Shattered Prospects

Pursued by every shadow,
He rode the winding way
To where his love lay waiting:
Trunk packed for ocean stay.
An owl looked on in silence;
A wombat backed away –
It seemed, no-one had noticed
The saddle-bag’s low sway.

He wore a conscience heavy;
More weighty than the gold
Removed beneath the noses
Of troopers bullet-holed.
But one thought kept him going,
Both resolute and bold –
A dream of life together,
In love as they grew old.

She saw his coat-tail flapping,
Each vaporous breath rise forth,
The bulging bars of bullion
Purloined from further north.
Then suddenly, from cover,
A bullet followed course;
Resulting in her lover’s
Departure from his horse.

She burnt their steamer tickets
Upon the fireplace grate
Until they soon resembled
Her lover’s ashen state.
And now, when night comes calling,
Her wistful eyes relate
The power of a gunshot
To shatter prospects great.


Rainbow Threads

The tree bent down her branches
To touch the morning dew
Which blanketed the meadow;
Enticed with silvered view;

But distance still remained
Despite her downward sway,
And soon the silver sheen
Departed with the day.

The tree, with gentle sigh,
Cast higher thoughts instead,
Toward a passing cloud
Above her nodding head;

But as she couldn’t stretch
(And even if she could)
Clouds remain elusive,
As nature’s wonders should.

Therefore, she whispered: “Cloud,
A shower would suffice
As fitting recompense
For wishes thwarted twice.”

To which a mist descended
Through curtain of sun’s glow,
Extending rainbow threads
From sky to earth below.

David Watt is a writer from Canberra, the “Bush Capital” of Australia. He is Winner of the 2018 Friends of Falun Gong Poetry Competition. He has contributed regularly to Collections of Poetry and Prose by Robin Barratt. When not working for IP (Intellectual Property) Australia, he finds time to appreciate the intrinsic beauty of traditional rhyming poetry.

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20 Responses

    • David Watt

      Thank you David. I enjoy the ballad form and any comparison to Marty Robbins is much appreciated.

  1. Amy Foreman

    Really enjoyed the “Shattered Prospects” ballad, David. The lines: “Resulting in her lover’s Departure from his horse” were particularly witty and delightful. Thanks for sharing these!

    • David Watt

      Thank you Amy. I’m glad you liked these more lighthearted lines in “Shattered prospects.” I believe that tragic subjects generally benefit from the injection of a little humor.

  2. David Hollywood

    Dear David, I enjoyed each poem for different reasons, in so much as ‘Shattered Prospects’ captured a tensely focused and committed adventure in pursuit of dangerous love hat ended with me feeling sorrow for the anti-hero and his girl, whereas ‘Rainbow Threads’ seemed to capture a romantic embrace of a rustic embrace. Many thanks for both.

    • David Watt

      Thanks David for your kind comments. The piece I most enjoyed writing was “Shattered Prospects” because it is the more active of the two.

  3. Jeff Nicholson

    Wonderful storytelling! When I can be so easily transported into and witness the scenes, it’s a job well done. I truly enjoy poems like these–thank you for sharing.

    • David Watt

      Thank you Jeff. I am heartened that you found the scenes effective in relating the story.

  4. Martin Rizley

    Thank you for sharing these visually vivid, imaginative, and exquisitely crafted poems. What I found particularly artful in the first poem is the way you tell the story in a subtle manner largely through the use of concrete images– the rider feeling “pursued” by shadows, the trunk packed “for ocean stay,” the saddle bag hanging low, bulging with purloined gold bars taken from under the noses of “troopers bullet-holed.” The images tell all. I also liked your use of synechdoche in the second poem to create rich images– silver sheen, sun’s glow, rainbow threads.

    • David Watt

      Hello Martin, thanks for your kind words. I am especially pleased that you found the concrete images effective.

  5. James Sale

    Well done David, fine poems. I do like narrative poems anyway, and these tell an interesting tale. My favourite lines are these two: “Until they soon resembled / Her lover’s ashen state.” Marvellous writing!

  6. David Watt

    Hello James, I really appreciate your comments. My predilection, like yours, seems to be for a narrative style. Although, your works tend to encompasses a much broader scale.

  7. James Sale

    Hi David, thanks for your response; it raises a very interesting question about form and the poet. I do think that we all have to experiment to find what forms go with the grain of our talents. Form in a way represents a way of thinking about the world; it’s like a fingerprint, very distinctive. I had a friend some years ago who could write really good sestinas, which I thought I’d find easy, as I do find it congenial writing sonnets and villanelles. However, when I came to try it I hit a brick wall: I shall almost certainly never be able to write a good sestina and should desist from trying, since it doesn’t suit the way I think or compose poetry. Terza rima, on the other hand, since I discovered its potential, I love – and of course it flows so easily in narration. So I am glad you like narrative and you’ve found an excellent vehicle for it: namely, the ballad form, where you have done a variant in your first/third lines by excising the fourth and final metrical stress, so creating a ‘fading’ away effect as the lines end on an unstressed syllable. Nice. Well done.

  8. E. V.

    Both poems are skillfully written. I think Rainbow Threads is one of the most poetic themes I’ve read on SCP’s website. Please continue submitting!

  9. Monty

    ‘Shattered Prospects’ is to me a masterpiece, David: masterfully illustrative.. strong.. disciplined.. and cleverly woven in a way to make each and every line flow so effortlessly into the next.

    One commenter above referred to the terms ‘Terza Rima’ and ‘Sestina’; neither of which I’m familiar with . . but I find myself wondering if either term refers to your deliciously-imaginative feat of placing full-stops only at the end of the 1st and 4th lines of each stanza? For one such as myself who values discipline in poetry; the ‘full-stops’ thing was the icing on the scrumptious cake.

    Well baked . .

    • David Watt

      Hello Monty, I am so glad you appreciated “Shattered Prospects”, and in particular, the flow of the narrative.

      The interlocking tercet pattern of Terza rima, as referred to by James Sale, is a form I quite enjoy. James also referred to the sestina (39 line repeating line-end word) poem. I have yet to attempt a sestina.

      I decided on placement of full-stops at the end of lines 4 and eight of each stanza as a means to slow momentum as little as possible. The regular placement of full-stops also gave some uniformity to the structure.

      Thanks for your comments, and also for the interest you have shown in the poem’s structure.

  10. Shari Jo LeKane

    Dear David Watt,

    I enjoy the lyrical ballad form that you have chosen to relay these beautiful rhyming poems. While ‘Shattered Prospects’ is reminiscent of the Horatian Ode – touched with irony, melancholy, and gentle humor – it is still folkloric in culture like a traditional ballad.

    ‘Rainbow Threads’ likens to Transcendentalism (New England, 1836: Thoreau and Emerson) in that divinity pervades all nature and humanity. According to Immanuel Kant, in order to understand the nature of reality, one must first examine and analyze the reasoning process that governs the nature of experience.

    • David watt

      Thank you Shari for your thoughtful response.
      I agree that divinity does indeed pervade all nature and humanity. Kant was right on the mark with this thought.

      “Rainbow Threads” follows in the tradition of Australian folklore – the bold outlaw defying authority, risking all for love and money. As I enjoy relating a story, the lyrical ballad is one of my favourite forms.


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