Tag Archives: distance

In the Violet Hour

Another from the bunch of ones I sent out for the contest. The last one of the four, actually.

In the Violet Hour

In the violet hour of evening,
When clouds twist their last
Reaching upward and outward
To grasp a waiting eye,
I watch for your face in the dimness,
Back-lit with an orange glow;
Come find me but don’t
Touch my skin with your fire
Your heat and your tenderness
Will be my undoing.

Our lonely quiet demands
To be filled with talk or song,
But we sit here side by side
In the emptiness of the world
Separated by a mere two feet–
A veritable ocean of space
Where sharks glide slowly,
Whipping their angular fins
Agitated by the scent of our fear,
Intent on their prey.

A terrible beauty, to be sure,
Intimidation wars with open awe
But it is not the vessel that captures
My eye across a crowded room,
Or gives solace on long evenings
After long days such as these;
It is that which is within the vessel,
The substance of things hoped for
And the evidence of the unseen:
You wear it well.

Or rather you bear it well,
The weight of the unanswered
And things left unburied in heaps;
Kindly brushing dirt out of my hair
As I rise from damp ground again,
Another corpse from the undertaker.
Unearthing my body takes time,
And you know well my patience
Resembles that of a famished animal
Confronted by a meal.

In spite of my varied defects
Of personality and emotion,
You stand by my side always
Leaping over my distances like puddles,
Rooting through my corpses–
Bloated, pockmarked, and filthy–
To find live creatures among them
Those that thrive on my necrotic tissues.
How can I cherish myself like you do;
Why do you linger?

When, like the animal that dwells within,
I bite at fingers outstretched to me,
Foaming with anger at the presumption
Of offered assistance or perceived pity.
So keep our weary silence sprawled
Between us on this wooden park bench;
Our communications are best held
Without words and without touch.
Our shared glances and the bond we share
Must be enough to sustain us.

Yet how do we feed the hunger inside?
It seems only the dead have voices,
Their songs are dirges, and doleful laments
Dedicated to past struggles ring out.
This cannot be our destiny to sit and wait
For the heat death of the universe,
In mourning for all that we have done,
And all that we have failed to do,
While time ticks slowly onward
Grinding us down to our bones.

This bench is my purgatory since
We are not sinners but I have sinned–
Joyfully, delightedly, merrily transgressed–
Against some idea of a higher power
That belonged to someone else
In another time and a far-off place
And its echoes fall on our deaf ears;
I renounce it and its hold on my life
While we deal out silent phrases
On our faces in the dim.

It will not be borne! I cannot bear
To repeat, to run along the same ground,
To die every night and bury myself
In the comforting earth and forget
Lessons learned each afternoon,
Or happiness I have rejoiced in
With you, dearest muse, and the others
My chosen home and family.
I must cross the ocean, sharks be damned,
To reach back to you at last.

© Bridget Noonan, 2011, 2012.

All four of these poems are ones that I left parts of myself inside. I hope you have enjoyed them.

Sometimes, this sort of thing just happens. A thing which is too real has to be wrapped up in more words than I thought I had. To post it is to display a bit of my deeper feelings, which is …difficult. I have worked very hard to be able to be halfway comfortable feeling vulnerable in any way.

And it is more than a bit silly to be concerned about that now, because I was prepared to have a magazine -which is internationally sold- publish these four works. Then again, most of the people who would read that don’t know me personally. 

“What a million filaments.
The peanut-crunching crowd
Shoves in to see 

Them unwrap me hand and foot–
The big strip tease.
Gentlemen, ladies

These are my hands
My knees.
I may be skin and bone,

Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.”
Lady Lazarus, Sylvia Plath.


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Perhaps I ought to start with a definition, just to make things perfectly clear.

wanderlust n.
a strong, innate desire to rove or travel about.

And now, the poem itself. It is posted to One Single Impression, for this week’s prompt rambling.


the wail of harmonica and voice
reminds my ear of a lonesome train
limping along barren rails to nowhere
and so wanderlust grips at me,
drags me by my feet into the world.
I ride the kilometres from
Waterloo to Peterborough,
Lake Ontario to Lake Simcoe
and before me I see blurred lights
the tail lights that stretch from here
to infinity; each one of them chasing
the next hour, next kilometre, next pit stop.
will this longing ever end?
can I be satisfied not knowing
what town or vista lies over these hills,
where the end of this road lies?
I am limited only by the gas in my tank,
and the money in my pocket.

the dust of a thousand days
clings to my worn shoes, while
I trudge on top of this busy road.
the rhythm of life: wheels spinning,
children playing, and dogs barking.
and I, weary traveller, pass through-
a shadow on the stone, nothing more.
my broken-down car lies behind me as
I gaze at the stars in the sky,
the burnt out pixels on a dark screen.
the only peaceful thing is to look up to
tiny points of light while the frantic pace
of night whizzes all around me.

this is my blood spilled across these pages,
my mind blown like a tumbleweed
along the empty miles between
myself and this empty chased feeling.

© Bridget Noonan, 2011.

I cannot tell you how much Elliott Smith has influenced my life. And by extension my poetry. If you have struggled, he has a song that feels like he ripped it out of your mind and put beautiful and heartbreaking music to it.

If you want to feel this poem fully, listen to the Decemberists do his song Clementine. It’s from an album of songs, made as a tribute to E. S.’s music. And if you put it first on a mix CD of driving music for roving far from home, think of me when you listen to it. I’m probably on the road with you.

I was going to post a silly freestyle rap thing I wrote at work today with/for a girl I work with, but I was feeling melancholy, and definitely had itchy feet. Maybe tomorrow.

do you miss me, Miss Misery, like you say you do?

EDIT: This has also been posted to Poets United.


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Go the Distance

My intention was to post on here once a week. Apparently I am addicted to writing / editing? This is one I was working on this winter, and the winter before that… and the winter before that. I’m reasonably satisfied though, so that’s better than usual. After three years of work off and on, you’d think so, eh?

Go the Distance

There is much snow-covered road betwixt us;
Undiscovered paths winding through mountains.
The eyes are black and boundless
Delicate only in seeming, he darts,
A flash of hooves and broad antlers;
The white hart an omen for good or ill-
I balance on the cliff’s edge.

This quest of mine, to meet with fair Dulcinea-
I am undoubtedly the mad knight of old
Who fights the windmills, believing that you
Must be the fairest and purest of maidens-
Such a quest will likely end in my ruin
And yet I cannot choose to stay or leap.

The sea stretches ominously before me
And the way will be long and dark.
Dare I brave Scylla?
Shall I tempt Charybdis?
I will do this, and more,
To see you for but a moment.

A daring leap might carry me far into that sea
Where I might fight the storm-tossed waves,
Reach those forbidden shores, and climb
Such dizzying heights over peaks and into valleys-
But shall I dare to do more than dream?
Can I confront that which holds me fast?

The world changes all around me
And I am static, unmoving-
Firmly rooted in this arid soil,
Old vines twined around my feet.
This is where storms unleash their fury,
Where eagles soar and fires blaze.

But what does it matter to me if you are, in reality,
A swineherd, a harlot, or a scullery maid?
The vines can be cut, the sea can be crossed,
And I, your foolish knight, can become more as well;
I will defeat any monster to prove my worth,
And brave any hazard to find you again.

© Bridget Noonan, 2011

If you saw any of the previous hundred drafts, this will be unrecognizable. In fact, I’m pretty sure over the years I cannibalized at least three other poems I’d half-written: tack a limb on here, nice phrase over there, borrow some liver from that one, ooh that image is nice *yoink!*, etc. Reduce, reuse, recycle was drummed into my brain as a kid in school- I apparently am living it in my poetry.

I’m beginning to hate punctuation though. I obsess about how much or little I should put in, and if it makes sense grammatically, and if I really care if it follows some arbitrary rule someone else says language has to follow, and whether I should use a semicolon, a comma, a period, nothing…

If only I spent less time worrying about that technical crap and more time hammering out more actual verses, or bits of my novel.


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