Short Poetry Spotlight – The Cold, Sleepy Chill of Winter Darkness

Written by Dizzy Dazzle


Awake in a Sleeping World

I’m awake in a sleeping world.
Buses yawning as they drift down icy roads,
Smoke rising lazily from the rooftops of quiet buildings,
Tucked away in the darkness,
The sky blinking groggily back at me.
I see the moon, snoring behind blankets of clouds, mumbling in its sleep;
Refusing to give itself away to the energetic sun.
A sigh of wind, almost silent
Before lights come on.
Awake in a sleeping world.

Winter

One morning early in winter
I did see
A man and his dog
Walking through the dark trees.
They lean in close
And speak;
Can you hear them?

Husha, husha, husha,
Sing the trees.
The wind blows so eerily
Winter is here they sing.

They walk up the hill,
Breath steaming in the icy air.
Beware, beware sing the trees
Winter is here.

No sun here,
But shady hollows and frozen streams
That once flowed
Easily, dreamily.

Footprints in the grimy snow,
A man and his dog
Walk through the dark trees,
One morning
Early in winter.


Bringer of winter darkness, Dizzy Dazzle’s poetry is simple yet gorgeous. As dive head first into winter and its cold snap, sleep comes easy and we take to hibernation during those months – just like animals. We go out less, bringing the parties indoors when the weather is terrible. But when we do venture out on those crisp and fresh early mornings, with our breath hanging in the air as we breathe, we cherish the moments of clarity. If you enjoyed our Short Poetry Spotlight, perhaps you should view our previous edition here. If you’re captivated by Dizzy’s work though, why not view her previously published work “Howlers

Featured Image CC // Anja Jonsson

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Fraction

Written by Silver

congo_light

Sometimes it only takes one moment for life to spring into action. Image // Andre Thiel

The summer haze was thick within the forest; drops of dew hung languidly from leaves the size of a small bird, while the hot mist clung to boughs of giant foliage, leaving it gasping for cool air. Even for the animals in the Congo it was a warm day, and many tried to find shade under a canopy of leaves, overhanging rocks, or their dens in the cool dirt. The promise of rain was still several days away, but you could feel it in the air. If you were lucky enough to see through a gap in the fence of foliage, the clouds were dense and ready to burst, and the Congo’s inhabitants were ready.

To travel through the Congo is a bid to lose all sense of time; a perpetual twilight. Daylight would come but once every so often and, when it did, it seared through the trees, settling into a patch of chalked dirt, where maybe a snake or beetle would bask and snooze. Soon enough, the light disperses and fades into the half-light the forest knows so intimately, and the animals shrink back into their comfortable abodes. When darkness arrives, a wonderful silence emanates from the Congo, only to be replaced by the night-lovers chirping moments later. Under a cloak of indigo and black, a hubbub of activity takes place. Insomniacs add to the noise with their shuffling and pacing, elephant calves disturb bushes with their fights and tantrums, while chimpanzees look for trouble and play games of ‘spot the forest insect’. Other restless sleepers toss and turn, while those that need shut-eye will snore and breathe deeply, ignoring the blend of nature’s sounds.

A new day dawns and, with it, the same pattern: a circle of time. But it is a day closer to the storms; they can feel it in the air. It ripples through the forest, hitting some more than others, depending on their fashion of habits. Newly born animals risk dehydration, the elders too are at risk but they are wiser to the Congo’s ways, finding dew drops hidden in the highest canopies or broadest bushes. The most intelligent – or, perhaps, luckiest – find a remote stream, where the soil is softer and the sustenance richer. But as the heat cripples the hearts of many animals, it also weakens the heart of the Congo.

For a fraction, time stands still. And in that moment, numerous events occur. The dense mist shrivels into the undergrowth, awaiting its execution. The languid dew drops quiver and shrink, pushing themselves off their veined homes, to explode into the cracked mud below. And the animals scatter. Elder birds urge their youngest to spread their wings and fly, while small apes cling to their mother’s fur as she runs through the thicket at remarkable speed. Elephant calves send out sharp chirps to their kin, making sure they don’t get left behind in the frenzy. Snakes slide out of their small dens with their babies, coolly taking their time, while insects crawl over their bodies in a hurry. With most animals gone, only the weakest are left behind, bearing the same fate as the colossal boughs and trunks.

The cries of the smallest are ousted by the roaring crackle of the heat. A fury, a blaze, a rainbow of different shades of orange and red join together and take the Congo minute by minute. It spreads quickly and consumes foliage, fruit, and those that are young or frail – condemning them to a brutal end. But not all are taken by the orange blaze. The grey clouds begin to crowd together, their anger evident through the grumbling in throats and their flashes of migraines, coming and going as the pain pleases. Grumpy and exhausted by the smoke, the clouds crack their knuckles and jab at the fire with yellow bolts, unleashing their biggest weapon: rain.

It flows freely and harshly into the centre of the blaze, extinguishing the licking flames at the clouds’ feet. The orange fury begins to abate but then a last stab of war comes forth from its raging heart, whipping at the foliage with all its might. But it is no match for the grey clouds and drowns in a sea of murky water.

With the fire extinguished, the floods arrive, and the animals flit back to their homes. Only a fraction of time exists in the Congo, but only when it is the most critical does life notice.

Written on behalf of a Fiction Frenzy challenge last year, Silver’s aptly named ‘Fraction’ takes us into the heart of the Congo, where the animals mostly live in peace. Inspired by a BBC documentary series which followed a number of animals, Silver’s piece works to re-enact what happens when the forest fires are imminent. It’s a perfect piece to reflect the very nature of our ‘Light’ theme this month. To check out more of her work, click the links for poetry such as ‘Fudge‘ and ‘ Spirit‘. 

The Laurel

laurel_flowers

These laurel flowers are bitter-sweet for the tale below. Image // Love to Know Corp.

Written by Miss Smiley

We met beneath the laurel tree
Where once I flew my kite
Oh, we met beneath the laurel tree
Our love grew out of sight
Oh, you sent me reeling through the sky
With kisses wild, but oh,
My love, my love, my darling love,
It’s time for you to go.
Yes, my love, my love, my darling love,
It’s time for you to go.

Oh, changes come. Yes, changes go.
Oh, changes touch us all.
I’ll not forget your smiling face
Beneath the branches of the laurel
Oh, beneath the branches of the laurel.
Oh, beneath the branches of the laurel.
The laurel.

We met beneath the laurel tree
Where once I flew my kite
Oh, you sleep there now, upon those roots,
Your body hid from sight
I often come to visit you
When all the sky turns red
I’m haunted by your memory
And of that day we wed.
Oh, I’m haunted by your memory
And of that day we wed.

Oh, changes come. Yes, changes go.
And changes touch us all.
I’ll not forget your warm, sweet lips
Beneath the flowers of the laurel.
Oh, time will pass and time will flow
And time will slip away.
But I’ll not forget your warm, sweet lips,
Beneath the flowers of the laurel.
Oh, beneath the flowers of the laurel.
Oh, beneath the flowers of the laurel.
The laurel.

That laurel tree is fallen now
Felled by fiery storm
Now I sleep with you where its memory sobs
Wrapped safe in ground so warm.
Though our walls keep our bodies far, my love,
In Heaven shall we meet
Oh, beneath that fine old laurel tree
We’ll kiss our love new-sweet.
Yes, oh, beneath that fine old laurel tree
We’ll kiss our love new-sweet.

Oh, changes come. Yes, changes go.
Oh, changes touch us all.
I’ll feel your honey-sweet embrace again
Beneath the boughs of the laurel.
Oh, time will pass and time will come
When I hold you once again,
I’ll feel your sweet caress again,
Beneath the boughs of the laurel.
Yes, beneath the boughs of the laurel.
Oh, God speed you to that laurel.
The laurel.

Miss Smiley’s song lyrics for ‘The Laurel’ were inspired on behalf of an older Half Hour Challenge. We thought it was such a gorgeous lyrical ensemble but we never found the right moment to use it in our themed content. However, it’s here now and it gives us goosebumps thinking about the bitter-sweet days of love and loss. Miss Smiley also recorded the song too, and you can listen to it at the link here. If you enjoyed Miss Smiley’s work, be sure to check out ‘Rosebed‘. 

One Day At A Time

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And then let nature take its course. Image // Aaron Gustafson

Written by Ashcloud

A single seed,
One idea, one aim.
One place to go,
One of a Saint’s name.

The seed surfaced,
Gilt in colour,
Green with promise,
Though sick in pallor.

One day it seems
Every leaf has appeared.
Solitary wisps,
Shivering, scared.

Together they grow.
Together they climb.
They bring life to the tree.
And they cherish their time.

Each bud has blossomed
To the chime of their clock.
Now a niggling sound rings,
in the ear of the flock.

The fruit is gone.
A new seed sown.
Never again,
To be on your own.

We are the leaves.
We must say goodbye.
We must leave the tree,
But if we all try,
Just like the leaves,
We’ll meet again.

And just like the leaves,
We’ll still be friends.

New contributor Ashcloud’s “One Day At A Time” really captures the essence of nature, and how a plant cannot survive without its core body. In a similar vein, Ashcloud’s inspiration for the poem came from finishing secondary school and knowing that life will change. But without all those friendly seeds on her journey, she may have survived, but it wouldn’t have given her the experience she will remember. The poem was also chosen to be read out at her school’s graduation, so congratulations are certainly in order! 

Rain Men

Written by Lilith

They come through the rain…

“They came through the rain”, the saying went, but in truth it was no ordinary rain that heralded their arrival. The clouds would roll in, the heavens would open, and the downpour would not stop for weeks on end. The villagers kept to their homes, packing sandbags around their doorsteps for when the banks of the river inevitably burst, and nobody dared trying to travel in or out of Kettlebridge. The shrine, a circular stone building in the centre of town, became a safe haven for those whose homes were damaged by the ongoing storms, the old priestesses offering soup and blankets to those in need. And then at last, when the people could take no more of the onslaught from the sky, when fires guttered in their hearths and they could no longer remember what warmth felt like… Then the creatures came.

They looked human. An old man, stooped and withered, skeletal fingers wrapped tight around the silver top of his walking stick; a young woman barely any more than a child, crouching in the mud; and a boy with wide grey eyes who smiled at everything. All the villagers knew what they looked like. They’d seen the creatures from afar, peering through gaps in shutters or flimsy curtains, watching as they walked into the centre of town… but nobody who got close to them ever told the tale.

Continue reading →

Rewound

Written by Lost in a Dream

A beautiful new world, full of colour and vibrance…

Finally, I emerge from my cocoon
To find the flowers back in bloom.

Their petals burn deep orange and red,
From tears and ashes they were fed.

A new chapter has begun:
Even the cruellest winters
Must yield to rain and sun.

With eyes fixed on an endless sky,
I spread my wings.
Now, I am ready to fly.

Ever ready to see the beauty in life, Lost in a Dream is fast becoming famous over on the Inkwell for her elegant yet impassioned descriptions of the natural world. Here’s another of her gorgeous poems: Parnassus Park.

Three-minute reads – Haiku II

Ah, that certainly hits the spot.
Image Courtesy of tryingmypatients.com

Working today and time for another break? Or are you feeling warm and cosy this Sunday afternoon, curled up on the sofa watching Christmas films? Whatever you’re doing, make sure you spare some time for this month’s selection of our three-minute Haiku.

You have a minute to read, a minute to ponder and a minute to decipher for each of them. That’s only nine minutes in total – perfect for a tea break.

Our selection is a little darker this month, but the second does promise snow, just not the one you’d hoped for.  Continue reading →