Wednesday, 8 April 2009


I posted a photograph as a writing prompt a few weeks ago and had two wonderful responses. I know that other people (yes, you) wrote something as well, but never posted it here. So, I found it hard to decide who should get the prize.

Am I allowed to give two prizes? Yes, I think so. It's my blog after all.

There is only one copy of the book, but I thought I might offer an alternative to the other winner.

There were images I loved in each poem. In Eileen's poem I love 'how he left with sea/in his pockets' and 'wonders/if his words have washed up on city streets'. Wow. In Michelle's poem, I love the way she reworks the myth, in such a powerful way - 'violent hope' is a wonderful end.

So, here they are:

She Imagines

With every in breath she imagines his walk
towards her, the dark and light of thirteen years spilling
over rooftops in Tinsel Town, how he left with sea
in his pockets and waves swallowing goodbye. In Oxfam
shops she whispers to wind-chimes, asks about a man
carrying an ocean. She leans towards the second-hand books, wonders
if his words have washed up on city streets, wonders if he stepped
into tomorrow, remembering to count stars, to slip Orion’s belt.
Someone with a backpack and his eyes bumps into her shadow, she looks
twice as a twist of scent gathers up her heart. She pushes through
the door, follows pavements where footsteps have burned into dust.

Eileen Carney Hulme
(Tinsel Town is a reference to Glasgow)
©ECH 2009

Calypso Waits

She imagines Odysseus will return to the island leaving Penelope at the loom in Ithaca. Rowing across the whispering black sea with his hands, he will abandon his kingdom to fall exhausted, penitent, at her feet, a golden conch coughed up on the sand. She deserts her arching cavern and cypress grove, forgets to eat ambrosia, drink nectar. Silver mantle floating around her, she spends her days in the burning sun beneath the limestone cliffs gazing at the horizon, consulting hedgehog entrails, interpreting burning laurel branches and the flight paths of honey buzzards and marsh harriers. At night she converses with stars, swims in the moonlight, weeping below the waves, her tangled braids writhing like copper sea snakes. Sick with mortal longing, she does not sleep. Her heart lists and founders. Hurling secret curses towards the lambent palace aloft Olympus, she despises herself for this violent hope.


Returning home to Ithaca from the Trojan War, Odysseus is shipwrecked and washed up on an island. Here, the sea nymph, Calypso, falls in love with him and holds him against his will for seven years until the gods on Olympus insist upon his release.

Michelle McGrane


SueG said...

Yes, both of these are wonderful with such beautiful language. Each are mini-moments in time, aren't they -- my favorite sorts of poems. Thanks for this.

Anonymous said...

There is something quite magical about that first poem. What a distinctive voice. Plenty of Google references to follow up! Thanks for this.