The High Castle (poem)


The High Castle


now the world is silent

once a bird sang
in the branches of that dying tree

it had a name
they all had names

these days
I forget them all

the older I get the less sure I am of anything
all I see is the world falling into darkness

stomping around the empty halls
with a festering wound that will not heal

I wish I could die
seriously

I wish I could die

*

the world has seen
alpha & omega

life still clings to this rock
let go

let go let go let go let go let go let go
before it all

happens again

*

long ago I saw a vision -

a golden chalice
healing all the old wounds
of the broken earth

I do not know if it was meant for me

these days I sit beside the river
choked with dry weeds
watching the fading sun
the trees scratching the dead sky
with bony fingers

hoping one day to see
some stranger
holding aloft
a golden cup

until then, all I can do
is wait

(to
escape 
the vortex
face the fury
& burn)


Joanne Fisher

This poem draws heavily on the Fisher-King myth and the idea of the Holy Grail bringing renewal to the earth. In this poem either one day the Grail comes and restores the world, or it doesn’t and the world continues in it’s slow decay for eternity….

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Drought Rhythms (poem)

Drought Rhythms


what is this falling
from a tumultuous sky?
 
it must be angel's tears
only they could be this pure
 
but
if they are crying...
 
we work hard here
this land does not
forgive easily, yet
 
deep in our hearts we know
God left us a long time ago
 
& now the angels are crying
 
*
 
our arms, legs, faces
under the furnace
gnarled & knotted
the bark of bent malignant trees
 
saplings in this stony valley
grow into the most twisted
stunted things
 
nothing seems to grow right here
 
only the land remains unchanged
the old moon
rising above the mountains
jagged teeth
 
*
 
they left
& we never saw
them again
 
out over the mountains
searching for rumours
of the cities
 
I no longer believe in them
 
*
 
howling storms
that only appear
 
in this basin
splinter our shelter
 
& rip everything
out of the ground
 
you shrug &
start again
 
*

sometimes it is the land
teaching us
 
sometimes there is nothing
except dusty earth
beneath our feet
 
sometimes our footsteps
falter
 
*
 
I will leave less substantial
imprints -
I walk between earth & fire
fire & shadow
 
the world must be so light
balancing in the ether
 
our short life
such short life
 
show me
the point
on this tinder earth
 
where
 
the angels
drift
 
to heaven
 

Joanne Fisher

First published in Catalyst 3

When I was still at school I remember reading a short story set in the Australian Outback where there had been a drought for so long in the area that kids living there had never seen rain before. In the story one of the kids in the farm wakes up one morning to find it is raining and doesn’t know what it is… A few years later I found myself dwelling on this story and wondering what someone would think rain is if they had never previously seen it. This poem is set in the future where the remnants of humanity are trying to survive in an isolated valley. Any sort of faith has long since become a shamanistic worship of the land they try to survive on, though there are vestiges of others…

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Just Wondering (poem)



Just Wondering


If you wander around at 3 AM
the city seems deserted: the streets
are empty, the only sound is generators 
humming in monkish devotion,
yet the street lamps shine on and
the traffic lights continually change
for invisible soundless vehicles

the mechanics of the beast we've
created grinding on without us
and what if there is some
apocalyptic cataclysm and
we all disappear overnight -
how long will the traffic lights
keep on changing?


Joanne Fisher

This poem first appeared in Spin 30.

When I was still at university I used to go to parties and wander home in the early hours of the morning. Not something I would do these days. This thought struck me one time when wandering home after watching the traffic lights continually change with no traffic. I think the answer is probably a couple of days at most.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Endurance (flash fiction)

Endurance

“Well’s gone dry.” Sarika stated. Both her and Kali stared at the dusty ground.

“We’ll have to dig a new well then.” Kali said. She knew if they didn’t find water, then they would have to find it somewhere else, but water was scarce in this parched valley. In fact the whole world seemed dry now.

“If we don’t find water, then we die.” Sarika stated. This was the constant reality all survivors now faced.

“Then the sooner we build a new well the better.” Kali replied trying to sound upbeat. They went to find the others to help.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 99

This was written with the prompt well’s gone dry provided by the Carrot Ranch May 23 Story Challenge.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

for the revolution (poem)



for the revolution


we inherit nothing
but ashes & empty bones

smog envelops this city
& i am here searching
for remains beneath the grass
once out of winter-dead
slumber

when i walk i feel
the curve of the earth
waiting

for the end of the world
this is a beginning

my hands are clenched

*

we like to think
there is no darkness,
but there is darkness
when i was young
i was scared of this
as it crawled through
the curtains suffocating
cutting like a knife
against bare skin
as sharp as glass

*

this is not a war
i call my own
i walk along the edges
of lines, the polluted 
sea drowns the land

we are on opposing ideals
yet we all walk on the earth's
fractured surface carrying scars
& loss

& when I am
gasping for breath
in my own darkness -
you will not notice


Joanne Fisher


I was going through some old magazines in one of my bookshelves and found a poem of mine I had forgotten about. I must have written this when I was around 21 I think. My younger self didn’t know how to properly edit, so I ended up reworking parts of it. I kept the title, though I think it’s my attempt at being enigmatic… It strikes me as a precursor to my poem Drought Rhythms.

This poem first appeared in Onion, no.2

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Don’t Stray (flash fiction)

Don’t Stray

We were told never to stray into the Forbidden Zone.

After the survivors had fled the cities, the mutants took over. We kept a small area of land safe for our community to live on, while the mutants ruled the rest, and we called that The Forbidden Zone. We were warned if we ever wandered into their territory, they’d do terrible things to us. Probably eat us, or kill us, or worse. So we never went near their territories, aside from Kerry that is. She liked to go foraging and would often end up in the Forbidden Zone as she reckoned she could find better stuff there. We warned her, but she didn’t listen.

One day she was gone and didn’t return. Her hat was found hanging on a branch near the border. Obviously it was left there as a warning.We hope she was killed quickly. We will miss her.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #179.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

A Planet Like Earth (flash fiction)

A Planet Like Earth

Melissa and the others had fled from Earth just before the missiles were launched. Looking back they saw many explosions of light all over the surface of the planet. They all turned away and went into hibernation for the long trip. When Melissa was awoken many years later, the spaceship was now orbiting a new world in another solar system.

The planet was smaller than Earth, and slightly further away from its star. Once they landed, Melissa noted the sun here was much dimmer and the temperature a lot cooler than Earths. No one knew if the seeds they had brought would grow here, maybe they would end up cultivating the native species that were edible. Thankfully New Earth, as they called it, had a breathable atmosphere and was home now.

They all knew life was going to be tough here, but at least they had all survived, for now.

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #172. Better late than never.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Dawn (flash fiction)

Dawn

Natasha dreamed she was with Ellie. They were holding hands and walking down the sidewalk. It was sunny and they were heading for the beach. Then she was suddenly awoken. The dawn chorus had begun in the treetops above her. Already there was a cacophony.of birdsong building up. Since the end times they had gotten louder.

Natasha reluctantly got out of her sleeping bag and looked around, in case there was a roving band of survivors nearby. She didn’t want to end up being eaten, or worse. Thinking of Ellie, she quickly packed up her things and moved on.

Joanne Fisher

This was written with the prompt cacophony provided by the Carrot Ranch August 12 Flash Fiction Challenge.

I’ve been unwell the last couple of days which is why I’ve been a bit quieter.

This was sort of inspired by last years lockdown. With far less traffic noises, the dawn chorus sounded so much louder than it usually did. At the time I also wondered with less human activity maybe more birds were flocking to the city…

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Home Again (flash fiction)

Home Again

This was my hometown. Now it was just nothing but piles of scabrous rocks weathering under a pitiless sun. There were once people here, and houses, even love and happiness, but then the Fire came and ended it all. Then there was chaos and confusion, and I took to wandering.

I wandered for many years, so many I had lost count how long I had been in the wasteland, but somehow I ended up back here. The place where it all began for me. Leaving the ruins behind, I wandered through the cemetery. The final grave bore my name.

Joanne Fisher

I’m not sure why a hometown prompt makes me immediately think of an apocalyptic story… Think of it as an apocalyptic ghost story I guess…

This was written with the prompt hometown provided by the Carrot Ranch July 22 Flash Fiction Challenge.

Wow my Ko-fi supporters have more than doubled since I last visited the site. No new donations of course, but more supporters. Not sure what this means…

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher

Flight (flash fiction)

Flight

It was down the steps and then into the shed, and then down some more steps. Even as a child Stacey had known about this. It was her “secret” place she would run off to be alone when she stayed with her grandparents. She never thought she would have to come back here again, but when the sirens had suddenly sounded she grabbed what she could and fled the city in terror. Once in the country she made for her grandparents farm knowing the one place where she might be safe.

In reality the place wasn’t a secret. All of her family knew about it. As Stacey quickly went down the steps, she wondered how many other family members had got away in time and ended up here too. Was she going to face the long dark on her own or would there be others? She slowly opened the door…

Joanne Fisher

Word count: 150

This was written with the photo prompt provided by Crimson’s Creative Challenge #124.

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©️2021 Joanne Fisher