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Light from the kitchen window

by nickb 

Posted: 05 December 2013
Word Count: 166
Summary: I was making a cup of tea one rainy night a while back and an image popped into my head. Funny the things that stick. This is very much a first draft so would welcome your thoughts. Hopefully it's not too mawkish

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You appear at the strangest times, like last night at the kitchen window
through a dark downpour tapping morse on the glass, dots and dashes
that trickled sadly towards the concrete sill as the kettle clicked off.

I picked you up in a second, in the abrupt squall that tripped the halogen,
or the fir trees jutting sharply, silvered supernovas blasted bright
by a gulag searchlight, heavy wrecks drowning in a wind-wallow.

But mostly you loitered like an impenetrable aftermath in the unhitching
deaf and dumb darkness between them, where the city usually glimmered.
I caught those slender fingers, a head thrown back in laughter,

and from the corner of my eye I glimpsed the dear look of yours.
I tried to judge the distance but the dark, like my stomach,
was a solid ball, and I simply stared blankly clutching a tea bag.

The light went out. You withdrew again, and I was left with the
dashes and dots trickling sadly to the concrete sill.

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Comments by other Members

butterfly2000 at 17:27 on 07 December 2013  Report this post
Hi Nickb

nicely evocative and not mawkish at all. I particularly liked the fir trees as
heavy wrecks drowning in a wind-wallow
We are right out there in the blustery storm and then brought back in to the everyday with the quietly clutched teabag. The disparity between the outer and inner worlds.

There is only one word I would ditch, and that would be the 'sadly' in the final line. I just think it detracts somehow...

best wishes

nickb at 20:47 on 08 December 2013  Report this post
Hi Debra, thanks for your thoughts. I agree, the "sadly" can well be ditched, it does read better that ay.

All the best


FelixBenson at 23:54 on 10 December 2013  Report this post
There's lots to like about this haunted, haunting and atmospheric poem, Nick.

How well you have captured the wind groan and creak in
heavy wrecks drowning in a wind-wallow.
, and I can't say how much I enjoyed
the deaf and dumb darkness
- it's just so absolute, which is exactly how it feels on nights such as these, when ghosts appear - a profound darkness. You really conjured that - a great image.

Altogether this poem really works - especially those long lines, which trail the thought out in full, and give space to the images. That said, I think you could trim some words here and there - lose the prose whilst still keeping that conversational or journal-like tone e.g. In the first line, lose 'like', in the second line lose 'through' etc. You haven't lost any meaning, but these prose-like linking words weigh down the line and are not really necessary for preserving the meaning. Alternatively, switch this into a prose poem, maybe? Either way would work.

I really enjoyed this and was right there with you, staring out into the night, capturing a glimpse of someone (long)lost.


nickb at 13:11 on 12 December 2013  Report this post
Thanks for your thoughts Kirsty. I had the feeling that it was a bit too wordy and I think the trims you suggest will improve it substantially.

All the best


James Graham at 20:49 on 12 December 2013  Report this post
Hi Nick - Your description of the storm is dramatic. I like especially the morse dots and dashes, which are aural but visual too (round drops and streaks visible on the glass) and evoke the lashing rain right at the start. Also the line Debra pointed out - the trees as storm-tossed ships, overwhelmed and sinking. A powerful image.

As I read it, the storm reflects the speakerís emotions. I donít mean itís a metaphorical storm; itís real, but the speakerís emotional state is comparable. Itís good that the poem doesnít spell this out but leaves it implicit. The only explicit link between the conditions outside and the speakerís inner feelings is

the dark, like my stomach,
was a solid ball

This one link seems to me just right, very well judged. The poem should signal that there is a correspondence between what is outside the window and what is in the speakerís mind; this seems to me just the right way to do it, and at the right point in the poem.

I like the way you insert Ďthe kettle clicked offí and the tea bag. Again itís the light touch thatís good. Two small details are enough to convey the very ordinary thing the speaker is in the middle of doing, in contrast with his extraordinary vision.

Now, I have a problem with this:

silvered supernovas blasted bright
by a gulag searchlight

This seems to say that the trees are like supernovas lit up by a prison camp searchlight. But supernovas blast themselves bright. A simple solution might be something like

silvered supernovas blasted bright
or flared by a gulag searchlight

but I would get rid of the supernovas altogether. The image of the gulag searchlight is strong enough to stand alone, and it has connotations more relevant to the speakerís state of mind. The line would have to be filled up, e.g.

silvered Siberian pines, incandescent
in a gulag searchlight

See what you think, anyway.

I agree that itís better to leave out Ďsadlyí - in the last line too. It would leave the last line shorter than all the rest, but I think thatís actually quite appropriate. A short last line, which repeats words from the first stanza and then peters out, gives an impression of emptiness, which is what we expect after ĎYou withdrew againí. Also, for some reason Iím not sure of, I would change ĎI was left with the...í to Ďthere were only...í

I agree with Kirsty's comment on the quality of the long lines. You could try turning it into a prose poem, but for me it's better as it is.

Just a few suggestions. Itís a poem with great immediacy - very vivid as to external description and the way it conveys emotion.


nickb at 19:01 on 15 December 2013  Report this post

many thanks for your suggestions, they feel entirely right to me. I wasn't entirely convinced by the supernova bit myself so good to get your feedback.

All the best,


V`yonne at 13:08 on 31 December 2013  Report this post
I liked this very much and it is atmospheric and the end so sad. I would suggest a tweak here:
and from the corner of my eye I glimpsed that dear look of yours.
I tried to judge the distance but the dark, like my stomach,
was a solid ball. I simply stared blankly clutching a tea bag.

Very nice writing.

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