Six Sentence Stories: Poem – You Were There and Not There

Six Sentence Stories is a weekly writers’ challenge hosted by Denise at Girlie on the Edge blog.

Join us and take part in the form here. This week’s cue word is: Centre

You Were There and Not There

(For Lolanda Cristina Gigliotti)

If I could turn revolvers into posies, I would have done so at the blink of your beautiful eyes.

If I could turn bullets into butterflies, I would have done so at the first stretch of dawn which tells the baker to bake and the cockerel to crow.

If I could turn deadly pills into sweet cherries, I would have done so the moment evening fell and dark thoughts formed on the epaulettes of the setting sun.     

But it’s hard to hear gunshots among the song of the cicadas; hard to see butterflies against specks of light upon the Mediterranean sea; hard to digest cherries when the stomach is full of wine, and I… I am no alchemist… merely a plundered man ashamed of what his country has become, and who pines for the guitars and the mandolins and the tambourines making aching melody of all that once was but is no longer there.     

Dalida… is that you… is that really you, Dalida… how you came to me at dawn when I had fallen asleep after waiting up all night; Dalida, your costume the colour of mimosa and lavender, your lips letting slip the harmony of ‘Gigi L’Amoroso’ and a trail of scattered words: “I’m so sorry I’m late, but my show in Milan was delayed by almost two hours.” 

Dalida, no… wait… wait… ah… how you perched your hands defiantly on hips and laughed, and that was when I saw the swelling at the centre of your stomach – a bloating not caused by fine wine, cuisine nor some divine pregnancy, but a belly full of barbiturates… and I… I watched your ghost diminish, going, going, gone as though auctioned to the highest-bidding angels, and leaving me there to gaze at your legend tacked upon each sky to come.  

English translation of Gigi L’Amoroso lyrics: here

You Were There and Not There poem by Ford, July 2021

You Were There and Not There – La Garde, Var, mural photo et clipart par Ford, juillet 2021

Editor’s note:

If you could go back in time and change tragedy to a happier outcome, would you?

In my poem You Were There and Not There I wanted to remove certain bullets from certain guns and certain pills from a bottle; I wanted to stop all those suicides which claimed the loved ones of Dalida, and even herself eventually.

But who am I to change such events, no matter how sad, how tragic? As I stated in the poem, I am no alchemist.

I imagined Dalida came to me in a dream after I was waiting up all night for her. When she finally arrived she was a ghost – having died just a few hours earlier – and she offered her apology for being late before departing into the spiritual world.

In the real events of Dalida’s death her suicide note read as: “La vie m’est insupportable. Pardonnez-moi.” (“Life is unbearable for me. Forgive me.”)

The tragedies which surrounded this most talented artist in her brief lifetime are more than enough to make a soul ache for eternal rest. Dear Lolanda Cristina – Dalida – there is nothing to forgive, only a sincere and loving thank you for what you gave to us as gifts in your time on this earth.  

Ford Waight, The Atomic Mage

Additional images: Place Dalida and sculpture, Montmartre, France, 2017. Photo par Sylvie Waight.



  1. Beautifully, beautifully written, Ford. If only… but we can’t intervene, or change the passage of time, or the path of fate; at least not in this string of our existence. Note: I’ve just read Denise’s piece and that thought just chimed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Poetic in the language of romance from a time long since covered in dust. Your Six, a beautiful love note, V. Pure gut wrenching heartache.

    “… I would have done so the moment evening fell and dark thoughts formed on the epaulettes of the setting sun.”

    To answer your question: Yes, I would.
    Surely “life lessons” and “appreciation of/for the people in our lives” may be found through events less permanent and life altering.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, D. It was the song that did it! I only heard it recently and knew very little of Dalida. After some research my heart was broken, and so the poem came from there.
      Chris pointed out how some of the sentiments (and responses to the question) chimed in your own Six this week – would agree. I’d be tempted to take away the bottle of pills… but I think another bottle would eventually present itself and we’d be back to square one. But then… the universe is a big place and as you said “spinning, spinning, spinning” …

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I would also be tempted to intervene. But as you said, chances are the same outcome with other means will manifest itself – at least in this universe.

    The line :
    “making aching melody of all that once was but is no longer there” smacked me right in the face; not to say that the rest was less emotional.
    As thoughts were whirling in my mind between D’s six, yours and watching Tenet, I kept listening this verse in my head:

    “Loneliness is your only friend
    A broken heart that just won’t mend
    Is the price you pay…
    …Empty rooms”

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks, mate. Glad it resonated. Love the end quote – I had the pleasure of seeing Gary live in the late 80s. Outstounding guitarist and talent. Like so many heroes now, he’s no longer here but a wonderful legacy of music left behind.

      Liked by 1 person

    • PS – Glad to be in such good company 🙂 haven’t seen Tenet yet but shall do soon!
      I watched Joker last night for the first time. Wow!
      Also recently finished the Sweet Tooth series, now I want to read the comic book!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Chapeau.
    Far and away the best thing I’ve seen from you, Ford.
    And of course Dalida has inspired millions in a dozen languages for over 50 years.
    It’s been some time since I listened to her, and now I will again.
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome, CE. That’s a brilliant comment, merci beaucoup. I agree it’s one of my strongest poems ever. As for Dalida, just outstanding how she could project herself in so many languages!


  5. Read at face value, I found your 6 beautifully worded and wistful. Then I Googled Dalida and it took the story to a new level of tragedy and heartbreak. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Dyanne. That’s what struck me so hard – all her tragedies – when I researched her after discovering that song after all this time (better to discover a legend later than never, eh?).


  6. (Full Disclosure: like some of the others, I visited the Wiki of Pedia to learn of your Six’s subject/inspiration. I appreciate the others in this circle, not the least, for the number of times I am compelled to learn something new. It is both a sharing and an addition to the world of writing I’ve found here.)

    Oddly or not, as I thought about what you wrote, I continued on to your post-Six. (A most beneficial addendum to any Six. Insights into the author’s mind when writing…can there be anything more intriguing? At least to those of us who frequent that place.)

    And, the reference to suicide, ‘…turn deadly pills into sweet cherries‘ (most excellent wordage, btw), set me off into the kind of musing to which many of us are prone.

    Not being a classical literature guy, what came to mind was, the phrase …’the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns‘ from Hamlet. And I thought, when it happens that we encounter a person who ends their own life, it’s often we wonder, if only we could have spoken to them, talked them out of it.

    The thing is, there is a point where, though still alive by most measures, they are speaking to us from the far side of the border to the Bard’s country. The frame of reference for a person past a certain point is far more alien that most of us can comprehend. Conversation is predicated, in part, to a shared reality, and it is not that we don’t have good reasons to give them, it’s that their world is becoming wildly different from ours.

    That’s what I like about your Sixes, even the pomes. They get ya mind wandering around like 2am on a Thursday in a college dorm after final exams.

    Good Six, yo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Clark. Excellent thoughts, and I agree about wondering if we had the chance to ‘try and talk them out of it’ would that work? Maybe not for the long term.
      It’s possible that the route of suicide for some has been long considered and mapped out to a point in the future of absolutely no return. And who are we to intervene?
      Yet, as fellow (and caring) humans we’ll always try to intervene or wish we could have done/said something to help.


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