Guesswork on the Horizon

Nick Dormand + Mike Ferguson

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Not the Versatackle, not the Calidris Canutus, not the unit of speed at exactly 1.852 km/h, not huddled anxious people, not (necessarily) the abdominal hernia or its metaphor, not not the double negative, not the imperfection of calling it an imperfection, and definitely not the verb to confuse definitions. When an image gives it away, it is not mystery. When a pattern is not planned, but not unnatural; when the tight and the loose are knots, but not the same, and when knots are subsumed but not consumed. And not just a knot homophone.

Sky Swiped

Swish of sky. Not so long ago, when I often wrote about clouds, there was a large number of nouns. A brushstroke too thin is no disguise. It's an old joke, but perhaps the feathers from angel wings? When the alien vapour- trails etched their disinterested farewells in the beauty of what we would be missing. Diffuse. That whale's spume drifting by. Guesswork on the horizon can fill a significant expanse of lockdown. How reflection rides its waves. In some civilisations, it is all about angles.


or surround — both have their ability to dominate either by being or by eroding. You know the old joke from the gods about their largesse to humanity: we gave them paper and scissors so they could pretend. Sand can polish as well as demolish. Peninsulating. Looking closely, there is a blush beyond the colour of this shoreline. Nosing forward when the tide returns. Elsewhere, so much has fallen into the sea that rumination on centuries of a natural to and fro is meaningless.

Nothing Much

Nothing much to see here of significance, a pastoral in reflection of a spring or summer, and how water bathes a scene clean in the imagination. Try searching for something that is unnameable. We could play which is the tallest? and refer to perspectives if needing this kind of foregrounding. There is such an empty space when people you love have to leave and go home. Can you write a poem quicker than a cloud passes by? Yesterday was intense: all that talking and a dog that would not stop chasing a ball. Blues and greens — Donovan once said something about colours in relation to a Beatles song, but I have forgotten the details. Like this river scene, the garden today is calm but vast in its stillness.


Next time someone thinks of walking on water: this is it, here and now, in the filmic spotlight to make that claim for immortality. Surely, it's a miracle there is no boat, no swimmer, no driftwood passing through the illumination. After all that rowing against the tide, wouldn't you have sweat in your eyes? Wait for it. I'd almost forgot the one poetic line rippling by. Here we go again — Matthew, Mark and John, but not Luke: there's always one who can't follow the hymn sheet. Let's accept the pericope like we accept this photograph and leave it to our imaginations.


Paper, rock, sneer. If you call it pareidolia, your pedantry is like a pout. Finding god in a slice of toast — or anywhere else — is the needy psychosis. Scissors, rock, guffaw. When that mimetolith winked at him. And then there's Polonius, pushed to see what he cannot see like those who vote for stone-faced liars. If they are speaking to the man as well, this has not been recorded — though secrets have a way of secreting. I find them in tiles on the floor, their moods shifting with mine. To then interpret what has been seen into another is a perpetuation of myth. I like how the beaches will always greet him, face to face.

Stairs and Steps Towards Something

I don't believe any stairs (or steps) lead to a heaven, but this might be the kind of fucked-up zigzag way you would take in trying. White stripes as caveats on tumbling down / black shadows as echoes of the fall. How an 's' at the verb's beginning suggests the consequence from misadventure, being pissed, being infirm, not looking, inclement weather and all sorts of other existential stuff. Pinking shears and the woven cloth of fray-limitation. Concrete you see and ironwork as imagery. Line segment, glide reflection and sunshine. 5 Zig Zags to begin the climb to anywhere. Smoking bathos.

Nick and Mike have been collaborating on image-word pairings for over four years. Their earliest work was more aesthetically eclectic, Nick’s images ranging widely across any & every subject and Mike’s poems varying from haiku to sonnets to single lines of text. Their current work is more focused, with Nick finding images in natural landscapes and Mike creating prose poem responses from found text. While stylistic threads run through each collaborative project, theirs is an occasional and purposefully random collaborative process: Nick regularly takes pictures to post on social media, and Mike finds titles or themes within them and ‘finds’ the prose poetic responses.

Retired from their respective teaching jobs in Art and English, Nick Dormand (he) is a photographer and artist who regularly posts his found images on Instagram and Mike Ferguson (he) is a writer with two recent found prose poem collections, The Lonesomest Sound (2019) and Aeons of Upheaval (2020).

2×4^2 © Collusion Books, 2021. ISBN 978-1-7772244-9-3 (digital).
All rights reserved by the named contributors. Editing, design, and layout by Andy Verboom.
Collusion Books operates in Kjipuktuk, Mi’kmak’i, the traditional, unceded, and unsold territory of the Mi’kmaq.