In Dreams (Lyrical Poetry Project)

I have never seen a rainbow
that didn’t fade
but I have seen where the stars go
in evening shade

and in my dreams
I will forever call your name

lonely sky wraiths as reminder
we hearts are small
fragile thread for the book cover
glittering jewel

When the grim marble outlasts us
Once, we were here
What will remain? Stones etched with love
Once, we grew here

And in dreams
We dance together in the rain

And in the stories we’ll forget
sleeping wolves lay
We won’t spin the tales of regret
That blood soaked day

The beauty that we remember
Just ephemeral as embers

This piece is based on In Dreams by Howard Shore

Poetry from lyrics


You’d imagine I have enough on my plate, between violin grades, a new ballet teacher and two rescue songs. Oh, and my vocal coach may strangle me if I don’t record today.


So I decided to begin a new poetry project.


I found myself inspired in great part by Ryan Westwood, a fantastic singer and songwriter. You can check him out here. Last year Ryan turned one of my shorter poems into a beautiful song. After listening to Taylor Swifts’ new albums and admiring the poetic lyricism set against a backdrop of simplicity, I began to wonder about the reverse.


I aim to write a poem based on one of my favourite songs each day this year. I am that antisocial bitch who always has her headphones on unless I’m practicing violin or find myself forced into being social when I’d rather be in my own little bubble. I’ve always seen music as my greatest source of inspiration, especially when writing. I must have a thousand playlists for different writing projects stored in my notebooks and slipped into the pocket of my writing bag.

I intend to try to keep both the spirit and rhythm of the song (using meter) intact while giving it a twist and adding to the story. I believe it will be an interesting journey and will give my writing muscles a good workout. How do you create something brand new while remaining true to the original source? Let’s find out! I intend to write a follow up to this post in a week or two describing the process I’ve come up with so far. I will be posting each poem to the blog (unless they’re awful) and I would appreciate any feedback provided! The posts and poems for this project will feature the tag ‘lyrical poetry’. I will, with each poem include a link to the song that inspired the piece so you can get a feel for the original versus my take.


I will (for obvious reasons) not be using any solely instrumental pieces for the project as I want my words to reflect the lyrics yet become something new and different.


I should point out that these are derivative works and no copyright infringement is intended; I do not intend to sell any of these works, it’s more of an experiment and writing exercise.

I should also warn you that I have a wildly eclectic musical taste, and at some point you’re going to get rickrolled.

No Limits

if love has no limits

her grace preserved as candle flames

a life’s expired minute

teaches us that time is fickle

if love has no limits

if all that’s left is a girls’ name

the whispers on the wind remain

lessons in fate

lifes’ give and take

the mortal coil and hot sickle

cannot hope to consume, cripple

the minds’ beloved rain

a love so enduring, simple

sprung from a mothers’ pain

the fountain, ocean does not ebb

the minds’ beloved rain

even as others are brittle

her fighters’ spirit a ripple

taken too soon

now she is the moon

that spreads across a spiders’ web

shatters the silence of the dead

in a manner we cannot comprehend

Without You (A Poem)

If I had known that without you

my edges would snap together

as each drop of your poison oozed

from my heart; light as a feather

Is this freedom feels- alone

Without a sense of loneliness

The loss of something infernal

that fades the way painted doors do

I close this one: final, endless

My foundations are any stone

in a garden of loveliness

and Eden is not still the same

but butterfly leaves still flutter

Crunching battalion chorus

The sun in her gentleness, warm

is still draped around my shoulders

Stone angels- halos- aurora

Faces I know from memory

Impervious as time passes

the weathered but fearless watchers

A row of gentle smiles for me

Feathered protectors, eternal

Those who wait somewhere below us

You are fragile as the glasses

That shatter under candle flame

only to be scattered by rain

If their storms should carry you home

In lightning strikes you see better

Take a moment for all that you see

Never forget, and always know

that in another name or moon

they will never settle your bones

beneath the same singing grasses

Although seasons and people change

I breathe easier without you

On life and love

Trees
Humans never break. We may bend in the wind, and feel the tug of the violent air. We often find ourselves at the limit of flexibility, where snapping seems certain. We may become a victim of a lightning strike, and bear the scars of vicious rain.
Yet for each of our flaws and vulnerabilities, there exists a strength. Our roots go deep. Even parched of thirst and on the brink of madness, a spark of the self remains. A spark that lingers. It never fades: never to find itself snuffed out by mortal means, it can remain buried for years.
The spark is patient.
It endures.
While the storm of the world rages around it and we grow with the seasons, it continues to flicker. We may lose sight of the flame from time to time, but it still burns within us. There are a thousand kinds of pain in this life. The hollow emptiness and hopelessness accompanying empty cupboards. The gut wrenching sense of loss that accompanies the passing of someone beloved. The aching bite of guilt over decisions made long ago; the sting of remembrance that haunts us. The tiny, sweet hot moments of triumph that follow a fight for something.
The burning that accompanies us as we wander the battlefield, wondering if any of it was worth it.
The worst pain, the most common and that which possesses the same endurance as our spark: regret. It’s something universal to everyone, painted in a hundred different shades of intensity. Confusion and self doubt are its’ siblings, and it is the enemy of desire. How many fall beside the way because they feel to follow a dream is impossible? How many find themselves shattered by a relationship that’s become cracked as mirrors? Unlucky. How do we build new bridges?
Mistakes
It could be argue that our propensity to fuck things up is the foundation of life.
If we were perfect beings, there would be no lesson to learn. Nothing to overcome, nothing to challenge us. It could even be that without conflict and struggle, there would be no point to our existence. The meaning of life eludes us, as so much does. We roam life with unanswerable questions, and stumble from one curve-ball to another.
How we handle the inevitable heartache of all life entails is what will define us in the end. That’s not to say that it’s easy- it’s not, but nothing worth doing ever is. One day we land on this Earth with a finite amount of time to play with. What we choose to do with it remains a personal choice, but to squander it is becoming the norm.
Putting things off until ‘tomorrow, or whenever’ has become the new norm and I’ve been as guilt as anyone. Stagnation is comfortable and familiar: change is terrifying. Does it make us bad people? No, it makes us people. But it’s a heartbreaking thing to witness so many drift through life in a stupor. Mental illness is the greatest epidemic we’ve ever faced. Each year more find themselves with a diagnosis and prescription, the hope of a numb state.
I’ve been on that side of the glass, and it isn’t worth it. To watch the world roll on while you sit in quiet and hope time passes quicker is a tragedy. The spark still burns fierce, but you become distanced and everything else atrophies. You might as well be dead, because when you hit the pause button and give into the void, you’re somewhere between. Neither life nor death, but pale shades of gray to others’ vivid colors.
Limbo
I spent a year of my life watching wallpaper. So doped up on an irresponsible cocktail of mind-bending medication and weed that the idea of even being did not occur. Put in simplistic terms: I gave up. I stopped talking to most of my friends, refused to engage with the things I loved and suffered.
Society operates on the opinion that suffering is romantic, and gives rise to great art: achievements otherwise unimplementable. This is a lie. Suffering causes nothing but darkness: there are no epiphanies, no sudden realizations or moments of genius. Suffering is suffering, and that’s all there is. It could be said that I dug my own grave, and in some ways I did.
I was a slave to the idea of serving and pleasing others before myself. I found myself told by those with less than pure intent that to think of myself or my own dreams was selfish. That to pursue something for the sake of my own pleasure was reprehensible. The truth is, these people were also bent out of shape.
The old cliche of ‘hurt people hurt people’ often rings true, and those who would tear me down found themselves haunted by past failures. It’s far easier to force someone else to carry blame you’ve amassed yourself. It’s simple and requires no effort to tear another down into the grave with you.
Those who have never felt a sense of empowerment are so frequent to take from others.
That’s not to imply everyone who is down on their luck will visit their misfortune on others. For every narcissist, sociopath and mediocre human being there are ten kind ones who’ve overcome. They are humble, kind to the extreme and will throw themselves in the path of danger to protect the ones they love most.
Grief
My mother was such a person, and her death was a wake up call. Not so much the dying itself, preceded by traumatic illness. The months of losing her did not bring epiphany; nor did the first months that followed. When the heart is raw and bloody upon the plate it cannot stand to reflect or think of life.
When the bitterness and rage of bereavement give way to reflection, we breathe again. Our lungs, once shriveled as the November leaves, sooner or later inflate and begin to pump life and color. Where once there was sadness, hope blooms as does memory. With each memory comes clarity, and by figuring out the puzzle those we walk without have left us, we begin to build a road.
It’s not a linear process and there are gaps in the path.
Sometimes we jump, and sometimes we’ll fall.
The reality of this strange and tragic, beautiful world is that with each fall we learn. Our outer shells thicken while the spark remains bright and safe, cocooned by layers of scar tissue. We teach ourselves to fall better than before, to land and roll on our shoulders and emerge upright. Before we’d shatter both ankles. The lessons those who came before gave us live on, and give us the wisdom and strength to avoid certain pitfalls if we only listen.
The fall is in our nature, and it is an essential and inexorable part of our DNA.
A Roman general is often quoted as saying that he learned more from a thousand failed campaigns than a successful war. While we can assume the numbers exaggerated, the sentiment holds true. It’s only when we fall to our knees and find everything we knew stripped away we begin to finally know, and with knowing is understanding.
Love
When our outer shell has become as a tree pitted with age, stripped of protective bark by the wind, only the spark remains. We struggle only so that we may rise, the truth of our nature revealed. Because when the outside, the superficial has found itself decimated by circumstance or insanity, only the truth remains.
Truth is never comfortable, simple or easy to live with.
Loving yourself is not something mindfulness apps or others can teach: it’s not a reachable destination. We could live for a thousand years or longer and still suffer days of self doubt, of wondering and fretting. To do so is human. Self love and understanding is a journey, and it’s the longest we’ll ever walk. Even those we may look upon as heroes or role models have their flaws and insecurities.
We find ourselves in an age where perfection is in demand, and nothing less will suffice. The reality is that perfection is a falsehood and a worthy life does not spring from perfection or the ideals of any society. Any kind of perfection or transcendence is, quite honestly, born from love. If you find yourself motivated by shallow reasoning, you’ll become a hollowed trunk. If you give into bitterness and rage as I have done in the past, your roots will rot and refuse to draw in any good.
It is when we act in faith, love and a sense of compassion that we begin to bloom.
It can backfire and end with pain, but if we refuse to let that pain beat against us the way ancient trees withstand hurricane winds, we will become better. As a species we can often be savage and uncompromising; a herd mentality benefits no one. If you nurture the individual and let beauty and love into your life, thriving will follow.
None of this is easy.
Life is the hardest battle to win.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

On grief and time

Antisocial

The doorway looms, a portal to another dimension to terrify and confuse in equal measure. I find myself in that familiar limbo where my only companions are voices. Sometimes flashes of a past I am told I must escape. I lie to both psychiatric professionals and myself and fill our ears with the correct words.

‘I’m doing much better and only think of London on occasion.’

‘I rarely experience the urge to run without looking back now’

‘I have licked my wounds and find them beginning to heal; there is comfort in stability.’

In truth I long for freedom and the return of invisibility; were it not for my leg I’d be over the threshold in a heartbeat. I’d take the familiar journey surrounded by those harried, tired individuals. Those who spent their lives in a state of coming and going. Those who find themselves trapped in the cage I begin to understand.

To be young and alone again, with only boots and backpack. To regain the capability to vault fences, scramble walls and dive into the city beneath the city. To once again know her beating heart. To be free of all those who wish to greet me and talk about a daily life I still do not comprehend.

There is a possibility I am in fact broken, for peace eludes me. I knew it when I was another face in an endless crowd, and the nights were for roaming darkened streets. Days were for resting in the quiet of walls where others have long feared to tread. Hours spent smoking and watching others, dreaming their stories as they passed by. My head secure on the shoulder of a beloved friend as we waited for the day center to open.

Homelessness was horrifying, and yet a liberation of self.

Tasha

When I finally arrived home, she was there. The girl with the violin who’d give her life for another if asked. The girl who’d hand you her coat in the blistering rain, and ask you if the cold was biting.

I’d argue she was better than me, but that’s not saying much. In truth she was better than most and her spirit still haunts me. Each time I see one of my beloved violins freed of the case or hear a symphony, she’s on my shoulder.

Nine years is a long time, and she’d be approaching twenty six. She’d likely be touring the world with some orchestra but still make time to comfort friends. Existing in exhaustion but cheerful and full of life. I imagine with her schedule she’d never find the time to care for her skin.

Beauty routines and social niceties left by the wayside in favor of sleepless nights. I picture her in hotel rooms in soft light, pen in hand and ink staining face as she transposes pieces. The furrow of her brow and intense concentration that sprang from passion are vivid. I imagine her arguing with airline staff about the importance of her beloved violin. ‘If she’s not by my side, I’m not boarding.’ I can see her expression of stubborn consternation and worry in perfection.

But she’s gone now.

Nine years is a long time and when Tuesday arrives so will the fear. That as I grow ever older she slips further from my grasp. That I may forget certain expressions or quirks. As I grow, she slips away into a wasteland I am both terrified to visit, but scared to abandon. I attach myself to so few in this life, and she knew who and what I was.

I don’t imagine I do.

Fame

For both of us recognition was a symptom. She learned to revel in it; the applause would push her forward. She was a motor forever in motion. The adage of candles twice as bright burning out quicker than those content to flicker must be true. I sit here and postpone life, hoping against hope to wake and discover the familiar has returned.

I loathe others on principle but am bound by insecurity. Always the voice. Wondering if winning more competitions or successful publication will expose me to scrutiny. Life dissected by strangers in search of entertainment who cannot begin to empathize. In the modern world a sense of respectability is impossible to find. I realize that success will come with judgment.

Of both illnesses and past experiences: the road I’ve traveled will be a stomping ground. Those with no understanding of homelessness or combat will pass opinion. As a writer I am supposed to ignore such things: as an individual with PTSD and scores of lost sisters I’d like to hurt. Both myself and them, for retaining a comfortable existence. One where they have the time and energy to autopsy anothers’ choices in a nuclear environment.

I do not believe that statement to be hyperbole. The streets are a volcano waiting to blow, the homeless already frozen in ash for the most part. It’s so simple for the more fortunate to claim they chose such a life, and claim addiction as cause. In reality, it is more often a symptom. Something to black out the casual violence, the derision of others and horrors seen.

Though what would I know? I’ve had the middle class liberals who claim respect and act as civil servants piss on me in doorways. It has never taught me wisdom, but misanthropy in all its’ extremes.

Old

I could be ungrateful. In all my time following the rhythms of Londons’ beating heart with my boots, I never imagined making it this far. You spend long enough in a state of vigilance, find yourself exposed to so much violence, you assume the end near.

After failed suicide attempts and near misses too great to count, I find myself still lost. Even after a stint of death which lasted approximately seven minutes I remain in a state of loss. What do you do when the mental health offices no longer accept the calls? When your psychiatrist prescribes you the benzos on top of a drinking problem? When possible fatality is preferable to the doors in your head springing free?

How do you live when the most untrustworthy individual in life is yourself? I picture myself as a small child, before the streets and fires and all that befell me there changed the world. It’s impossible to return to a state of innocence, though Christians tell us otherwise. One day you reach a point of no return: where the crisis is every day, and normality is a foreign concept: horror.

You can stitch up a knife wound or plug grievous wounds without a blink, but bills and letters are a thing of anxiety. The brain rewires itself according to circumstance, and then refuses to be unbroken. No stability in the world, no comfort or routine can lessen the vivid nature of such a life. The psycho babblers tell you things will fade with time, but it is the biggest lie.

You grit your teeth and try to be another member of society.

You listen to unbearable small talk with patience.

One day you wake and long for a return to chaos, because you are incapable of anything else now.

Legends

You’re stuck in no-mans’ land, while battles rage around you.

As a poet I’ve always loved the works of Plath and Clare; as a human subject to the demons of my own mind I relate. It’s strange to imagine that if I survive the next year I will have gone further than Sylvia ever did, year wise. Not in a sense of literary prowess but with regards to a measure of time.

Life is something we have yet to understand.

We march forwards with regards to ‘progress’, but experience is universal. A man who lived three hundred years ago deemed brilliant finds himself boarded up. The psychiatric hospital he died in still stands, open for business. A brilliant woman not quite surfacing from youth puts her head in an oven due to domestic abuse.

For all our supposed evolution, the song remains the same.

I have become a cynic, of this I am certain: humanity will not change. We may make it to another planet. We may map the depths of the ocean and reach the edge of the galaxy. But at our core we will endure as strange, selfish creatures who are prone to violence, jealousy, rage. Revenge, selfishness, judgment.

I envy the animals and birds and fish, for they have no knowledge of such things. We are a species with a penchant for self destruction regardless of labels or diagnoses. From the moment we are born a battle rages: some of us walk through the fire. We hope it will give us strength, but in reality it takes a pound of flesh and leaves us growing tired. Others cannot bear the fight and decide to step off of the worlds’ wheel: I often wonder if they are the courageous.

I may have become too tired by the dance.