inky days


On days when stormy ink is in the air
and the atmosphere is virtual,
precautions must be taken.

If the downpour seeks the sea
by way of dimpled rivers,
an umbrella or a rowboat will be fine.

But if its threaded beads are necklaced round the clouds,

if they curl and melt in fashionable colors,

if they stain the foliage green and veneer the timber,

if they tint the windows and the mirrors
in shades of apple crumble, or vice versa,

you might consider a flexi-day.

Once you’ve been tattooed by falling ink
and its irrefutable ciphers,
empaneled experts recommend a carefree stroll
beyond the sunrise battlements.

Should you meet the dragons that dance beside the sea,
all papier-mâché and thorns,
do not applaud—no bravos or bravissimos—
instead unlace your sailing shoes, go gentle
to the echelon of twilight swans.

Unnecessary symbolism
will reveal a rainy door frame
where your doppelgänger waits,
eyes wide with unimagined terror,
or carrying a wicker basket
of selected fruit and flowers.

You may offer comfort or inquire about their freshness,
but better not embrace your other,
better not accept the smallest edible bluebell,
or else a quantum paradox will manifest—

an insoluble implosion will delete the golden city
and the pantomime of planets,
leaving nothing but the moody swans.

Having heeded all instruction
and completed your assignment in good time,
the finale will be yours.

The pantograph of planets will shape a congruence,
a pentagrammatical conjunction
showering seeds of light,
and a long-departed lover will return.

Ask no questions, seek no facile explanations.
Remember that the truth and lies
are stories told to children.


  • sailing shoes (Robert Palmer version)
  • go gentle, do not go gentle, it’s hard to decide
  • bluebells are poisonous

artwork: inky day (detail above)

39 thoughts on “inky days

    • It seems that way, Daniel, but it wasn’t planned, it just happened. I had a pretty busy week with hardware and software problems (not myself, fortunately). Reading a lot of instructions and trying to fix things might have had some effect. I’m bad with instructions, I prefer to ignore them, and whether I do or not, I make stacks of mistakes. Maybe this piece was releasing something. 🐒

  1. When stormy ink hovers overhead, it’s best not to fight it—let it come and flood the pages with whatever shade, shape or form it so wishes. (IMHO)

    Awesome piece, Steve!

  2. It’s 2:22am here where I sit in inky darkness and this piece is just the ticket for an insomniac. I can hear a bird trilling in the night. Perfect setting for the murky magic. This one gave me goosebumps. I hope my doppelganger is carrying fruits and flowers – I’m not so good with unimagined terror.

    • I guess it’s a few nights later, BG, I hope you’re getting some sleep. I think the basket is okay long as you trust your doppelgänger. Not sure I would trust mine. 😃

      Apart from experiences with a fever, I’m usually happy with the night. When I was a kid, I thought the night was magic, all the ordinary daylight things were transformed, and the stars were crosses like storybooks (I was short sighted with severe astigmatism back then, but no-one knew).

  3. ‘You might consider a flexi-day’ is a hoot and the ‘pantograph of planets..’.always fresh and always inventive. Although I questioned your preference for Robert Palmer over Little Feat version of sailin shoes, having reviewed both – (unstoned this time) – I concur – a much better version (though ‘Willin’ is still a big fave).

    • Thank you, Peter. Ha ha. I find it’s a funny thing, quite apart from recreational drugs, when we go back and reevaluate. Some novels that I thought were sublime and profound have turned out to be less so. I now think it’s better not to reread, to just hang on to the delusion.

  4. If the downpour seeks the sea
    by way of dimpled rivers,

    beautifully matched to the picture Steve.

    May the ink ever tattoo you, and claim you for its own.

    • Thank you, Margaret. I did enjoy writing this piece, and I didn’t hold back (although I tried to steer clear of Alice in Wonderland 😃). Also, not even a glass of wine was involved, because I didn’t have any. 😄

  5. “Remember that the truth and lies
    are stories told to children.” Love how you put both truths and lies in the same category…yes, we tell them to children and ourselves…This felt different as if I was reading your English poetry in another language.

    • I agree, and I think they belong together. Although mathematical logic might be clear, many important things are not.

      Some of it is not exactly English.😃 It is different apparently, although I didn’t really plan it, just what happened. Thank you, Sobhana.

  6. If my doppelgänger offers me an ‘edible bluebell’, she obviously can’t be trusted.
    I shudder at the prospect of an implosion leaving nothing but moody swans. Swans are scary enough when they aren’t moody.
    Truth and lies lie on a spectrum, yet society likes to cut the spectrum at an arbitrary point and put the two parts in different boxes.

    • I think it depends on how you see yourself. Magarisa. I definitely wouldn’t trust mine. 😸

      I’m imagining that the moody ones might be the Australian black swans. Have to admit, I also prefer metaphorical ones to real ones.

      I agree, no-one wants any grey areas do they? it’s simpler if everything is arbitrary.

  7. what I really like about your poems, apart from the language and the imagery and the other worlds they go to, and the worlds that are other that they go, is the insertion (“you might consider a flexi-day”) of unsolicited but sound practical advice,

    • Thank you, Jim. It’s a community service I provide for common emergency situations. I’m currently preparing first aid advice for those who like to write authentically with a cockatoo’s beak dipped in ink (attached to the live bird of course).

  8. Very readable and reasonable instructions, Steve! 👍👌👌 But people nowadays do not bother to read instructions… not until they get into trouble. Many a doppelgänger will be disappointed 😄

    • Apparently I’m playing catch up with comments. Thank you, Said. I’m hoping I can find employment with IKEA. 😃 I never read instructions myself, and if I get into trouble, which I inevitably do, I have a glass of wine. Much later I might glance at them to discover why my wardrobe looks like an Escher lithograph.

  9. I always want to reblog everything you write. I kind of think it’s a crime that everyone is not reading your amazing work. And that it makes me laugh out loud at times!
    This time more dimensions of this blogging world collided as I was listening to this gorgeous piece of music a young blogger Abe (abelearningthings) shared, that is part of the soundtrack to a game he likes:

    I’m thinking I might read more pieces on WP while listening to this 🙂

    • No matter how much coffee I have, I am never caffeinated enough. That’s interesting, because a lot of the music I listen to while I’m writing is kind of similar, and I think it does affect my thinking. Mind you, if it gets a little too dark, on go the samba canções. Funny thing is, they are often about terrible tragedies, but the music always lifts my spirits.

    • Really? That is interesting. Music is so powerful, I agree about the lyrics…I mean, it probably wouldn’t matter what language it was in, the music is so effecting.

    • Thanks, Vanessa. A crime. It’s a thought. Perhaps if they didn’t read the blog and robbed a bank as well. Then if they did read the blog, they could ask for a reduction in their sentence, because they’ve already been punished. 😃

      Really like the Far Cry 5 music, think I’ll track down some more.

    • haha oh yes, reading your blog is such punishment!
      I agree, I really like it too. The premise of the game is interesting, it actually puts more of an eerie spin on the music. But as is, I think it is really beautiful.

    • I never have. Except way way back, some arcade games. The driving ones were my favourite.
      Ouch, thinking about that really did make my head hurt. 🤓

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