Tuesday, 2 August 2011


“Water, thou hast no taste, no color, no odor; canst not be defined, art relished while ever mysterious. Not necessary to life, but rather life itself, thou fillest us with a gratification that exceeds the delight of the senses.” - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

I have recently become aware of a creative writing group hosted by Magpie Tales. I read a couple of poems that blogfriends have written and which have been inspired by a striking photograph by Skip Hunt. The photograph is of an old mill, which has fallen down from its lofty mount and decommissioned. I have tampered with the photograph somewhat (apologies to Skip!) and was inspired to write this:

The Iron Sunflower

The sun bakes the red earth
And sky above is blue as blue bottles can be
With light streaming through them.

Drought, and the only noise of midsummer noon,
Is the hum of the machine and the smell of diesel
As water is pumped from deep secret caverns, below.

The bluebottle fly buzzes lazily, imitating the pump,
Sated on her feast of rotten thirsty carcass,
With her eggs safely secreted therein.

The listless children drone in the schoolhouse,
Overcome by heat, repeating by rote the lesson in chorus
Reminiscent of a dirge of Greek tragedy.

The precious water, hard-won by efforts of man and machine
Is stored, as treasured things are, safely locked up,
In corrugated iron tank, not to be wasted on useless things – like flowers.

The head of one of past seasons’ large sunflowers
With a few black, shiny seeds hangs up deep in the dark recesses of the shed,
Strung up high, safe from rodents and birds, a sad souvenir of old times.

The sun bakes the earth and cracks it, breaks its spirit:
No touch of green, no sunflowers this year,
And the wind blows, only to lift great clouds of red dust.

Fallen by the wayside an old mill-head rusts away mirroring the dusty soil.
Its sails are petals of an iron sunflower – the only flower this year.
As the monotony of the pump numbs the ear,
And the stench of petrol deadens the nose,
The rusting iron flower is a reminder of gentler times,
When machines were driven by wind, and their creaks were musical
And the air carried only the faint smell of fresh sunflowers –
Water could be spared then for useless things…


  1. Oh!such a realistic take on the prompt...an eye-opener..I liked it! :)

  2. Realistic, yes, free verse imagery that came alive while I was reading - pure joy to visit all the scenes you've magically painted with your words.

  3. Skip should have no problem with your 'photo tampering' ... you created a most enjoyable Magpie!

  4. I too like what you have done with the photo prompt. Your poem is an omnious one, as I sit here in the midst of a long mid-western hot spell. I miss the ozone layer. Thanks for your thoughtful write.

  5. Fantastic take on the prompt. I was there, right there in the heat and very concerned by what is to come.

    Welcome to Magpie Tales Nicholas. Your contributions will I know, be a joy to read.

  6. What a great idea! Lots of creative juices flowing and it's interesting to see how each person has inspired the photo.
    I love this poem, Nicholas. It has a strong sense of atmosphere and color, but also makes a strong environmental statement and how we have made our lives more complicated...

  7. So happy to see you joining with Magpie Tales. Enjoyed very much your take on this prompt.

    And as usual love your poetry

  8. I enjoyed this very much. Beautifully done.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  9. Its a beautiful poem but it carries a serious warning, Nic..... I guess if we keep on polluting and relying on all the latest machines we'll see more and more damage to our environment......