeless existence;
Some grow wings to fly to heaven
They ask gifts for the gentle tongue

Breathing a timeless existence,
words illuminate our soul
Memories do falter in time
consequences of words live on.

Some grow wings to fly to heaven
But some stay rooted in your heart,
Send out new shoots and soft green leaves,
Impossible to pull them out.

They ask gifts for the gentle tongue,
They give their own gifts to the world,
The fruit they give is the sweetest,
It grows sweet in the warmth of love.


Another set of ripples for  Jilly. The first two stanzas are Imelda’s. 

Ghosts at my table

I have previously blogged this, but I’m doing it again for Jilly’s Casting Bricks challenge. I did a poetry reading the other night, and read this, and somebody commented that it ended very quickly, just as they were starting to get into it. I tend to write pretty short poems, but it struck me that maybe I hadn’t actually finished this, just stopped writing it.

there are ghosts at my table tonight
I write, not mentioning that
my table is a pale rectangle
of wood, so that perhaps
you picture your own table,
round, white, plastic –
or a dark mahogany oval,
and your ghosts are
the dark ring left by
a wine bottle, the last time
you had dinner with
a long lost lover,
or the scorched place
where you set down a pan
too quickly, the day
you heard that news
about your sister, while mine
are the assorted stains
and scratches left by my
children as they leave their
childhood, not quite ghosts,
waiting to fade.