darklight 6: the ablation of thoughts


Previously on Darklight: a traveller accompanied by a pseudo-bird finally reached Lunar Central Station on the moon. The guard at the gate asked him to talk about himself, and he spoke about his writing, a story he’d written about Selena. The guard was unimpressed, and targeted him with a multifunctional weapon. Episode one is here.

No-one ever wanted me to talk about myself.
What did she expect?
I was always Sunday’s dreary ghost,
wandering the rain-washed streets,
with the ashes of my fantasies
falling in my mind.

Still, I had to try.

I was always Sunday’s dreary ghost, etc.

The guard adjusted a slider on her weapon.
Merely sound effects, she said, but I was unconvinced.

On one such Sunday, I sought shelter
from a downpour in a nearby bookstore,
and there she was:

Despite a vague unease concerning
my imminent vaporization, I paused
to simulate suspense.

The doubly fictitious Selena, born from the imagination
of an imaginary writer, stood beside an artless arrangement
of paperbacks on special, skimming through a copy,
and from every cover, her lustrous likenesses
were looking out at me

How could she be real?
An incandescent incongruity

in that dark and dusty bookstore,
and in my humdrum life.

Er… um… , I said, by way of introduction.

Use your words, she replied, clichés will be fine.

The impatient guard moved her weapon
in rapid circles. I had to wind it up.

It was all a game for her, but I played along,
and imperceptibly, irreversibly,
I changed.
Her steadfast light turned my bitter thoughts

to vapor, ablated all the failures of my dreams,
revealed the undeniable world, its madness and its purity.

In the end, she told me that she’d come
from a stranger’s dream, and he was waiting
in the land of the earthlit moon.

Then, softly, very gently, she said she had to go.

She left a note, Don’t forget to feed the cats,
although I’d never seen any,

and I purchased cat food just in case.

The guard lowered her weapon by a tenth
of a radian.

Is that literally true?

I stroked my chin in contemplation
of her pleonastic question. Might there be
a different kind of truth?

Which part? Her luminosity?
I thought it was expensive makeup.
Although, now I come to think about it…

My mind was wandering to winter nights
with Selena, warm hours before the dawn.

The Ibid Bird, who’d been dozing
on my shoulder, took flight with a flutter.

So you came to the moon, you scatterbrain.

For comic emphasis, he circled my head
a couple of times, tweeting erratically.

The guard nodded.

Her radiance, and the dominance
of earthlight on the moon,
imply reverse luminosity.

The Bird flew over to the guard,
seeking an intelligent discussion.

Better not to perch on my weapon.
You might discharge it prematurely.

He seemed unconcerned.

And the dream, which belonged to the future,
became real in the present.

The Inverse Realms, they chorused.

to continue


  • Sonhos, composed by Peninha; youtube version performed by Caetano Veloso (Portuguese),
  • as well as sunlight, light from the earth illuminates the moon.

A different kind of truth, made with the visual evolution engine.


23 thoughts on “darklight 6: the ablation of thoughts

  1. Ablation is an apt term for this episode, given the wearing away of the guard’s intent to vaporize. It also describes the effect of Selena on the narrator.

    And “Oh Snap!” Indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • True, and thanks for highlighting the ablation. The idea came from introspection. I think cause-and-effect applies to thoughts, although the cause may lie in the subconscious, but sometimes the sensation is the “Selena Effect,” where solid realistic ideas seem to evaporate, and condense somewhere entirely different. Possibly on another planet. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

  2. These totally abstract ideas such as ‘the ashes of my fantasies falling in my mind’ and ‘merely sound effects’ ‘ablated the fantasies of my dreams’ and ‘she had come from a stranger’s dream’ and ‘the dream that belonged to the future’ All these are splendidly surreal images. I really enjoy your work Steve. It is so thought provoking. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure as always, Margaret. I think the borderline between real and abstract is blurred. Not just the because of the abstract scientific models that describe the natural world, but there are models in our minds that handle perception.

      Of these, the apparent direction of time (ie, past and future) is of the greatest interest to me. I’d like to spend more time on it, but given my snail’s pace with everything, it never seem to manage it.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Margaret. Being a silly wombat, and because I seem to be getting 30 or so spam comments every day, I accidentally deleted your comment on Darklight 5. Anyway, here it is, so I can reply 😜:

      “I especially like ‘the reception on reality was poor’ and ‘time and space thinning out like cling film’ This is brilliant stuff Steve. Your imagination grows more fertile with each piece of writing. Your work is so unique and should be published in book form. although I know how difficult it is here to get poetry published and maybe the same in Australia.”

      So thanks, and glad you liked the cling film.

      I have sold the rights to my short stories and poetry to publishers in various countries, but as you say, a collection is more difficult. Once again, it boils down to how I want to spend my time. Anyway, maybe it’s better to have too much to do, rathr than too little…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. He claims he’s feeling only a vague unease at his impending vaporization… hmmm. Methinks he may not be such a reliable narrator, trying to fool us into believing he’s nonchalant about his life. I like how he attributes Selena’s luminosity to expensive makeup. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree. These first-person characters always want to show themselves in the best light, both in what they report and by omission.

      He’s been through quite a lot. Perhaps he has a blister pack of benzos in his pocket that he’s been popping.😸

      Selena’s luminosity–from the cosmetic ads I’ve seen, it’s a reasonable assumption.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Being doubly fictitious is a burden! I like the counterpoint in this.
    “I was always Sunday’s dreary ghost,
    wandering the rain-washed streets,
    with the ashes of my fantasies
    falling in my mind.”
    Beautiful image Steve. I see something new in this poem every time I read it.


  5. As ever, a piece full of riches – the pleonastic question of the guard (just tossed in there); the bird not perching on a weapon less it go off (ha) and then alliterative gems like “wandering to winter nights / with Selena, warm hours before the dawn”. Now we have cats – I have a feeling the cat food is going to be crucial to the next chapter… Bravo.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Peter. When I wonder about stuff, the characters seem to as well.

      The “warm hours” are all about electric blankets. 😸

      I find goodbye notes interesting, and they’ve appeared in my published stuff as well, eg, “Remember to put the rubbish out on Thursdays.”

      The cat food, I don’t know, the cat will have to decide.


  6. Wonderful quirky piece full of thought-provoking questions. I loved so many things…the cats, the snap ending, the atmospheric image of the bookstore and particularly:-
    I was always Sunday’s dreary ghost,
    wandering the rain-washed streets,
    with the ashes of my fantasies
    falling in my mind.

    I like the idea of reversal on the moon. Reminds me of the mental projection we are all prone to when difficult feelings are transferred onto another person so we can avoid dealing with them in ourselves. Your poem also reminds me of a Japanese novel I read recently called 1Q84 by Haruki Marukami, a strange parallel world where there are two moons…
    Thanks for the artwork. Love the soft colours. My garden is shrouded in sea mist today and reminiscent of your image. I must get my paints out!
    Take care Steve. 😺🙏😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nikita. Glad you liked the ghost and bookstore. The real-world source is work trips to São Paulo, not always like that, thank goodness.

      I used to think transference was pretty straightforward, but I’ve come to think it can be quite complicated. For a start, sometimes I can’t work out where my own feelings (positive or negative) are coming from, without even considering transference to others. More insight meditation for me.

      Murakami is one of my fave authors, but I haven’t read 1Q84 although it’s on the bookshelf. In this case I don’t need much insight to identify the reason: laziness.😸

      Pleased the artwork resonated with you, and with the painting, I say go for it. 🎨

      Liked by 1 person

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