Poem Friday: Daniel Mathers’ ‘Chain’ a sense of detachment, emptiness, time-standing-still invades its very core

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Chain

Bright but distant lights shining faintly from a prison
Stars in the sky as though trapped in a prism
Not a car for days and days, nothing to be seen
Long strip of short-cut grass, splotchy brown and green
Letterboxes down the street draw a wandering eye
Trees bending in the wind, way up in the sky
Lying on the road at night, breathing in the air
Nothing else to see or hear, I am all that’s there.

Bio: Daniel Mathers is a 15 year old, Year 10 student from Lincoln High School. Originally born in Melbourne, Australia, he has been living in New Zealand for the last 10 years and currently resides in Rolleston, Christchurch. His hobbies include the likes of playing video games, spending time with friends and family and making short films for his YouTube channel.

Author’s Note: I hadn’t really written any poems before I wrote ‘Chain.’ Well, I mean not any that I had put any effort into. I did write the occasional poem in English class but those were just because I had to. My inspiration for ‘Chain’ came to me on the night of my 12th Birthday. I was bored and so my friend and I walked up my driveway to the road I lived on. It was so peaceful, there were no cars around and very little light. It was so peaceful. That memory stayed with me for a very long time until I was able to finally share it through my poem, ‘Chain.’

Paula’s note: I did a workshop with a group of students at Lincoln High and I was really struck with the mood of this poem. The way a sense of detachment, emptiness, time-standing-still invades its very core. The detail that aches with both fullness and vacancy. There are the musical chords that are slightly off key (prison/prism, bending/breathing, nothing/splotchy, stars/grass). It almost felt like a sonnet cut short. And at the heart, the poet absorbed in the moment. I like the enigma of the title. The way things are linked and continuous. The way things are linked and prison-like. That whole sense of entrapment in routine and the deeply familiar. It’s a haunting and evocative poem.

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