‘Definitions’, in Visual Verse Vol. 8, Chapter 3 (January 2021)

Happy to share that the editors of Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words selected my poem, ‘Definitions‘, for their January 2021 issue (vol. 8; ch. 3).  I am in great company.

Visual Verse release a new image on the 1st of each calendar month and accept submissions up until the 15th of the month. They publish up to 100 writers over the course of the month, and look for “quality writing, new ideas, innovative and challenging approaches.”  To be eligible for publication the work must be inspired by the image, of 50-500 words, and written within one hour (see https://visualverse.org/about-visual-verse/)

The poem and the image go together so it’s better to read it directly on Visual Verse (here) but I have copied and pasted the text of my poem below as a means to keep a copy of it myself here on my blog.



As scientific understanding of light advanced,
the spectrum has since been applied by analogy
to topics well outside those understood as ‘Optics’.

For instance, I read, “a single left–right
spectrum of political opinion does not capture
the full range of people’s political beliefs.”

This is what I see – the very definitions
fencing the horizons right in front of us –
we want to cover sunshine with one finger

to break your way through fences & hope
they won’t be built again, electrified,
meant to put you & all away from what & who we want.

Our travel documents will need to be replaced
well before their best-before date. We no longer
look the way we did on the first page.

when I was little all I wanted was
to cross the border –
I learned to queue before I could pronounce it &

this day & age others have decided
that to cross the imaginary land should be harder,
impossible for those who dare to dream.

The entry sounds (alas!) definitive:
“there is a unifying theme between the extremes
at either end. This was not always true in older usage.”

These words belong to all – permission to reuse,
a drop in the pixel ocean of the Commons,
a contradiction, a dissonance in light of today’s cue.

Think of yourself as stateless, paperless, penniless
& without fixed abode – yet so rich in faith
because what’s poor is to build these walls between us