Light and Darkness

candle 2
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;
Blinks but an hour or two; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
(excerpted from “Winter-Time” by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.
(Junichiro Tanizaki)
Learn to reverence night and to put away the vulgar fear of it, for, with the banishment of night from the experience of man, there vanishes as well a religious emotion, a poetic mood, which gives depth to the adventure of humanity. By day, space is one with the earth and with man — it is his sun that is shining, his clouds that are floating past; at night, space is his no more. When the great earth, abandoning day, rolls up the deeps of the heavens and the universe, a new door opens for the human spirit, and there are few so clownish that some awareness of the mystery of being does not touch them as they gaze. For a moment of night we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars — pilgrims of mortality, voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. Fugitive though the instant be, the spirit of man is, during it, ennobled by a genuine moment of emotional dignity, and poetry makes its own both the human spirit and experience.
(exerpted from chapter eight of “The Outermost House”, by Henry Beston)
Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision softly creeping
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence
(excerpted from The Sound of Silence, by Paul Simon)
Today is the day I will celebrate Yule, and my Winter Solstice. I have been thinking a great deal about the longer nights, the insomnia, the shadowy days, and the lack of the sun. Truth be told, I miss her light, her warmth, and on those days this month when she has shone her face and warmed me, I have made an extra effort to get outside and soak her in.  I am eager to turn that corner of the longest night and head back toward the light, to chase through the woods at sunset as she sets fire to the tops of the trees, and warms my skin! But I’d be remiss if I left it at that. Because I am also the girl who loves the darkness, and welcomes the night, even the insomnia. I find it is a gift, to steal an hour or three of shadowy silence for spilling ink and writing poetry, is one of the great pleasures in my life.
candle yin yang
Darkness intrigues me, calls to me, begs to be celebrated. I have felt this way since very early on in my adult journey into a new experience, a new identity and spirituality that was fully my own. I remember long ago reading a post on a blog by Poppy St. Vincent, about being a woman who in the spirit of Lilith, chases her own darkness… “Maybe sometimes she has children now but she has a life away from them as well. Maybe she loves but does not obey without question. Maybe she walks her own path, thinks her own thoughts; she has the distinct smell of trouble about her. Maybe she is so restless at night because she has such dreams of desire that they will not let her rest.” …it resonated with me so deeply, that I long ago wrote about it, and that call to leave the warmth of hearth and home for a while, and chase my own darkness down the shadowed paths under moonlight. It truly changed the way I identify myself.  I have learned to embrace the darkness in me, and yes, to revel in it. I am both Raven and Moon. My blood runs inky, and I seek out the nights, the shadows, the forest paths where I run with my Wolf. We explore that darkness together, and yes, these things add depth, poetry, adventure and a spiritual richness, a “religious emotion” as Beston says. I am deeply fed by this act of embracing the night, and the darkness that is an intrinsic part of who I am, and how I’m made.
candle snuff
I have been meditating today on this longest night, and on ways to celebrate it in my own way. I will, of course, attend a small Yule celebration, and with friends and like-minded acquaintances, I will join in the ritual, light candles, make music, and welcome the light in that circle. Today alone, as I have no other day this year, I wear about my neck a chain from which is suspended a small silver charm shaped like the sun — presented to me and to all in attendance at my first Yule ritual. It seems an appropriate reminder of the light that shines in even the most troubling times, and I need that perspective. My year has had its share of heartache, and even today, I am going through a sort of darkness that I do not relish, do not chase. I am comforted knowing that it will not always be so dark as it is now in that sense. I recall for myself in these ways the truth that light is coming.
Still, my desire is to embrace that light while also honoring the darkness… like a chunk of snowflake obsidian I carry in my pocket some days, light and dark in the same small space, both creating beauty. I will carry that stone with me tonight, and I will spend some time in the wee hours, reveling in the absence of light. I will turn off my electronics, my light bulbs, blow out my candles. I will breathe and be grateful for the shadows in my life that define beauty, and provide contrast to the brightness. I will relish the stillness, the sound of silence, the quiet of four in the morning — and after a while, I will light a solitary candle, and I will write. I will do what I was made to do, what is in my blood, and bones and DNA. I’ll spill ebony ink onto my pages, to remind me that darkness too, is truly my old friend.
Candle out

After A Thousand Years — After Christina Perri, A Thousand Years (a golden shovel poem)


I feel you smiling, when I wake every 
morning. With a single breath,
I see your body shiver. With every 
look across the room — no matter the hour,
your soul stretches — and my soul has 
to stop and  shake its wings. So, come! 
Let’s spend the years (the next thousand) next to 
each other, with our others. Let’s not waste this! 



golden shovel – Take a line (or lines) from a poem you like. Use each word as an end word in your poem. Keep the end words in order. Credit the original poet, ie. “-after (poet)”.


For today’s prompt, write an “after (blank)” poem.
For more information, check out–

Fall Recall – Second of Three Flashbacks

This weekend I celebrated my birthday, and it was filled with amazing experiences with incredible loves… and no writing whatsoever. So, this week, I’m revisiting some early posts, and sharing them again. I hope you enjoy this one!

Glimpses and Reflections at 2:00 a.m.


I like dark chocolate, hot tea, new books, fountain pens, rainy days, the three full weeks that are autumn, form-poetry, flickering candles, wordplay, a dry sense of humor, warm freckles on pale skin,  being behind a camera, bits of ephemera, red wine, white wine, deep elaborate fiction, sad songs and working typewriters.

I like having my own space, falling in love,  creative freedom, hours of solitude, the way two bodies fit together in an embrace, the feel of the earth beneath my bare feet, the wind tugging at my hair, a gnarled tree at my back, and first-date conversations that last for seven hours.

I like the way words taste in my mouth, the way river stones feel in my hand, the heat and aroma of coffee in a ceramic cup, the way the moon always finds my window, a thousand kisses – long and slow, hard and deep, warm and soft – sixth date conversations that end at sunrise, and crying over movies or sappy holiday commercials.

I like songs, poems, photographs that are so pure and beautiful they take your breath and make your heart ache. I like creative vulnerability, the smell of ink, the curve of a guitar, the texture of canvas, and the intimacy of sharing absolute silence.

I like the journey an intense bdsm scene can take… the climb, building slowly, surrendering to the sensations, the dance along the edge, the pain, the rip in the fabric of time I can slip through, the strength of a safe word, deepening trust, the taking flight, the shattering and the pieces coming back together, the endorphins and adrenaline, the  finding myself back on earth feeling balanced and whole again, and the spiritual connection between a top and a bottom.

I like the silence and freedom that come from surrender, being in that head space… giving up control. I like a good strong intelligence, a sense of honor and integrity, a powerful mind fuck, I like sex that leaves me sore and trembling and a lover who doesn’t just tolerate my sexuality and sluthood but encourages and celebrates them.

Most of this for me — the kink, the passion, the art, the poetry, love and human connecting — is about having enough confidence to risk showing your soul, and to see into someone else’s at the same time, without flinching at the intensity or the  vulnerability. I like that electricity, that courage and that reward.


passing (2)

We are two celestial bodies — like ships —
weighed down with stars in a vast galaxy,
bursting at the seams with a cargo
of explosive, universe-creating energy.

Yet we cannot connect long enough,
to make exchange, to offload our cargo.
We pass each other –sailing in circles,
and occasionally our shadows kiss.

Our respective holds strain, and shift,
inner-voices — sailors to man rigging,
and mend sails — they grow tired
of these circling, endless journeys.

They are tired — I — am tired,
of seeing your smile from afar,
feeling the wake of your orbit,
and yet not casting out a rope.

I long to haul you in, to pull myself
into you. but you pass so quickly,
the briefest glimpse is shadowed
in darkness. So, I busy myself —

I check my charts, devise clever signals
to launch into the sky. Your response is
always, “Soon…” as bewildered by weather,
star charts, and creaking ships as I.

Balsam Lane (a triolet)


The forecast was for rain,
(though we’re still in the dry)
downtown at fifth and main.
The forecast was for rain.
I’m here at Balsam Lane—
no clouds are in the sky.
The forecast was for rain,
though we’re still in the dry.



An 8 linepoem. The first line of the poem is used 3 times and the second line is used twice. There are only 3 other lines to write: 2 rhyme with the first line, the other rhymes with the second line.


A (first line)
B (second line)
a (rhymes with first line)
A (repeat first line)
a (rhymes with first line)
b (rhymes with second line)
A (repeat first line)
B (repeat second line)


“For today’s prompt, write a things-not-as-they-appear poem. Poetry is filled with metaphors, similes, symbols, and layered meanings, so this should be a softball prompt. If you’re struggling, look at your current surroundings, pick an object, and turn it into a metaphor for something. Or think of somebody in the real world (mail person, gas station attendant, etc.) and make up a secret double life for them. C’mon, you can do this.”

Significance on the Wind – Instagram poetry (a lai poem)


Significance on the Wind

such a cold Wednesday
windy, dark and gray
in March

so a curious jay
perched in fine display
o’er arch

pale pastel bouquet
sent it’s scent my way
a larch


(for Emy)

(provided words:  curious, Wednesday, pastel, significance)

@ConnorPenelope on Instagram



lai – 9-line poem or stanza that uses AB rhyme with this pattern: AABAABAAB. A lines use 5 syllables, B lines have 2.

Your Name — Instagram poetry (a quatern)

(click to enlarge)











I’ve made an incantation of your name,
whispered it softly on a spring warm wind.
My body aches, cries for your weight again.
I’ve conjured raging storms to bring you in.

Winter has kept us two lovers estranged.
I’ve made an incantation of your name.
I’ve watched the skies, I’m waiting for a change.
I’ve raised my trembling hands within the henge.

My beating heart won’t slow its frantic pace.
My shuttered eyes are haunted by your face.
I’ve made an incantation of your name.
Tell me are gathering clouds my saving grace?

Just why my soul wants yours I can’t explain.
I’m twisted on the wind, a weather vane.
You make me sigh aloud and pray for rain.
I’ve made an incantation of your name.


@ConnorPenelope on Instagram

POETIC FORM: Quatern – 16 lines broken into 4 quatrains. Each line has 8 syllables. 1st line is refrain. In 2nd stanza, refrain appears in 2nd line; 3rd stanza, 3rd line; 4th stanza, 4th (and final) line. No rhyme scheme.

Collateral Damage

Relationships have peaks and valleys. To make a relationship last…people must be committed to the climbs, just as much as they are to admiring the grand views.

~Kaliana Dietrich


Sometimes an argument saves a relationship, whereas silence breaks it. Speak up for your heart so that you won’t have regrets. Life is not about making others happy. Life is about being honest and sharing your happiness with others.


Sometimes, just writing the hard stuff, without drawing conclusions, without sharing lessons learned, is what is most needed. Today, I need to write this experience, just as I do others, so I can continue my journey. I hope it offers some backstory and perspective on what break-ups — monogamous or polyamorous — can be like.


I knew, when we met, in June 2010, that he was different. When he spoke about polyamory, and how people should be treated, he gave words to the conclusions I’d been drawing, as I sorted out my own philosophy, building poly relationships that were honorable, ethical, and designed to last a lifetime. The more he talked, the more I knew he was someone I could fall in love with, my heart would be safe. He had a primary relationship; he lived in Dallas and she in Houston. I knew and accepted that — even when his primary didn’t treat me with respect. I worked hard to find and live within the boundaries that made up his life, hoping he’d defend my heart, if his primary decided to use it for target practice. He, in turn, respected my marriage from the start.

I fell in love, trusting him completely.

In April, 2011, he began dating someone new. She too lived in Dallas, while I lived 251 miles away. Things between us began to shift. Time once spent on the phone with me was now filled with date nights, and weekend trips with her. It was NRE (new relationship energy). I was glad for him, but scared. We scheduled our weekends, talked through the changes, and he affirmed his commitment to me. I affirmed mine to him. I met new girl in May 2011, and she was beautiful, inside and out, genuine, caring, and head over heels with him. Together they glowed. I was very glad to see him smile, after so much hurt and upheaval in his primary relationship. She was a bright light in a room of shadows.

I liked her, and she scared me.

I was insecure, fearing he’d only been poly because he hadn’t found the right one yet. Maybe she was the right one, and I’d get squeezed out, as their relationship grew. I let those fears beat me up, especially when a few months later, his primary partner decided the new girl and I were both, indeed, disposable — and I should be the first to go.

New girl did something amazing. She stood up for me, fought for his love for me, and encouraged him to do the same. She spoke up and didn’t back down when it got ugly and difficult, supporting him while he broken-heartedly went into battle for me, and the polyamorous life he’d planned. I supported him too — from afar — but she was there in the trenches. I was thankful she’d come into our lives and loved her for being brave.

His primary relationship did not survive.

It died in December 2011 and like a wall of love we came together, surrounding him and sharing his grief. We loved him, and respected each other, and it was good.  I learned over the next several weeks how tenuous my place in his life had really been as his primary partner had attacked. I heard of new girl’s support, and how she’d been heart-broken by his pain. I was grateful, and yet, insecure. It might not make sense now, but then I was rattled by the depth of their connection, and the fact that I was so in the dark about the battle they’d been fighting for me. He’d not told me any of it. Communication was not his strength.

Turns out, communication wasn’t a strength for any of us.

In February 2012, he and I had plans to celebrate a late Valentine’s weekend, here at a local B&B — at the last minute told me new girl was coming along, and staying in our suite. I didn’t flex well. I panicked, and the resulting conversations only made things worse. He finally insisted she come, when she felt unwanted.  He insisted I trust him, as he wanted to talk to both of us. We were both physically ill, scared, and flying blind, But we trusted him, and when we came together for a heart to heart, we trusted each other.

That night in our suite, he declared his decision to make us both the core of his world… dual primary partners, each with different relationships, but neither with more importance or value than the other. He announced his intention to hold public commitment ceremonies with each of us, and to build a better life. Throughout that beautiful weekend, we talked and talked, vulnerability and fear giving way to trust. The walls between us crumbled, and we cried with relief in a three-part embrace.

Then it happened. It had been happening, but I’d been scared to trust… and on that day, seeing her vulnerability and beauty, and knowing my own, I took a risk… and I kissed her. We dropped our defenses, and began to fall in love. I was terrified, and I’m not sure that she wasn’t, too.  But buoyed by his love, and the trust we were experiencing, I let myself leap into an unknown place, opening my heart for the first time ever, to be loved by and to love a woman… her.

It was probably the best weekend we ever had.

The next year and eight months were filled with ups and downs. We argued a lot, and didn’t communicate enough. There were discrepancies, misunderstandings, and occasionally wonderful times in a huge king-sized bed. We shared trips, came out to some family, attended poly events and funerals… there was some good. But, communication about basics, like the structure of our triad, the individual relationships, the future, commitment ceremonies, designations like “fiancee'” and “girlfriend”, living arrangements, and expectations was not clear.

Eventually he moved in with new girl, and prepared to sell his condo. She proposed; he accepted. She expressed a need to be primary, insisting he declare her publicly as such.  I asked him for clarity, guidelines regarding what he needed from our relationship. He insisted I was still primary, too. No one came before me, no one came before her. I asked her for clarity, and it became clear that her views were not the same as his. I asked for triad conversations, which erupted into arguments without actually addressing the questions. When put on the spot in those triad discussions, he clammed up, afraid of hurting her, or hurting me.

The chasm widened; the pain continued.

I failed at communicating. Instead of pressing for clarity, I tried not to rock the boat. I believed him, when he said his feelings and plans with me hadn’t changed. I went on planning, hoping that things would get better. He failed at communicating, hoping the storms would blow over. For over a year, my fears and hers made it impossible for the two of us to explore the love we’d hoped to grow. She failed at communicating her needs and fears to him, and she stopped communicating with me. We were all hurting, wounded, and avoiding pain.

In October of 2013, she declared to him that she was done. She insisted he dump me, declared me toxic to their marriage plans and future happiness. She insisted I never wanted her, and wanted him all to myself. He gave me the news over the phone, that she was unwilling to continue, asked me for time to sort out his life, as his plans and dreams for our triad had just blown up.

So, I waited, mourning the loss of her love, alone.

In theweeks to follow, he gave me hope that he could make the transition from a triad to a V relationship. I waited in near silence for six months, until in April, 2014, he told me, he couldn’t continue. She was forcing him to choose. Though he still loved me, he had to end our relationship to save theirs. He swore he would fight to build a future with room for me. She — after six months of silence toward me — emailed him, my husband, and me, to make it clear she’d never permit him to have a relationship with me.

Two days later, they married and flew off to a European honeymoon.

I mourned the loss of my relationship with him, alone.

Today, he’s still trying to change the future. Today, she still wants me to disappear. Today, I am his friend. For ten months, I’ve been collateral damage, fallout from a polyamorous triad explosion. But, the road ahead keeps going. I know I am a good friend, a good poly partner, a good lover…

…and I will find my own way. 


girl walking__ (2)

One Thousand Black Feathers (a somonka)

blackfeather2 (3)

Today my heart storms,
my life bound and counter-bound.
One black feather, a gift
in the wind, peace — but I know
I’ve no haven; I made my chains.

I wish I could be
your shelter of wings, freedom.
Today my heart pounds
against the chains you have made.
I am black feathers, falling.




The somonka is a Japanese form. In fact, it’s basically two tankas written as two love letters to each other (one tanka per love letter). This form usually demands two authors, but it is possible to have a poet take on two personas. A refresher on the tanka: If a haiku is usually (mistakenly) thought of as a 3-line, 5-7-5 syllable poem, then the tanka would be a 5-line, 5-7-5-7-7 syllable poem. However, as with haiku, it’s better to think of a tanka as a 5-line poem with 3 short lines (lines 2, 4, 5) and 2 very short lines (lines 1 and 3). While imagery is still important in tanka, the form is a little more conversational than haiku at times. It also allows for the use of poetic devices such as metaphor and personification (2 big haiku no-no’s). Like haiku, tanka is a Japanese poetic form. (for more on the tanka, see: for more on the somonka: