darklight 2: the mystery of the ibid bird

Previously on Darklight: a careless traveller has boarded a sailing carriage on the Darklight Rail. He dreams of finding long lost Selena at one of the lunar stations. Part one is here.

The tracks arched upward, the horizon, far below,
was lost in cloud, my socks were striped
in shades of peach and avocado green,
and the moon shone like a flashlight
that could do with a change of batteries.

My sailing carriage was leaving earth,
its destination, outer space, where the only wind
was solar, and oxygen was hard to come by.

I looked around my open wooden
flatcar with its single paper sail,
(no motion without wind,
no breathing
without air)
and wondered whether I had chosen
wisely with the Darklight Rail.

A bubble-headed space suit
in the prow of a conveyance
fueled by burning kerosene
might have been a better choice.

Oh woe is me, I said aloud,
wrung my hands a little,
and a small and colourless bird
flew down to perch upon my head.

Do not be overly dramatic. Far beneath us,
an early autumn day is dressed in pastels;
sharp cicadas cut its sleepy air.

The bird was right. My expectations
should be flexible, petulance
would serve no purpose now.

But we are stranded here in cold dark
airless space.
Can you see the stars?
Their blinding light.

The grey-scale bird fluttered before me.

I have air beneath my wings.
Have you noticed?
Mother moon may never be denied,
all oceans must obey her.
She’s called forth a corridor of air
from the atmospheric sea, and spun
the rails to
a Spira Mirabilis.

 Despite the laws of physics,
this carriage will be swept
to her embrace.

There was unexpected wisdom in that plain bird’s
words, and to mention gravitation or orbital
mechanics would be churlish.

And tell me, bird, how did you acquire
such esoteric knowledge?

I have no formal education, but I have read
the Cyclopedia Aerolithium from cover
to cover,
and back again.

The marvellous spiral may be found on page ⌈⌈⌉⌋⌈⌈⌊⌈⌈⌋
of the Aerolithium, and my own humble species, ibid,
on page ⌋⌊⌋⌈⌋⌋⌋⌉⌉⌊.

And yet, I thought, some mystery remains.

to continue


  • Where I live the cicadas came late this year. Apparently Australian summers are getting longer. No prize for guessing why.
  • Very little makes sense in this scenario, but I have a fondness for the Spira Mirabilis, or logarithmic spiral. Insects will approach a light source along this famous spiral.
  • The pagination of birds here is quaternary (base 4) because most birds have four toes per foot. The symbols were influenced by Woodstock in Charles M Schulz’s comic Peanuts.

inner space, youtube video made with VEE, the visual evolution engine. This short video without soundtrack is a test of ALISA, Adaptive Layered Image Synthesis and Automation.



26 thoughts on “darklight 2: the mystery of the ibid bird

  1. In looking up ibid, which is often used to indicate in footnotes that the reference is the same as the previous footnote, I found that it was short for ibidem. I wonder if the bird’s name is similarly shortened?

    I guess the birds never thought of counting on both feet, and that is why they don’t count in base eight. In the same vein, if humans had ever thought of counting on their toes as well as her fingers, we might be counting in base 20.

    That’s quite a flatcar, but like the narrator I would have been far more comfortable with a tangible source of air supply – and I don’t mean the rock group.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting, I didn’t know that about ibid, and I’m afraid I don’t know if it’s a shortened name. I haven’t used it myself for a very long time (I don’t think it works well with the automated referencing systems), but I like the sound of it with “bird.”

      True about the number systems. I recall that the ancient Sumerians used a base 60 system for some reason or other.

      I don’t think the protagonist realises he’s a character in a fantasy, where things often work themselves out. Well, unless it’s dark fantasy.


  2. Wow! I love this Steve, especially the beginning. It may well be the best poem of yours that I’ve read. Thank you for continuing to entertain.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Margaret, and glad you liked it. I apologize that I’m less often on WordPress, and now the c-virus is a terrible problem all around the world, which also complicates life. I hope you are okay.


      • Thank you Steve. We are OK here, but with so many businesses closing and people losing their jobs also panic buying, we can only hope our way of life wont be too affected. Take especial care as I know you have asthma . I understand that you may not have as much time as usual but hope you can carry on writing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • This is a late reply, as usual, and now everywhere life has changed so much. I am well, kind of in isolation, but no problems. With writing, it is a question both of time and of being in the right place mentally, but I hope to continue.


  3. Everyday banality such as socks and charging batteries juxtaposed among the wisdom and magic of messenger birds and the power of the moon. Reading this helped steady a slight wobble or two in my own creative journey. Thanks for that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Paul. Apart from the odd genius or two, I don’t think creativity can be without its ups and downs: an essential ingredient. Currently the world needs some mystical moon power, I think we could all do with a bit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Steve. I have left WordPress. Don’t know if I’ll be back again. Thanks for all your encouragement. You were the only one. Keep on writing.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Hi Paul. I don’t know if you will see this, but I’m sorry to see you go. As you know, I love your work, and I admit that I selfishly think that reading good writing like yours might help me improve my own. If it was encouragement, that was coincidental. All the best, and you too, whatever direction you might take.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Many thanks Steve. I hugely admire your work and appreciate your positive feedback. I may return to WordPress soon. I have an incognito presence at present with some experimental works. My father’s death recently caused me to question what I was trying to achieve. I admit that I was not that close to him but the future looks different now. However, the pandemic changes everything and may give me a reason to express myself again.

          Liked by 1 person

    • I agree Magarisa, we don’t want too many facts in fantasies, although, unfortunately, we have plenty of fantasy in what is called “fact.”

      Me too, Woodstock is the kind of bird that it is easy to be fond of.


  4. Hi Steve, I guess we could all use a change of batteries at the moment. Hope you are keeping well, I imagine that wearing socks striped in peach and avocado green helps a lot and keeping expectations flexible! Love this poem and it’s other worldly images. JIM

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Jim. A few moderately positive signs around the world, although it’s going to be a long haul, and with time to reflect while hiding from the virus under the bed, I have come to realise I need more striped socks.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Petulance, from my experience, is never useful, but there is a limit to how flexible we should be: having some hard and fast principles (unlike the protagonist) is a good thing, I would say.

      I have to admit I did start off with a NASA image for the artwork. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure, Vanessa. There is a very good reason the Bird appeared.

      I don’t know what it is, but another reason is that the wood ducks have returned, and they’re helping with the writing again, which naturally involves birdly stuff. (You might recall that they left in a flying saucer.)

      I’m not sure why they’ve come back, but it has nothing to do with effects of c-virus isolation on anyone’s sanity.


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