“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 chiseler

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

[evidently Walter de la Mare galloped past here with ‘The Listeners’]

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. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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! 💜

  6. 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!!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

feedback is food for thought....

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