Whilst on a recent holiday to Con Son island off the southern coast of Vietnam, I was struck not just by the remote beauty of the place, but also by it's history. The white sandy beaches and clear waters belie it's cruel past. It was used as one of the most feared places of incarceration in the region by the French from the 1800's, and also by the Americans during the Vietnam War. The aptly named 'tiger cages' are still there, and for many Vietnamese, these prisons are places for sombre remembrance and full of ghosts. . .
Island of Ghosts: The Tiger Cages of Con Son Prison © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Not because I don’t have anything to think about
But because my head is full
And I don’t know which idea to choose
To focus on. To tease out. Make bigger
Into what, I haven’t yet figured out
Tired. And stuck
Thoughts about ghosts both past and present
Thoughts about the planet and how much I want to see a future
Thoughts about my family and how much I miss them and can’t wait to see them
Sad. And stuck
There it is again. That word.
Some days are blue sky days where ideas and feelings soar and my hands fly across the keyboard
Some days are black cloud days where my ideas and feelings lay in a dark sticky tar
My hands hover for hours waiting to pluck the ideas from the mire
I know I have to experience both to realise what the other is
But on black cloud days it’s hard to create honey from tar
I look out of the window in my apartment on a world that seems so busy and noisy
As I observe that world my mind starts to quiet
Thoughts slowly begin to unravel
Jumbled scenes become a recognizable thread
Tar is not honey. Not yet.
But there is something. A beginning.
Not so stuck anymore.
Stuck.© Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Clouds roll in from the south.
Dragon shapes, bear shapes.
reaching far up into the sky
Building steadily, grander, higher
So many of them.
Shapes casually merging
into a great stretch of darkening grey
Wind blows gentle at first.
Then stronger, harder,
It moans through the metal door frames
Thunder rumbles far away
But not for long
Here it comes, closer.
Sonorous and full.
Vivid flashes of lightning
illuminate the sky
Then the first droplets. Spit. Spat.
Until there's too many to count
Falling harder, faster.
Pinging off the metal balcony railings.
Clouds, wind, thunder, lighting, rain - the sky as one.
A discordant symphony of sound and light.
Exhilarating. Fierce, Life-giving.
Monsoon © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.
A couple of new poems that I submitted to the Australian Writer's Center competition today. They had to be based on the image you see - hence the post title! Oh and they had to be no more than 23 words. . .
I stand looking out to the horizon
Feeling that tingle of excitement and fear mixed together
My skin is electric like the air around me
Senses on edge
Watching, waiting for something to happen
Clouds gather and blue sky becomes grey
Grey becomes black
Almost like the sun has been swallowed
The wind strengthens and whips my hair around my face
I hug myself, arms wrapped around my chest
The sea starts to swell, waves begin to crash on the shore
The water is green - a beautiful, deep green like an emerald
The wind is hungry and flies around my body, lashing my clothes
Greedily trying to make them take flight
I hear the rumble
At first soft, then louder, louder until
Thunder explodes breaking open the sky
Like an axe splitting a log
Across the clouds
Rippling, illuminating. Lighting crackles
My whole body feels totally alive
Every pore, every sense awake, aware
I stand still, not wanting to break the spell
Not afraid but . . . transfixed, mesmerized.
The first PLOP of a fat rain drop on my hand
A few and then many
My skin massaged by a thousand tiny fingers
It’s only then that I run to the shelter
One by one the raindrops stop
Thunder quiets down
It's done, spent - the energy gone
Black becomes grey becomes white
The sun peeks out from behind the clouds
Framing them in yellow and orange hues
I feel the soothing caress of the returning warmth
The sky returns to a soft blue
Accompanied by a brilliant arch of colour
The storm is done.
The Storm © Kerry Gittins 2020. All Rights Reserved.