A small symbolic light above the planar world,
the curveless planetary horizon
and yapping dogs on the wind,
run I walk I queue I
grow tired, eyes close and flicker,
yet every photon tells a tale
of a restless luminous voyage.

After midnight I wander under
sodium doublet illumination
to the very end of the street.


Your visa, sir. Do you have a visa?

A visa. What visa?

A visa for Nocturnia, the Land of Night.

And where might I apply?

She points beyond the checkpoint,
to the lands I may not visit.


Day by day I think about Nocturnia,
make discrete inquiries
in shrouded alleyways,
on the darker net,
until I meet a mercenary stranger
who offers me a one-night pass
in exchange
for my collection
of treasured Venus flytraps.

The pass is almost genuine,
I overstamped the date.
But I must warn you, we humans …

He pauses to cough repeatedly;
a swarm of biting insects leaves his mouth.

We humans … cannot linger
in the Land of Night.
The denizens of darkness
are not like us:
they swim in deeper seas,
emit their own peculiar brightness.

You must not overstay your visit.

I don’t ask why.
His lips are tightly pressed together,
as if the unexpected might emerge.


Like a god from long ago,
she looks to the east and looks to the west.

Gaia’s thinking of another day.
She’ll make her mind up soon.

Ghostly pale, luminescent, almost human,
my Nocturnian night with her
has passed too quickly,
a movie rated G.

I don’t want to leave her,
I will stay.

She points to
a flight of fireflies
trailing afterimages,
tiny earth stars
endlessly circling.

He was human once, he stayed too long.

I run and stumble, fall and run again,
reach the gateway with the swell of rising dawn.

The smiling immigration officer stops me.

Tell me sir, do you have a visa
for Diurnia, the Land of Light?

A line borrowed from Jack Vance’s 1950 classic, The Dying Earth. He borrowed the line from Homer, so it’s third hand; the beautiful Paraty in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

the last days of the moon, detail above.

25 thoughts on “nocturnia

  1. Now this is a very big poem, Steve. Love the idea of a visa to the land of, and then another to get back. It’s all a trap to create once-were-humans, I suspect. Great scope of ideas in the piece. well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Frank, glad you noticed that. I wanted to be a bit daring with the narrative, jump scenes and compress the story.

      Part of it relates to late nightlife in big cities, where I’ve visited but never felt I belonged. It really is a different world to me, and I’m afraid it does create once-were-humans. Thanks again. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. 😃 I’m always pleased when a publisher of one of my short stories organises an illustration, and I’m fond of graphic novels. Never thought about them in relation to my own work though. I can see that the narrative and visuals could suit … Mind you, I have no idea whether there are graphic artists out there looking for such stories. 🤔


    • You’re a great illustrator. 🙂 If you’d like to see how it goes with a graphic page (or whatever), I’d love to write something new. I know time is always an issue for everyone. I can contact you by email if you think it’s worth trying, please let me know … 🙂


  2. I loved it! And shivered a little, esp the bugs flying out! Yapping dogs on the wind… So many images it blows me away. There’s so much more to it than fantasy but I don’t try to unravel it all. Just satisfy myself with the glimpses of things I understand w/o understanding. “They swim in deeper seas…emit their own peculiar brightness.” Thanks, Steve!

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure BG. 🙂 I was happy with the deep sea lines. I did have concrete images in mind but I wanted to move Nocturnia away from horror to somewhere … in between.

      I don’t think back on my writing, but I have to admit the insects have recurring roles. I don’t recall any relevant childhood trauma, so I’m hoping they’re metaphorical hahaha.


    • I know that overloaded feeling 🙂 . These days whenever I’m doing A I’m thinking about B, not to mention C, D, E … I become so careless, my mind is never where it’s supposed to be. Glad you enjoyed your journey into the night 🌗 😃

      Liked by 1 person

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