darklight 8: the ink of inverse stars

Previously on Darklight: a traveller, the Ibid Bird, and a railway guard, set out for the Inverse Realms, where time ostensibly runs backwards. The traveller would like to find Selena, but on the way, there may be triffids. The first episode is here.

The journey to the Realms meandered
through pointless snippets of conversation,
without a cup of coffee or a saving grace.


The Bird addressed the guard:

An impressive tactic, challenging the triffid
to a game of chess. How its stinger fumbled
with the pawns.

The guard, whose name was Anélia:

I have no fear of triffids,
neither do I resile
from seeking happiness.
It’s succeeding that I fear.


A passing stranger, indistinguishable from any other:

I saw him on the balcony staring out,
understanding little more than sunlight,
as if that summer’s day were rolled
into a fragrant cigarette, distilled
into a glass of wine.



That cloud looks like an albino herring,
a whiter shade of fish, and over there,
two people and a bird are wandering
through the willow-fronded poplars.
They’re waving to us.

The Bird:

Ignore them. Although you may perceive
a certain semblance, they are not a future version
of the three of us, returning from the Realms,
where time runs in reverse.

Anélia, formerly known as the guard:

Look around you. The evening’s mist
is suffused
with a blushing earthly radiance,
and clumps of rain are rising
from the fields, shaping silvered pools
beneath the clouds.

The wan light overhead is not a remnant
of the day: it fills the sky, a blotter stained
with the ink of inverse stars.

We’ve reached the Realms.

to continue


  • Triffids appeared in John Wyndham’s 1951 novel The Day of the Triffids.
  • In fictional time travel, meeting oneself causes problems ranging from the universe exploding to debates over who should pay for coffee.
  • Once again, the description of a region where time runs backwards is wildly inaccurate.

The ablation of thoughts relates to a previous episode of Darklight. It is the next stage of UHD pilot videos made with VEE, the Visual Evolution Engine, and ALISA, adaptive art automation, rather than animation. The soundtrack is via Audacity® and Lisp, the computer language everyone loves. Reduced quality, but best viewed in 4K/full screen.

When time was young, and the morning show
forecast rainless weather, all of creation
was fire creatures. Their lights still flicker
in my mind.

29 thoughts on “darklight 8: the ink of inverse stars

    • Thanks for your generous words, Peter. The herring were, at first, just ghostly, and it was all the miller’s fault. 😸 Choosing chess seemed logical, although I did consider Scrabble.

      Glad you liked those stars. The time reversal of their light, ie inward, is probably correct, and it’s also one of the mysteries with the arrow of time: it seems odd that light would come from all over and converge on a star (in reverse time).

      With the vid, I want to see how far I can take the approach. It has the advantage that it doesn’t require animation work (not that I could do that anyway). The disadvantage is that the maths and coding still take time, and unfortunately I haven’t found the Inverse Realms.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Steve what a wonderful luminous story. I almost want to abandon my own poetry which seems like poverty in comparison. I wont of course. I really enjoyed your piece so much. It gets better and better. Silvered pools and where time runs in reverse. I love it all. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you enjoyed Margaret, and I hope you don’t stop. We write from our experiences, from our lives, from our hearts, so our poetry is all different, a richness not a poverty.

      I try to imagine time running backwards, and so rain falling upwards. It shouldn’t really collect in the sky like that, but, you know, artistic licence. 😸

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your wisdom Steve. I agree that there is good and bad in us all For many of us overcoming the bad is a feature of our existence. We can only hope the good in us will win!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Paul. I have to confess that, with time running backwards, it isn’t all imagination. There’s a bit of science in there, particularly since it’s something I’ve been looking into for quite a few years.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. From my experience, if someone is mentally classified as a stranger (subconsciously) then innate processes of perception aren’t activated. If they are a friend in an unfamiliar place, there can be a delay before sudden recognition.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sobhana. These days, a second wave of c-virus is surging in Australia, and our response has not been as proactive as I think it should be. As a consequence, my thoughts are often not in the place I need them to be to write. Still, there are moments, and I’m grateful for that.


  2. The bird seems a bit quick to dismiss the coincidence of the other trio’s appearance. Perhaps it doesn’t want to get stuck with the coffee bill. Playing chess with a Triffid is problematic: how do they react if they lose?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, yes, the coffee bill is one problem. Mind you, there’s quite a range of possibilities between that and the end of the universe. 😸

      Hard to know about chess-playing triffids. Being optimistic, perhaps they simply sulk, or they might demand best two out of three.


  3. Wow! Steve, you’ve really set the bar high with this piece. The video is amazing. I could watch it over and over. It feels so sad somehow…or is that just me. Also there’s a Japanese influence to the visuals that I like. Your poem teems with originality. I loved the idea of triffids playing chess! The stand out part for me was:-
    ‘I saw him on the balcony staring out,
    understanding little more than sunlight,
    as if that summer’s day were rolled
    into a fragrant cigarette, distilled
    into a glass of wine.’


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Nikita. I really appreciate the feedback on the video, I’m trying to see what I can do with this approach. Without going into detail, I did intend a degree of emotional ambivalence in the video “narrative.”

      On a tangent, it seems to me, that, with poetry, the norm is not to explain what you’re on about. But with the visual arts, it’s the reverse. The artists explain what they’re attempting to convey, and the people I work with mostly insist on that. I’m still coming to terms with it.

      Your comment about Japanese influence is also interesting, because when I showed a different vid at an artist’s talk, someone in the audience said the same thing.

      Also very glad you liked the stranger’s contribution. It comes from a recent event, with a rather sad background for those concerned, so some ambivalence there as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I skipped a light fandango reading this, Steve, I turned cartwheels ‘cross the floor. As Nikita says above, the passage beginning “I saw him on the balcony staring out,” is particularly beautiful, it made me feel like I was in Spain, it made me think of Leonard Cohen.
    That video is something else, I have no idea how you do that ..but keep doing it…JIM

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, Jim. I recall your informative post on bathos, although no-one brings me a drink tray and I must go to the fridge.

      Glad the stranger’s thoughts resonated with you. Perhaps it’s not quite bathos, but I wanted to bring the fantasy journey back to ordinary old reality. I find that reality can be acceptable on occasion, even when I’m sober.

      The video creation is quite technical–there’s the phases of the moon, the blue body paint, and the sacrificial offerings, just for starters. 🤓


  5. Meandering through pointless snippets of conversation without any coffee? Sounds hellish to me.
    Love the image of the triffid’s stinger fumbling with the pawns.
    The video’s organ music along with the flying angels (aka albino herrings) seem to present the Realms as a heavenly destination. Misleading, methinks. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Magarisa. I’ve been on the giving and the receiving end of “pointless” conversations (a matter of opinion). One can always try, “Oh look, a meteor is going to crash on us,” although I think a surreptitious button that rings one’s mobile phone (“Yes, I’ll be right there.”) would be ideal. It probably exists.

      People have various ideas about the vid, and I’m reluctant to explain my own thinking. Your interpretation makes sense. You know my writing, and as your emoticon suggests, a heavenly destination for the protagonist is not likely. 😈

      Liked by 1 person

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