One Layer Deeper

One Layer Deeper

 by Helen Losse

I pass through heavy curtains into
a chamber filled with many chairs.
No one invites me to sit. It’s not quite
dark, and I am alone. The air is heavy,

as though lacking oxygen, as though
the last of hope has faded, with just
hints of remembrance
. It is neither
night nor day, so how can shadows be

everywhere? I am not closed in, yet I
feel the weight of too many conflicts,
too many wars, too many years of fighting.
Will no one come to lessen my sorrow?

Heaviness falls & remains fallen. I have
no words for this. What did I think it
would be? Echoes of silence grow like
mold on my white cotton shroud. One

layer deeper; & still no one to comfort, or
even to whisper my name? Tired, I finally
sit before a long, empty table, where time
does not pass. I see no fire, no inferno.


-this poem refers to the line “We have not words for this” in Rose Auslander’s poem This


  1. I felt the desolation and confusion intimately. This is one of those poems that connect directly to the reader, as if they are being told something exclusively and of great importance. I really loved this one.

  2. Like listening through a closed door :)

  3. I will let this one seep into my subconscious….maybe I will refer to this one?

  4. We would love that :) We have a short fiction piece that will be referring from this very soon!

  5. I would love it too! I will call my muse. :-)

  6. This poem was written to the prompt, “Write a poem about going one layer deeper in Dante’s Inferno.”

  7. And the referrals go one layer deeper, Helen :)

  8. So exciting to see the image here on the page now – this is my 3rd image in Referential, yet it is the first that was inspired directly by reading the poem, especially the lines: “Heaviness falls & remains fallen. I have no words for this.”
    It made me think of the mood that was lingering in the street when i took the picture – all those heavy buildings, and a grey sky. i digitally altered the picture, picking up on the “layer”-theme, and turning the sky into an extra layer, and then working in those 2 layers. that’s how i arrived at the image. (the city in the image is Vienna – i will put up a note in the blog with the original image this weekend).

  9. Looking forward to seeing the original image too! Feel free to link it here :)

  10. This photo has such an interesting quality. It reminds me of a particular type of animation I’ve seen in movies. I get the sense that if I pressed the image, it would start to move.

  11. Oh I love that Karyn! You are giving me writing ideas! Perhaps we should start hosting prompts too :)

  12. i now put the original image online, here’s the short link: http://bit.ly/9gZe0n

    and interesting about the movie animation association. but yes, this could be out of an animated film. here’s another image that has a layered sky, very different in color, but the mood is going in the same direction: “Flaming Moon, Bratislava”: http://www.pbase.com/image/125935327

    the “Flaming Moon” was a collaborate work with Steve Wing, it gave me the idea to follow this layer approach.

  13. Love all these new images you are linking too, Dorothee. You really do a lot of collaborative work which I think is fantastic. Wonder if Steve has anything he wants to send us :)

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