If Only For An Instant


Will I think of you when the wind howls
and waves break white as surrendering hankies,
or will I think of you when the sun breaks clouds

and dances on new leaves, green with childlike
abandon. What is it that brings you into my
thoughts; what senses spark a memory of you.

I thought I saw you yesterday, if only for an instant,
speck glint dust caught in the sunlight, ploughed
rough in the neighbour’s field. You were dressed

like spring, chasing bluebells through tangled
hedgerows, and then you were gone. Again.

You are a fleeting memory, a spark that lingers
and flickers, and survives in the shadows of song.
And I miss you like the day is eternally long.

Prompted by Recursion #25 “A Drowning”.
Written in Vester Aaby Denmark on 26 April ‘13


A Room with Winter Sun

We’re here for a visit. Brought two cakes
and what cheer we can. She’s been here
three years, the same amount of time that she’s been blind,

the same amount of time that she’s
lost her will to live. She’s tried three
times, and three times she’s been stitched back up. Now she sits

in her room, floods of winter sun
warming her back and yet she sits
in the dark, in blackness without sight, not caring.

‘And I don’t even have the heating
turned on,” she remarks. We chat, she
chats – economics, banking, politics, but no

mention that we just buried her
sister’s ashes today. The late
afternoon sun dances on her face, shadows set

into deep wrinkles ploughed by age.
She’s a sundial casting shadows.
And we eat cake, cut into neat squares by the nurse.

No one is allowed to touch knives
here. Nor scissors. No cords on drapes.
And in between sips of tap water and bites of cake

she says, ‘It’s a struggle growing old,’
and I can’t but agree, although
I’m twenty-years her junior, and then she says,

‘Living like this is pure hell.”
Without emotion and matter
of fact, stating facts as facts. And what do you say

to a statement like that. So we
nod and clear our thoughts with more cake
talking long into late afternoon. The sun casts

deepening colours that track the time,
and we offer the nurse one more
piece of cake but she declines, taps her watch, saying

that it’s time for goodbyes. The cake
is packed up by the ward nurse,
and taken away, where I don’t know, but suspect

that the nightshift will swarm on it
and then lick the plate clean. I can
but only agree; living like this is pure hell.


Written in Denmark 28 April 2013.
This is written based on real events and prompted to Joseph’s Recursions prompt #21. This piece does not follow a specific form, but I have restricted its rhythm and confined it ‘spread’ to an 8.8.12 count per stanza with 3 lines per stanza (reflecting the Taoist belief that the number 3 symbolises death, not specifically of a person, but perhaps a belief or way of being). Recursion Prompt #21

AprPAD Day: 18, We Merrily Go Round

We Merrily Go Round

It’s an unhappy thought,
being next in line. Parents
gone, moved on, leaving you
next on that revolving wheel.
One falls away, leaves a cog
to be filled, round we
merrily go, and yet we’re
profoundly surprised
and unprepared for the day
when we jump free
from our cog on that wheel.

Written for Recursions: Day 18 – The Big Wheel Keeps on Turning

AprPAD Day 16: Rioja and Tapas

Rioja and Tapas

I’ve never been to Spain.
I long to though, on those days when my feet
are cold as grey stones, and my nose stings
from inhaling frosty mist.

I want to drink Rioja
and talk over tapas – but fresh baked, not
warmed weakly like fingers in woolly mittens.
I want sharp sunshine to wake me
from the gloom of winter.

I want to slip
from my skin and drink in Spain. I want
to flee the source of this emerald isle, rain,
and end my long winter.

I want this old world made new.

Written for Recursions Day 16: Give a Man a Fish  This prompt was about metaphors: coursing, streaming, a river of metaphors. I’m not a handy-dandy with metaphors, so this is about the best I can hope for today.

181 Words About Fingers

181 Words About Fingers

I’ve been thinking a lot about fingers. Not
layers of buttery shale fingers wrapped
in chocolate, but fingers that bend and pop,
knuckles jagged and ragged with uneven
nails with ridges and dips, discoloured with
tints of green gardening, fingernails half-
mooned with craggy hangnails that bleed
and swell and redden, nails to bite, to tear,
fingernails to clip, to chip, to file and fiddle.
Fingers called thumbs that are sucked, stuck
into things like ears and fingers up noses,
or down your throat. Fingers with rings,
fingers that pick up bees that sting, fingers
holding pens, writing letters you’ll never
send because fingers crumbled the paper
and threw it away, fingers holding brushes
that paint memorable scenes of mountains
and streams and oceans, fingers that speak
with articulate signs, fingers that swear,
fingers that curse, fingers carrying an old
leather purse, fingers that dig, fingers that
plant, fingers on chins so a person can think,
fingers in winter turned cold and mist blue,
fingers to hold that say, “Yes, I love you. “

Yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about fingers.

Written for Joseph Harker’s Recursions Day 15: Create a poem that’s the opposite from your usual style and subject matter (paraphrased). For the full scoop on today’s prompt pop over to Joseph Harker’s Recursions Day 15:

Hot Dust and Bologna Sandwiches


It was a day when dreams are forged.
Long dreamy recollections of feet that ache
and ears that strain for the cold lineal sound
of the river. I still dream of it, walking into
the colour of morning and quietly slipping
through rain-washed ferns, stepping around

mist-slicked rocks in my long rubber boots.
I cut a fast stride through rushing water,
keeping up with you. This was Dad’s place.
His fishing hole. He’d bent the branch
of a cedar tree by the side of the road so he
could find this spot every time. He’d park

the car, and we’d walk through the smell
of unsettled dust and rising heat that competed
with the morning sun. Dad with his fishing gear;
we carried all the food. We ate bologna sandwiches
spread thin with butter and a slick of French’s
yellow sunshine. The bread gummed up our teeth,

and I developed a hatred of meat perforated
with pimentos and olives. And there were rocks
as big as my feet. Huge. I’d throw them with great
effort into deep, silent pools so I could feel
the water’s depth thundering through the soles
of my feet. It was a sound so deep and hollow,

so lonely that I knew no word to describe it then.
I do now, now that you’re gone – that lonely, deep,
long resonating sound that shakes my core,
vibrates through the soles of my feet –
it’s the sound of love, and of love lost.

Yes, these are the things that dreams are made
of – the things that keep my dreams awake.

Also posted to dVerse Poets Open Link Night

Written for Recursions Day 15: A free-write and an Artsy-Craftsy Twist
The method: free-write in the shape of a river with little tributaries, then cut out that piece of paper to the shape you’ve written. Now free-write thoughts, snippets from previous poems, whatever, on another sheet of paper, and place the river
paper over the second free-write page. See if anything sparks, notice new word combinations, and directions that your thoughts go. Now write like a maniac.

Here’s my messy free-write:

Pop over to Joseph Harker’s blog for an interesting exercise! http://namingconstellations.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/recursion-fourteen-gift-of-the-nile/

Reading a Closed Book

Joseph Harker’s Day 13 Prompt – Recursion Day 13 asks that we braid several thoughts or poems together, and if the result surprises us, then we apparently have done it right.  This prompt is all giving me a case of the vapours. I’m feeling faint and confused. I don’t think it’s associated with this virus I picked up a few days ago either. I think this is quite simply my brain asking, “Who do you think you are?” And again, most of this poem is fictitious.

So I’ve taken two recent poems that I’ve written: “A Twist of the Pearl” and “Swimming Deep in Blues”. I’m not sure if the result is surprising or not. I not sure if I’ve met Joseph’s high hopes either.


We decided to meet for a coffee that Saturday afternoon.
You’re not good with the telephone; you’re quiet as a book,
which means it’s a one way conversation mostly. Sometimes
you sit there nodding your head to my questions, expecting
me to know what you’re thinking. I often don’t know what
I’m thinking so I can’t know what you’re thinking when you
pretend to be a closed book. I’ve always thought –

It’s hard to read a closed book.

And I hate a closed book. Hate closing a book, actually.
That final chapter, that final word. The end of characters I’ve
come to know. Is there a special heaven for characters killed
off in a book? I once fell so deeply for a book that I refused
to finish reading it because I couldn’t accept that the main
character would die as soon as I closed the book. I was 9.
I’m older now. I can finish a book, often guess the ending –

Sometimes I can read a closed book.

And you stared glum as a marshmallow into your mug
of hot chocolate. I sipped my coffee, waiting for you
to speak and tell me what new catastrophe had mentally
caused you to skip a gear. And then I noticed a tear
skimming your cheek, and I felt miserable for thinking
unkind thoughts. I knew I should just listen, not talk, but
you said nothing. He’s left you again, I offered. You nodded.

Apparently, I can still read a closed book.

And here are the two poems from which this new one was “braided”.

A Twist of the Pearl

Conversation over the table –
a coffee, a muffin,
chocolate, of course,
Saturday afternoon with friends,
one more attentive than the others,
one slowly turns the pearl earring
piecing her thoughts. She thinks
back to last weekend, anticipating
tonight, and hears very little
of what the other is saying.
We smile and we nod. And I’m
lost in my own thoughts,
smiling and nodding nevertheless.

Swimming Deep in Blues

We used to be couple;
quiet as a book
and tasteful as hotdog salad
until we jumped ship,
swimming deep into the blues.
And in the end, it was all
balls and cold as pain.

Frozen Memories of Shoes


It was the kind of day where long memories
are made. A cold sole, wet feet and grey stones
sort of day, and the air sang with a thick leaf,
brown horse sort of smell. We all tensed like
a leather collar, stiff as frozen snow when he
placed his shoes on the table and invited
death into our house. On that day we fell
into mourning before anyone had died.

Recursion Day 10: Over The Falls
Note 1: Take an object or emotion from the free-write and reinvent it.

Note 2: This poem is centred around the word shoe, using eight words that sprung from a free-write based on it. It also revolves around the old wives tale of never placing shoes on the table as it invites death into the house.
© Misky 2013

AprPad Day 9, A Low Day at Tai Tam


The tide spilled orange to red today,
it crept in slow with the moon,
a paddling low carpet of crimson thread,
spreading broad in weeping sheets, wet
and hot under a Tropic of Cancer sun –

and I am helpless but to watch this poison
sucking breath from air, and tainting
drink from rain. And I have plunged into
sodden melancholy again,
or maybe I’m wistful; I’m not sure

the difference, except for its
pronunciation. My reflection is vacant;
it seems soaked and dullishly translucent.
I long for the sight and scent of familiarity,
a sturdy mug of tea swirled with milk.

(note 1: I always found the red tides around the Tai Tam peninsula disturbing, knowing the destruction this algae caused for fish and plant life. It often appeared during the hottest months of the monsoon season, which is a very oppressive time of the year in Hong Kong.)
(note 2: This poem was created using “Free-Write” method, which I found very enlightening. I’ve not tried it before today, but think I shall use it again and often.)

Written for Recursions Day 9: Whitewater – A heavy-handed free-write exercise

AprPAD Day 7: The Curious Thing About Death


It’s a curious thing, how the dead return. They visit
loved ones, offer words of wisdom and warnings,
pronouncements at the foot of your bed, a chin-wag
from beyond. Take Grandpa. He returned to warn
my cousin that his time was short:

Prepare, he was told.

Prepare for what, is what I’d want to know, but he
didn’t ask that. He’s a preacher’s son – he drinks
in his faith like I drink Earl Grey tea. And when
Grandpa stood in our basement while my sister
and I practised playing the piano twice a day, why
didn’t he, Grandpa, say something like:

Try F-sharp, my girl” … or “Brava, very nice”

or applaud, but he didn’t – he just stood there like
a shadow in cobwebs, there in the corner by the old
coal shoot, wearing a brown paper bag with a folded
cuff round his head like a hat. Grandpa’d been dead
many years by then. And when my dad died, Mother
said that he came and sat by her in his usual chair,
the one with the mousey squeak when he rocked,

and my sister said that she saw a dove fly within
inches of her car right after he died, but there was
nothing dove-like about my dad, and I never saw
nor felt him after he passed on. And I’m not sure
if I should be sad or glad about that, uninvited visits,
intrusions, ghosts toying with the sanctity of life

and scaring the shit out of me. And why would Dad
want to leave heaven just to sit and rock in an old
squeaky chair? Questions, which I suppose leads me
to that river that flows through Boise in a rough
and tumbling way. After a good agitation, it
unbridles itself flat and serene into the Idaho
desert. Its surface is as silent and still as a table,

except for the occasional dragon fly or trout that
jumps at the setting sun, a last taste of warmth
before night chills the air. I once stood on a sun-
warmed cliff above that river – you can follow its
journey to the horizon, marked by a long, lush green
ribbon of tall silver birch trees that line the river bank,

like thirsty beasts seeking a taste of water. And as the
breeze danced along the river’s surface, it caught
the birch leaves, turning and twisting them in the full
heat of the white midday sun like spangles on a stripper,
like metallic sequins adorning thirsty long-limbed
ghosts dressed in white shades of beaded gowns.

It’s a curious thing, death, because whenever I see
a tall silver birch tree, I always think of my dad,
although I don’t think my dalliances go so far as
to think he’s returned as a silver birch tree.

Recursions Day 7: Sing Willow Willow Willow