Photo of the Day Poems – Post #5

Coming up for a breath of fresh air, or slowing down enough to deepen a bit, here’s week five of The Guardian Photo Poems! In case you haven’t stumbled upon this yourself, the hyperlinked photograph credits will bring you to a larger image of each photograph on The Guardian‘s webpage. This week’s highlights from last year’s photo inspired poems include snow in County Durham and tornado damage in the US (shout out to Phil Terman’s “Some Days”), a farmer protest on railroad tracks in India, and a poem dedicated to Dylan Thomas inspired by a time exposure photo of lightning strikes in Santa Barbara. Be sure to follow the links to Phil Terman’s Some Days and Dylan Thomas’s iconic villanelle, Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.

County Durham, UK (3/4/2019)
Photograph: Owen Humphreys/PA
Beauregard, US (3/4/2019)
Photograph: David Goldman/AP


(In the style of Phil Terman)

Some days you have to choose to live alive,
cast off the ever present shadow that huddles close
while you pick through the debris of your life
after it’s been blown off its foundations,
or you watch the drowsy students
filter into the room at 8:00 a.m.
You have to believe that one word,
like a seed, might find a crack in the stone
and work its way down with enough rain
to find good earth hidden within.
You have to remember
and see in their mirror faces,
yourself, albeit decades past,
trying to make sense of a frequently senseless world.
Some days the unceasing struggle with entropy –
    kids’ bedrooms, kitchen sinks,
    the corralling of chaos into a paddock of order –
must be abandoned
for the elusive moments of silence,
    nodding off in bed, book in hand,
    or standing in the stillness of a new snow
    without thought of shovel, sled, or seeking shelter.

Amritsar, India (3/5/2019)
Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA


No flag of surrender
Bodies laid down on the tracks
Not the sleepers
Snug beneath these rails
We ride above
Locomotive of flesh
Cargo of souls
Moving in stationary protest
Refusing to be derailed
‘Till the engine yields
And ears pressed to steel
Hear switch tracks click miles away

Forked Lightning

(For Dylan Thomas)

Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night

You thundered rhythmic words
Forked lightning
Your life the storm
That branched brilliance
Into a good night
Strokes of genius
Splitting darkness
You did not go gentle
But premature
Boisterous, drunken, and doomed

Had they known
Who look with awe
Upon this fractured Santa Barbara sky
The potency of your images,
The ingenuity of your words,
They would have turned
To the time-elapsed pages
Where your Welsh spirit
Continues to flash its intoxicating display
Proving death shall have no dominion

3 thoughts on “Photo of the Day Poems – Post #5

  1. Have to agree with James! I LOVE Necessities. The imagery hits very close to present living. Praying for that seed that finds its way deep into the cracks of life!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. Trying to carve out that time to deepen in the midst of preparing online lessons for my students and grading papers, and all that comes with being a father who is future focused is the balancing act of the times. Thanks for checking in!


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