Luminous Diptera

Untitled, digital photograph, © N Nazir 2021

Sorrow is the most efficient light-producing entity in the world. 
Its luciferous quality communicates with other woes
and their similar dance steps attract each other.

Despair flies around with its unique firework display 
while calculation sits perched on a branch waiting 
for its own particular brand of ache to arrive.

(Calculation – genus: from the determinus family, also known as stratagem, totting up, figuring out or the reckoning).

Some despairs synchronise their flashing patterns to attract more calculations 
particularly those oft-seen American types that live in the Great Smoky Mountains.
How successful they are is another matter.

(Despair – genus: from the abandonment family, also known as pain, anguish, melancholy or gloom)

Each sorrow has its own particular colour.  
Some glow cerulean
others blaze green 
while still others storm
orange or flare yellow.

They taste disgusting, however.  

When sorrows are mistakenly thought to appear delicious 
they instead emit a bitter blood that poisons the muncher.
(the munchee’s last laugh).

They often practise cannibalism of their own kind.
Calculations like to consume opposite despairs of their own genera 
by mimicking their dance steps then eating them alive 
whilst the poor despair believed they were finally going to mate
with the perched and tantalising calculation. 

Yet if nectar of the gods is scarce
and there are no unsuspecting despairs
they will eat silent moving spirals or nothing at all.

The fascinating thing is that sorrows have their own language. 

Females sorrows, aka calculations, will puppet the language of a despair
aka male sorrow, from another clan (a rival despair, no less)
to trick it into mating with them when it really wants to gorge them alive
which it often successfully achieves. 

What they don’t realise
and this is the dark splendid bluff of the whole thing

is that the male sorrow of the same clan as the female
also mimics the dance steps of the rival sorrow
so the female ends up eating its own kind not a rival sorrow at all.

What a sad sphinxes’ riddle it all is!

So, to the left of the equator the number of sorrows is declining
because the too-clever belly-gorging females are eating them all
by tricking the not-clever-enough males
who plot their own back and get eaten anyway. 

So how can they truly evolve? 
They morph into something else, forget themself then eat themself.
Proof that being too clever can destroy you.

Or perhaps the calculation goes to great lengths not to have babies
and Nature colludes with her?

Sorrows, ought you not commune in the dance steps you were given 
without mask or farce, then no one would be souped?
What sophisticated arts you use to demise each other
no wonder sorrow is rife yet shrinks.
Nature wrestles with its own demons.

And what of the light?

Those pillager-humans, the energy suckers that they are
hunt and harvest these sorrows
to achieve luminosity or luciferous ends.
So both depairs and calculations 
cannot migrate 
cannot adapt
cannot evolve.

they simply


© N Nazir 2021

*Thank you, David Attenborough, Planet Earth, BBC, National Geographic and for all the fascinating info (which I have thwarted and debunked so trust only 50%).  ‘Tis an incredible planet we inhabit.

I know this poem is too long and needs editing but I’ve got to tick off the poem for today as my day is already full.  

Thank you so much for continuing to read my work.  I appreciate it so much. ❤️
I’m definitely not one of those writers that thinks they know it all.  In fact, I sometimes cringe at my own work.  

I truly welcome any constructive feedback and comments. ☀️

NaPoWriMo Prompt: to use facts about an animal with any references to the animal itself replaced with other abstract notions, to be rearranged and edited into a poem.

Luminous with Wolfgang Laib

As we pass the winter solstice, I was thinking about how daylight will lengthen incrementally by a small chink every day until spring begins to spring. This got me thinking about a work of art I’ve always had a soft spot for which encapsulates the essence of spring for me: Pollen from Hazelnut by Wolfgang Laib.

I don’t quite know how to describe it except to say that it’s either a transient sculpture or an installation in constant change. It inhabits the gallery space rather like a hazy cloud of pure yellow, not-quite-there but unmistakably present, a presence, in fact. But what is it? What it claims to be. A gigantic amount of pollen measuring 18 x 21 feet painstakingly gathered and collected by the artist himself from natural spaces around his home village in south Germany then carefully placed in the gallery space.


The logistics of how he achieved this make my mind boggle. It’s an odd material to be able to transport so how would you? I guess pollen is a physical object even thought it’s delicate. But one flower would yield only a small amount at a time. The number of flowers he must have taken from is astounding.

The process is what gets me, the never-ending repetitive motion of collecting it. What profound patience that would take, what state of meditation you would enter in doing so. I would rather like to know the stream of thought that went through Laib’s head as he was doing that. Did he feel as if he was stealing something he shouldn’t, robbing nature of its seed, disrupting the pollination process? Or did he feel that the flowers were happily giving of themselves, because nature replenishes itself therefore it’s no crime? Did he unsettle the natural activity of bees by doing this? I felt ethically conflicted by it.

Image from Pinterest

Still, I’ve always loved art that brings the outside in. Where you can admire a chunk of rugged landscape within an indoor space and let it breathe, take it in. I lament the fact that I never got to experience this installation but I hope one day I will. I can only imagine what a vivid tonic for the eyes it must be. It has been described as a mesmerising illusion, as the huge square of pollen seems to hover above the ground in a type of haze, like an enormous pastel smudging. To me it is that feeling of summer haze, a quintessential sunshine yellow. Sure, it’s a theft of nature but worth it to behold.

At the end of each show, Laib simply collects all the pollen back up and stores it for the next show. Which makes me think it’s quite a resilient material. I wonder if it is still potent for the process of pollination if he were just to cast it out into the wind in the middle of nature somewhere?


Artists are always using materials no one else would ever imagine using and when you’re the first one to do so and the work is well-received, it pretty much carves you a niche in the map of the art world. The trouble is that everything’s already been done so what else can they do? There is still room for originality but it is true that new ideas are simply old ideas recycled, inspired by previous canons of movement, appropriated, redone, refashioned, subverted, newly interpreted and so on. I like to think that there is still room for originality however. Not everything has been done, I’m sure. I just couldn’t tell you what.

Wolfgang Laib, Pollen from Hazelnut, 2013, © MoMA, New York

As always, thank you for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed sharing it, incongruous though it is with the season.

A very Merry Christmas to you all!

© N. Nazir 2020