Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Coalman



original photo by Phil Roeder on flick'r

The Coalman
A political fantasia



The coalman is
darkness; his dust sticks to
the hands, corpse of a snowman
black in three balls
rolled from loose night, up and
down slopes of the motherless void.

He wears a bent hat
on the small ball at the top
made from the skin
of the last living poet, his
iced buttons slick fingerbones
of extinct honest men.

His flat eyes are stolen
red swelled and sullen
winking and swollen
sucked from 
wet cheeks of a child
lost at midnight.

His nose is blue steel
hollow as promises,
the cold narrow barrel
of a murderer’s handgun
buried in lies but dug 
from the grave


and his mouth
his rotting black mouth
you don’t
want to hear
where
he got that.




April 2012




Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub











Image: Art & Blue Sky, by Phil Roeder, on flick'r
This is a photograph of an original work of art by Gary Hume
I have cropped and lightly manipulated Mr Roeder's photo as permitted
under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License
The original work can be viewed here






54 comments:

  1. Yikes!
    Okay... I won't ask where he got his mouth. :-)
    Nicely... umm, scary.

    Well done.

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  2. oh heck...probably better not to know...much darkness in this...esp. ..he sucked them away
    from wet cheeks of children
    lost in the midnight...sent shivers down my spine..

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  3. well now...you peeking into our nightmares these days or what....i bet his lips are puckered, and i know where that come from....hehe....the skin of the last poet for a hat, eep....i feel a bit bad about the children you know...dark....but i like it...smiles.

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  4. the rotting black mouth is soooo coooool means so many things


    apollo and the two muses

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  5. This is a very good poem. I would love a poetry challenge using your coalman as the inspiration.

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  6. Well, I wouldn't want to meet this guy on a dark night....or ANY night come to think of it...yikes....about as dark & corrupted as our politicians these days with their 'hollow promises' ..

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  7. Hedge, I love this, it's like a character sketch for an incredibly powerful mythic villain. I love it. Thanks

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  8. Favorite lines: His flat eyes are stolen
    red swelled and sullen
    winking and swollen

    I think I shave that guy each morning!

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  9. Joy, He probably stole the mouth from a politician...There's always a coal man about, searching for spare parts; don't want to leave any laying about. 'buried in lies but dug/ from the grave' is my favorite twist in this, but there are many others. A grim reminder that the grim reaper sometimes takes us piece by piece, before we know what's happening. Very thoughtful and thought provoking piece for me.

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  10. Marvelous image: "... corpse of a snowman / black in three balls / rolled from loose night...."

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  11. shivers..shivers..shivers all the way through..especially that stanza about his flat eyes and the ending. powerful..haunting.

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  12. There is darkness...and then there is darkness like this. One is merely the absence of distinguishable light, usually temporary. The other is the negation of light, a sort of obliteration of anything alive, vital, human, and hopeful. Your Coalman is that kind of darkness.

    The things he devours and co-opts...snowmen, children, honest men, and life itself...are such things as would be his opposite; but here, they are all weakened in some fundamental way, or dead. It is the very injury, weakening and demise of the positive that enables this un-being to make them into something hideous that he can make part of himself, that is to say, to make them more than dead, take them beyond destruction into an utter void.

    This is shiver-inducing stuff, Joy. And masterfully done.

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  13. hedge! - i was beaming with all the balls and bluster of the beast after reading your 'fucking A' comment... but the coalman
    soon sobered me up - i love your occasional modus - i was reminded of the fish monger - theses dudes are like BAM! already inside the imagination skulking around just waiting to be awakened with bombs like

    He wears a bent hat
    on the small ball at the top
    made from the skin
    of the last living poet, his
    iced buttons slick fingerbones
    of extinct honest men.

    thats a freakin gravity bending
    suck hole right there!

    and for making my goose bumps pop*

    i'm blowing you a big kiss -

    the best way to recieve a kiss from my

    tar pit gob!...

    what an ending.

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    1. Ha! I'll take what I can get. Yours was awesome man--every time I see what you can make words do I am blown away. Thanks for a comment that made my night.

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  14. Yikes. This is bone-chilling.
    Fingerbone chilling!

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  15. I'm cowering here in broad daylight. A stellar, scathing fantasia.

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  16. Don't want to run into him....Favorite lines... His flat eyes are stolen red swelled and sullen
    winking and swollen...well done.

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  17. Aww...he's not such a bad guy...kind of a "diamond in the rough" you might say.

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  18. Wow...I am both a little scared and intrigued...I really love it! It's like a delve into the real darkness, it's delightfully spine tingling!

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  19. Hi Joy--I am very literal, but I'm actually viewing this guy as a mine boss/owner/fracker/stripminer/etc. I think it goes farther than that, and is broader--but that works well enough for me. I can even find some Dylan Thomas in there! (But I like to go for the literal.)

    But I can see you are pushing the envelope now and getting some good results. I haven't typed up or edited the one I did this morning on train, but will try now! Great work. K.

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    1. That's very literally the sort of figure I was going for, thanks K.--this is from a dream--a very menacing one--so I don't think you're far off, though I'm really aiming at ALL the money grubbing bastards with it. Good luck with the rewrite--yours have been coming out pretty polished, even though you call them drafts. Only a few more days, girl! ;-)

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    2. Ha! Well, I can see the money grubbing, but I really think Coal pushers are pretty awful - even when they go on about carbon sequestration! (Another bizarre thing whose details I can no longer quite come up with only that it involves burying a ton of stuff--carbon I think--in the hope that it doesn't surface. We know how that works.) Well, I finally have gotten a poem I feel an immediate liking for - almost done with it. Ha! Good feeling. k.

      PS - sorry about the dream. Are you sure you weren't watching the evening news in your sleep? !

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    3. I think I have a chip, so that I get it directly in the dream state. ;-) I know what you mean about having that immediate liking or not when you are turning them out like this--some you just would rather come back to later, some you just feel are right, right out of the gate.

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  20. made from the skin
    of the last living poet, his
    iced buttons slick fingerbones
    of extinct honest men.

    Loved this part!! This is rich, dark and intense! Nice one Hedge!

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  21. Eeek - this stanza will haunt me:

    His nose is blue steel
    hollow as promises,
    the cold narrow barrel
    of a murderer’s handgun
    buried in lies but dug
    from the grave

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  22. the whole thing as dark as the coal, full of tension and dread. Love the second stanza.

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  23. WOW! First and third stanzas cannot get any better. Luved them, as well as the whole poem. But those segments have me boarder envious. I love little word melody riffs like these. Just makes me smile ear to ear. And the poem of a coalman, ver kool, Joy (if I can call you that)this is outstanding. I do not know if it is just the timing of when I first read you, but your voice lately I have super enjoyed, top notch, one of dverse's best. Excellente!

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    1. Thanks henry--you are more than welcome to call me Joy, or anything else. Thanks for the very kind words--you know I love your work as well, with its firm handle on the importance of the unspoken. And thanks for keeping your tree--it appeals to my druidic leanings. ;-)

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  24. Love it the whole piece it steals your attention and holds you...so well done...bkm

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  25. This is the stuff of nightmares. I imagine this like one of those stories during camp, told at the dead of night around a campfire. You laugh at yourselves, but when the fire is out, and you're alone in your tent, and the only sound is the sound of insects, and all that surrounds you is darkness - it's at that moment that the story is most potent.

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  26. Such well chosen images with which you clothe what is actually unspeakable.. 'his dust sticks to the hands'..

    trying to brush them off as I leave... out, out damned...

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  27. Has this guy been to Washington D.C.? Cuz that mouth is definitely Potomac sewage. Hedge, you are the mistress of dark. You certainly do it well. You just about exacerbated my insomnia, but what the hell.. this is fine stuff!

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  28. Here's to another exquisite bit of Kitchen cookery, a blueblack soufflé of a conceit ... whouda thunk of an inverse snowman whose black is exactly beyond the cold of the white Snow Man's brain, a stellar, gunmetal sort of cold, death of the mind being far worse than its freezing haunts. Or something. This is a criminally corporate, political, Madison Avenue sort of dude, looking and talking like a person but far, far worse than any winter nature (or at least real human nature) could throw our way. And that mouth -- no, I won't ask. Jeepers, I'll cross myself instead. By the Hammer of Thor! Brilliant stuff, Hedge - Brendan

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    1. Gunmetal cold--exactly--the kind of guns used particularly for killing people. You might have been there in the dream, watching this dude talk at me, coming closer and breathing death with every slick iced button aglow, all his victims reflected in his stolen child's eyes. *shuddering still* Thanks for reading, and for getting it so totally, B.

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    2. Makes you wonder if the poet's dreamer is the superior poet. I thank Odin your oracle is so chatty.

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    3. I don't wonder, I know. ;-) One of the reasons I decided to do this April poem a day thing was because it opens up the dream doors and lets everything out--or else I'm paying more attention to what's going on because I need every scrap. Dreamed about a Viking funeral a la Beau Geste last night. :P

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  29. Ohhhh this one is like looking in a mirror ;)

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    1. Yes, some of this in all of us, I think Adrian.

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  30. Visceral in its terrible intensity. Another triumph of dark imaginings.

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  31. Very dark, very nightmarish. The idea of the coalman is pretty ingenious, and it evokes for me images of some gothic horror, though I also get an image of Frosty the Snowman's evil twin! This is terrifying because it's like a version of a fairy tale monster for the age of global warming, given that burning coal is one of the leading causes of it. All in all, an interesting mix of images that elicits deeper fears and anxieties, the farther one goes in understanding it, peeling away the layers of associations and meaning.

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    1. I like that evil twin image--I do think there's a childlike simplicity to the most basic horror--the fear of the dark, the monster under the bed--then you grow up, and know it wears a suit and tie and is a hundred times more powerful than you imagined. Thanks, Charles.

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  32. Yes dark, and inspired. I wonder what Stevens would make if this negative of his snowman image, and what kind of mind it takes ...

    A fearless one, I think, to face the black coal night and end with humor, find beauty in the raw and painful, to feel the terror that is fearful, and the terror that can be overcome.

    My mind goes off thinking of those qualities of coal, and the denseness that comes from long time's layerings.

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    1. Thanks Ruth, while I wasn't going for humor, I think perhaps the grimness is too grim to be handled any other way,as I've had several 'uncomfortablish" attempts to see this as funny in some way, besides your more insightful read. To me there's nothing humorous about the coalman's lying mouth, spreading the disease he carries of greed and dysfunction like a hyena--but I obviously didn't do a very good job of getting that horror across. (It was an awful dream.) Thanks for your reading and interpretation--it helps very much for a rewrite.

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  33. This is as dark as it gets! shiver me timbers!

    Wonderful, though, in it's enveloping darkness.

    You hit a lot of buttons with this, Hedge.

    Dark, mysterious, cold, and layered.

    Lady Nyo

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  34. This is just amazing....seriously- I love it....for me, and being from the uk, is just a vivid, brutal, dark, and brooding description of a working class figure- this doesn't have to be rooted in nightmare, this could be real life! Seriously amazing descriptions here that just got me in my stomach

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    1. Thanks Stu--there's a lot of working class angst in this one--glad you picked up on it, and on the way people can carry darkness everywhere they go till they become it.

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  35. This really made me uneasy lol Such superb description! Eerie and like a tale round the camp fire but with amazing poetic flare! Awesome hon....really intensely made an impact :) Different too, I enjoyed this! xoxo

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  36. Nobody on earth can concoct a darker boogey-man than you. Hard, steely, screeching into the subconscious like a mine car out of control. An entity to turn the world subterranean with no hope of light or reprieve. Wow!

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  37. It's as if Woody Guthrie and Stephen King collaborated to create a portrait of a truly evil bastard, then ran it by Dylan so he could pretty it up. Holy wow.

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  38. Yikes Hedge...Chilling nightmare...Well done ~

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  39. i admit i belted a ha! at the end, and in a good way. i thought it was a light-hearted departure that worked. you build up a hard man here, dim and dangerous. there's a rich legend quality about the read, and that's why the playfulness at the end felt like a storyteller's wink. that's what i thought. the poetry gods smile on you. the subconscious is thankfully in control of us all.

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  40. I thought I commented on this already...? Anyway I love when you do creepy :P

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    1. Probably on one of my other creepy poems. ;_) I've got you on Fusion, but afaik this is the only one here. Thanks, DA.

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