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A deserted mall, in Budapest.

A deserted mall, in Budapest.

I was unsure whether I would use this piece last week at the poetry café, I was working on it to the bitter end. Feeling unhappy with the layout, length and where the breaks occur. When to step away is always something only the writer can decide, and I am always tinkering.

Diffraction. (Original Published Version)

I see you. And this is the critical angle,
where I see the slight bending of the light
as it passes around you. I watch the light
embracing your shape at the boundary layer.

When light passes from one medium
to another it changes speed.
Shatters as it passes between the gap
created by our proximity.

This is where wavelength emerges as a factor,
when the interference patterns of light and dark
emerge, spreading into the space between us.
Highs and lows that multiply in the air and the angles merge,

refraction growing bigger than the angle of incidence
and light travels on without changing medium.
All we are left with are circles in the sky,
sun-dogs and halos, rainbows in the air.

During a recent discussion with other writers, we talked about this need I have to remove words, sorting the structure, culling the size until it is as basic an image as I feel I can get, sometimes it can reach a position where meaning becomes shrouded and the original idea has to fight too hard for daylight. Readers never usually see what has gone before, and one reader described it as taking away the scaffolding from the words, so how can we know when to stop? I wish I knew, and without the poet himself to question we may never know the deep idea behind any given poem or how much has not seen the light of day. (sorry, no pun intended)


So where do I take all these words? An idea and its light, the imprints we have in our mind that define what we find beautiful. The relationship, closeness and good and bad, all these things are part of any relationship at a point in time, who we are now, the only moment we live in.


Diffraction, (Revised and as performed at the Poetry Café)

I see you, and this is the critical angle,
the slight bending of the light as it passes
around you. I watch the light embrace your shape
at the boundary layer, and light shatters
as it passes through the gap created
by our proximity, this is where wavelength is
a factor and interference patterns of light
and dark emerge, spreading into the space
between us. Highs and lows multiply in
the air, the angles merge, refraction bigger
than the angle of incidence and light
travels on unable to change medium.

All we are left with are circles in the sky,
sun-dogs and halos, rainbows in the air.


From sixteen lines to fourteen was a bigger step than I imagined, but I do like the fourteen line block, it has balance in the way it sits on the page. I broke the last couplet away, to see how it read, and it ended up staying there. Homage to a sonnet I suppose. Though I have no illusions about my free verse and iambic pentameters, I still fight hard with it. So this is the final (at the moment) incarnation of Diffraction. Let me know which version if any you prefer.

Light on a journey

Light on a journey

How do you, as a reader interpret a poem, where do you start? Is it with the sound, the music or rhythm, or is it the words and the idea? How short is too short and at what point do you stop reading? I’ll be interested to hear your ideas on this.

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