Saturday, August 11, 2012

Pentas


 
Pentas



The harder the times,
the 
more
I stretched
and dried,
the 
more, 
the brighter
you grew.

You were the color
in landscape burnt umber,
I the drab hill-coined
sunflower wilder than fire,
origin unknown.

You were the wrought iron
sun, the shadow soft
traceries of midnight
candle against
 monsters
under the floor.

You filled nothing,
yet the emptiness
slipped away 
in your
 tumbleweed kiss.
 In the
 dryheat storm
you brought the rain
that carried inward 
to the bone.

 You were 
my five pointed star
symmetrical in chaos
flaring flame-blushed coronas 
of uncatchable peace
above the dark soil 
of the heart.

Now there's nothing
in bloom
but words that plump
in acid petals behind my eyes
and cerise memories
even drought 
can't burn down.




~July 2012
revised August, 2012






Process Notes: Pentas lanceolata, also known as Egyptian Star Flower, is a tough and durable bedding plant for climates with extreme heat, and blooms better and more profusely the hotter it gets. It is usually seen in a cherry red or lavender color, though there are pink, white and two toned cultivars also. It has a vivid, lush green leaf and clusters of star-shaped blooms which are attractive to butterflies and hummingbirds. I grow it every summer.




Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Stu MacPherson of Poems of Hate and Hope  hosts today and asks us to try to find the Beautiful Sadness. (His photos are better than mine, but not of flowers.)






Images of wild sunflower and Pentas lanceolata  © joyannjones

41 comments:

  1. ot a little heartbreak going on here hedge...bring the rain felt to the bone, nice...you were the wrought iron sun, great descriptor and interesting textures...love the contrasts in this...felt...smiles...

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  2. There's a lot to love here. The first part that stood out to me was,

    "I the drab hill-coined
    sunflower wilder than fire,
    origin unknown."

    To me, that is a perfect expression. Then, the 'tumbleweed kiss' and the 'dryheat storm' bringing rain 'inward to the bone'. You always have a wonderful way with your words. Interesting notes about the flower at the end as well.

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  3. Wow, this is a poem all on its own:

    "You were the color
    in landscape burnt umber,
    I the drab hill-coined
    sunflower wilder than fire,
    origin unknown."

    I love this:
    "symmetrical in chaos
    flaring flame-blushed coronas
    of uncatchable peace"

    Yup. Beautiful melancholy indeed. That last stanza is painful to read, yet I keep rereading it. It's too good to let go of.

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  4. This puts me of a mind to write a song . . . Strong Women and the Men Who Can't Quite Kill Them. This is exquisite writing all the way through, but that first stanza just turned me inside out.

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    1. Thanks, MZ. And I'll hum along to that one when you get it done.

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  5. ... I agree... that first stanza is a zinger! A think a country western song?

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  6. "I" is a sunflower talking to "you" the star flower?
    What a lovely dry romance!
    "candle against
    monsters
    under the floor.

    "You filled nothing,
    yet the emptiness
    slipped away
    in your
    tumbleweed kiss."

    That kiss! Brought enough rain and flame . . . My Heart! "uncatchable peace" Wow. With depth like that the memory (at the very least) will survive the sad dry season! Truly, Amy, you are getting down to the molecular level of interaction while still describing the landscape!

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  7. It's amazing! A natural reaction where the more it is threatened the stronger it gets. The colors are menacing too!.Nice write Joy!

    Hank

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  8. the sad, lovely with earth and light. - tumbleweed kiss and uncatchable peace. love this!

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  9. there are people like that...who bloom the more, the hotter and the more difficult life gets..for me this is one awesome metaphor...loved it hedge...loved the..tumbleweed kiss...and i'm so glad that you're NOT writing about cuddly bunnies...smiles..

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  10. Very nicely written Hedge. Love the natural movement you put in here, and the symbolism is great. I have to love working from the past tense worked perfectly for you here as well. Really an excellent piece. Thanks

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  11. Your garden is always sure to inspire - both poetry, and the hearts of those given a glimpse of all the wonderful things that grow there. I haven't seen this plant at my local nursery but shall look out for it - sounds perfect for our hot summers.
    I love your nod to the rangy sunflower too.

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    1. Thanks. I think it would do well in South Africa, Kerry. It's a fairly new introduction commercially--maybe only the last ten years it's been available here.

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  12. Joy- so good- seriously- love the way you use that tough flower to convey so much...and the beautiful sadness of its continual suffering but perservance- akin to our own human experience - well....you nailed it....read this a few times over- really love the 'you were' throughout the poem- which installs it with a bittersweet nostalgia.....enjoyed this so much

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    1. Thanks Stu. It's not as tight as I would have liked. Yours was a lot more sparse and clean, two qualities I greatly admire.

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  13. Hi, friend. Lingering drought must make the garden reap such a harvest of sad beauty. Two poets come to mind: Rilke's Orpheus who becomes "the crystal cup that shattered as it rang"; and Jack Gilbert, when he wrote of love as "the thing that lasts by not lasting." (Comforting, too, when David Wilcox sings, "all the roots grow deeper when it's dry.") The poem that survives through this is the place where pentas are forever in bloom no matter how blickering and blistering the heat. Ours never survived Florida summers, direct sunlight; still there's a brace of them in bloom out behind the garage where we dumped their withered stems.

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  14. As a poet, you keep me on my toes with everything you write. You keep me from ever getting lazy, because I read what you write and remember, again, that writing poetry is demanding and beautiful and makes one sing and bleed.

    In this poem, it was "origin unknown" that found its way way past my defenses and wound cool around my heart. There's a lifetime said in those two words.

    "Wrought iron sun". What an odd image. Wrought iron is hard, and nice looking, and gains its heat or cold from outside itself. If it were a sun, it would not be a self-sustaining one, and its light wouldn't warm or even be really genuine. And yet, it might be the only light around.

    "You filled nothing,
    yet the emptiness
    slipped away
    in your
    tumbleweed kiss."

    This, especially the first three lines, says in words a thing that is almost impossible to say, and to say poetically, in words. But there it is.

    It is the next stanza just leveled me, and made me cry.

    "Even drought can't burn it down." I think that says more about the poet than the plant.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Shay. As always, you find the meaning I intended. And don't be cryin too hard--it's a beautiful sadness, yes? Thanks for the compliment at the end, though I doubt it some days.

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  15. Hi Hedge - such an interesting and lovely poem. Many beautiful phrases and combinations. I can understand MZ's point of view - going through a divorce years ago I wrote some poems about that type of relationship in the voice of the one being diminished, the other growing - but this has a broader kind of feel to me - it could be person and sibling (younger and older sister), or even child and parent, and not just a romantic love relationship. In fact there seemed a lot of the adoring love of that sort of relationship of the younger to the older (who is both sort of protective, sort of narcissistic), and the kind of bittersweet loss that arises when that relationship is gone, as one misses both the love and sparkle and protection, but also understands better the narcissism (and more).. But there is also a certain nurturing going on, for sure, so a difficult pain. Anyway well done poem with a lot going on I thought and very good for the prompt.

    I actually liked these two stanzas the best:

    You were the wrought iron
    sun, the shadow soft
    traceries of midnight
    candle against
    monsters
    under the floor.

    You filled nothing,
    yet the emptiness
    slipped away
    in your
    tumbleweed kiss.
    In the
    dryheat storm
    you brought the rain
    that carried inward
    to the bone.

    k.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, k. I always appreciate your close reading and ability to see many dimensions. Most of my pronouns are composites, as you figure out here. The two stanzas you quote are the two I almost cut, so glad you liked them--makes me feel less needlessly verbose. ;_)

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    2. Always hard to assess cuts; in this case, they'd direct the poem in a different direction, I think. I look at it with those cuts - and it's definitely tighter, but a different poem. Then I think would fit more with the romantic image. Also a good poem--I do like them as I find the monsters etc very relatable, and also I find that kind of relationship - of the nurturing but difficult--to be such an interesting one - very typical in families too, I think. Both poems (meaning cut and uncut) wonderful. k.

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    3. That said--I really like the particularity of these two stanzas - the specificity of the imagery and yet the ambiguity of the relief. k.

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    4. Thanks k--I agree completely afa the poem becoming totally different without those two--much tighter--so I weighed that against my parent-like and obvious partiality for them--which isn't always something to listen as an editor--and decided they made the cut for where I was going. I'm glad you think it worked.
      I am now toiling away at that welsh form--with my OLN for tomorrow which had been semi-free verse--it's making me gnash my teeth but hopefully will all work out. Really appreciate your input, always.

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  16. Hi- Great Emmylou clip. Not only her sweet voice,the pedal steel and electric guitar is stellar.
    Late bloomers and long bloomers are key.Spring and early summer seem to kind of take care of themselves. It's an added plus that it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Animation. Great name too. Pentas. I like the sound of it. Wonderful poem.

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  17. PS--who's that chick on your side bar singing "Tulsa Queen"? She's definitely hot!

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    1. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Sprout.

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    2. The musician-artist, I mean. Her. Emmy Lou.

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  18. Unknown origins and a tumbleweed kiss that to me spoke of a sense of loneliness and not really existing until the other person came and lifted you out where together you created something unbreakable. At least that is how I read it. Beautiful.

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  19. A feast of wonderful writing - even the process notes are poetic!

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  20. Beautiful share Hedge ~ I can't pick a fav lines as I like all of it ~

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  21. I can't even say how this drought has made us realize how vulnerable we are and need to cling to the few things we can find that will survive. Have you had any relief? We've actually had a bit of rain and cooler temps the last few days.

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    1. No rain yet, but the temps are finally getting down below 100, which is enough of a relief all by itself for people, but much harder on plants. I thought of you yesterday, Teresa, my new neighbor brought home a baby goat. It is absolutely adorable.

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  22. If it becomes a song, Emmy Lou must sing it- pure and heart-felt. But, really, it is a song. the words gorgeous and accurate. But that last stanza- stunning, sad, beautiful in its testament to strength that even drought can't burn down. Your poetry reminds me of Emmy Lou's singing- I just want to keep hearing it.

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  23. love the...

    tumbleweed kiss

    and...

    words that plump
    in acid petals behind my eyes

    ...good stuff.

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  24. Love the rich imagery.

    The comments and discussions are enlightening to me as well. Thank you.

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  25. That is lovely; they are lovely and I feel guilty. I think I'd better go water something to cleanse my soul.

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  26. if i could read your poetry with my eyes closed, i would. the imagery is so rich, so gorgeous. this is exquisitely "the beautiful sadness."

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