Ghost Signs


Walking – graffiti clamours – bang bang bang,
hydraulic hammers drive foundations in,
bolded hoardings cover yawning gaps within.

I search the patchwork sky – escape the clang…
someone’s cell phone delivers a harangue…

Nostalgia Lane, bluestone bricks beneath a bin
flowing butts and wrappers – its urban skin
a palimpsest of sturm und drang;

there, decaying ghostly recollections,
once steady hand and eye, careful balance
etched in time on painted bricks and concrete;

heritage vernacular inflections,
although faded add a playful ambience,
our ghost signs still speak graciously in streets.

Sam issued a challenge to write a Miltonian Sonnet. This is my attempt – there are more over at dVerse. Do visit because there are some fabulous examples.

Form for All: The Librarian, the Poet, and theย Snowblower


46 thoughts on “Ghost Signs

  1. ah you had to know i would love it…you capture well the character of the city, ha…love the visuals…the use of sounds…you have me right there…even down to the cell phone ringing…smiles. and the grit of the trash…i love it marousia…

  2. This is wonderful. I had never thought to call these ‘ghost signs,’ but it sure makes sense. Now you will have me looking for them as I drive around. It is nice to be able to find the beauty in the decay as you do!

  3. This is great work–that last line is my favorite, such a perfect rendering. I live in Savannah, GA, where we have many downtown sections that fit your description exactly. Nicely done!

  4. What an amazing read this was – I love the idea of the ghost signs, the “palimpsest of sturm und drang” on the “urban skin”, like phantom tattoos on a body long-decayed. With so much packed into this, I’m thinking of this as one of my favourites of your poems. Definitely bookmark-worthy.

  5. You captured one of Milton’s sonnet rhyme patterns and you got the syllable count — but you were sacrilegious with the iambic meter! But with such a scene and such clamour in concrete, bricks and trash, your choppier metre is much more appropriate. Very urban! Well done. Loved the photo. (I’m following comments, so you can e-mail if needed)

  6. Okay, I fell in love with this poem by the time I got to ” its urban skin a palimpsest of sturm und drang.” It put me right in the heart of a city and kept me there. Expert sense of place.

  7. Those ghost signs of yesteryear hold so much ambience – like keeping some connection with past lives and lifestyles close! Love your images of “patchwork sky” and “urban skins” – suggesting that there is more harmony between Nature and the city clutter than perhaps we may first believe! Intriguing poem!

  8. ‘its urban skin
    a palimpsest of sturm und drang;’
    Love it! This is such a cleverly constructed sonnet that celebrates your love affair with the fading & partially hidden past … & the aesthetic qualities of an aging sign that, somehow, out-arts all the surrounding ad’s & graffiti. Super poem ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Pingback: ghost whisper secrets | voices

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