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Midwinter Night (Alone)

A Poem by Chase Ambler


A lone figure silhouetted

black against snow

lit bright by streetlamp.

He stumbles, drunken,

on the sidewalk, trudging

through powder underfoot.

Snow, lifted by sudden wind,

swirls beside him like

tea seeping from a bag

just placed in a hot cup.

Soon the clear water is lost to brown

like the dark figure consumed by white.

But harsher liquid heats

his body against frigid night.

He loses balance again

as if the sidewalk shifted on those

very waters, no longer just a cup but a sea of

waves boiling beneath the concrete slabs.

And I,

removing my jacket

to prevent overheating in my car,

do nothing to assist.

“And I’m,

so tired of me,

withered and unclean.”

The light, celestial aura

of the vocals seep out of my speakers

juxtaposed with the heavy,

terrestrial atmosphere of the band.

A contradicting fog of emotions

akin to this snowstorm raging

outside the window.

Just thin glass shielding

me from nature’s white wrath.

Is the song for the figure

now enveloped and cold,

consumed and alone?

Or is it for me

now privileged and guilty,

consumed and alone?

He breaks through the snowy swirl

like plunging into that ocean,

white bubbles floating up

and away from his body.

And I,

now drowning as well,

do nothing to assist.

“And you’re

so tired of me.

I’m too blind to see.”


Lyrics from:
Broadrick, Justin. “Tired of Me.” Jesu. CD. Hydra Head. 2005.

Jesu – Tired of Me


~ Reflection~

Let’s just say that I make tea for my wife a lot. I’ve always love seeing the tea seep out of the dry bag as soon as it hits the hot water. Those swirling tendrils of color fascinate me. I had wanted to use it in a poem for a while now. I had to try and incorporate it when I decided to write about this moment. It blossomed into a water/liquid theme for the poem that I feel works quite well.

There are moments that stick in my mind for some reason or another, and I find that once those moments happen, I’ve got to get ‘pen to paper’ quickly. I guess I should say ‘fingers to keyboard’ in my case. Poetry often happens in that combination for me. I have a vague idea, or line, or just a simple metaphor that I’ll spin in my head for weeks, and then all of a sudden something will happen and bring it all together. That mixture of conscious thought and luck is so necessary for art in my mind. I bet there are artists/musicians that say art needs to be 100% spontaneous, in the moment, improvised, and I bet there are others who say that careful planning and meticulous work are needed. I always see it as a mixture in my writing and music. I could sit down and play guitar for hours and not keep any of it in the end, but other days the melodies just come floating out, and yet other times it’s a smoldering idea that needs to be stoked, molded, crafted, and perfected before it is something worth keeping.

When I witnessed this scene happening outside my car window, Jesu’s song “Tired of Me” was pouring out of my speakers and it seemed to fit the mood of the scene so perfectly that I knew I had to try and incorporate the song in the poem somehow. This was something I’ve never done before and am still not sure if it works like I hoped it would, but I’m happy I gave it a try. Writing and music are two of my great loves, and to blend them is strange but felt right somehow. The kids were asleep in the back seat of the car, so this man, Jesu, and I were locked in a slow motion, winter scene alone for a bit.

How many times have you felt like you could have something, or something more, for another person and yet you did not? That’s what this poem is ultimately about: that guilt and feeling tired of your own failings as they rear their heads again.

Of course, suggested listening is Jesu’s song “Tired of Me.”

Chase Ambelr - Headshot

Chase Ambler is an American writer who spent his childhood in South and Southeast Asia. His life has been shaped by strange obsessions: heavy metal music, mountains, travel, and soccer. These subjects have all molded his poetry and prose in some way, but the birth of his two children may have the greatest impact yet. He currently lives with his wife, daughter, son, and dog in Colorado. If one went looking for Chase, they could find him anywhere from changing diapers to summiting 14,000 foot mountains, but odds are he’s in front of the computer working on his next novel.

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