Saturday, September 8, 2012

Lost Letters


 Lost Letters



Night walked over the street
without looking down.
The eyes of the houses were
bloodshot unshut, half-lidded and dull,
the rooftops flushed with spikes and scales,
epidermal fever bumps on dinosaurs
hunkered in carnivore calypso, rhythmically
chewing their peers in primordial mud.

High above the reptile-backed town
the moon was the round stone
of a rose quartz ring.
The sky grew a band of moss
to hold her fast
to wrap her round
and so she passed the night
through her needle eye

a scarf pulled windward
from east to west above our heads.
I wrote to you one last time
on the passing skin of darkness;
I saw the words fly up and out,
tattoo a stirred fire's spark
on black, a red moment's breathing
in and out before the dawn,

and I knew, those bright
combustible letters of air 
inked in starry ash on moving sky,
long before you sent them back
unread,
were dead.

~September 2012





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Sunday Challenge: Photography of Margaret Bednar
Margaret posts her poetry and photography at Art Happens 365



Photo: © Margaret Bednar
Used with permission.

42 comments:

  1. the rooftops flushed with spikes and scales,
    epidermal fever bumps on dinosaurs
    hunkered in carnivore calypso, rhythmically
    chewing their peers in primordial mud...absolutely love the description in that hedge....ha...

    and the writing one last time...there is some magic in that part...writing them in air....and then the feeling rushes in with your close...

    been at the ER with my boy this evening...feel out a tree and thought he broke his foot...only a deep bruise, gonna hurt for a bit but...i dunno who taught them how to climb trees...

    any way, hope you had a great saturday....

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  2. This is just incredibly sad to me, from the night walking over the street without looking down, to the dead letters. The moon passing the night through her needle eye a wonderful image in part because of the pivoting meaning in the word "passing,"

    And the starry ash - so many double meanings I realize suddenly from the passing of the night to the dead letters - even something like reptile-backed has sort of a double meaning (backed by reptiles - spiked spine) -

    I think of some vast dead letter office, as well of course, as a kind of ashen cursive. It's very suggestive and simply sad. Hope your back is better. k.

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    1. Thanks for reading so closely and intelligently, k.

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  3. In the city on Friday. The people in their own environment, A young woman . Crop top of skin and ink. What would her mother think? Actually,I'm ok with it. Expression and art. Free. No restrictions. A dove and a prayer released simultaneously. It's really not up to me. Feelings aroused.Eyes closed. Rereading what you're saying.

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    1. Thanks, Scott. So very little is up to us, except to interpret and appreciate.

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    2. I guess it's safe to say your words take me to another place. Or world. I think I just had a black and red tattoo on the mind. Totally missed the Neil piece.Listening now.( for like the fifth time) So good. Great guitar. Sharp and clear. "I'm going where the sun keeps shining through the pouring rain....I won't let you leave my love behind.."

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    3. Ha. Tattoos are cool, generally, though as my body ages I'm kinda glad I don't have any to suddenly become a totally new shape. Glad you like the Fred Neil---he can sing a sad song and make it feel good. This one is pretty good cruising material--highway tune a la Midnight Cowboy.

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    4. I know. That same thought deters any notion. A passing skin of darkness.

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  4. This isn't lost on me, looking up I see your halo. This is another great one Hedge.

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    1. Thanks Tug--I've been reading at your place, but the god stuff is sometimes hard for me to comment on--I do like reading it though.

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    2. Hedge, I consider you one of the true poets out here and I thank you for the time you give me. I have trouble too at times making comment but I always read and enjoy the technical aspects of your works. :)

      I just read your "comment policy, covering my own future commenting" and I wish I had written it. It states my feelings precisely and I agree with everything you've said.

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    3. Thanks for the vote of confidence, TUG. You are on my blogroll for a reason, and I read yours, along with every blog on it over the course of the week--I find you have to get your focus down to a reasonable size, or the online poetry circus becomes overwhelming. Frankly, for me the comment count is not as important as the relationships we build with other writers.

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  5. Those first two lines cost me a lot of hair, Witch. A LOT of hair.

    And, "chewing their peers in the primordial mud." Are you talking about a writer's group of some sort? (Snark? Moi? Mais non...)

    The sparks are a perfect expression of what the speaker is sending out there; sparks come from a flame and can't be sustained by themselves. They have to find a receptive, flammable landing place, or they die and go cold. Most people love a fire, but who loves ashes? Who wants their sparks returned to them as a gray cold heap? A girl could feel insulted, I tell ya.

    Then again, you could always just blame the post office. ;-)

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  6. How can anything so dead be so alive? Really defiant and beautiful language. If the apocalypse comes, I'll want to be with you wherever you are as you write your way into that good night.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth. It will be nice not to be alone.

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  7. absolutely stunning and insane imagery. I could feel the subtle chill in the air as I read. a beautiful piece.

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  8. This has moved to the top of my favourites list for the poetry of Joy Ann Jones. I love personification when used with such certainty, it presents the reader with a new reality and makes me think I have been missing a view of the world because I have not been looking closely enough. This poem is like the thin slit of matter between worlds, and I got to see what was on the other side.

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  9. In a separate comment, I want to tell you how much I enjoyed reading your new comment policy :)
    You should copyright it too!

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    1. Thanks for both comments, Kerry. I just feel the whole focus of writing poetry shouldn't be a comment count or a facebook 'friending' experience. It's far too easy to fall into that mode, to not really read for meaning, to just say the pat phrase. I find it disingenuous and uncomfortable, however, and would like to have blogging be more a conversation between people exploring ideas and themes. Thanks for reading the poem seriously, and responding with your thoughts. I appreciate it very much.

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    2. I agree with you entirely. It is so sad when a poet is so obviously chasing the commentary rather than focusing on the writing itself. But it seems these days, that few people can divorce themselves from the "like" buttons. It's all about accumulating fans, rather than readers.

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  10. Your first line is particularly gripping and from there... bloodshot unshut is a brilliant evocation. At the end, when they are sent back unread, dead, I ring back around to your opening where I knew I must have seen this coming...but didn't, and especially enjoy when a poem catches me off-guard this way.

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  11. Lost Letters...we send out words to have them fall as ash...perhaps read but not understood or perhaps simply ignored. Your poem's ending was unexpected but spoke so powerfully to me. This is such a beautiful poem. You never cease to amaze me.

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    1. Thank you, Susie. I hope you're finally feeling better.

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  12. Do you know I almost didn't use this photo for the prompt because it is blurry. (I didn't carry around a tripod :) But I have always thought it was "poetic".

    I have read this poem three times and I adore it. Why? I think because of the personification of night - I have been walking my new puppy at midnight for the past four weeks and that time of night, by oneself is SO personal. Searching one's secrets, trying to find answers, whatever it is, seems so possible with night watching with her needle eye.

    This poem's night obviously didn't deliver the answer she wanted, or just returned it to her, but either way, you haunt me with these words. My feedback will never be as clever as those before me, but know I love your work.

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    1. I loved so many of your photos for this prompt, Margaret. I went with this just *because* it was slightly blurred, and suggested those shapes to me. And I agree about the night being that kind of time. In summer here the days are brutally hot, and the only time I spend outdoors is at night, sitting on my patio with my little dog, staring out into the darkness. Sometimes I feel about the subject like the eskimos must with their thousand words for snow. I'm glad you took something from the poem--each reader has their own frame of reference, so that's all that matters to me.

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  13. An entire village personified, animated! I love the night walking without looking down, and the eyes of the houses so ready for sleep with their rhythmically chewing dinosaur tiles. Such a town holds the moon static--just a petty object to complete the scene. I felt sorry for those who stood under the flag, enthralled, believing their sparkler writing and firework display would go further than the smoke and ash of a dead letter. But maybe I shouldn't regret the wasted money and drama, if the child is here to send the last letter of her youth, it must be a pretty important place to her

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  14. Lovely Hedge ~ I like the image of the moon as a ring and writing for the last time on the skin of darkness ~ The ending was sad to me, like she had to write them anyway despite knowing these letters will not be read ~

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    1. Thank you Grace...a bit sad, but that's how we have to work sometimes, from the dark, but making whatever light we can, even if it burns out.

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  15. I love your descriptions of the town and the night in this. Really striking.

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  16. The first two line are just incredible . . . and then it just gets better. Really beautiful.

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  17. You got me with the first two lines, and then the next two, and the next. Your are one fine writer, Joy, for sure.
    K

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  18. Thanks all. I appreciate everyone who comes to read.

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  19. I hope you are feeling better. k.

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    1. Yes, it's better, K. Thanks for asking. I just want it to be *all* better, and start doing things I shouldn't, and then have to take a few steps back. But I'm trying to control my gardening zeal--it's hard now that the weather has cooled down--I'm itching to be out there weeding and mulching and getting my fingernails divinely gross.

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  20. This poem is spellbinding. I savored each line. You made the darkened town real, the night came alive ~ you took us there. Unread, dead letters .. how sad.

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  21. I remember Wallace Stevens in this poem. You breathed a haunting life into the night. I felt it move and heave and sigh...

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  22. from first line to last, this is captivating. no one can compare when it comes to using such rich, delicious words and phrases ~ your imagery is unique and exquisite.

    LOVE this one, Joy!

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  23. "the passing skin of darkness" In a poem of beautiful (and yes, disturbing) images that stood out. Dead letters, indeed. Thank you for sharing this.

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