Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Collector

Antiquarian
The Collector




I am a collector of
the poetry of death
of its fusillade barrages
of its subtle lingual dagger
of its dancing damascus blades
patterned like lost sonnets, even
the fat cannister whose prostrate poison
creeps silent over the lambstongue,
rhyming the skeletal with the skin.
               
Sharp by sharp
through the flint-flash labyrinth
where the iron blossoms of
synchronized sidearms pound
the percussion of the butcher's ballet,
the bomb's verse writes me a language
of ancient echo, splintery stabs
of the flung broken, the cellular scream itself
that is the breaker of worlds.

In the center where the bodies fold
every sword’s a stanza, every
barrel a ballad, each soldier a
poem crafted to parse autumn light
on shafts of wheat, to appear and fade
before the sickle’s edge,
springborn fodder for the beasts,
relentlessly gathered 
into red sheaves.



May 2012



Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Process note: "Damascus steel was a term used by several Western cultures from the Medieval period onward to describe a type of steel used in swordmaking from about 300 BCE to 1700 CE. These swords are characterized by distinctive patterns of banding and mottling reminiscent of flowing water..." ~wikipedia
I have used the idiosyncratic term lambstongue to refer to lambsquarters, or pigweed, an edible weed in the goosefoot family. 
The second stanza references Oppenheimer's quote  from the Bhagavad Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." when the first atomic bomb was detonated on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico.




Used with his kind permission. Thank you, Petteri, for the picture which inspired this poem.

Petteri blogs on all things political, social, Buddhist, photographic and horological, as well as anything else that catches his interest at his eclectic and always instructive site, Come to Think of It.

54 comments:

  1. Exquisitely forged and like a rusty halberd, if the initial stab doesn't kill the gangrene will. Awe inspiring verse.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The feel of lamb's tongue gives me almost as many goosebumps as the wonderful language you've weaved throughout this absolutely alive and breathing write. The use of Damascus blades made me pat myself on the back for knowing what you speak of BEFORE the notes! ;) (Yay me!) Always a fantastic arena to visit...here's to blowing the roof off OpenLinkNight!!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. the fat cannister whose prostrate poison
    creeps silent over the lambstongue,
    rhyming the skeletal with the skin.

    giving skin to the skeleton...smiles...i like

    In the center where the bodies fold
    every sword’s a stanza...haha..yes they are and sometimes we fall on our swords to write it...an honorable death...

    exquisitely crafted hedge...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Red itself here becomes an overarching symbol here..bloodshed on the fields in luxurious imagery..always the thing that feeds us. Exquisite.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is it ok to love such a grim, dark poem? This is great, every image and reference. I especially love the Oppenheimer reference. And to pair poetry and death when it dances so often with love. Thrills my heart to see the wallflower that everyone whispers about dancing center stage.

    ReplyDelete
  6. oh my, wow. this is fabulous mastery.

    I am a collector of
    the poetry of death...

    classic, classic lines i will always remember

    ReplyDelete
  7. I had to read the first stanza a few times, grinning a little more each time. Only you can take weapons, blood and death and make it read so pretty. :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. "In the center where the bodies fold
    every sword’s a stanza, every
    barrel a ballad, each soldier a
    poem..." ooh that was my favorite part... amazing write.
    brutal, yet so beautiful

    ReplyDelete
  9. the butchers ballet - best line of the night... my mind races off to wicked possibilites and potentials... back in the collectors room - springborn fodder for the beasts - too hot to stop... excellent concept hedge... i lapped it up with relish and admiration... what a pic too - bang on the button ! :D

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am pushed to name a favourite stanza or even a line as this is all magnificently delivered! Darkness but sheathed with beauty also, a balance of refined posture, very much enjoyed this :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Damn you're good! I bow. This made me think of a phase I went through where I would always read the last chapter of a biography first.

    ReplyDelete
  12. great imagery, esp:

    subtle lingual dagger
    flint-flash labyrinth
    percussion of the butcher's ballet,

    sickle, hint about communism?? nah....sickle cell anemia? nah...i'm reading into it.... ;)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am a collector of
    the poetry of death...wow..great imagery and a great write!

    ReplyDelete
  14. It's a bit like a dark tongue twister in parts. As always a nice trip into the darkness!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Like the way you turned those swords into plowshares near the end. (Or maybe it's timeshares?)

    ReplyDelete
  16. you had me from the start and kept me throughout.

    I'm a long time collector with multiple collections of varied themes and the collage of emotions coming from "things" was a perfect example of how they tell us stories that we can share.

    I love how you worked your magic so uniquely and richly.

    thank you

    ReplyDelete
  17. Violent, emotive and written with such passion. You're a master.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I love your collection of poetry of death....each stanza is perfect ~ Cheers ~

    ReplyDelete
  19. Absolutely wonderful. Thank yo.

    ReplyDelete
  20. In the center where the bodies fold
    every sword’s a stanza, every
    barrel a ballad, each soldier a
    poem crafted to parse autumn light
    on shafts of wheat

    Amazing. Dark, ominous, perfect.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is really wonderful, Joy. It is really really good. The end for me was the strongest, I think, the red sheaves, and beasts, but truly all terrific. So interesting about the Damascus steel - I kept thinking Damocles--the words may not be related, but it is a nice undertone. And the Oppenheimer too - he had such a beautiful face --I saw some film with him saying those words - Crazy time. There is an opera - kind of terrible - but interesting too called Doctor Atomic by John Adams, which I saw at the Met (given the tickets), about the Manhattan project--Oppenheimer the star, he sings an aria based on Donne - batter my heart? I think it was. You might find it interesting, I don;t know. Wonderful poem.

    ReplyDelete
  22. You are in finest form with this one, Hedge. I agree with the others, you manage to write about death and make it somehow beautiful. I, too, especially loved "each soldier a poem crafted to parse autumn light on shafts of wheat." Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I see and feel this as a staccato dance. Or the martial art of poetry.

    ReplyDelete
  24. if you are anything you have a brilliant way with words, that can leave you hunting visions. well done
    http://leah-jamielynn.typepad.com

    ReplyDelete
  25. The first stanza hooked me with sentiments of darkness your opener captivates and leads into the dark interior of your poem.

    I am a collector of
    the poetry of death

    ReplyDelete
  26. Looks like out two writes could compliment each other.. enjoyed the perspective

    ReplyDelete
  27. wow...gripped from the first line...esp. loved..In the center where the bodies fold
    every sword’s a stanza, every
    barrel a ballad, each soldier a
    poem crafted to parse autumn light... and your words are always a bit like bullets and sharp blades..just saying...smiles

    ReplyDelete
  28. Your words truly enthrall here, Hedge. Every line draws the reader in. Rich, stark, stunning craftsmanship!

    ReplyDelete
  29. Some of the oldest parts of our language are Iliads of conflict, the encounter with the other failing to find intercourse (or even good commerce) and so unsheathing the merciless copper (bronze, iron, steel) blade ... deep recesses in the mouth where the Collector tends the armory, not so much for future conflicts (let younger, less perforated warriors handle that one) as to remember all the wars of olde. The Poet is indeed the Collector, tasked to learn all the tools of the trade and be willing to wield them: So many red engagements where only the Damascus steel, the words, survived. So many horrors, yes, but the Witchita Lineman, the armorer of the wind, is still on the line ... You whet the edges of this till the poem smiled like a feral crescent moon, where the kiss of blades and hammers is a blacksmith's discourse on intercourse (wizards of the forge, the Armorer belongs to the Magickal guild, drawing Excaliburs from the mere of the earth's ore-strewn womb) ... Brendan

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, B--you do indeed grasp what I was going for--the tales of old, we seem to need them, even when their beauty brings death. Excellent and salient point about the Smith.

      Delete
  30. Your words are as sharp as a two-edged sword!

    Thanks for the Lennon and I Love your surrealist dog too!

    ReplyDelete
  31. I love coming here -- it's like an education for my poetic mind.
    Wonderful images... the picture is great and works perfectly with your words.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Very powerful, very chilling. There are lines here that just speak to be set in marble. You chisel the stone of horror and create a demonic reality where words show their bloody pedigree, used so often to inspire to hate and death. That the poem sits like a gargoyle atop a monstrous castle to death's realms, says so much about your creative vision as well as about the power you hold to wield words with dark mastery.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The darkness suits my mood tonight, and this rich language would thrill me any time.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thrilling and dark... the last few lines got me! Fine poetry I read here.
    Loved it for its variation :)

    hugs xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  35. This is so rich with history, Hedge. It spirals this reader back in time, across cultures, wars, the condition of humanity, and you bring forth this all in truth....with enormous integrity.

    Just the utter richness of your words inspire me. This is a colossal poem, by a colossal, engaged poet.

    Your ability to weave history and seasons, something closer to the heart....is remarkable and enduring.

    By the way, I just read the Wallace Stevens quote at the top of your page, and laughed!...that's a great quote, Joy.

    Keep up your marvelous poetry. You are fully invested in this miraculous medium and you bring us in your sphere and enrich our own lives and poetical efforts.

    Lady Nyo

    ReplyDelete
  36. Wielding words like fine Damascus steel! This feels . . . unleashed, for lack of a better word. Love this, Hedge.

    ReplyDelete
  37. That opening line is like the perfect first line of a novel that just drags the reader into the experience. Love it!

    ReplyDelete
  38. Have been absent too long from your word magic. This is, like all your work, brimming with intelligence and perception. Love the picture, it complements the poem perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Wow joy- the word usage just works on so many levels - so nice to read aloud- just rolls off the tongue. Maybe it's me....but I read this as you being the collector of poems, that words can be weapons - and if right- this is a sentiment I love- poetry can be sharp as a sword or bludgeoning as a hammer- looooovveeeeeeee!

    ReplyDelete
  40. I am a collector of the poetry of death...It captured my attention from the first words. And the ending is so profound...you always amaze me with your talent. I can't say that enough!

    ReplyDelete
  41. You never cease to amaze me, Joy. This is a masterpiece! I especially like the last stanza.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Now, I'm thinking about poems as weapons! This is really well-done.

    ReplyDelete
  43. Oh you are so good. Your dancing words and phrases light up the dark themes. "Lingual dagger" and stab indeed.

    ReplyDelete
  44. This is poetry. Stuff like

    "poison
    creeps silent over the lambstongue,
    rhyming the skeletal with the skin."

    and

    "the bomb's verse writes me a language"

    reminds me why I love the stuff, and why you are better at it than anyone else I know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodness--high praise indeed, Shay. Many thanks.This photo was a large part of why the poem happened at all, so thanks to Petteri for the raw material.

      Delete
  45. Ooh, love these:

    "dancing damascus blades"
    "rhyming the skeletal with the skin"

    rosemarymint.wordpress.com

    ReplyDelete
  46. This is so good...so very very very good.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Wonderful imagery and it is so good...so very very very good.

    Anna :o]

    ReplyDelete

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