Fireborn, I imagine you in these rooms
Chandeliers like caves, like crowns
Marble floors made for waltzing
Dancing through the endless night.
You painted stories on the walls
With your clairvoyant fingers
Tales of chivalry and romance, an
Echo of something better, a past
Preserved in pastel colour dreams.
This was your escape, wasn’t it?
This castle with its spiral towers
Gleaming white, a diamond in the
Forest of your heart.
I wonder where it went wrong.
You are a mystery that time has
Swallowed, a secret kept safe
Beneath the lake’s calm surface.
I imagine you walking along that shore
A century before me
And plunging into those
A few weeks ago I travelled to Munich alone with the goal of finally visiting the fairytale castle on the mountain that inspired Disney’s ‘Sleeping beauty’ castle. It was just as beautiful as I’d imagined. I brought my notebook along and wrote this poem about King Ludwig II – the owner of the castle – and the strange mystery surrounding his untimely death.
It’s said that one day Ludwig and his psychiatrist were taking a walk around the nearby lake. A few hours later they were both found drowned. Though there are many theories about how he died, none have been confirmed.
Seeing this castle in person was a sublime experience for me. It was the realisation of a dream I’d harboured for a very long time, but lost sight of last year when I was in a dark place. Being able to make this trip to see it has reminded me of the person I used to be and has given me hope that one day I’ll be that person again. I found that poetry was the best medium to try and capture that feeling and channel the beauty of the place into language, and I hope you agree.
Have you visited Neuschwanstein castle? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Black holes, fast cars
I walk off the edge of the platform
Chasing neon lights, the London
Eye swirling as it plays witness,
There are potholes in my mind
I am filling them with gravel from
Streets I’ve forgotten the names of
Subway station debris, this
lit-up nighttime metropolis
Bursting at its seams.
Flowers in Porto and
Pink-lit lanterns strewn above
City square stone, painted
Faces on outcrop walls
Fire in the sky and fire from
Inside, feet dangling ledges
Boats moored to hard edges
The view from the barricades
As you pulled me away
From the dancing bridge lights
From the streaming, flowing gold
From this city of angels and fear but
I’ve forgotten the lyrics to that song
And the lights will blow a fuse
In my head; they are burning
Through my vision, cars clamouring
in the late evening rush, headlights
Flaring like angry bulls as we weave
Back towards our starting point
Finding this city in ourselves
Folding over and over again
Running between traffic lights
Spinning between tramlines
Trekking up steep alleys for –
What are we looking for?
What is there here to find?
You ask me what your best quality is
And I tell you you’re a coconut eclair,
Average blue on the outside
Tropical sea foam underneath
Waves roaring to the surface
White sand beaches on sugar-coat shores.
But you say coconut is for
Hipsters and lost souls
Those who lack a refined taste
The commoners of confectionary.
You see yourself as a caramel swirl,
Endlessly smooth, filled with buried treasure.
And I, this is where I come in,
I am the green Bermuda triangle to your
‘life is a box of chocolates’ analogy
That mystery space on the map you
Just can’t pin down, alluring with my
Sharp edges and crackle-foil shields
Just waiting to be discovered and claimed,
Claimed and unwrapped, loved because
I am original and unique
‘not like the others’
A rare species, you call me.
But my three sides are a lie and
You mistook the shade of green I am:
I’m the average one, plain milk chocolate
Or vanilla fudge, family-friendly and
Comforting when you’ve had a bad day.
I’m not your green light and I’m not the
Disappearing space in your head that
You keep trying to navigate even though
The compass needle spins arcing circles
And the stars realign every time you look up.
I do not exist in your praline dreams
Soft centres and chewy toffee fillings.
I am alive, I am real and
I am here
Living out my fantasies in a
Broken little house on quality street.
To show my appreciation
Polite applause to the far-flung actors playing out their lives
On well-worn stages, patching cynicism into song.
To champagne-sipping businessmen in Armani suits
And their secret lovers, hidden away in this
Sprawling, living city.
To the angry politicians with their campaigns and ideas:
Words can make a nation, surely the poets understand that best
All holed up in little indie cafes
Trying to resurrect stanzas –
Oh, allow me to show my utmost gratitude for the
Busker in the underground at Elephant and Castle
Seeing through the walls into the grubby alleyways
That wind through London, tangled and knotted like yarn
Pulling, pulling the winter in because it’s always dusk in these alleys
And the light is speckled with grime and desperation –
All you need, really, is a little self-preservation
Because there’s never enough for those who
Hibernate in dumping grounds, who flash past closed shutters while
Stereo rap blares from BMWs and an Asian tourist’s prized camera goes click.
Taxi drop offs and cobble streets bridging too many gaps to cross.
Allow me to show my thanks
As I stand here and feel this great concrete heart pulse.