Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year

Here are male and female vocal versions of the appropriate song, one from Mairi Campbell & Emily Smith and assorted Celtic type musicians, and the second from a young Scottish singer with the unlikely name of Paolo Nutini, which  I ran across over at Pondering life  (thanks, thingy).

Because after lifting a mug, one version is just not enough, even if you can't understand a word except the chorus...

happy new year

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Two Shadormas on Gloves

Two Shadormas on Gloves


You left your
gloves behind the day  
you left me.
I put them
on, wond'ring if this was the
best way to hold hands.


Nature pairs
hands, gloves, wings, mates, eyes
to function.
Unpaired things
oppose--night, day, death, life--or
fall to randomness.

December 2010


The shadorma is a syllabic poem form, probably from Spain. It has six lines with a syllable pattern of 3/5/3/3/7/5 .

Posted for Magpie Tales #46
Uncredited photo provided by magpie tales removed

Also posted for Friday Flash Fiction 55 at G-man's  

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hedgerider's Lament~Part 1

Hedgerider's Lament~Part II can be found here
Hedgerider's Lament~Part III can be found here

The Hedgerider's Lament
Part I: Yule Sestina

It’s the time when amber green light soaks the sponge of mist,
Dripping softly where worlds rub shoulders in vast night,
Dreaming in the nest where brown eggs shift and crackle in the air,
Where I’m looking, looking, hearing soundless bells in the blue.
The grass bends, the sparrows talk, and magic guards this place
As I edge myself along the walls of the razorleafed hedgerow.

I see them all, patient, living, bent to purpose in the hedgerow
Waiting where the edges are sharp, or under the amber green mist.
Horehound lolls silver tongues, mint droops, amanita puts in place
Spotted red chairs for sprites and roofs for toadlings. Shadow night
Hides monkshood in its cobalt cap, telling me something fatally blue,
And ladyslippers wait for mousewomen where foxgloves dot the air.

My skull is a tangling rootball of hair and bone and air.
My skin is ambergreen bark against the razorleaves of the hedgerow.
My eyes are storm clouds flickering outwards, grey and blue.
My rabbit nose is twitching, pink in the dripping mist,
Breathing in and out, sifting and shaking the smells out of the night,
Passing hands above the edges, feeling leaves for the right place.

I see a medicine fire drifting the air with grey, burning in the place
Where a fallen piece of star has struck a match against hard air,
Making sage smoke and sweetgrass smolder in the night,
Like tobacco in the pipes of gnomes carousing in the hedgerow.
Other nights I lift a glass, beg them wash their beards in mist
But tonight I cannot stop to joke for the place is near,very cold and blue.

I can hear the worlds sloshing in their shells, spinning by in the blue
Almost touching, noses pushing the membranes towards the place
Where the new year sleeps in the old year's arms,damp with mist
And the quick bear the dead upon their backs, howling thru the air
Silenced by the heavy hand  of what dwells in the hedgerow
Because the time is not yet, though it nears in the shortening night.
Day has sighed and gone, spent from matching itself to night
So perfectly. My hair jigs up in Tesla’s dance, jumping white & blue.
I feel them creeping, riding the top of the razorleafed hedgerow
Where it's thin as my skin. Now all but my hair is frozen in place.
Burnt tumbled smells, the soft horse muzzle of the night air
Nudges them at me, while at last the steelsharp leaves begin to mist.
Now I can see you blur and move, in mist waves of ribboned night.
I reach out to the air.There where the thorns have turned  blue
Is the place I can pull you from your lost world, thru the hedgerow.

December 2010

Posted for One Shot Wednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

With thanks to Rabbit
The first of four sestinas loosely based on the neopagan festival days of Yule, Candlemas, Beltane and Samhain.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Off the Shelf Archive - December #2

It's long past the time for a refresh on the Off the Shelf page, so the excellent Echo, by Christina Rossetti, is placed here for a final viewing, and a selection from the contemporary Canadian author, Margaret Atwood, takes its place. I'm mostly familiar with Atwood from her novel The Handmaid's Tale, a bit of dystopian feminist-ish sci-fi I read back in the early nineties, but I'd never read her poetry until recently.  I stumbled on this one quite by accident, and am passing it on.

Follow this link to read Sekhmet,The Lion-Headed Goddess of War, by Margaret Atwood.

As always feel free to comment here on either poem, as comments are disabled off the main page. Suggestions for next time are always welcome. Older selections can be accessed by clicking the Off the Shelf Archive label under Tags in the sidebar.

And now, a last look at Echo:


Come to me in the silence of the night;
Come in the speaking silence of a dream;
Come with soft rounded cheeks and eyes as bright
As sunlight on a stream;
Come back in tears,
O memory, hope, love of finished years.

O dream how sweet, too sweet, too bitter sweet,
Whose wakening should have been in Paradise,
Where souls brimfull of love abide and meet;
Where thirsting longing eyes
Watch the slow door
That opening, letting in, lets out no more.

Yet come to me in dreams, that I may live
My very life again though cold in death:
Come back to me in dreams, that I may give
Pulse for pulse, breath for breath:
Speak low, lean low
As long ago, my love, how long ago.

Christina Rossetti

Image: Woodcut Cover illustration for Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market and Other Poems(1862,)  by Dante Gabriel Rossetti    wikimedia commons

Ordering Worlds on a Christmas Night

Ordering Worlds on a Christmas Night

Making a world it's what we do
with lights with noise, with flags and glue
with a mask for each and every thing
sometimes two.

Making a world for what we are,
a dome whose rafters are strung from a star
just some LED lights, some watts, some string
in front of a strip bar.

Making a world that changes the way
we’ve made ourselves think or we came to play
is harder than math and cold as bling.
It's done every day.

Making a world, it's what we fear
that we hold off with sparkle and sentiment's tear.
Soldiers of plastic blow horns in a ring.
The Savior is here.

Making a world, we want it more cute.
A Disneyworld planet and a Times photo shoot
shiny with order so we don’t leave a thing
to show the  dead root.

Making a world. it's what we plan
an unrisen bread from the kneading of man, 
though the hunger persists we use what we bring
And forget what we can.

December 2010

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry 

Also posted for Poetry Potluck, at Jingle's

Photo courtesy of dustus @Onestoppoetry

Slightly edited to improve lack of cheerfulness, 1:28 pm

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Ghosts of Christmas Past?
they're never past
at all.

Passed, perhaps,
they linger in the hall
a scent unseen
a sight unheard, a laugh unlaughed

Watching drinking playing rapt
unwrapping revelries they  made
when they had form.

Some were torn
away too soon and swept too far
still hearing laughing cries not sudden tears

And once each year
they show their hidden smiles
 smoky, floating, gone but smiling still

Laugh? perhaps they will,
make a sudden joke, a flame 
leap up, or old remembered song
and then

a new dance will begin 
free from old sins.

December 2010

A Very Merry Christmas, A Happy New Year and additional Happy Holidays of Any Variety Not Previously Mentioned
to all my pixelated internet friends and readers who make this world a little brighter with their own 
ability to shine
This is as cheerful as I get, folks. Enjoy.

All photos from the author's files

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Clara's House

In Clara’s House

In your house
Christmas was always kept
my grandfather getting the tree
from the VA lot, cheap and scrawny,
you and I making it fit to be seen
before the sisters and the cousins came
to eat.

In your house
a discard was an ornament
something broken could be fixed
and used again.
something ugly could be cleaned
and put in a place of pride

In your house
African violets ruled in fertile hosts,
as big as geraniums, green guards with mauve caps
or cobalt, protecting every table, every window,
grown from microleaves I watched you cut and
place on soil like rows of crops from the farm 
you couldn’t have.

In your house
you set the table
carved and heavy, massive made,
covered with lace where all the family came for
groaning meals, and on off days
a child could hide between the legs
and be a lion.

In your house
a child with one mother lost
could have many found, in tales and talk
smelling like coffee and cardamon,
and soap, mother hands brushing princess hair,
braiding it into dragontails.

In your house,
Christmas was always kept.
The tree star watched while we were singing
and the casual blows and formal fear
the hidden anger and secret prisons
of that other house,
were nothing for awhile.

December 2010

Posted for One Shot Wednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry 

Photo of Clara Mathilda Carlson taken by Robert Studio, Chicago, Ill, 194?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Musical Interlude ~Journey Through Dark Heat~Dylan

I'm too tired to write today, but never too tired to listen to someone else who can do it like this. There are too many lines in here to pick from but I'm going to quote a few--the woman who's " a satellite,"  the  "babe in the arms of a woman in a rage," who  "winds back the clock and turns back the page/on a book that  nobody can write.."  and  "..there's a lion in the road/there's a demon escaped..."  not to mention, " there's a white diamond moon on the dark side of this room, and a pathway that leads up to the stars/ if you don't believe there's a price for this sweet paradise, just remind me to show you the scars...."

and finally for all you Gemini's (of whom Dylan is one, of course): "I fought with my twin, that enemy within/ ’Till both of us fell by the way.."

So without further ado :

This is from the 1978 album, Street Legal

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Arrow's Flight

The Arrow Shot, by Claudio Mufarrege

Arrow’s Flight

There is no singularity in this distress.
Winter babies know it as well as the scorched grass of summer,
which hangs its seed on the wind even in death.

I am arched  between two tunnels
mirroring forward or back to two separate worlds
poised for escape, unable to choose,
suspended till you are done with me.

It isn’t a choice I made, to love you,
to collect you, remember you part by part
and thought by thought,
to be always studying the lessons of your cells,

your everbrown eyes, cold and dark as frozen earth,
hot as a barn in July.
I don’t call you with a willed voice, or scheme, or plot,
but rather with the response of a recurring frequency,
or the pull of a particularly unwanted truth.

Truth, after all, is the master, come suddenly,
standing in the doorway with eyes of stone alight,
stronger than food or rain.
Love is only the servant, cleaning the soul,
who beheads the bird in the heart’s kitchen
or makes it fly surprisingly
like a paper bird thrown for a child.

You say it can be taken back, what’s been given,
but it’s living in your bones. It sees from your eyes
and twists in the curls on your chest.
And you are in me the same
like the wine is in the grape.

It is my same stubbornness you show me
as you turn to follow your own shadow,
as you fly like an arrow in the night from me,
as my hand lets go the bowstring,
as my own refusal to be known denies me.

These are things that can be named
but they are still not things that can be changed.
It can only be said that perhaps tomorrow will swallow them,
when all my molecules untie, spinning like dust motes in the light,
these pieces and atoms of you will blow like seed in the wind.

August 1991, revised, December 2010

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Image: The Arrow Shot, by Claudio Mufarrege
Used with permission.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dead Man's Curve

Dead Man's Curve

Live as if you were already dead”
~unsourced “Zen” saying, as quoted by poet Marvin Bell.

“You don’t come back/from Dead Man’s Curve…”
~20th Century American Pop Song by Jan & Dean

The Dead Man as Poseur

The Dead Man is living as if he’d been alive, because he has it all backwards.
The Dead Man is primarily a pretentious but not harmless twit, prowling the internet, squinting at some tasty wisdom he thinks he can consume like a burrito.
He likes the way the monks' robes swish as they rake the rocks 
in the sand gardens of sleeping neurons deep within an electric foreign tranquility, and thinks he must just totally must, 
have that app.
He’s looking at his navel, and sighing over the Bodhi tree; a plastic green predecorated scotch pine in the window of the home warehouse store.
Of course, there’s no reason he couldn’t sit beneath the tree, but he worries about store security, and really, he just doesn’t have the time, even though he’s supposed to be Dead 
for quite awhile.
His watch hasn’t stopped,it still tocks, so he’s still late. (If you’re pressed for time as a corpse, certainly you have no time to lose.)
But he can’t tell time very well anymore, what with the being so Dead and all.
If his eyelids hadn’t rotted, if his eyeballs weren’t a crow’s canapé, he still would look at everything and see nothing.

More about the Dead Man as Poseur

There is no more, except a Dead Man’s ego that stalks cyberfinity
and hides in the picture of a prettier girl smiling in her prom dress.
There is no more, except the Dead Man’s maw of ever gaping hunger
that dips ink brushed parchment into chocolate, and deep fries a butterfly on a stick under a maraschino cherry tree.
There is no more, except the Dead Man’s fear that the bottomless void
will suck the Dead brains right out of him and spit them into a peanut shell.
There is no more, because someone 
buried the Dead Man alive.

December 2010

Originally written in response to the Monday Prompt of 12/13/10, to write a “Dead Man’s poem” a la Marvin Bell, at Big Tent Poetry. This is explained in more detail here

Disclaimer: I cannot find any source in Zen Buddhist literature  for the saying Mr. Bell has used to create his genre of Dead Man's Poetry. Internet searches on these keywords will return only Mr Bell as a source. While this does not detract in any way from the independent merit of his work, I would take the assumption that it has any real connection to Zen tradition with a grain of salt. It seems more likely to me that this is a corruption of the famous quote attributed to Gandhi: "Live as if you will die tomorrow." But that's just me. 

Image of plastic zombie and flowers: yard art by Toscano, public domain
Second Image: Duncan Quinn suit ad, public domain

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mother and Child

Mother and Child

Such gentleness
To have launched a thousand wars
Such love
To have burned so many bundles of flesh
Such folly
To believe beyond compassion
Such hope
That things can be healed

Behind the mother’s mask
A child.
Behind the child’s mask
A flower.
Such ancient frailty
To remain

December 2010

Posted  for Magpie Tales  and also for  Friday Flash 55  at G-Man's place.
December 15, 2010
Uncredited photo provided by Magpie Tales removed

(Poem includes an old informal haiku I wrote earlier this fall.)

Soothing Interlude

I don't know about anyone else, but I've about had it with the mad rush and the Christmas feeding frenzy. I want to be somewhere warm and soothing clutching a drink with an umbrella in it. This is the closest I can get at the moment, the least frenetic poem every written about Mexico, from Donovan, Sand and Foam.

...and the simple act /of an oar stroke /put diamonds in the sea....

We'll get back to regularly scheduled programming eventually.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tale Of The Nine-Tailed Fox

Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox

Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox
A Terza Rima
There is a fox, a kitsune cunning,
prowling the world I‘m dreaming unbound.
No hunter on earth can keep up with his running.

He hides and he smiles. He seldom is found.
His feet are soft sheathes for his adamant claws.
My fox has dark wisdom and tails that abound.

In the east he’s a seer on fleet spirit paws.
In the west he’s a trickster of convivial drifts.
In the snow he’s ice white until the world thaws.

Sometimes he’s a she, a vixen who shape shifts,      
who marries or buries her blind mortal spouse,
leaves a pup or a throat-bite and takes the man's gifts,

but always in dreams there’s a fox in my house.
Remote like all wild things from pity’s remorse,
my skin is his shelter, my heart his caught mouse.

My hounds all pursue him but can’t stay the course.
The red-coated Hunt fast becomes a wild rout
where dog falls on dog, and the fox beats the horse.

In his covert of flesh he hides safe from the clout,
then he grows a new tail and chews his way out.

December 2010

“...In European folklore, the figure of Reynard the Fox symbolizes trickery and deceit. Chinese folk tales tell of fox-spirits…that may have up to nine tails. In Japanese mythology the kitsune are fox-like spirits possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. Foremost among these is the ability to assume human form…The more tails a kitsune has…the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. “  ~Wikipedia

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Image: Daji, ill-fated concubine of King Zhou of Shang, portrayed as a fox spirit, from the Hokusai Manga, courtesy wikimedia commons source link

Monday, December 13, 2010

Microfiction Monday #61 ~Dress for Success

Dressing up to do the laundry may seem silly, but in these days of high unemployment, Edna knew she could be replaced by a hungry supermodel.

Posted for Microfiction Monday over at Stony River, with thanks to the G-Man and friends for introducing me to the game.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Optional Media Accompaniment to "Dandelion"

Some musical accompaniment for those of stern stuff who want to revisit a day long gone, by the oldest semi-living rock and roll band.

Dandelion don't tell no lies
Dandelion will make you wise
Tell me if she laughs or cries
Blow away, Dandelion...



In my garden
I’m growing myself.
I’d like to think
I ‘m the fetching amber canna, posed
behind her seductive dark leaf-fan
or the elegant gold rose,
taking the breath, her head heavy
with sun-gilded petals.

But I know I 'm
a weed, a once yellow, fat
dandelion going to seed.
or the shrub, perhaps, thorny and lank,
set scowling beneath the low window
throwing dagger arms at all comers,
purple and stark as an old bruise
against the buff brick,

while all the long hours
my black-eyed daughter Susan
fills up the hot summer with her profligate flowers,
and the quarrelsome yarrow and ember-red poppies
pick up their heads like a litter of celadon pups
thrown from my loamy botanical womb
tumbling in serious play
across my snarled roots.

All  thought is drowned in the sunsound 
of ponderous bees'
slow dancing on the mumbling air,
while down in the far corner
the dandelion goes white
and her uncoupling seed flies into the wind,
from here clear to

December 2010

Linked to real toads
Open Link Monday
March 12,2012

Photo: Yarrow, poppies & salvia, by joy ann jones

Further Down the Road

Further Down the Road

Every trip eventually
takes me back to that one, its
eternal highway unrolling
a black and white flash through the smoky night.
Your yellow eyes shone a light down the center
as every few minutes you told me,
“Just a little further to go.”

No forgetting that road trip
in a borrowed black bus with the band in the back,
late and frantic, over the speed limit,
your hands hot on mine and the wheel
when with eyes shut or open
we saw more than we wanted. 
Always a little further to go,
a turnoff missed, a half-empty tank
always a little harder to stop,
ask directions since it was only
 a little further to go.

Through the windshield
that swollen moon rose, turned alien sun
poppy red in the smoke blackened night,
shining its sick ruby light,
hanging in the smog over Gary,
dreaming us on
a little further and gone.

Last night in my bed, the one
that became the destination,
 I saw that husk of moon again
without windshield or window, closed  my eyes
on the castle'd smokestacks shooting fire
through the restless wall.
So many trips since then
so many other hands on me and the wheel.
Yellow desert days, white nights,
mountains like songs, forests of rain,
green gardens blowing bantam sequins of life;
but that bloody moon's a bright brooding still, 
a celestial fixture that hangs itself scarlet 
in every sky. And I

just a little
further to go.

December, 2010

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Based on a fragment from 1973
Image: photo by  Andreas Feininger,  1906-1999