Friday, July 29, 2011

Sign of a Storm



Sign of a Storm


The flies are biting.
My grandmother always called that
sign of a storm.

In another town, reason yields her
lifeblood, torn in the mandibles
of locust men.

Pushed, fretted by the exhaust of south wind,
abandoned by north, mad forms
sweat and twist in a dance

for rain but only the dry thunder
of promises never meant to be kept
rumbles through the dark.

The golden cup is filled
ever more full, overflowing
while the deepest well runs dry.

I sit and wish for a charm
more potent than this clumsy
necromancy, a charm

for the living rain, lightning, change
banked in clouds’ vault,
no key in my hand while

on my cheek black air blusters and
rubs its stale breath,
quaking hot as a rat’s belly.

In the distance only a hermit darkness
pinches at the eye, packed inside a shell of night
from whose void the inmate has long fled.

Later the dog wakes me, her claws
furrowing the door, afraid
afraid to the core

of her simple soul
as the far away
thunder nears.



July 2011

Posted for  Poetics  at dVerse Poets Pub
Sheila Moore is hosting today, and her prompt is to write on the subject of water.


36 comments:

  1. What Gaia wills -- how She ills, then heals -- no rain dance or charm can quite enough woo or worsen. I was wondering when this poem would emerge from your blasted heat-heath of a summer. Thank Goddess the surreal of the poem is greater, deeper, wilder, wetter, more thunderous than the real and its golden discontents. The Capital Dome is only one cumulus; a different, albeit distant one will always return. Here's to Tropical Storm Don making a hard right at the Texas coast; in lieu of that, have faith in the biting of the flies. Great work, friend. - Brendan

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  2. This is as powerful as the charges in the air. "hot as a rat's belly" is revolting but absolutely perfect. It's one of those phrases that only you would come up with, pure Hedgewitch talent. And the description of your dog "afraid to the core of her simple soul" is so descriptive; the being woken, the claws, all of it.

    But because I am a grotesque, gnarled shrew, I have a quibble. In the first stanza you introduce your grandmother, with her folk wisdom about flies biting. It's a perfect opening. But in the second stanza, you say,

    "In another town, reason yields
    her lifeblood, torn in the mandibles
    of locust men."

    Upon first reading, that made it sound to pudding-brained me as if Grandma were getting murdered. Just who "her" was in reference to wasn't clear to me until I read it again. You meant, of course, "reason". Perhaps capitalizing the "R" to make it "Reason" would make it clearer? The stanza is too good, with its locust men's mandibles, to change much. Or, you could just throw things at me until I go away.

    Despite my one quibble, this is a powerful, evocative poem, and one of my favorites of yours, instantly.

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  3. PS--and yeah, like Brendan, I get who those locust men are. Very sly, and very apt, Witch.

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  4. i felt the storm brewing.. in more ways than one.

    i love these lines:
    "for the living rain, lightning, change
    banked in clouds’ vault,
    no key in my hand"

    thanks for sharing your words, Joy. your writing and encouraging comments are very much appreciated ~

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  5. Thanks, Heaven, for reading and commenting.

    @B: Yes, this is what I finally got out of about five pages of storm related babbling, honed down, as I've sat the last week or so watching the clouds build and go around us. The only thing that will crack this dome is the anger of your water gods out in the vast deep finally marching inland, so while I wish no disasters on the coastal regions, the sooner the hurricanes mass, the likelier relief here. Don was apparently a disappointment, even for Texas, and unlikely to do much for us, but even a shower would be pleasant, at this point.

    @FB I dislike capitalizing words and I very seldom do it. I'll change the enjambment, however, so that "her" is coupled with "reason" more closely and spares any murderous implications for my long departed grandmother.

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  6. The more I read this, the deeper it gets. Truly excellent.

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  7. what I understood was that Granny had a hard life, many layers here, I second the excellent comment.

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  8. Absolutely stunning imagery throughout this poem. Dare I say a perfect storm of images.

    David

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  9. goodness...some remarkable imagery and word play through out...banking on, nice...the locust man, ack...wonderful layering as well...love the deeper meaning...and for the record i have never touched a rats belly...smiles.

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  10. @brian: I had a pet white rat once. They have a very high metabolism, and they really do almost vibrate. Glad you liked.

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  11. oh i can feel such longing in this... for much more than storm and rain... or is it just me...? good to read some hedge original again... i'm starved poetically... smiles

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  12. Don't know where to start... beauty, drama, and love all seem to flow from your words.

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  13. I love this piece...I especially like stanzas 8 and 9!

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  14. i love thunderstorms and i feel your excitement.

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  15. This is a intoxicating poem.

    Packed full of wonderful lines and foreboding underscore humming.

    "on my cheek black air blusters and
    rubs its stale breath,
    quaking hot as a rat’s belly."

    Possibly my favourite stanza.

    Impacting and memorable.

    Thankyou for your visit and your very kind words.

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  16. That poem crackles with the heat we're all feeling. Fabulous imagery, deeply symbolic, very resourceful. I knew about the rat's bellies. I liked that image and knew the height of that temperature. In summer their body temp. is well over 102 degrees. Fierce lines in a time of drought. Great work my friend!

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  17. Thanks so much all. Glad you could stop by and soak up a little Oklahoma heat.

    @Claudia: Good to see you,friend.

    @TE I don't leave those kind unless I mean them. Your poem deserved all of that and more. Thanks for reading.

    @Gay Ha! A fellow rat girl. ;-) It's getting hard to come up with similes for this heat--I used up all the obvious ones in June. Glad you could relate.

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  18. I'm not sure I caught all the deeper meanings here, but I still found this to be charged with electricity, that kind of eery anticipation you feel as a child when you know something bad is about to happen. Excellent :)

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  19. Awww I had a little dog like that in the UK. she would know a thunder storm was coming long before one arrived and, she was terrified of them Her whole body would tremble from head to foot and she'd pant so hard she'd make puddles on the floor. In the end, I got so scared that she'd have a heart attack, I'd give her a half of a vallium to calm her down. It worked, but, my vet told me the worst thing to do is pet them and try to sooth them because then they think oh, she's making a fuss of me so there IS something for me to worry about. He said best thing to do is simply ignore the dog and do not react at all to the thunder.
    Now, I have another yorkie and because we didn't react by fear or surprise, neither does he, not to thunder nor fireworks either, thank goodness!
    Your prose was powerful and, a delightful read.

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  20. Again, I feel far from worthy of comment, as I always fall so completely entranced by just about every write. To so eagerly await the storm, the tactics we go to to aide in its coming, wives tales, magic, despair, history, everything one could want in art in any form. A picture is painted in moving language, and man's best friend anxious and afraid, is left to scratch at the door...while in the distance...Yup, sometimes its nice to just soak up the talent and hope some of it rubs off! :)

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  21. Hedge witch, I'd say this more than qualifies for the water prompt. Until I read in the comments where you live I thought we may be neighbors as it has been weeks and weeks since rain here. That is until this morning. The prompt must have been answered by the rain gods as well. Halleluia!

    I'm with Natasha on commenting-never sure what to say with poems so good that most of the meaning goes over my head. I just hope some of it rubs off on me and I have Faith that it will. There are many poets whose writings completely dumbfounded me who I can now follow and catch most of their clever word plays and references. Either they are slacking on their skills or I am becoming a more knowledgable reader. I prefer to think it is the latter...lol

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  22. Love this and will not pick out lines because I'd just be quoting it back to you. You may get a chuckle out of the fact that I used to have three pet rats, Anne, Emma, and Elizabeth (or Lizzie) all named after Jane Austen heroines. Your wit never ceases to amaze me and I particularly enjoy how your verses give me the feeling I'm turning over rocks in the forest. There's a whole teeming bio-diverse microcosm under each one.

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  23. {i live in Arizona which is in the 11th...12th? year of drought like so many other states. as i started reading this poem, i heard the rumble of thunder and a few minutes of actual rain. it lent a nice backdrop for your words.}

    another brilliant poem! i especially liked ~

    "In the distance only a hermit darkness
    pinches at the eye, packed inside a shell of night
    from whose void the inmate has long fled."

    you have a way with words is unique and always stunning. LOVE your poetry!
    dani ♥

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  24. Thanks all.

    @Sheila and Natasha--our minds all work a bit differently, especially how we look at things when we write. It all does get easier to understand when you read people for awhile, too. I appreciate your own work, and your kind words.

    @Anna--what no Mr Darcy? Probably all for the best. I too often have the sensation of things crawling out from under rocks in my poems. ;-)Thanks so much for reading.

    @Dani I know how hot it gets in Arizona--a grueling but beautiful place. Glad you got a little relief, and glad you liked the poem.

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  25. This poem 'thrums' so much I could almost hear the thunder. Wonderful!

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  26. "hermit darkness" This is so vivid to me. I'm on my porch at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning, alone in the darkness in a part of the country devastated by drought. You've expressed the waiting and desire beautifully.

    Beth

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  27. I've really grown to love your way with ferity and myth and modern life, rendered in some of the finest lyricism in the poet's 'west.' (Not that I didn't love it instantly when I first encountered it.)

    I do pray Brendan's waters will find their way to you.

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  28. I hope the storms you weather won't be so harsh ...thanks for sharing an incredibly deep piece

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  29. Thanks Louise, kez, for reading.

    @TOAPUT Glad--or sorry--you can relate. The wait for relief is long and tense, and the hot night is not a very refreshing place these days for me.

    @Ruth: Many thanks, Ruth. I hope so too. I know if he could send them here, he would share. ;-)

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  30. I always heard biting flies are a sign of a storm too. Enjoyed the poem! Intense. "Quaking hot as a rat's belly."

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  31. Thanks, Matt. Glad you could make it by. That must be an old MidWest saying. I don't hear it from the natives here.

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  32. I love the journey you take in this one.. universals and very specific locals.. Bringing it back to the 'furrowing dog' is masterful

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  33. How I love this!!!!

    "on my cheek black air blusters and
    rubs its stale breath,
    quaking hot as a rat’s belly."

    Yes! The heat - the sulfuric scent that blasts you just before the clouds bursts.Yes!

    Vivid, the words hold you in its poetic headlights. Bravo, Hedgewitch!

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  34. So many "oh yes" as I read and some "what is that story?" You I must now follow if this is what you feed us. (big, big smiles)

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  35. Stunning images as always - I love the way your built the tension before the rain - I could sense it in my body

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  36. Lush words, a powerful poem. Mesmerized by your mastery of language. Beautiful write. Thank you for sharing.

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