Experimental form -Equinoctial

This is a made-up form for an activity. It is called an Equinoctial. An Equinox denotes equal day and equal night. The Equinoctial has these features and rules:

24 lines

A discernible shift from one state to its opposite/oppositional in either/and/or subject and form.

A notable ‘hinge’ or ‘portal’ line when the shift happens

2 distinct parts comprising one of the following arrangements:

  • Two stanzas of 12 lines each
  • 6 stanzas: 6x3x6x6x3x6
  • 8 stanzas of 3 lines

greenwich march 2013 and others 073


You choose your 12 end words at random. Mine are below and I explain what guided my choice.


12 x 12 (second stanza upends the first in the sense that each word is used again butin reverse order)

Stanzas one and 2

random words

storm, amaze, laser, watch, incredible, never, raindrops, glass, emeralds, cloud,over, intense

The poem

In March 2005 , on a wild night, Professor Martin Richardson from De Montfort University and his colleague trekked up the steep path to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich with the intent on making a hologram of K4, John Harrison’s famous timepiece by which he solved the longitude problem which had beset mariners for centuries.The idea was that a hologram would make sure this precious object was preserved forever. ahowever, the operation was fraught with difficulty, not least, working with such a rare and valuable artefact.

Martin has written his own account of that night from which details for this poem have been taken. I was privileged to visit the Royal Observatory with Martin recently where he and curator and horologist, Jonathan Betts reminisced about the night and showed me the hologram of K4 in its glass case in an inner sanctum closed to the public.

I’ve given it the same title as my made-up form.


That night in March, the steep path, the storm,
inauspicious, and then the sight of raindrops
passing through the green meridian laser
and as they did so, turned into emeralds,
and a moon dipped in and out of a cloud.
The timepiece slept, pulseless, the watch
that on a long voyages on rough seas never
lost more than a few seconds. How incredible,
then, to surround it with light, such intense
attention to its amenable face, they amaze
themselves, fraught minutes, it’s over,
elation, then it’s sealed again inside glass.

Seven years , another March, I peer into glass
at the hologram, and could wander here over
and over again , so transfixed am I and they amaze
me by saying reflected light bounces off it, intense
properties of an object that’s real, incredible
that it’s there but not, and that you could never
lift it out of the case, turn it around, this watch,
simulcrum, for ever. The plates need cleaning, a cloud
of pink, oxide, taints the surfaces. These emerald
artefacts gleam as if through water, the laser
was the best , a green diode, jewels like raindrops,
here, like Harrison’s dream, safe from any storm.

Well, I suppose the hinge line is the one that begins stanza two.
It’s 5.49 am. I’ve been writing this for over an hour. I missed yesterday so this it two days’ worth. Needless to say I am exhausted again but, even though this is a first draft, mission accomplished. I will post links to other sources related to this poem another time.

Good night.
Good morning.

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