Sunday, July 10, 2011

Madness in the Harem


Madness in the Harem


Up in the alabaster tower of carved
stone, the harem is restless.
The girls still chatter and giggle, but they
fidget. They can’t seem to settle to
the morning’s gossip or enjoy the sweets
because of the madwoman
locked up and raving
down the hall.

Once she was fair as a yellow rosebud,
but she was never right and she grew thorny wild.
She cast her prickly brambles across the old walls, trying
to wrap up the girls for trellis, make them long to
speak of her, braid her grey hair with flowers,
sit rapt to listen to her re-tell them tales
of her many imaginary sons, her unequaled
echinate beauty, her exploits and conquests
that now were ghosts reflected in a foxed mirror.

One day, when they once again embarrassed
bent their heads away, she climbed out the window, 
high on the white piercework balcony,
and began to scream and spit the foulest curses, all day 
all night, setting the monkeys howling, till they came
and locked her away, where her cries muted
behind the heavy door to only a far murmur, serene
as the sibilant calling of birds at dusk.

The girls are already forgetting her, lips parted to sing again
the gypsy lovesongs, rippling notes of laughter and desire,
fingers painting blue globes speckled with brown freckles,
boxed in a circle of silk, hatching chicks to fly where
they never can. At night, they watch the white fireflies
embroider the jungle air with needles of lightning,
splash all morning in their scented baths,
and wind their arms together like an arbor.



July 2011



Posted for   OneShootSunday  at   OneStopPoetry


Photo by Neil Alexander, this week's featured photographer

24 comments:

  1. this was so enjoyable hedeg - love what you've done with the prompt...i so like how your brain works and i'm glad they're singing their gypsy lovesongs again...i also like the painting of blue globes speckled with brown freckles, boxed in a circle of silk - prickles on the tongue when reading it out loud..

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  2. I love it, both for what it says and for how it says it. I especially like the yicky attempt to "wrap the girls up for trellis", complemented and set right by the really excellent final line.

    Some madwomen are rather fascinating, like Mrs. Rochester in "Jane Eyre", and others are just a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing. <<I just made that up. ;-)

    Okay. Me and Shakespeare made it up. :-P

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  3. Wowzers, I so loved reading this, it was like reading a Victorian novel, just delicious.Such fantastic writing!

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  4. p.s. plus I have a soft spot for madwomen:)

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  5. smiles...some fine word play hedge and a magical tale of how one can quickly succumb to perceived power and the madness it can bring...i feel a bit sorry for her, but i smile for the gypsy....

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  6. JA, your work always makes me look at language differently— whether it be the added nuance from working in additional word meanings, the colorful imagery with compositional purpose, or the complexity created when each brushstroke serves a purpose. In this piece, the madwoman attempting to convince others of her worth and former glory reminds me of people abusing an audience to bolster self-esteem, though the monkeys may return to howl, perhaps even sing Last Train to Clarksville with the arbor girls. hehe. As always, your work is inspiring, and I learn from your poetry.

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  7. Thank you adam. It's a two way street. Claudia, Brian, all three of you, hope you will continue to sample the brews of the witchy cauldron despite separations elsewhere--and I will be visiting you as always.

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  8. Oh well done, sounds like a Jane Erye scenerio of the misunderstand feminine.....love your word play especially in the last stanza....bkm

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  9. This is a lot like that crazy guy at IHOP that is always wanting to discuss the Kennedy assassination with me. Except this is gorgeous poetry and lacks body odor.

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  10. @MZ: ROFLMAO girl. I treasure this compliment and thank you for so getting it.

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  11. Arabian nights with a difference...

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  12. I kept thinking of that favorite movie, "Raise the Red Lanterns." Lock her away, and soon the young girls forget, and sign the gypsy love songs!

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  13. wow what a story teller, really loved reading this found it intriguing and so enjoyable ..thank you

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  14. This is such a sensual tale of beauty, desire and the long-term consequences of living only to be enjoyed as the sex object of one man's desire. You have captured the restlessness of the harem in its many psychological labyrinths.

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  15. Great narrative poem -- rare in the HW oeuvre, as far as I've read it -- something of "La Belle Dame Sans Merci" ungartered, the floral maid become the crone whose memory is the real treasury of this harem. Some gorgeous language in here ("At night, they watch the white fireflies / embroider the jungle air with needles of lightning").Youth is so wasted on the young ... Brendan

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  16. Well you wound me up in her, and I want her and her madness more than a dozen pretty maids. But maybe it's because I am looking at life from her side. (Brendan does call us first-time grammas 'loony,' and I can't deny it.)

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  17. Many thanks all, for stopping and leaving your thoughts.

    @FB: You and Will work good together.

    @annell--sounds like yet another movie I need to see. Glad you liked.

    @brian and Dustus-- You two are both pros to the end, and thanks for these and all your kind words and encouragement since one stop began.

    @Kerry: yes, no one's getting out of jail free here, are they.

    @Brendan Thanks for reading, and picking out my favorite lines.

    @Ruth, well, they're all captives of course, but some are happier than others, even in captivity. I don't find her brambly arms too comfortable, even as a grandmother myself.I'd rather paint eggshells and hatch chicks than scream curses. ;_)Thanks for reading amidst the grandmotherly hecticness.

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  18. How or where do you pick these tales you tell in such ingenious ways my disbelief takes over and I even join the fray like in this poem, I felt as if I were one of the girls? I love how the madwoman creates a ruckus in the harem but within moments of her being locked up, (when I as one of the girls crinched in embarassment) is soon forgotten. I love the last lines as the poem finally settles to being a harem, especially these lines to treasure

    At night, they watch the white fireflies
    embroider the jungle air with needles of lightning,
    splash all morning in their scented baths,
    and wind their arms together like an arbor.

    Thanks again for the experience!

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  19. How beautiful your words are ... you are a gifted poet....
    love these lines best:

    At night, they watch the white fireflies
    embroider the jungle air with needles of lightning,
    splash all morning in their scented baths,
    and wind their arms together like an arbor.

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  20. oh, joy ;) will you pleeeease come here and read me another bedtime story? I truly got lost in this one and felt like a child once again (in a good way - not in my normal stubborn, self-centered way.)

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  21. Fabulous use of word play, love the double meanings dramatically flared within your words. Wonderful last lines, my favorites especially.

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  22. For all the conquests, all the legends, time reduces all...another gorgeous breath of history in this, my friend. It draws us back across the ages with such evocative language and ancient scenes splendidly described. Not only that, you've sifted through psychological discourse in those same scenes, your word play guiding us through the depths of madness, misunderstanding, and the attempts to escape from it all in the purposed and foreign mystery of the harem.

    Ever the story-teller, and I bow to your skills.

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  23. Thank you Chris. I much appreciate both your words, and everything you've done with one stop. I've looked forward to these Sundays you've given us as a challenge and a tremendous learning experience in writing spontaneously. Best to you in your new endeavors.

    And thank you Alegria, for your generous praise--you know how I feel about your exceptional gift.

    Heaven, Sheila, Reflections, your input is enjoyed and appreciated.

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