Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Devil's Dictionary

This is posted for the Grand Opening at dVerse Poet's Pub. Tonight is our first Open Link Night, and everyone is welcome to join Brian Miller, Claudia Schoenfeld, Natasha Head, Joe Hesch, myself and all the rest of us at dVerse to link in one of your poems and visit with the community. Look forward to seeing you there.

Jan van der Heyden - Still-life with Rarities - WGA11397



Devil’s Dictionary


It’s good
to shut the red
book and be
myself again
after the delirium,
to no longer be

a vade mecum
for obstreperous
demons, tauntingly
misquoted,
a dictionary
for devils;

to see the colors
unprismed from
your illusive illustrations,
random wind ruffling pages
and not your spirit’s soft
secret touch;

to feel my hair
an animal’s satiny pelt
and not a misprinted
text of memories
written across
your hands.

It’s good,
this stillness, good
even to grow old
reading my
next words 
from a
blank sheet.

July 2011



The original Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce, was a collection of satirical definitions posing as an actual dictionary, and contains some of the sharpest wit in the English Language. I have used the term here in what I intend as a completely different context, but after several comments, felt I ought to reference Bierce's work. You can read it online here at Project Gutenberg.




Also posted for the Last OneShotWednesday at One Stop Poetry
which closes its doors with this final event.
Stop by and say goodbye to a great site.


Image: Still Life with Rarities, Jan van der Heyden, 1712, oil on canvas
Jan van der Heyden [Public domain], via  wikimedia commons


53 comments:

  1. this sounds like gaining freedom after years of being reigned by something..shut the red book and being myself again..not a misprinted
    text of memories
    written across
    your hands...agh...excellent as always hedge...and..woohooo!!!

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  2. Woot! to you, girl. Keep that blood pressure under control. ;-)

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  3. Have you, by chance, been reading Jung's "The Red Book"?

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  4. @Maureen: Have read it but not recently--amazing creation that it is, but perhaps my poem was thinking of it.

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  5. Wow! Great stuff.
    "to feel my hair
    an animal’s satiny pelt
    and not a misprinted
    text of memories
    written across
    your hands."

    Love this stanza.

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  6. it so happens with words some times... the whiter the sheet the better

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  7. I'd like to say you're an open book...but the aura of mystery still clings...

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  8. Nothing like getting started widdershins on the right, er, left foot ... I get Prospero casting his book to the wave and heading home for some off-duty non-magical just-chillin' ease here, Ariel freed to the wind, Caliban locked back into the caboose, babble o' Jung keepers thrown back in the mere. (Yes, the Red Book is something -- something very fraught.) Gone the fireworks, enjoy the sunsets -- at least for this while. 'Tis good to breathe, decomposing from the page ... Brendan

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  9. Can create tons from a blank sheet, so as that one book closes, start something new. Nicely written piece.

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  10. I've got The Devils Dictionary. It's an irreverent book of cynical and sardonic wit by Ambrose Bierce. I think you'd like it. Originally written in 1881.

    Back to your poem. Very esoteric with shape-shifting and bossy demons to contend with. Strong and evocative of hidden mysteries, with a wry comment at the end for a more peaceful life of stillness. Strength of character comes over really well.

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  11. @april. Thanks. I'm quite a fan of Bierce's original satirical work. It's masterly. I hope I'm recycling his title, used quite differently, in an honorable way here.

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  12. a vade mecum
    for obstreperous
    demons

    love your phrasing there. 'obstreperous' one of my fave words and thanks for reminding me I haven't used it in a while! These are exciting times... glad we are friends of the pen

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  13. @Luke words are what it's all about. Thanks for your kind ones, and glad to be making the rounds with you, also.

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  14. third stanza is completely stunning. Love this poem celebrating freedom from opression. well said!

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  15. "It's good to shut the red book and be myself again.."...a new journey..good strong words,love this poem.

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  16. yeehaw! smiles. that is the way we get excited here in the south...close that book you animal haired poetess...lol...there is freedom outside those hands and in the blank page now being filled...

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  17. @brian think I saw the armadillo in the picture above wince when you gave that rebel yell. thanks my friend. What a nice blank page we're filling in tonight.

    @Brendan: Nailed it in one--hormones are so overrated.

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  18. Stunning poetry, Joy Ann, I also like the shapeshifting images and the sense of freedom that emerges from this.

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  19. Lovely images specially these:

    to see the colors
    unprismed from
    your illusive illustrations,
    random wind ruffling pages
    and not your spirit’s soft
    secret touch;

    Great party at D'Verse ~

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  20. a seriously enticing introduction to your work... feel I can jump inside your poem and walk around... glorying in words and freedom.. and love your picture - who's the artist?

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  21. a vade mecum
    for obstreperous
    demons, tauntingly
    misquoted,
    a dictionary
    for devils

    I am now seeing hints of the full extent of your wild genius. How awfully exciting you will be devouring new blank pages!

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  22. For all of us "red book" is perhaps some different oppressor. The closing of it and looking inside, good advice.

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  23. Thanks everyone, so great to cross paths with so many new voices tonight, and hear some old familiar ones as well.

    @Anna Thanks, and thanks for the time you spent with my sestinas. They are my favorite spoiled brat poem kids, and they loved the attention.

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  24. There's something teasing about your poem...maybe it's the waiting for you to fill that blank sheet, see where it takes us next..Hm...much enjoyed! :)

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  25. Have you ever read Ambrose Bierce's "Devil's Dictionary"? It has some priceless definitions, like...absurd, n. "the quality of another's opinion." ;-)

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  26. so much meaning behind every line, freedom.

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  27. I read this and related it to a private journal that I keep, one where I spill my anger and bile, then close it away until the next time it is needed. Oddly, it is bound in red leather. As each one fills, I burn it because I don't want to leave a legacy of displeasure. Once I've purged and closed the book, I feel the freedom that you speak of. I may be totally off from the intent of your poem but it is how I related. Well done.

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  28. If I had Aladdin's Lamp my wish would be to understand secret code. As it is I am clueless...no surprise there :-) Your poem is evocative, mysteriously so, I like that, so let it be enough lest my curiosity kill...I don't have a cat...Goodnight.

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  29. As always, perfectly medievil...
    I still don't understand why One-Shot had to close.
    Poetry and Solving political differences among adults don't mix? Tsk Tsk Tsk
    Children Children.......Blogging Should be FUN!!!!
    Remember that word.....FUN!!!

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  30. You're the prime example of the funnage, Galen. Just keep those nasty giraffe tongues off my blog.

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  31. Joy, I love the closing stanza, the visual it creates. Beautifully done.

    Pamela

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  32. A new 'home', feeling like I have moved into a castle of poetry here...just praying I can 'stay' (keep up) with it.

    Being still
    Growing older
    Nothing left but that blank sheet
    HEY. THAT'S ME!!!

    Thank you for being a part of this wonderful palace.

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  33. Lovely images - a very enjoyable read - thank you

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  34. I'm pretty sure that giraffe tongues figure prominently on page 51 of the Devil's Dictionary . . .

    I love the image of memories across the hands.

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  35. there's nothing more freeing than a blank page

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  36. Very Nice Joy - the next words on a blank page...yes it is good to grow old with them....and know they have been given for time spent loving them...so glad you are a part in the new project at D'verse....looking so forward all the poety with this new site...bkm

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  37. i find the horror of the blank page...

    well done joy ...

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  38. Many thanks to all who've come by tonight, to all who linked in at dVerse, and to all who mourn the loss of One Stop Poetry and made a final stop there. The blank sheet is waiting to be filled.

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  39. I enjoyed this very much. You have such a way with words and images. :)

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  40. your poetry has a magic about it that transcends just the written words. LOVE this! Excited to see you'll be at dVerse! ♥ dani

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  41. No fear of the blank sheet...steady on Hetch!

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  42. Yet another intelligent and intriguing poem Joy. I'm always rewarded by my visits here. Thanks also for your encouragement and support. James.

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  43. Always late to the part and not fashionably late but that is so I can stop on my down and read Shay's comment. hahahahahahaha Love both this piece and her comment.

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  44. Great poem! You have a full quiver of words and aim them well.

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  45. Brought to some new horizons to explore in future. Thanks fo sharing. Beautiful verse!

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  46. Oh yes... we lock ourselves into a certain reality, then realize the wonder of other possibilities once freed.

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  47. So many great lines here.

    ...to see the colors unprismed... what a gorgeous way to put it -- undictated, aimless, free.

    I'm ordering a copy of the Devil's Dictionary. Definitely something I need in my library.

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  48. The past is indelibly written but the future is a blank page until we choose to write on it. Beautifully crafted piece with incredible depth.

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  49. Love the first stanza, how you start this off...captures me (good thing, too, for I NEED a dictionary for this one, such great words!). Feeling your elation/energy behind this new project...much success to all of you.

    PS..love PG, shall link to the DD on my mobile, many thanks!

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  50. Just excellent free verse, exploring our eternal connection with words.

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  51. Thanks to your poem, which was wonderful by the way, I've now learned the meaning of vade mecum and have been introduced to the Devil's Dictionary. Much Thanks!!!

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  52. Intelligent and sharply written. I've been a fan of the bitter Bierce for years. One of my favorite Devil's Dictionary definitions is for either "graveyard" or "cemetery." I think it says something about a plot of ground where poets write at targets. You're right on target again, Joy.

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