Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In the Wilderness

John William Waterhouse - Magic Circle


 In The Wilderness




My last night in the wilderness
I wrote your name
the name that can’t be spoken
in deep blue ink on black paper
block letters in knots and swirls
lewd bulges and constrictions
a child’s idea of a  rune of power
half drawn heiroglyph of some
ibis headed god with a
truthful feather, balanced
weightless where stars were
first conceived to ornament
the arching body of night.

Beside it I drew encircled
a kindled heart in luminous blood
heavy as iron for you my love
the raw red beating thing
to shock you into breathing
the slap across your infant cheek
I painted in silver star water
the tilting scales, the sword cross-hilted,
driven through. Above I put Dian’s crescent
webbed in cloudy lies
pink as the dawn’s toes
walking in her silken slippers all 
around us in night's shrinking pit.

Then I kissed and laid it low, whisper soft 
where the dying fire sighed
fed the smolder with curled needles
of rosemary, corpse tallow of dead hope
and bits of bone. By its sulphur light
the ghostsmoke steamed straight up
in the tomb still air, grey and rank
till the east wind blew you away.
Perhaps when your next priestess
arrives, she’ll make a rune ink from this
char and sleet and tattoo you
a poem you’ll like better
on her wavering skin

but it will never be half as true
as what I wrote by witchlight for you.






December 2011



Posted for   Open Link Night  at dVerse Poets Pub






Header Image: Magic Circle, by John William Waterhouse, 1886, oil on canvas
John William Waterhouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

47 comments:

  1. ok, the close has one part temptation and one part shivers up my back bone actually...nice imagery, the witch is spinning her spells this evening eh? smiles.

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  2. I've been thinking lots lately about the underground initiation we unconsciously yet collectively go through in the passage through childhood to adulthood, that there are deep energies at work in our manias and loves, our wounds and wombs. Maybe it's because we're so near the solstice, but the ancient voices do seem to be choiring loudly in these winter's nights. Your rune-cast here and deep interpretation -- reading events as if they were painted on cave walls 40 thousand years ago -- is a vessel of power we only faintly understand, much less know, though surely is the inner, older narrative of what by day just looks like a long-broken heart. The art's in finding a path in and through that wilderness, coming out with fresh feathers and a resonant voice. The other players in the drama are necessarily left to their own fates -- they're dust to us, eventually -- except where we tend the vestal fire and keep a solstice candle burning through the night. And we were only players to them, wearing godlike masks whom they had to come to terms with or not, eventually, down the promenade of masks. And in the end only the song remains, floating out there between the stars. Fine fine work, Hedge. - Brendan

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  3. Don't spend too much of that heart on those who would let it scatter to the winds. And screw that next priestess. May she choke on it. Your mojo is for grown-ups.

    PS--I love the Waterhouse and the eye at the end.

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  4. "in the tomb still air" - chilling music.

    Waterhouse is a fav and Fireblossom you gave me a laugh.

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  5. love the rawness here.. great intensity and devotion..giving everything unrestrained - and what could be a better offering than one that comes from the wildness of the heart?

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  6. hedgewitch, it unfolded so beautifully...both soft and tense at the same time.

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  7. Joy,
    Nice and well, a wildness well contained!

    Hank

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  8. Thanks all--bri and claudia, hank, Tug, Talon-- Glad you stopped by for a sip of that witch's brew.

    @FB: Yes, there might be a little more in that ink than just char and ash--just sayin'. I love that Waterhouse, been looking for a poem for it for awhile.

    @B: Rituals are indeed important, and especially the ones which deal in the exorcism/reinventing of the past. That shamanic journey through the caves, the obsessive drawing and redrawing of the thing, the magic needed, does define us and birth us into the next and hopefully less subterranean world. Thanks for reading, friend, and walking in the witchlight.

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  9. Brendan took the words right out of my mouth. Darn.

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  10. So many lines I love here,
    "Beside it I drew encircled
    a kindled heart in luminous blood
    heavy as iron for you my love"

    each line drew me further in.

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  11. @Timo: Ha as if you could even pronounce them. ;_) (And that's very unhygienic, also.)

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  12. Wonderful imagery in your poem, full of wonderful lines..'Then I kissed and laid it low, whisper soft where the dying fire sighed' ...beautiful & wistful...gave me goosebumps. :)

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  13. Corpse tallow of dead hope is a great line! Well done.

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  14. Your poems have the most marvelous otherworldly quality.

    I like your "child's idea of a rune of power", night as an "arching body", and "cloudy lies / pink as the dawn's toes".

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  15. Wonderful use of symbols, signs, Witchcraft and tied together with some really amazing lines. Really enjoyed the read. Thanks

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  16. a tour de force Hedge - mixing up something
    spellbinding - a real treat to read and the final lines ripp into the new year.

    a delight

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  17. Wow! Hedgewitch indeed! Well-spun/charmed/invoked/cast. K.

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  18. Intensely wild. I feel this poem! That is what makes it important.

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  19. scary tone and scary poem - the mouse to the right is a great balance

    Peace!

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  20. Love the mythological images...especially the Egyptian.

    This simmers to boiling...almost. Thank you for casting this one over us. :-)

    Blessings of the dark time even as we near the Winter Solstice and the return of the light.

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  21. There be Magick and wisdomes written herein, which is wonderfully woven and crafted, and harkens back to a time when wisdom and knowledge were appreciated...a time of the Priestess!

    Cheers,
    Roger ☺

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  22. intense and hypnotic. entrancing piece of work here. enjoyed very much! :) nice penning, poet!

    http://magicinthebackyard.wordpress.com/2011/12/20/polaroids-of-delilah/

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  23. Loved this:

    "in deep blue ink on black paper
    block letters in knots and swirls
    lewd bulges and constrictions
    a child’s idea of a rune of power"

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  24. ibis headed god with a
    truthful feather, balanced
    weightless where stars were
    first conceived to ornament
    the arching body of night.

    - Thats pretty great there. Enjoyed the imagery in this poem very much. Great work here.

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  25. Oh my, Joy Ann, a beautifully intense piece of writing. Rich images, I love that.

    Now, I read you don't care for the Christmas thing, but I am wishing a wonderful holiday, nonetheless.

    I am hoping to make my way back to the pub after the first of the year. Work has been incredibly demanding.

    Pamela

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  26. Mysterious how otherworldly interpretations and beliefs are so spellbinding. I wondered just today, while listening to a program about the increase in the development of drones, decrease in their size to that of a fruitfly that can perch on a window sill (and smaller), whether there are spiritual beings actually floating all around us at every moment. Where are the dead?
    Technology seems to be converging with religious beliefs in a certain way.

    OK, gotta run, those guys in the white coats are coming...Must wish you a peaceful holiday...

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  27. mysterious, hypnotic and very powerful ... just loved it ...

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  28. the arching body of night; the night's shrinking pit....only a couple of phrases that hooked me into your witchy, wonderful words. You brew a fine cauldron, firing my own imagination. Thank you!

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  29. Oh this is a sinuous, muscular symphony... I hung over every word.. Beautiful, heartfelt, heart-rending.

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  30. Love the pic and words ... brings back memories of a troubled childhood filled with good and bad, and lots of magic around each corner. Have a good festive season and a Happy New Year as well, Love, cat.

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  31. You give me shivers. This has all the best of Hedge, and fills the chasm between desire and fulfillment, even if never the twain shall meet. The well used heart of the poetess beats on with love and craft, the witchy magical kind.

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  32. You've chosen such a perfect vocabulary and context for this piece. It's so elevated and immediate.

    Forgive me if I've use this phrase before, but the poetic moment in this was sustained throughout the entire piece...no let-downs, no lapses. And your ending gave it a perfect finality. So far, this has my vote for top post this week. Very rewarding and moving.

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  33. Your words wonderfully woven. A great write.

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  34. Thanks all--so much appreciate everyone taking the time to stop by and read in this hectic season. Happy holidays to you each and all.

    @Pam: I understand how it can get--very very good to see you again though, and a happy season to you as well.

    @Ann: You cracked me up with that last line--and I agree on the lines blurring more all the time between the mystic/religious and the scientific/technological. Have a wonderful Christmas.

    @Steve: Thank you so much for all your constant support and kindness--I know your holidays will be blessed with the love and friendship you extend to all.

    @ayala: And that goes for you too, ayala. Thank you for letting us all share in your sun-kissed life.

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  35. This is such a visual piece, Joy. I've never seen even half of the things you describe, yet I can envision them and feel their weight and emotional power.

    You owned me by Line 4. Now I'm in your thrall.

    Great piece.

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  36. LOVE to cast the stones...so much speaks so strongly to me throughout this entire weave, Joy! I do hope that perhaps you can catch just a bit of my Christmas bug...fair exchange for the magic you always bring to life for us!

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  37. Natasha, a person would have to be dead not to catch a little Christmas joy from you. ;-)

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  38. Beside it I drew encircled
    a kindled heart in luminous blood
    heavy as iron for you my love
    the raw red beating thing
    to shock you into breathing
    the slap across your infant cheek


    For your son? Perhaps I am totally off the mark, but this has a deeper sorrow to it than missing a lover, a reach-in-and-tear-your-hearts-and-gut-out kind of sorrow, longing, and power. Then again, maybe I've just never known the kind of lover who would inspire such feelings....

    One of the best ever poems.

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  39. Thanks Lydia, for reading. Most of the 'he's' and 'you's' in my poems are composites and symbols, and that's the case here--I did have a particular person at the top of my mind writing it, but it draws from many(none of them my son--I worried about leaving that infant cheek line in because of that--but in love we're all children again, sometimes brats.) Hope you have the best of holidays.

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  40. This flowed like of river of old, indeed eternal, and intense and true and total. A modern rendition. An ancient tale.

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  41. You are so skilled at creating this whole esoteric atmosphere, weaving in Myth and Magik and spells. And since I'm in a catching-up mode, here I am as the Solstice is only hours away, steeped in traditions that I've just learned about in the last few years.

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  42. A brutally good write..I wish I had read this in lower light and had my cedar incense burning to help weave the wonderful scene you've painted. Off into the edge of wilderness, the spell is caste as the fates have already been played. How you write the reader into these dream scenes of old...truly a gift. Thank you for hosting OLN; cheers ~ angela

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  43. "balanced
    weightless where stars were
    first conceived to ornament
    the arching body of night."

    ooooh! delicious!
    i LOVE this, Joy!

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  44. the gorgeous mystery of your images.... "luminous blood, heavy as iron..."; "pink as the dawn's toes..."; "corpse tallow of dead hope..."; "ghostsmoke"...each capturing me as i read through, each a part of the spell leaving me entranced at the close.

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