“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull”

Jim Harrison
You said I was a fabulous, talking head
espousing excitation in sparkling conversation
the way a fountain makes so much of things
with only stale, still waters to pump around in circles 

How else could I have staged that one man curtain raiser?
cast as an ageing poster girl hanging out to dry
edgy and downtown from some soapy operetta
a Pygmalion perhaps with an off-stage phantom chiseller 

Only later did I go down blind, a rush of blood and seeing stars
pasty on an upturned billboard- yet still I never swooned
preferring nightmare rides, sweating bareback
rat-a-tat tatting at all the eaves dropper's doors 

Abstemious now, it's plain to see the topsy-turvy blood lines
how the vessels track polarity from heart to head in pain
pumping, throbbing, aching  - so it never was a lovesong after all
just a somewhat niggly migraine wrought by the jangle of June 

And these few lines - not even enough for a billet doux
Phew! we've left no earth shattering volumes to misconstrue

One that never quite made it to Jilly’s pick of Jim Harrison quotes but have revived it now without too much of a headache for Poetry Pantry

26 thoughts on “Migraine

  1. I enjoyed the read and no doubt it will be appreciated at PU. I loved the biographical feel of the piece and the satisfaction in the narrators words.

  2. I wish I understood more of what this poem meant. Not sure of the context, but the imagery was excellent!

    1. its a bittersweet look back inspired by Harrison and the poster I captured of the upside down woman – the imagery followed on so thank you for that

  3. Not a love song but just a migraine – oof! That’s a pretty hard realization. After all the energy pumping those stale waters hoping for some real flow. And I loved all the theater references which added to the feeling of a dramatic and intense relationship that ended up just being some fake scenery that was well lit for a few hours.

  4. I like the surreal feel of this piece, the way in which we can’t be quite sure who the speaker is–a person, a disembodied head, a migraine… how the not knowing matters little, only the emotions jumping from line to line are important. And the shape of the thing. I like that, too. It made me think of an article I read about the making of the film Madeline’s Madeline.

    1. Really enjoyed your feedback Magaly -not least on how you picked up on a disembodied element which I had not registered – but dissociation is often the experience of migraine – thank you!

  5. I love the lines of realization so much – ” it never was a lovesong after all / just a somewhat niggly migraine wrought by the jangle of June” – I have lived just such a realization. So well expressed.

  6. Oh my god 💜 I was just contemplating writing about migraine the other day and here you are with this masterpiece! 😊 I love the blend of surreal and serious imagery depicting the magnitude of pain that accompanies a case of severe migraine. Especially like; “pumping, throbbing, aching  – so it never was a lovesong after all.” Beautifully rendered! 💜

  7. The image and the narrative are like a swirling blues sax solo; just have to wave my hand in the air and say mmm hmmm. Sing it, baby. We’re all up in this. Great post!!

  8. One man curtain raiser and a Pygmalion idol: What more could one ask from such a quirky and witty piece! I like the motifs you utilize; there’s a dream-like quality to them and their vividness is exempalry. Also, I could feel the resonance of all the pumping and thumping given my terrible hangover headache last evening. Ha!

      1. Ah, I can see that in your penmanship. I think that humor certainly makes the pain more palatable for others and quite so for ourselves as well when we are trying to emulate it in our written word.
        I find it so awkward to portray it and put a recognition to it that I end up hiding it in intertwining metaphors and images that either soften the blow or just detract from its original perspective.

  9. I suffered migraines until my early twenties when. thankfully, I finally grew out of them. You’ve got the experience down so well, you must know whereof you speak! And what a potent metaphor it makes.

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