Seated in the underground, my shoulder
pressed against my neighbor’s dampness
soggy wool. Her face is veiled, a glimpse
of sorrow in mascara streaks; wilted roses
in her hands. Suddenly we find ourselves
alone, her henna hands prepared in mine.
From across a bay, on starlit waves a boat
approaches, and without a word’s been said
I know that one of us will leave. Her eyes
reflect the stars above, and in my veins
is ice. I’m on my back, my nostrils fill with
formaldehyde. The three-piece suit I wear
is black, and she tells me softly that it’s
time to sleep. A ship’s a coffin, but inside
it’s soft with crepe de chine. She places
a blood-rose, dew-drop tears, my eyes
are closing, and I feel the gentle swaying
waves before I find my shoulder’s free
in my hand I have a rose, and once again
alone I’m seated in the underground.

Woman with veil by Alexander Roslin

Woman with veil by Alexander Roslin

Today dVerse Poetics Grace wants us to write about everyday life with an element of wonder or dotted with psychic bus stops that are sometimes unfathomable to ourselves with inspiration by Canadian poet David McFadden. The scene is actually based on a very real memory from back in high-school when a lady (coming from a funeral) started to talk to me about her sorrow, and when she left she gave me a rose.

32 responses to “Wonderground

  1. Quite the challenge, brother. For one thing, McFadden’s poems are usually 3 pages long, & I do not pick up on his Beat poet inspirations. I guess we can let our imaginations run butt-naked across pages & parking lots. Your poem is lovely, dark, & short; just a slice of Rydberg, with a psychic chaser. You shift voices & POV mysteriously, & it titilates my interest, leaving me with questions & macabre feelings; nice job.

  2. I like the way you wrote this poem full circle, Bjorn. Beginning and ending in ‘the underground.’ It also makes me think of two different meanings of ‘underground.’ Very clever.

  3. Again you have shown yourself to be the master of mood-creation. This offers a bit of a chill and raises a lot of questions. Your afterword helped me to fill in the blanks. Beautiful, really.

  4. I love the surreal element of the story telling, with her henna hands and her leaving you a rose ~ The call of death is close (with ship’s a coffin), yet you wake up, seated at the underground ~ Love the twist in the title too ~

  5. This had a surreal filmic quality – reminded me of Berliozand the March to the Scaffold sequence in the Symphonie Fantastique. And yet there is a gentleness and elegance in it (as captured in your accompanying picture).

  6. Interesting about underground being wonderground. and it works so well with this poem. And you have created another dream world – eerie in its shifting and changing. A ship’s a coffin….and a coffin is a ship to another place, to under ground. An interesting event of your high school days and how it impressed you to stay so immediate in your memory that this poem came from it. And yet, it isn’t jarring or scary – gentle it is.

  7. So beautiful, like a painting. I liked that the speaker has kinship to the woman, and isn’t sure yet which of them is dead. I might be adding this myself, but I had a feeling at the end that he would have liked to comfort her

  8. Your poem is surreal and dreamlike…I like your explanation of its basis in a real memory (and the comments about wonderland/underland).

  9. What an interesting exchange, Bjorn. I’m sometimes astounded at what strangers will share with another. But you took that encounter to another level with your dreamy accounting. I really enjoyed it.

  10. This struck me as a somewhat structured stream of consciousness piece that weaves together reality and imagination. You have painted a fascinating picture here. For some reason, I see the scene unfolding in deep, umber hues – much like a baroque oil painting

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