Nine and nine

Laura’s hosting at dVerse tonight. She always comes up with interesting and challenging prompts – I think of them as architectural. Tonight we’re thinking about nines – nine line poems and nonets. Laura has given us some lines from great poems to use as the basis for our own work. I couldn’t resist having a go at both halves of the prompt.

Here’s my first one. The first line is taken from W.S. Merwin’s “To the Light of September”/

Summer fading

It seems as though you are still summer
clinging to the last pink roses,
but the early morning chill
lasts a little longer
every day. Autumn
is so close now,
cold fingers

And here’s the second, which is based on this line: Those/ pale /flowers /might /still /have/ time/ to /fruit from Karina Borowicz’s ‘September Tomatoes


Those geese flying overhead
pale wings spread out, like
flowers on a blue bedspread
might fly on. They are so strong, they
still have miles to go. It’s
time to seek out warmth,
to hunker down. Autumn’s brought
fruit and frost and morning mist.


I should be writing about flight
and instead, I’m writing about plunging –
what does that say? About me, I mean?
But the sky is blue and the clouds are white
and the sun is slanting in a certain way
and I’m thinking about gannets –
which certainly fly, circling, circling,
but then become daggers,
no, spears, clean and sharp,
those wings tucked in – jet
becomes missile. Mad blue eyes.

I’m writing about the frenzy
of gannets, the whirl and flurry
above the water, on a blue day,
when the sea is green and the waves
are white, dancing crests,
and there are fish out there,
and the gannets come in,
circling, circling, plunging.
You can hear them from here,
like a war between air
and water, crack, crack,
each bird a bullet, a clean strike.

Laura is hosting at dVerse,and asks us to write about flight – birds, bats, seeds…I resolved not to write about rooks (again) but it was a struggle.

And here are some real gannets:

The cost of flight

“The cost of flight is landing”

~ Jim Harrison

This is not reality. We are gods up here,
looking down on that small world.
Time is all wrong. I set my phone
to some future space, but it’s not real, yet –
if we could stay here, in some
holding pattern, we wouldn’t age,
we wouldn’t face the messiness
of bodies blurring. We’d just be here,

I have a library on my device.
You have one book, carefully chosen.
Beef or chicken? A bread roll.
We crossed an ocean and a mountain range,
and city lights, and watched a film
about a man who saves the world. Again.

I spent a week in hospital that time,
ticking the menu, reading desperately,
my choices narrowed down –
watching men diving, learning their technique,
seeing them plunge, twist, somersault,
slice through the water. It’s not just flight,
it’s landing, too.



For Jilly – Day 2 of her month of Unreason.