Solstice pilgrim

This, then, is her solstice pilgrimage,
this six monthly walk, down this too long corridor,
ticking off letters, – M is for Women’s Health,
P is for Medical Photography
Q is for X-ray and Imaging.

She’s here in the long days of summer,
when the windows are open in this small room,
letting in voices and slow moving air,

and again in the short dark winter days
when there’s not enough light to spare,
not enough warmth to go around –

stripped of power, clothing, efficacy –
she has a name-tag in her bag, out there
she’s someone, here she repeats her name,
address, date of birth at each desk –

Open Sesame

– and she’s touched gently, probed by soft, kind hands,
that press and smooth her skin,
searching for the death that bubbles under it.


And there you go – Day 26 of Jilly’s 28 days of unreason challenge. I’m going to make a confession now: I haven’t read any Jim Harrison apart from the quotations put up here. I will, but I wanted to do this challenge without any preconceptions about his work, and just take each quotation on its own terms. It’s been a great series of prompts. I can’t believe we only have two to go. 

And here’s the quotation:

“There is a human wildness held beneath the skin that finds all barriers brutishly unbearable”   from Songs of Unreason


I’m also linking it up to tonight’s dVerse prompt – opposites attract, posted by Lillian. She asks us to write a poem including some opposites as contrasts. I’ve used the two solstices here.

Brand new cities:

I   New York

In Tiffany’s, the diamonds glitter
like the Milky Way. In Macy’s
there’s a perfume counter selling
true love, so they say. On
Fifth Avenue, a yellow taxi’s
pulling in. The woman climbing out
has never had to worry
about payday. In Central Park,
a soldier puts his kit bag down
to start a conversation with a cat.

II   Dublin

In Brown Thomas, there’s a man
flicking through soft bright ties,
and thinking about shoulders,
white shoulders rising out of
creased, white linen sheets.
He’s got Italian silk socks
in English leather shoes,
and he’s going home tonight
to a woman he’s betrayed.
On Stephen’s Green, a girl is lying
in the grass, watching the clouds
drift by, and wondering
if she’ll always feel this way.

III   London

In Harrods’ food department
two women meet and chat.
“Cheerio!” they say, turning aside,
the thin one with a basket full
of cheese, and chocolate, and pate:
the plump one was just looking,
totally came here for the kicks;
and in Hyde Park, a woman pauses
to watch a squirrel skip
from tree to tree, tail swaying,
and wonders if she ought to
Instagram it, but she’s left it
all too late. The moment’s gone.

This is for Lillian at dVerse, who asks us to “noodle” with brand names. See how many you can spot! I liked this so much I couldn’t choose, so I’ve done three linked poems, one for each supermarket shelf – cereals, candy bars and perfume. I’ve copied the whole prompt below, for your delight and edification. I can usually summarise, but this one is long and complicated:

  • Include AT LEAST TWO of the brands listed IN YOUR CHOSEN CATEGORY, in the BODY of your poem.
  • Use the brand name’s words as words.
  • If one of the brand names you select has two words in it, try to use the two words in the same order as the brand does.

PLEASE NOTE : If you choose the Candy Bar category, do not write a poem about candy bars, including three of the candy bar names in your poem. Instead, use the words to refer to something other than a candy bar. Noodle with the words in the brand name! 

HINT: You may find the need to use a form of the word – as in “mounded” or “mounding” instead of “mounds”. BUT – a synonym for the word will not count. IE using the word “piles” instead of “mounds” will not fulfill the prompt.

Here’s the 3 Category lists (remember to choose only one category!)

Charleston Chew
Milky Way
Mr. Goodbar
Mars Bar
5th Avenue
Oh, Henry!
Pay Day
Baby Ruth
3 Musketeers

My Sin

White Shoulders
English Leather
White Linen
Red Door
Midnight Poison


Froot Loops
Apple Jacks
Fruity Pebbles
Lucky Charms
Cap’n Crunch
Special K
Cocoa Puffs
Harvest Crunch
Count Chocula
Frosted Flakes
Puffed Wheat