Sonorous Passageways

Last one of this little batch! For my piece today, I started thinking about resonant spaces inside us that enable us to make sounds. A tiny flash fiction about a washed-up opera singer popped into my head, so here it is for your entertainment.

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Once again, the brilliant Ann Cuthbert has been having fun with these prompts – we’ve begun to joke that we should co-author a pamphlet of them. Listen to the music in this one…

Sonorous passageways

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments will hum about my ears – Caliban, The Tempest

The tunnel curves like bangles round an arm.

Spiders dangle, dumb; spin jungles.

Rain thrums on corrugations, strums angles.

What’s coming?

Thumbs tingle. You’re following crumbs,

wangling a way out. Keep schtum.

Candle tumbles. Shadows gangle.

Huge thanks also to first-time contributor to this Strange Prompts projects, Alison Curry, with this lovely poem:

With shielded ears
The echoes rise
Dust awakened
Stings the eyes

Seeking out
Within narrow walls
Gasps of air
Muted calls

A glint of light
From a memory when
The harshness
Wasn’t- all was right

Beyond the darkness
Dust clears to light

House of Abasement

Ah! A little something dark and twisted comes flowing forth today, from me and from my two contributors. Enjoy this very Strange Prompt…

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From Julie Easley, a poem:

I thought I might be dead

waking up in this shrunken room.

The walls seem elastic

to my touch, bending with my body,

as if breathing on their own.

A small window beckons me,

desperate as I am for light,

for signs I am living.

There is movement, a momentary

glimpse of hope as images

flash before my eyes.

But I am just a mirror,

a reflection of my past, playing

out on repeat until I learn.

And from Jo Colley, a prose-poem:

It’s so light, but there are no windows: the light comes from a series of ultra violet bulbs, giving the impression of daylight. Light making an effort to emulate the sun, to be real, to improve your sense of well-being. But the effort is too great. And there’s nothing to hide under or behind: all open plan, wooden floorboards, floor cushions. You feel so exposed. It makes you want to prostrate yourself face down on the tasteful rug and list every one of your inadequacies. You suspect this might take some time.

Delicious!!

 

The Subtle Vertigo Of Images

The most vertiginous image I could think of is that one by Escher of the dimension-defying staircases, so that is the starting inspiration for my poem today.

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Taking up my anagrammatic challenge from earlier in this series, Ann Cuthbert has this poem for you all:

Vertigo is the illusion of motion/Artists create illusory motion in their images
Poem (unsubtly) written using only letters from the words illusory motion
Slut soul, you mourn in ruins,
slum it, slit, torn.
Sin runs sly, rots
musty in unlit rooms.
Loins sour, unlusty.
Moon’s lost story looms.

From Which Precision, Despite It All, We Are Sentient

I really struggled with this Strange Prompt, and found I wanted to do something that warped and played with language sounds first, and meaning second. Then I was reading Stress Fractures, a great book of essays from Penned In The Margins, and was reminded by Ross Sutherland’s essay about the potential for multiple Google-translations to invoke creative weirdification. So, I

  1. Looked up definitions of sentience
  2. Found a couple of quotes about animals, and race, including one by Jeremy Bentham
  3. Smooshed them together and ran the text through Google translate into several languages (Igbo, Shona, Maori, etc) and back into English
  4. Made the final version into a poem

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Big thanks also go to Jules Clare, for this contribution:

Your experienced senses
Have their recompenses
In past and present tenses
Sitting on stable fences

Feathered winded eyes
Deceived by precise lies
Everything and everyone dies
Supermarket Sweep buys

Resplendent incisors taste
Portuguese Paella paste
Fluffy dough to baste
Interlopers lunch in waste

Sometimes I feel your touch
Flagrantly too much
I ignore emotional feelings; I am butch
I am living life, not in a rush

I always listen hard
I’m a poet, a bard
Reading from a scripted card
Placing an audience off guard

I often smell like Hell
I’m saved by the bell
From a personal prison cell
Others find it hard to tell

I am into personal space
Losing it is a disgrace
Winning an indescribable race
Vanishing with a trace

I rely on my balance
Connected to my parlance
I am in the mood to dance
I prance and take a chance

I have experienced senses
They can’t break down my defences
Committing personal offences
They will suffer sensual consequences

 

 

The Marketplace of Earth and Barricades

Today’s Strange Prompt took my mind into dystopian territories once again – I hope you enjoy this small prose-poem, and the following donated poems…

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Big thanks to Claire Trevien for this poem (Claire, I can’t find the correct accent for your ‘e’, or to say desolee!)

I leave the earth of sober antlers.

The red sky enters another red sky.

Paper gems and torn varnish.

The earth is abstract textiles.

There is a die that only listens to you,

I leave the ball of rope & its tape of warm hellos.

And another stunning gift from Ann Cuthbert, who has really got into these prompts!

You’re asking for the earth? This is the place –
you won’t find better prices anywhere.
And check out the variety we’ve got.
This planet? Will you look at all that blue!
And what a shape! A sphere. OK not quite.
I’ll knock a coupla quid off if you like.
Too big? Well what about this pedosphere?
That’s soil to you, love – skin of the earth I call it.
Loose or friable or packed or firm.
We’ve got the lot in sacks, buckets and barrows.
Something more stylish? Earthworks are so cool.
Everybody’s getting into these.
The ditch, the trench, the rampart, motte or fogou.
I’ll do you two for one, whaddya say?
Not interested? Well, not quite what you asked for –
But barricades are on the up-and-up.
Get your cement blocks here, sandbags, cobbles.
Defend your neighbourhood, block off your street.
Delay the movement of opposing forces.
Battle the isms and archys of oppression.
Go on, what’s there to lose? You won’t regret it.
We’ve got everything you need to make a stand.

 

More Precious Than Prattle

There’s something about this Strange Prompt that just begs for nonsense ditties, alliteration, and a tigger-like bounce to the scansion. Mine is pretty meaningless, but scroll down for a beautiful love poem from Susie McComb…

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Here is Susie’s far superior take on the prompt:

I know it’s mundane for the moon to wane

I know it’s routine for the stars to gleam
I know I’ll sound trite if I speak of the night
And the fire, and the fear and the far candlelight
But my head’s feeling tight, so I thought that I’d write
Though my gut’s feeling taut at the thought of our fight
And my poetry’s glib as the tinkle of nib
Against inkwell, and simple as baby’s first fib
I’d just like you to know, in the midst of our battle
You’re more lovely than cliché
More precious than prattle.

And here is the ever-wonderful Ann Cuthbert, who has bilingual grandchildren!

Lily speaks Espanglish

¡Oye Mammy! ¡Mira Grandad!
I Lily. Quiero cheese and pan.
I do it ¡síííí! Tú nooooo!
¡Mira! A espider. I escared.
¡Mala! I want chuches. Please.
Watch dibujos, Dora the Explorer.
¡Yá está!

Other Flowers

After a little hiatus while I caught my breath, I’m back with the next few Strange Prompts.

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Esther Bonner has donated a set of near-haikus to bring in the spring.

Springtime has arrived.
Daffodils dance, dash and dive.
Vibrant tulips thrive.

Fragrant sweet peas flower.
Marigolds outlast hot Summer days.
Bold hydrangeas bloom.

Autumnal colours flash.
Fiery pom-pom heads of dahlias dash.
Coppery-pink Mespilus splash.

Cyclamen brighten dull days.
Sturdy pansy faces Winter winds.
Crocus, snowdrop emerge.

I love this one from Katharine Goda, it tugs at my heart in gentle but persistent ways.

Tulips – red purple yellow –
a bubbled glass of blue sky.

Mummy? Why is
just this one dying?

Chance, bruised heart,
or just not strong enough.

She lifts it, waxy, sighing
beside bright brothers.

In the garden  
it might come alive?

The big world widens.
I plant her in my lap,

watch trapped light,
promise compost.

The Lift And Aspirations Of The Line

I have a confession to make. I’ve done something a bit creepy. (It wasn’t meant to be creepy).  Ages ago, I followed someone on Twitter. I don’t know them in real life, and I’ve never interacted with their account, but someone recommended them as being ‘wholesome’, and I needed some benign influences on my feed. So, they are benign, just Tweeting their everyday, BUT ALSO they have a natural iambic pentameter going on in their Tweets. It’s like little bits of poetry. Their throwaway posts have the lift and lilt that my poetic lines aspire to….so I nicked 14 of them and made a ‘found sonnet’. Creepy Twitter stalker sonnet. Sorry not sorry.

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Mercifully, I am not the only one who has gone all ‘found poetry’ on this prompt! (Interesting….?) Here’s a lush one from Ann Cuthbert.

Dull battleship grey or goldish ochre.
If cold, it can be tough to cut.
Placing it in sun softens it, makes cutting easier.
Blades give different styles of cut,
narrow and deep, broad and shallow.
An accidental slip, a nasty gouge.
How deep to cut? A Goldilocks moment.
Too shallow and it fills up, too deep, you risk a hole.
Sacrifice a piece to try the blades.
You’ll soon get a feel for what’s just right.
Deeper and shallower lines, straight and curved.
Short, long, little stabs, jerking sideways.
What’s been cut away and what remains?
You didn’t mean to cut that part away.

(phrases lifted from ‘Getting started with lino printing’ Marion Body Evans)

Paper Trail

We’re over half way through these Strange Prompts, and storming along! I absolutely LOVED today’s contribution, from Caroline Walling…

Scattered white across the floor,

rejected shapes,

massacred trees,

corners missing;

scarred from ill equipped fingers

snip, snip, snip.

Imagination confetti (discarded or arranged?)

spoke from the carpet

I’ve been busy.

She followed trials of rejects up the stairs

drawn by a gentle song about

snipping paper trees for Muuumyyy.

Losing the trail at the door

she leaned in.

A moment to observe:

cherub fingers busy

cheeks blown out

busy brow

buried under costume layers

snip, snip, snip;

paper snow,

paper rain,

paper dolls,

snip, snip, snip;

paper shapes,

paper lengths,

paper points.

That gaze outshines constellations

her smile launches a thousand ships.

Mummy, trees for you.

Thank you my darling

They are beautiful.

 

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And here’s my true tale, written in the chaos of January – the traditional, annual Tax Returns Panic!

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After Other Utopias Are Planted

I love this prompt! It’s brought some really gorgeous poems out of the woodwork; this one by Hannah Mackay…

after other utopias are planted

the seedbank must be replenished.

please bring the wing-flutter of a bluetit
on the verge of
flying into your living-room window;

the third eyelash from the edge
of your upper right eyelid;

or a similar item of your own choosing,
to be scrutinised,
and possibly adopted,

by our volunteers.

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…and this one by Ann Cuthbert.

There’s always been a problem finding it.

Nova Insula Utopia.

Ambrosius’s map is picturesque/grotesque,

Flags flutter on turrets, his ship of teeth grins white.

But accuracy never was his forte.

Plus, someone coughed over the co-ordinates – 

longitude and latitude drowned out in hacking,

directions written in a conlang we can’t crack,

invalid postcodes, GPS malfunctions,

misled by SatNav that sets you back-of-beyond,

no lifesigns except that craze-eyed sheep.

No wonder so few have ever made it.

Now they’re saying other utopias have been planted,

or at least their stories have – whether they’ll take

hold’s another matter. Truth or false news?

We’re still being duped, still kept in the dark.

You too could have a short micro-poem or flash fiction featured for one of the remaining prompts – just message me at imeldasays at gmail dot com with your creation!