Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Burnt Angel

The Burnt Angel

Following the jesus of absence,
flying on the defunct
pegasus line,
will the angel come again
when the moon walks through the pines
or under the yolk of sun
frying unbroken above, or
on the dancing floor
where  flying leaves have one last waltz
before they're dirt and leaves no more?

Will the tongue
that was a biting worm
crawl deep into the shifting worlds
to learn the wide silence
of the last legends ever heard?
How will the hands
that broke down stone by stone
each road, arch, bridge and hall
pile up that rampart place at last
without rafter or wall?

The icewind says nothing
in her bully brief run;
nothing to the questions
the coming dark
asks the sun.
Pegasus flies, but
Icarus tumbles

~December 2014

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Kerry's Weekend Challenge: In Other Words
Kerry O'Connor has been doing a series of prompts focusing on word replacement in the titles of various works. This week she turns us towards some Christmas-oriented titles--yes, this is about Christmas, of the hedgewitchian kind. I have been out of action for awhile, but couldn't miss Kerry's last prompt of the year.

Image: Pegasus, by Wojciech Siudmak

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Emeralds For Breakfast

Emeralds For Breakfast

Once you gave me
emeralds for breakfast,
moonstones in the afternoons.
You set gold rings into each ear
each one a twist of  jade-apple sun
summer, inhaled from the calyx chalice
to the hot noise of bee-breached flowers.

Somehow the bright green
spilled; the gilt light dulled
gives way to silver
in the cold-hag's time
when earth sleeps brown
and billowing in surrender
and  there is only winter

staggering to me
my lost lamb, her snow
thin and matted, pulled sleet-grey
lean with a gift of famine,
delicate ice diamonds shivering
cold, cold, around her neck
begging for the garland
of  even my
freezing  arms.

~December 2014

Image: Angelina stonecrop (Sedum rupestre 'Angelina')
Ice Blossoms
copyright joyannjones, 2013, 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Reposts for Christmas #3

In Hel's Hall

It was white-ice morning in Hel's Hall
in the ninth of the Nine Worlds, when
Odin donned the Hel-shoes, cast the runes
and rode to ask his questions of 
the dead. 

Because he was a god, twisted she rose 
from her ashen bed
and by force began to speak  
of what she knew:

So I found, said her blackened lips,
that cold is a serpent that holds, pushing its
ribbon-chest deep into mountain,
slow-cracking the heads of spirits within
for gold to brighten its rippling scales.
Will you hear more?

So I saw, moved her fleshless jaw,
that cold will grow wide and thicken,
dead weight in grey-white armor,
dead mouth kissing every shoulder, 
that the tree it blasts and circles
will shake down a harvest of lives
to grind out all you love.

So I found, rattled her dustdry throat,
that cold will make red daggers, hanging
scarlet borrowed blood to temper
oblivion's poppy snowflakes,
to pierce the heart of hearts
till red and white alike
vanish from sight.

So I saw, whispered the husk of Hel,
that snow will cover fire, 
that the white wolf no sword can kill
will eat desire, that you
are a basket of bones made for wildflowers
withering in a wind of empty hours.
Will you hear more?

Then the One-Eyed shucked his Hel-shoes
jumped back in Sleipnir's saddle,
and fled the Ninth World, 
where words torn from the dead
had frozen on his tongue.

~January 2013
 revisions, December 2014

originally  posted for   real toads

Kerry's Wednesday Challenge: Worldbuilding
Kerry O'Connor has asked us to write around the subject of alternative worlds. Here I've reached into the the realm of Norse myth, and as usual, taken a few liberties with the tales of the Old Gods.

Process notes: In Norse mythology, Hel was the realm of those dead who had not died in battle, and also the name of the female figure who ruled it. It was where Odin the One-eyed, first of the Aesir and god of poetry, war, death, wisdom and wandering, journeyed to raise a dead Seeress to tell him of the future. She prophesies the events of Ragnarök,* the twilight, or perhaps re-making, of the gods, where the children of the antagonistic god of disorder and mischief, Loki, the Midgard Serpent and Fenrir the Wolf, will battle the gods, and the World Tree will 'shake and groan.' 

Hel-shoes (helskór) were put on the Norse dead to walk the road to the Otherworld.
Sleipnir is Odin's magical eight-legged horse.

* I probably ought to add that following the events of Ragnarök, the  völva also prophesies that a beautiful new world will emerge, where men and gods live in peace and plenty. Some believe that this a post-Christian introduction, but regardless, it satisfies the happily ever after need we humans have.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Snakes Across Monet's Last Lilies

Snakes Across Monet's Last Lilies

Memory, the circled snake
is a hoop that binds 
the rolling barrel even as 
it smashes on the rocks.

Love I tell you
is a grape that's dried
into a raisin, twice as sweet
but nothing like it was.

Everything is shining
with a light of blurs and halos,
each pinhole star enlarged
and yet more vague;

a wash of blue-green shadow
floating fingered bolls of cotton,
meant for water, gardens, lilies:
all Monet's last brush, blind color on
the ghostly dregs of form.

So time has had its way
with these and every thing
a wrecking that becomes uncertain rapture
for every shape that's salvaged

for every bird-note sharpened,
pulled loose in one fuzzed-peach 
piece from dawn
at our feet.

~November~December 2014

Images: Water Lilies, 1899, by Claude Monet
Water Lily Pond, Evening, 1926, by Claude Monet
Public Domain via

Monday, December 1, 2014

Blackbird's Funeral

Blackbird's Funeral

In the silent dower house
the lodging by the gate
through which
the black-plumed horses passed
so little and so late
a toll to pay
for all the clumsy
years lived as a wraith
in charity's cribbing walls,
for charity's careless fate,

no mourner stirs.
No handler comes
to crate the funeral meat.
Only the small ones gather and talk
in the clatter of wings and beak
of fur claw-thrown and heart-thud break
down in the windy bracken
of stone crust taken/never forgiven
of winter's hunger acorn bleak
of blue water gone dead dry

in summer's intimate heat.
In a moment's stare
the bare-handed tree 
made for small-clawed feet
will deafened reach, 
above will be blank
star eyes gone vague
in the shape of a face
random as clouds,
that instant she burns

in sheets of fire
thru the dower house gate;
a flutter of smoke,
an ash of a cinder
suddenly awake.

~November 2014

Image: december sky, copyright joyannjones 2014

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reposts for Christmas, #2

As this posts, dear readers, we will be somewhere in the wilds of Oklahoma, hiking with the dogs through a strange, season-less landscape hung between summer and winter, with warm sun and cold cold winds. And no internet. Hope that all who celebrate it enjoy Thanksgiving, and also this flashback from August 2013 which I've exhumed for your interim diversion. See you soon, and thanks again to everyone for your support.


The Farewell Book

"..High above the mast the moon
Rides clear of her mind and the waves make a refrain
Of this: that the snake has shed its skin upon
The floor. Go on through the darkness. The waves fly back.." 
~Wallace Stevens

I always keep the Book of Order
close by my chaos bed, my flag
at the masthead of longing, where
the brush of a half-numb hand upon 
its sleeping lover's cover lets me think
I'm not alone.

The Book has first and last page
but only a hole in the center, infinite,
secret, full of talismans, gauds and baubles,
wrack and whatnots, bones and blood,
astrolabes and artifacts of
someone else's life that is my own.
I sang out the genius from the cavity;
a wild shadow marked with your name.
I found for you the kiss long lost
in the dusty centrifuge, and made
the sickle wand that was
all the moon on a stick.

There atop the crease
you were born to lie,
to slither up and slide
your bendable spine into
the hammock of that crescent, to
murmur with flickering tongue

the language of mind to mind,
but when at last I put
my feet to the morning's board,
I felt only the pricking crackle of
a skin shed on the floor.

Still I go on, a lunatic singing apart
flying waves of darkness, hook'd
on a used moon and a hollow book.

~August 2013

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Challenge: Fireblossom Friday:
 the book within the story within the poem 
 Fireblossom asks us to think of matryoshkas, to pick a favorite poem and nest it in a story (see above link for a more coherent exposition.) 

I've chosen not one but two of my favorite poems by Wallace Stevens to nest here, using various words and phrases from:

The Idea of Order at Key West
(text and reading by Stevens)


Photo © joyannjones 2013

Unless otherwise indicated, all content © Joy Ann Jones 2010, 2011, 2012. All rights reserved.