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

The Road is Winding (poem)

The Road is Winding


1

Kaikoura is a stop for coffee
& views of the ocean
receding away
forever

I accidentally startle
a tern which flaps away
straight into a moving car
it is last seen descending
rapidly down a bank

I feel guilty about it
for the rest of the journey

2

above are screeching gulls
shredding the cerulean sky
the sea casually mumbling
the world's secrets

if we knew this language
of rocks and saltwater
kelp and shifting sands
what could we learn?

the road hugging the coast
along narrow shoulders

of rock, past beaches
& promontories,
through tunnels
scooped out 
by the tide's restless fingers

the reach of the ocean

3

once darkness has overcome us
we are still driving into
geographies of our ignorance
the headlights illuminating our way
the stars revolving in silence above

we have left the coast behind
who knows where the hell we are

these roads have no ending
they just go on & on
effortlessly moving us into
uncharted territory

we are lost sailors
on a sea of black roads
leading to forever
searching for the paths
that climb to the sky -

follow the stars
follow the moon


Joanne Fisher


First published in JAAM 16

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

How Is It Done? (poem)

How Is It Done?


It's like there are these words
swimming around the inside
of my skull

& all I have to do
is be quick enough
to catch them before

they slip away beyond
dark swift waters

swirling cascading words -

catching rainbow trout
with a net


Joanne Fisher

First published in Spin 38

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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

Holy Orders (poem)

Holy Orders


at first I did not see the way
they moved their mouths
during mass, as though
they didn't know the words

their vulgar tongues
unable to grapple the
language

as if behind the prayers & chants
there was worship of something
other

*

sent here to these northern wastes
the vineyards & cypresses
giving way to tall angular trees
& snow

when I saw the church
they were there -
the old gods
grinning down

*

I see them process
out of the village
to worship one of their
wild-wood demons

they beckon to follow

I stay in my church
lose myself
in Holy Scripture

*

I imagine them
copulating over
some profane altar

the word of God
is not strong enough
here

Lord lead them from the Abyss!

*

a pounding comes at the church doors
until they explode
& a dark bestial god
enters my saviour's house

I grasp the brass cross
but the image of my dear lord
does not offer sanctuary
the dark one comes for me...

I awake pouring with sweat
the wind whistling
through the walls

I put on my woolen robes & pray
until the dawn

*

I'm sailing toward 
an unknown

the edge of the world
drifts


Joanne Fisher


This poem was first published in JAAM 22

In my first year at University I remember seeing a slideshow of northern European architecture. The lecturer commented that the gargoyles on top of the churches were actually totems of the older gods who were there just in case this new one didn’t work out. Indeed the further north you went into Europe during the Middle Ages (and even later) the more Christianity seemed a thin veneer over the older faiths. This poem explores this. The narrator is a young priest sent north…

In the Middle Ages the Mass would have been in Latin. Most of the congregation would not have understood it, especially in northern Europe. This changed after the Reformation.

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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

The View From Above (poem)


The View From Above


is this what I meant?

to be their guiding light,
their puppet of prophecy, their
salvation

I am dying for their sins

*

sometimes I wanted to 
keep my mouth shut
& stroll off by myself
but when I did that
they all went & followed me
anyway

*

my body feels as though I'm 
burning with a purifying heat
everything - the crowds, the
soldiers, the walled city below
become distant & insubstantial
the air ripples around me

the view from up here is
extraordinary

the future
a shimmering mass
incandescent with
possibilities to
the end of time's
horizon -
weaving twisting
turning
trailing away
like a restless 
serpent

*

blood is flowing freely
from my hands & feet

I can tell you
I am in considerable
pain up here

(I think I'm going
to  pass out
any second


Joanne Fisher



First published in JAAM 16

A few years ago I saw an interview with Norman Mailer about a book he had written (I’ve never read any of his works). He was talking about how Christianity regarded Jesus as the Son of God, who also happened to be a man, but his book was about Jesus the man, who also happened to be the Son of God. I thought this was an interesting shift of perspective and sometime later I wrote this poem with this idea, and a touch of Monty Python’s Life of Brian thrown in…

I grew up in a religious household, though I’m not really a believer anymore I do find aspects of spirituality and faith interesting.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

At the Mall (poem)

At the Mall

my niece is the the grand display
at the Westfield food court
delighting us all
with her furtive glances
and wide open grins

it's my birthday so
I'm being treated to lunch
and while we eat
my sister and I ponder
we are getting older

I tell her I thought 
by now
I would have found
a soul-mate
and now it's getting
too late

maudlin thoughts
on your birthday

my niece smiles and giggles
saying things in gibberish
that only Carmela can
understand

she holds her tiny hand
outstretched to us
offering

a mostly eaten cracker
with marmite on top


Joanne Fisher

This poem was originally published in Catalyst 1.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

The Fall (poem)

Image source: International Committee of the Red Cross

The Fall


saw a dead man today
walking past his vacant body
men & school-kids clustered
trying to revive him like
some new Lazarus
I went home to listen
to the new CD I bought
but I think of this man
& lifeless bodies lying
on pavements
as you might imagine them
in Gaza or Hudaydah or Aleppo
though this one was solitary
perhaps his day was like 
any other -
walking to the safety & security 
of home like I was
like we all do
but never got there
his strong body suddenly
falling
his life shattering
like glass


Joanne Fisher

Originally published in JAAM 19.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher

Sirens (poem)

Sirens


at night
when the
waves have
lulled me
asleep I
hear your
sweet voice
singing to
me giving
hope in
the darkness

luring me
ashore to
my doom


Joanne Fisher

This poem was first published on this blog in March 2019.

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©️2022 Joanne Fisher