The Hothouses – Final Edit

It is incredibly rare that  I revisit or rewrite poetry. However, this poem has some real significance to me and I am hoping to get it picked up by a decent publisher. So, here we have it, rewritten and re-edited a third time – a little leaner, a little cleaner. The Hothouse is our gendered microcosm, a sweating, heaving mass of glass and foliage where we are grown into male and female specimens, blooming unnaturally early, our stems bending towards some muted light. Feedback extremely welcome.

The Hothouses

a poem in five parts by Benjamin Norris


The heat in here stays constant, netted

kept unmoving, billowed down.

Down all, all the leaves to

lethargic rubbered limbs – I can only

ascertain who comes or goes by read-

-ing the peaks in this dim but varied

show of slanting white-wet lights


wrought iron corridors
this swelling, lead crystal-
-ised sweat rises and
congregates in old fields

obese lungs, panting.
A stamen paralyzes the

hacking of mists. Some-
where, damp leaves
a shattering.


We grow inside houses.

It may be easier
to find us – look inside
there’s a space where you can see
a battle with the urge
to simply orbit one another
swinging around a larger mass
we haven’t found a word for
yet. The days drop off,
we spend one moment
seeking ways to wound,
the next lost in grasses with
blades splitting skies, and these
useless links are what birth us
to ensure we never really move


You spoke of long-gloved hands: you claim to not
see where the climbers stretch to, only spaces:
the leaves are powder. Distance swells, unorganic

a beating through the lead-lined frames: afterthoughts
assume your shape: you remember that before we burst
husks, there was a minute when we were not


What happened here?
the window lining pulled away – just
an inch, a curve allowing
different airs

to penetrate
the sticky mass, the bulb
heaving with humidity

so all clamour to the splitting
shock grows out from the glass –
the vapour’s fit for breathing

the vapour’s fit for breathing
though fast closed up again:

enthusiasm soon resembles
panic: grassy hysteria gums
and tramples underfoot while

spring passes by outside
as we knew it would.

About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

21 responses to “The Hothouses – Final Edit

  • Eve Redwater

    So much beauty in this! It’s natural and flowing – “obese lungs, panting.
    A stamen paralyzes the/hacking of mists. Some-where, damp leaves
    a shattering.” – Wow!

  • Benjamin Norris

    Thankyou so much – it has been six months in the making (more or less), I have never worked so hard on a poem. It is partly inspired by the poetry of Maurice Maeterlinck, the Belgian Symbolist poet of the early 20th century. I highly recommend checking him out. I wanted to write a poem which explores the construction of genders within a forced or artificial setting, and somehow it turned into this.

  • quillfyre

    Benjamin, this poem is a good one. I especially like the stanzas which use simple language. My favourite lines are these:

    to simply orbit one another
    swinging around a larger mass
    we haven’t found a word for
    yet. The days drop off,
    we spend one moment
    seeking ways to wound,
    the next lost in grasses with
    blades splitting skies,

    I think it’s always difficult to revisit and revise. I didn’t for many years either, and now find it the hardest thing to do. Yet I can usually find something that benefits from a tweak or even sometimes a complete re-write. Especially if it is a poem I’m really fond of, and want to send out for publication.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I took you at your word, and made some comments here, which are, of course, simply my own reactions to the piece. Feel free to totally disregard!

    A couple of words in the early stanzas felt a bit cumbersome to me, specifically ascertain and obese.

    The flow from one stanza to the next is interesting, with different pacing and formats. You also use three different voices through the various sections, I, we, you and back to we at the end. By breaking the poem into sections, these changes do not break the flow for the reader.

    The repetitions (down all, all the leaves, and the vapour’s fit for breathing) slow down the reader at each of these spots. This technique can take the reader out of the poem or it can give the reader a moment to breathe.

    Two small nit-picks: wrought iron. and in section 4, the last line, I would use a comma rather than the colon. You already have a colon earlier in the stanza, and I think the sense of what you are saying calls for comma.


  • flowingpoems

    The effort you have put in shows…great work friend. Some of the imageries will stay with me forever..

  • claudia

    great imagery here throughout and i just fell in love with the closure…it’s just the perfect ending for this poem…

    ..spring passes by outside
    as we knew it would…. just wow

  • Debbie

    Benjamin . . .I’m sure you are going to find a good home for this! Great job re-writing. 🙂

  • ladywhispers

    You write so very very beautifully 🙂
    Loved it 🙂

  • willofheart

    Thank you for sharing this piece, this is became one of my fave, written beautifully and every part have a great flow and imagery

  • Shehzar Doja

    this is some nice poetry here..which writers do you feel have influenced you the most?will go through the blog one by one 🙂

    • Benjamin Norris

      Thankyou. Which writers have influenced me the most? It is an incredibly hard question to answer, but I will try.
      Here we go…
      Hesse, Maeterlinck, Verlaine, Huysmans, Borges, Freud, Rachilde, Masoch, lots and lots of religious writers, prophets/saints etc…
      Don’t go through the blog one by one though… I appreciate the gesture but most of the material on here from over a year ago is very poor and bears little resemblance to what I write now. Cheers!

  • Rafiullah Mian

    Benjamin, Thanks for visiting my blog although you can’t read it. But, I am happy to have found and read a good poem. You have very well done to portrait the sorrow of loneliness In the context of crowds.

  • Elyas Mulu Kiros

    This is beautifully written! 🙂 iLike!!

  • onursenarslan

    “We grow inside houses.”
    sky-splitting imagery, makes me rethink about Heideggerian dwelling, and the thing. Felt welcome by these words. A vision, a sight that is most definetely inside-full (thanks for letting me coin a new phrase)!

  • maya

    I like the lines, “We grow inside houses.

    It may be easier
    to find us – look inside
    there’s a space where you can see
    a battle…”

    Have you read this poem at an open mic? You might read it and see what parts the audience identifies with. There were some spots I wasn’t sure about the metaphors you were drawing so I got kind of lost. Great overall images with out of control plants in the hothouse. I suppose you call this poem a conceit…a drawn out metaphor. Hope to see it in print.

  • nexi

    Has an elegant whiff of TS Eliot about it. Thanks for visiting mine.

  • InnerDialect

    Oh this is good. real good… thank you for writing it all down…’ house ‘ takes on new ambience…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: