Transparent Words - Poetry


5 Poems by Dorrie Johnson



Heights of peace


The waiting silence absorbs time.

I long to reach the lonely crag,

its misty contours undefined

where angled lines mark dark-worn tracks.


I long to reach the lonely crag

of raw rock drops and badger setts

where angled lines mark dark-worn tracks.

The shadow-figured silhouettes


of raw rock drops and badger setts

grip those who climb the blackened rise.

The shadow-figured silhouettes -

wind-chastened trees in low-cloud skies -


grip those who climb the blackened rise.

I’ll taste the sharp bite in the air.

Wind-chastened trees in low-cloud skies

bring peace. I want to be up where


I’ll taste the sharp bite in the air

and feel the precious solitude

bring peace. I want to be up where

the wild terrain will match my mood


and feel the precious solitude,

its misty contours undefined.

The wild terrain will match my mood,

the waiting silence absorb time.



Sand messages



‘I love you,’

you said,

and wrote I love you,

letters large, untidy,


in wet sand.

We watched

till the tide turned.

Sea surging in

smudged the message;

its backwash

dragged at your words,

smoothed the sand.

You laughed

and threw away the shell.


Intensive love



I watch you through hot dry eyes.

How I long, now, to comply

with that eyebrow you raise -

that you’ve raised

at any misdemeanour

since I was small.

- the lift so slight

but my only sign

that you are aware.


I loved you so –

but now I hate myself

for the revulsion I feel

as you are lost

to this unnatural lump

beneath the sheet

trapped in the web of tubes

which drip fluids

in and drain them out.


Another line marks your pulse.

I scan the screen,

my own heart beating fast.


I talk a bright falseness

that doesn’t fool you or me;

ask stupid questions.

Your hand is cold under mine.

I wet your dry lips.

Your eyes defeat me.

I focus on that eyebrow

as it ‘yeses’ and ‘noes’,

and twitches other meanings

I cannot understand.




Restaurant conversations



The tables are arranged

not quite touching.

The starter carries no threat.

Talk is soft, careful

catches up with friends

and times.

Musak floats, low-toned.

Eyes skim-read other diners,

assess relationships and mood.


As tables fill chairs are pulled closer.

The room grows warm.

Sauce and spices

flavour food and rhetoric.

The main course strengthens

beliefs, challenges a story,

encourages anecdotes.

Whispers, wine-leavened,


light on unintended ears.

Discussion slows

attentive to an indiscretion.

We listen,

strain without shame

for names, times, places.


Dessert sweetens memories,

relaxes inhibitions.

A sudden lull

explodes a name into the silence.

Forks freeze below open mouths.

Cutlery clatters to cover the slip.

Heads turn,

seeking the informer.


Coffee steams open confidences.

Waiters offering cream or mints

are un-regarded.

Tonight we are the waiters.

Later we’ll share the stories,

dine on spurious information.




Essay to the Midlands



It has a starting point,

a route ahead

with signals and signposts. 

Reasoning rambles from Euston to Watford.

Losing momentum,

it lurches through Hemel Hempstead

picking up briefly

passing Berkhamstead.

There is almost an argument

at Leighton Buzzard,

disoriented by topography

passing the sprawl of Milton Keynes.


A brisk resurgence

then it loses its way

through short tunnels

of incomprehension.

Stationary before Rugby

with no pointers in sight,

considers possibilities

and probabilities,


It picks up again -

then, behind schedule,

draws no conclusion.


Any hypothesis

possible at Euston

expires outside Coventry,


for an express

Silverlinking to London.


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