Prompt 440: Matins

I am terribly conflicted when it comes to writing poetry. You know, whether to write poems, whether to publish poems, whether poetry is useful (the answer: it depends), whether there is better employment of my time elsewhere. I’ve left poetry and I’ve come back to it again. So I’m returning. For one last leg, at least. I’ve still got a current thematic issue running, called The Reaper. Find it at Red Wolf Journal.
Submit if you like.

Sometimes a broken thread like here.
I stopped and went away, left this stranded.
Am I to bow to you, acknowledge you?
I covered my eyes and looked away.

Then I felt stranded, rudderless again.
The killer whales attacked viciously.
You rose like the sun, reclaiming me?
I was drowning, you saved me.

My story anyway, on repeat.

Prompt 439: Isolation Diaries continued

Hi poetic folks,

I didn’t lag in my poem a day practice. I was forced into practice by this lockdown. And everywhere I looked folks are in a similar stranglehold. The universality of the coronavirus is amazing even if in a bad way. I mean, one day I was telling Alan Walowitz about Singapore being the epicentre of the virus and now New York is the epicentre. I had started a new thematic issue for the Red Wolf Journal in March 2020 about journeying and now we’re in lockdown in April. I did not miss the irony.

Anyway, I thought I’d check in here and share my today’s poem. I am in the middle of watching Jane Eyre directed by Sally Cookson, a free National Theatre performance on Youtube. So this came up…If you do write, please share your links.

Often I turn and see the light
murmuring through the clouds,
the sky pale blue, this
day that began like so
many other days.

Even so, I like my isolation,
it becomes me, surrounded by
a few choice persons and
I’d be content.

I fell to watching Jane Eyre,
how the world changed for her
the moment Mr Rochester embraced
her poor, trampled self, how
literacy had made her who
she was.

I’d not yet seen the madwoman
in the attic–but knowing already
the story, there’s her too,
lacking redemption in this
life, she would leap
to her madness.

But Jane–there goes a woman
with agency, said the narrator,
and a steadfast purpose.

Prompt 438: Isolation Diaries 5

The world has been forced online. That has been foregrounded somehow. It’s like, we’re forced to occupy digital spaces now. But of course we occupy physical space. Our bodies are ground zero. Ground zero: the center or origin of rapid, intense, or violent activity or change broadly.

I’m in the middle of a novel–
about a third through and came
to the end of chapter one–
it deals with trauma, so it
fills me with a sense of dread,
all consuming, so one has to
look askance, look at surfaces.

We’d all crept back into
our living space, voluminous,
and it’s up to us to discover
the depths of all it contains,
the dark places. I’ve done that
and taken body temperatures
at regular intervals.

And you said, that doesn’t have
anything to do with anything,
and you would be wrong.
We inhabit all things.

Prompt 437: Isolation Diaries 4

The sun this morning infused the air with light, and with light comes a feeling, a feeling of being able to carry on. It’s important not to be overwhelmed, I guess, but to just do your thing. The healthcare workers , they’re doing their huge thing. They’re the people who believe. It’s important to believe.



I imagine it’s hard putting out a poem
a day, like a chicken laying eggs.
But it’s a kindling, you know.
I got kindled, and then you got
kindled, and then the rest of you.
It’s a fancy way of living,
inviting your demons out.

I listened to Billie Eilish, while
you got out at 8pm to clap, clap
for the frontline people.
And then this morning some doctor
had said, “If not us, then who?”
While we cower, staying put,
there go the death angels.

Prompt 436: Isolation Diaries 3

I write poetry fast. So to those who write and revise and revise and revise, well, I don’t think I could do that. I write it all in one sitting usually, so you could almost say it’s an act of stream-of-consciousness. I try not to feel embarrassed about what I’d written, since you know it came out of some stream of which I would not be aware if I had not written. It’s about fiction as much as it’s about truth. Fiction is truth, and truth is fiction. Maybe you can try what I did and post it here?

Some days I didn’t look at you.
You looked away first, I would say.
So I looked at the ground.
What difference does it make, anyway,
who cared whether I wrote, do you,
wouldn’t you rather go look
at clouds, or birds, or girls–
oh yes, girls.

Me in my airy fairy world,
you doing your math, or not doing,
we’re being as comfortable as we
can. Then suddenly this coronavirus
made it seem the world is in a spin
and it’s the same spin, we’re spinning
into more isolation while being
drawn even closer.

Prompt 435: Isolation Diaries 2

So Josh said to “put one poem in front of the other” and get them out. So I’m getting another one out today. I hope you guys will also hunker down to write your own isolation diaries. You may post your poem links to the response to this post or my future posts. Hopefully I will be posting every other day and you can check back here and then breathe and then maybe you’ll want to try, and then maybe be able to write a poem. Maybe.


A hideout meant anonymity as if we
wore an invisible cloak, being
soaked in the ether of death. Aren’t
we given a death sentence anyway?
I think about that constantly.
But if the world could change like
it has, radically, has us hanging onto
our breaths, maybe it’s all meant to
change, and we’re both changing.

Still it’s hard, oozing our breaths
out, bit by bit, till we lie quite dead.
And then this coronavirus outbreak would
have us breathing again. Isn’t life strange
like that? So I could learn to lose my self-
consciousness, keep projecting my moods
out to the world, so I could learn, so I don’t
have to give up, so I don’t have to lose
breath at the end of the line.

Prompt 434: Isolation Diaries

Hey everyone,
Surprise! It’s been a while. I never thought I’d live through a worldwide pandemic but here we are, we’re all together in this. We’re forced back to our foxholes. I thought poetry might save me, as it did before. I thought, let’s live day by day, through poetry. What sort of journey it’ll turn out to be, only time will tell. For now, for today, a poem. Hope it inspires you to write again.


So you got isolated too.
Guess the universe wants us
to shut ourselves out, stay within–
within is the place where we tend
to ourselves, our souls.
It’s been a while since I did that
or at least it felt like it,
not writing poems, not wanting to,
not wanting to open up, speak
the truths that somehow crept
into old crevices.

It’s hard. As soon as the words dry
they’re dust, and I can’t even remember
our final conversation.
I want to bend over crying.
A couple of barks, that’s all
I’m capable of now.

Prompt 433: Borrowed Poetry–The Magic Carpet

A whole new world
A new fantastic point of view
No one to tell us no
Or where to go
Or say we’re only dreaming

Now that you’d awakened tell me
your religion–did I suspect
that you already knew
the lore’s secret?

I stepped onto the carpet
confirming a cry–
how we have to go on remaking
perfect magic.

There you are Aladdin.
A whole new world when
in myth do we fly
lanced by stars.

Prompt 433: Have you seen Guy Ritchie’s remake of Aladdin? It’s got a Bollywood flavor to it that I like. And that song, “A Whole New World”…definitely a favorite. I still remember first reading the story of Aladdin–that phrase, ” old lamps for new” stuck with me. Only this time the lamp is perched in a cave, and Aladdin must not be tempted by the jewels in the cave in order to get to it. The lamp’s the real prize, if you knew the secret. Fumbling Aladdin didn’t and he got his three wishes. You have to go watch the movie to relive it all again.

If you like write a poem inspired by a poem, a movie, a book, a piece of art or music or performance and submit to Red Wolf Journal. We all like to be inspired too. 😀

Prompt 432: Borrowed Poetry–Strange Weather in Tokyo

Life is austere, my friend,
so we ducked inside a bar
to drink sake, eat edamame
and tofu and cod, sometimes
smoked oysters.

It was a way of being alive,
you know. That’s how she got
into the orbit of Mr Matsumoto,
her old schoolteacher, bereaved,
and went mushroom hunting.

She asked every so often,
what on earth am I doing.
When he said, you’re such a
lovely girl, she was content;
time had stopped for them.

It felt so empty and full
all at the same time. Three years–
that was the time they had.
You were kind to my dad
his son had said.

Prompt: This one’s inspired by Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather In Tokyo. It was such an easy read compared to my previous book, The Milkman. Like Japanese food or haiku, the writing is spare and yet breathes like fresh linen. There were some surreal bits in it, the part where Mr Matsumoto met his wife’s doppelganger. It was said she was good at magic. She’s dead though. And that’s why people live lonely lives. Till love develops between him and his ex student who goes to the same bar as him. She had chosen him over a younger man too. You get the sense from the story that love transcends and it’s the only way that allows us to. When it ends (as when he died) you look into an empty expanse. Oh sigh…

If you like write a poem inspired by a poem, a movie, a book, a piece of art or music or performance and submit to Red Wolf Journal. We all like to be inspired too. 😀

Prompt 431: Borrowed Poetry–King of Thieves

In an old hermetically sealed vault
were the diamonds-FL-those the ones
par excellence. Says the old retired
ex whatever, so the young one knew
which ones to pocket.

What’s bizarre was the team he’d
picked for the heist, the laidback
archness of the geriatric burglars
who’d pulled the whole thing off
sans nerves of steel.

It’s vapid, inert, of course
a tiny demented. Perhaps, I don’t
know, Marilyn, it’s more of a jaunt
turned sour and dodgy, to-relive-
again sort of thing.

It’s rather pointless if you
end up in jail but being either
deaf, diabetic or post hip
replacement, they’d rattle off
those walls sooner than later.

Prompt: King of Thieves is an old school bank heist, as unslick and unglam as Ocean’s Eleven was not, a British counterbalance to the American movie. I rather enjoyed it though, even if. Perhaps the audience I was amongst can identify with the antiquated lot on screen. As one of them was snoring off in a discussion in the movie, there was this person snoring in the row behind me. What, life mimicking art? Anyway it was all very British and very old school, which was strangely my cup of tea.

If you like write a poem inspired by a poem, a movie, a book, a piece of art or music or performance and submit to Red Wolf Journal. We all like to be inspired too. 😀