the speed of dust

Through windows within windows,
made of pixels, made of glass,
made of minds and made of paper,
everyone was searching at the speed of dust,
to ease the burden at their core.

Wishes within wishes, all queued up at dusk,
some saw walls and mazes,
and some were lost inside themselves,
bound to never find another,
and never by another, to be found.

Those whose mind waves swept them out to sea,
where only lighthouse hopes remain,
were left alone and longing,
while all around, unfathomed
mysteries came and went.

Explain to me, you explainers, I am waiting.

I’d burn a hundred candle flowers,
sprinkle tinsel on my beach-bleached bones,
shred my clichéd thoughts to scatterings of confetti,
forgo the fantasias of the phonograph
as they glide beneath the sharpened thorn,

if you’d teach me to forget.

Doctor Petal admired the varnish on her nails.
Every living thing was created from an incantation.
I made a list, but I’ve misplaced it.

She removed the cushions from the sofa,
and found a single crumpled page.

Ah, the incantations for the candle plants,
and me.

I could see that Doctor Petal was gathering
her belongings, and I ruled a line beneath
my writing.

You’re leaving me, I know that,
and I deserve it. I’m a stereotype,
my meritless self-absorption.

Yes I am, and yes, you do, she replied
with little tact, The invisible is calling me,
but I’ll gift you a remembrance.

She read aloud from her page of incantations,
and a second Doctor Petal materialised,
along with several candle plants.


  • Doctor Petal, who has travelled across time, appeared here.
  • Arvo Part, Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) youtube
  • When the flowers of candle plants burn, the upward thermals scatter their parachute seeds. Fire lilies, described here, are one species.

Some still images from the video Diurnal Prelude, a collaborative work in progress with photoluminescent photographer Paul Sutton (insta). Made with VEE, the visual evolution engine.

24 thoughts on “the speed of dust

  1. Maryska doll layering of intention and doubt, within and upon, an incantation, the mere wish and truth becomes flesh and bone, I see so much of my life’s pattern here, the routine and sequencing, there must be some sense to the moderation or is it just mediocrity? I like the unique repetition in your lines, gives the story and poetry a fullness, ripe and rich.

    • Thank you so much for those kind words, Gina. I have no answer to your question about sense (apart from blind evolution). But I guess that when I see life as mediocre or worse, it usually doesn’t last too long these days.

      In the past, when I tried to be like others, and enjoy what I “should” enjoy, I wasn’t at all happy. Perhaps what I write now is a reflection of me accepting myself, as well as mirroring the way I now see “ordinary” living.

    • I am glad you dance to the beat of your own drum, I am tone deaf but I like how my life beats sound, cheers to all the amazing “ordinary” people such as yourself in my world!

      p/s: its ok about the answers to questions, I still vex my poor old Mum!

    • 🙏 Thank you, Gina. I should mention that I have to cut back to once every 3 weeks with WordPress. Although I very much enjoy it, and it’s a relaxing pastime, unfortunately I just don’t have the time at present.

  2. I love the repetitive structure and imagery of the incantation. Beautiful and poignant. My favourite part is:-
    I’d burn a hundred candle flowers,
    sprinkle tinsel on my beach-bleached bones,
    shred my clichéd thoughts to scatterings of confetti,
    forgo the fantasias of the phonograph…..

    And I’m delighted there is now a second Dr Petal!

    • Thank you, Nikita. Glad you liked the offerings. People will do all sorts of things if they believe their wish will be granted. The ones I chose are unlikely to be adequate, although abstaining from the phonograph is pretty impressive.

      I have a soft spot for the straightforward Doctor Petal (and her clone). I’m hoping she’ll put in another appearance when the time is right.

  3. So wonderfully unique! true poetry! Your language has a sharp strangeness, not seen anywhere. I know you said you want to avoid clichés and you absolutely succeed in this every time. Congratulations Steve!

    • Thank you for your generous comments, Margaret; I love the idea of a “sharp strangeness.” I should mention that, unfortunately, I am going to have to cut WordPress back to once every 3 weeks. I really enjoy doing it, but I just can’t find the time.

  4. Oh, the longing for meaning and understanding, and the absurdity of existence with repetitions within repetitions! I suppose the second Doctor Petal feels just as “real” as the first Doctor Petal. Every clone feels like the original.

    • For me, that is life, Magarisa: one longs for meaning, for newness, and one finds naught but repetition. On the other hand, I am quite sure that the original of me is on a spaceship somewhere beyond Orion’s Belt, travelling to distant worlds and leaving clones behind. 🛸

  5. Ever inventive. The occult aspects of ordinary objects and transactions. Enjoyed its valedictory feel.

    • Thanks, Paul. In the end it was less harsh than I expected. I may have had a glass or so of red. BTW, I’m going to cut WordPress back to once every 3 weeks, which is pretty pathetic. Although I enjoy it and it’s kind of a break, I need time for other stuff. No, not drinking, Okay, maybe a little.

    • Life gets in the way of art. Keep getting in the way of life. In mourning at the time of writing, smiling, laughing, eating and drinking in the knowledge that the poleaxe of grief will strike soon.

  6. Some might scoff at the idea of “at the speed of dust”, but when you see how quickly a layer of dust begins to reappear you have to concede something is happening.

    • I agree, dust travels rapidly. If you see particles in a beam of sunlight, they twirl and whirl and don’t seem to go anywhere. But I have an air purifier with a parts per million readout, and I’ve noticed that when you open a door on the other side of the room, it only takes tens of seconds for the reading to go up.

  7. There are echoes in here of “Windmills of your Mind” …..”like a circle in a spiral, a wheel within in a wheel”
    “as they glide beneath the sharpened thorn” is brilliant…this is one to read and read, there is always something hinted at in your poems, Steve, and that is what makes them so fascinating…allusions and grandeur! JIM

    • Thanks Jim. Very true about “Windmills”, and you’ve got me reminiscing here. Glad you liked the sharpened thorn. I knew the protagonist had to offer that up, because I couldn’t do without my turntable with tube amp and KEF speakers. Actually it’s a wonder I haven’t dedicated a poem to it.

      Ha ha, what is hidden is the special room reserved for the elephant(s).

  8. “Wishes within wishes, all queued up at dusk,
    some saw walls and mazes,
    and some were lost inside themselves,
    bound to never find another,
    and never by another, to be found.”

    Your piece is mind-stirring and profound, Steve. I especially love these lines.

    • Thank you, Eugenia. I was pleased with those lines. There’s some introspection, but also observations of others. Humans are a strange species. We rarely reveal the deepest truths, including me 😸, they’re hidden in the shadows.

  9. This was so very moving. (And I love that piece of music.)
    And I love the sofa line. Lol. Perfect.
    I also, always love reading the comments here. It reminds me of how ridiculous it is, really, that I am here amongst such great minds, ditzying my way through life. But I am grateful.

    • Thank you, Vanessa, and we all know you are very talented, you don’t need to hide your light behind a Bushells tea packet.

      As you know, my secret is copying stuff. Arvo Part, and I think, the mood, came from a discussion with collaborator Paul Sutton.

    • Steve, I sincerely appreciate that. I’m honoured, really. But credit where credit is due, and tea really does help me think. I will worship it always 🙂

      hahaha. Yes, I am sure that must be your secret…I wasn’t sure how to say that your work seemed so familiar, and maybe you shouldn’t be so obvious about not being original… lol.
      But that music, I have used it too. I love it.

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