Don’t turn the lights up yet

Some people can’t go home –
lips purpled with red wine,
she is still calling out
for one more song.

This is her home

in here, she’s 22, mistakes unmade –
the guy who never left his wife for her,
the casting agent who forgot her name –
vowing tomorrow she’ll get up and write
or paint, something creative, anyway –

she’s scary drunk,the slightest thing
might flip her into anger, or despair –

just one more tune, and one more drink –

the rest of us are tired, and useless,
and don’t understand. We all got old –
how did that happen? – she stayed young,
look at her, how she’s dancing,
shoes left somewhere, don’t know where,
bottle in hand

I’m worried she might fall.

life’s better when your head is buzzing,
full of dreams, dragged out and polished up

they still look golden when the lights are dim.


Day 10 of Jilly’s 28 days of Unreason-able Jim Harrison quotes. Today’s is:

“Just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.”

from Birds Again

~ Jim Harrison

Surprised by life

She’s still surprised by life –
as if the world should work quite differently:
leaves unfurl green in spring,
rain falls, even on wedding days,
the tide rolls in and out and in and out
covering and revealing. Knives are sharp.

How does she have the energy, to be so startled
by such ordinary things? To be so hurt
by living? She paints her world in pastel pales,
pearly pinks and misty blues,
then is surprised by the bright sun at noon,
and by the black of midnight
by the sharp green of limes,
the blare of redness at the traffic lights.



I’m hoping to be astonished tomorrow

by I don’t know what

from Tomorrow in In Search of Small Gods

~ Jim Harrison

Day 9 of Jilly’s 28 days of Unreason adventure. You can still join in. 

All the colours

  Death comes in a range of colours
There were blue curtains round the bed
  Black crow pecking
not quite sky blue, not quite the sea
  Coffee ground vomit brown
and the nurses all wore blue
  Rolling yellow jaundiced eye
as if they were all virgins
  Bright blood pumping from an artery
silver bells on the bedside table
  The green sheen of decay
cockle shells on those blue curtains
  Livid purple of obstruction
and me, contrary as always
  Pink puffer, blue bloater
I have lived blue, chasing the distance
scanning horizons, watching water,
  Drowning waters, green, grey, blue
lingering at departure boards

blue comes naturally to me


This is for Day 6 of Jilly’s Unreason poetry prompt month. Today’s Jim Harrison quotation is: 

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

from Life / Dead Man’s Float

So far 11 poets have taken part. There’s some really good stuff going on. It’s not too late to join in for one or some, or even all of the prompts. 

I don’t think I’m usually a dark and brooding poet. There’s something going on here.

Is this it?

…and even if this is it,
is it a tragedy? Or is
this comedy – the
thing we call a burden
might be the inevitability of
living some kind of life,
to wake each morning to
daylight, work and coffee, to be
one small life among the many
who have lived down through long ages
without a storyline, or plot, without
a script, just hearing, seeing,
sensing all the stimuli of the
world, and keeping on until the end,
second, minute, hour, all of
those messy, gorgeous shards of time…

I’ve been wanting to write a Golden Shovel poem for a while now, and this seemed like a good opportunity. Of course, if you go back to the original, you will realise that this can be a beautiful, amazing thing in the hands of a skilled poet. In my defence, he chose a poem that didn’t have many “is”s and “of”s to put at the end of lines…

This is for Jilly’s month of Unreason, and the Jim Harrison quote is – of course –

“it is the burden of life to be many ages without seeing the end of time” 


It sits, squat and ugly,
in the centre of you

You let it feed you,

but it sucks more than it gives,

leaving husks.

Is this the thing
that makes the rhythm
that beats through you?

The taste at the back
of your throat? The life
held in your belly?
The skin that joins
and separates?

cut it out


these things spread,
ground elder,
blanket out the light,
uproot messily, painfully,

because they are part of us.

For Day 3 of Jilly’s Unreason theme, poems based on quotations from Jim Harrison’s work. Today’s quotation is:

“I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ”

~ Harrison
from Vows


and there are a magnificent 7 poets joining Jilly so far. 

Spring days

Those days
when nothing means anything,
just restlessness,
as if your skin was too small,
too big, too hot

when water is too wet

that’s crazy, right?

Those days, when we inch through silence,
or stumble, bumping our hips
on words, clattering against
thoughts unspoken,

and we look out of the window,
yearning for the road home


and we look for meaning
in the running tap,
for sense
in the shifting clouds


Jilly’s doing this thing for the next 28 days. She’s writing poems that are inspired by quotes from Jim Harrison. Today’s quote is:

“Spring day, too loud for talk
when bones tire of their flesh
and want something better.”

from Return