Black Candles

The nights of the future are behind us
like a circle of unlit candles –
silver, cold, and deadly little candles.

The nights of the past move ahead,
a lovely line of warm lit candles;
the farthest ones are now flaming,
golden candles, reaching, and rising.

As I light the black candles of the future,
the past ones slowly fade and die, one by one;
I touch the dark power of the future
and notice my hands are aflame…

As I look at the circle of black candles
the ceremony of life alters the world…

– Steven Craig Hickman ©2014 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited.

6 thoughts on “Black Candles

  1. This poem is extremely eerie, but I think it makes sense. The past looks better to us in retrospect, and then we’re so sad when it’s gone, but the future is unknown, hence the darkness. All the possibilities that pull us forward can be good or bad, but either way, we eventually leave our pasts behind in order to grow as people. Am I right?

    As a side note, I’d really love to know where you get the inspiration to write so many poems in a day.


    • Richard Hugo in his The Triggering Town I think sums it up best, and I’m just going to misquote him… sense it would take me time to find that book 🙂 There are certain places that trigger memory and desire… that suddenly awaken different feelings that mesh over time with certain images. We know through the neurosciences that our affective memories and our mental memories are quite different … the poetry comes into play when one can bring the two types of memory and imagination together … so that the poem registers both a deep sense of emotion and also a visceral and very physical sense of place… Now Hugo never said this in this way… this is my own translation into my terms: hope this helps 🙂

      I think my inspiration comes as I begin to reflect on my life… typical and prosaic as that is. Yet, then it works itself to the surface as a feeling, a vague feeling of happiness or sorrow… that then attaches itself to either an image, another poem I read, or a memory that seems to coincide and typify as an exemplar these differing relations… then the rest is craft… to write free-verse I think one needs to have studied and written in the actual classical mode for a long while… its a sense of rhythm and timing… an ear within the ear of hearing the music of the words, seeing the patterns of the music take the words into the structure of the poem. That’s something one cannot teach… that’s what makes it unique and ubiquitous… almost effortless. A lot of hard years of practice, practice, practice… and, believe me I’ve practiced writing for at least 40 solid years being 62 now… I was always too busy to continue once I was raising a family and had several children… I could kick myself for that… but it is what it is. I was always busy writing technical reviews, philosophical essays, etc. Software architecture… what not… but now that I’m retired… doing what I love best! 🙂


      • Yes, I think it does help some. I suppose I just need to work at getting inspired as often as you seem to. I suppose I should probably start by going outside more.


      • Oh, and read poets that speak to you… a lot of poetry to tell the truth is an answer to other poets, and poems we read… Not sure if you’ve ever read too much literary criticism or not, but that old Johnsonian critic Harold Bloom if you take him with a grain of salt does have some good things to teach us… His works on poetry are great… as well Seamus Heaney the Irish poet has a selection of his essays Finder’s Keepers… well worth the effort…


      • More that likely I’ll be adding essays on poetry as well over time… I have another blog I’m working on that will open up toward a different set of themes as compared to this grouping of poems… I must admit the book of poetry I’m working on is centered around loss and death… so I think you’re seeing that … not all my poetry is based on that… like little poem on my Cat was a throwback to the nonsense lyrics of 19th Century Edward Lear… style humor…


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