Tuesday, May 31, 2011

House on the Hill

Revelation fields, Eric Johannson




House on the Hill


I’ve built a  fine house on top of my head, grey
dormer windows and tall stories, preaching chimneys,
heavy boards of years across the door. 

It’s easier now, not going in and out,
and I needed a way to keep out the dead.


The time it's taken you'd never guess, to 
trim my ears into topiary frogs, meticulous sentinels here
by the door, crouched comical, listening and green

on the hair I’ve mowed smooth as a fog. Totems
well placed can help keep out the dead.


Of course, my eyes still stay outside, blind ovals in
the wild blow of storm, hit by each unseen coldslap surprise,
while inside my house, white incense smoke takes 

the sweetened song of a bird in a cage from attic
to hall, to ward the doors that keep out the dead.


There's the child in her room, lining her treasures up.
See her bone beads of grace in a plastic cup gleam
rich red in an eyeglow turned in, flicker 

and spark giving light where there can be
neither fire nor candle to keep out the dead.


She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent 

of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
come climbing up over the living and dead.


And the view is good from the slanting roof,
laid on the summit of my growth, looking out
where my own eyes ever go, beyond my topiary ear

to the walled horizon of clouds and fear
the dead must cross to get to here.


May 2011



This poem was inspired by the photographic-manipulation work of Erik Johansson; in particular, Revelation fields, as shown above. Thanks to Fireblossom for sending me the original link. 

Take some time to check out his portfolio of amazing images here:





Posted for  OneShotWednesday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry 






39 comments:

  1. Like your house in the hill will inspire me to build mine and perhaps we can visit in each other's houses for a cup of tea? Antonia Baranov

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  2. wow. chilling hedge...the art itself is a delight but your poem adds all the more...i will say i have yet to find anything to keep the dead out...love all the textures of the house you create...all in your head...

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  3. Wow, Hedge, this is so freaking brilliant! I LOVE this concept - the house on your head, the good view from the roof........the topiary hair I can TOTALLY relate to, my sister claims my hair looks more like topiary than hair! I was fascinated reading this poem. It is simply brilliant. And the image an amazement. Great work.

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  4. honestly - this photography gave me shivers...and so did your words...rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn...what an image hedge! excellent

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  5. Inspired for both image and poem. Keeping out the dead..what an idea, scary though and eerily grey but not black. I like these images of glowing color "mist necklace of disappearing jewels
    clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks". Another brilliant work, Joy. Always excellent.

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  6. This is terrific-- I have viewed you from the beginning as one of the few poets we have left who understands that poetry is about language-- musicality, image, song. You are constitutionally incapable of writing a flat-footed poem and I so admire that! I especially loved: There's the child in her room, lining her treasures up.
    See her bone beads of grace in a plastic cup gleam
    rich red in an eyeglow turned in, flicker

    and spark giving light where there can be
    neither fire nor candle to keep out the dead.

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  7. Well, there's going up into your head, and there's building an impregnable fortress on top of it ... can't get any further up and out of reach than that. It's a safe place, at last, for the little girl, and the speaker has done a good job of barring every entrance and vent in which "the dead" can enter or spoor. Not to take the picture into too much account, but the only way to so successfully ward off dead spirits is to become dead oneself -- those white eye-sockets like bleached shutters can't see anything, living or dead. outside the walled compound. So there's a cost to such successful walls. And the girl, will she never be free to go out and play? Not, I guess, without exposure to death, and the speaker has decided that is much too risky, having suffered too long exposure herself ... Fine work. -- Brendan

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  8. "She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
    clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
    left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent

    of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
    come climbing up over the living and dead."

    Day-um, woman. Every word of that is stunning, and has "Hedgewitch original" stamped all over it. I love the whole thing, but the above verse especially. And I like the way you subtly change the repeating line each time.

    It's good. Very.

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  9. The image of the little girl with bone beads of grace gave me chills. Wow, Hedge!

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  10. Your head is really something to hang your hat on.

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  11. When it got to the "and I needed a way to keep out the dead" repeating line, I chuckled. For some reason the nonsensical precautions to keep out the unliving seem humorous to me. The suspense of the setup kept me riveted throughout the piece, then the payoff at the end was huge, when I realized the "dead" is actually "fear." (Or at least that's my interpretation.)

    Neato! :D

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  12. Thanks all for coming by and reading so early tonight. I'm off to make the rounds now myself.

    @FB I like that stanza also, that's the alive one. Thanks much for the original link, dear.

    @Brendan: Not to worry, I'm not moving in. This is a take on the photo, for the most part. Won't say I don't have something of a tent pitched, though.

    @Matt: Thanks for picking up on that--hard to get across. I was aiming for just a hair of that Adams Family touch, and indeed the dead are never what they seem.

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  13. I have always liked the way you use repetition, and what I would normally call 'structured free verse' ie in tidy stanzas that follow a pattern once you establish it. It appeals greatly to my sense of order and the repetition serves very well to underscore your point. Closing on a strong end-rhyme is also emphatic... love this piece, Joy.

    Love your way

    Luke

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  14. Some truly stand-out images throughout. Would love to see this set as a Motion-Poem.

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  15. This is intense and a great one shot! nicely done!

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  16. A haunting image you open with...leading into an intense experience, ground home quite efficiently in the repetition, and in some images that certainly linger long after reading. Dark and suspenseful, but marvelously rendered.

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  17. Such a powerful metaphor - the house where memories can hold one a prisoner - really enjoyed reading this - thank you

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  18. This poem has 'genius' stamped throughout, it is grounded and yet eccentric. I love the repetition of 'keep out the dead' and the switch at the very end that says how the dead can get there. Awesome poem!

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  19. One of my favorites of yours; like I've heard that voice before. Great write. Very creative and good use of the picture. Super talent!

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  20. Creepy, dark and delicious.

    My favorite bits:

    "paints my face with the scent

    of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn" -- just amazing.

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  21. Lovely surreal poem that gives voice to the image using a strong underlying pattern but I also felt a strong loss of identity, I am just the home you use

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  22. It gave me a chill. Keeping out the dead. I am in awe, imagining such a house in reality.
    Wonderful job.

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  23. You've built a fine poem on top of my head. I love the anciently feral and the young girl combined, and those topiary ears are priceless. The view is very good from here. I'm getting attached to your voice.

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  24. Too good. Loved the whole idea. Do visit my blog and leave your footprints by posting comments

    http://parentingworkshop.blogspot.com/
    http://fun-with-mails.blogspot.com/

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  25. Only one problem...
    Can you really keep out the dead?
    Amazing stuff JA!!!
    Superlitives of brilliance are commonplace with you...

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  26. I like this because it turns the fear around. It is the dead that become afraid to return to the places they have been banished from. That place where all bad ideas go to die I hope is filling up faster than hell right about now.

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  27. AMAZING! Art and words combine to paint a piece that takes the wicked imagery of the photo and absolutely runs away with it. Think I may have to refer to this as my new favorite...all that great stuff said above X100!

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  28. "She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
    clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
    left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent

    of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
    come climbing up over the living and dead." - simply awesome, hedgewitch. I hightlight this section because it's sooo darn evocative and just awesome as is the entire poem.

    I loved it!

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  29. She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
    clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
    left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent

    of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
    come climbing up over the living and dead....

    This is one of the most extraordinary pieces of surrealism I have ever read. Amazing, mind-boggling, brilliant.

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  30. When an ekphrastic poem stands alone, you know you're doing something right! I enjoyed the way you render the state of existential dread here.

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  31. amazing imagery here. your language really gives the piece an atmosphere that fits the tone of the image brilliantly.

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  32. love love LOVE the metaphors! We build our lives on so many events and experiences, thoughts and feelings.. it actually feels like a full fledged home of sorts!
    How wonderfully you have expressed it here, Joy... jeeeeezz... your words have left a mark on my mind alright! AWESOME!!

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  33. Many thanks to all who've stopped by to read and comment. Your time and input is always appreciated.

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  34. "She wears my mist necklace of disappearing jewels
    clothes of umber leaves, shoes from old squirrel tracks
    left on the lawn, paints my face with the scent

    of rosemary rubbed on the dark skin of dawn,
    come climbing up over the living and dead."

    I had already copied this before I read through the comments...so I'll just reiterate, the whole piece is brilliant, but these 5 lines are simply fabulous! I so dig the image as well, must check out his work, thanks for sharing ~

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  35. Deeply engrossing. Great write.

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  36. I am reminded of many images of the tornadoes that have carried rooves away and deposited them in strange places. Perhaps the dead were carried on the wind, horrific imaginings that one cannot shake off, but can weave into a poem. The picture is perfectly haunting, I could not do more than glance at it.

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  37. A truly unsettling image and poem. Brilliantly surreal and intense. The imagery both startles and strikes chords of dark recognition. I love it!

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  38. unreal...glad that you embrace your talent

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg