Tuesday, September 18, 2012

War Dogs

Zdislav Beksinski
War Dogs




Guns barked at guns in the burnt blue alone. 
We heard them (sounds travel) breaking the glass night,
(fast as the dead)  smelled flags burning, 
the sour pant through fat teeth, white bundles
stiff in rows on the street, white lies turned 
to black tapped human sap. The fires screaming set 
money fed, ranting blew. The babies cried
while the fur tried but never flew.

It was just me and the rest of the dog-people
heeling carefully on our hind legs,
when the panic door slammed down
and cut off our feet. Arms out
flung, It appeared, spit flying
bright, ky-aye-ayeing,
pale shirt pressed untattered
beard shaved but dirty where it mattered

eyes mad, mad as a flying trout. Its
syncopated air-suckling mouth
coughed up god like
bits of lung. Darkness too
should have poured infected
to color Its masked face 
but there was only a dancing 
blind eye of blue laser trace,

when the white ran out exhausted from the light;
when the fight exploded in piss and blood night
It was gone. 
They said It never was.
Darkness came then but the fire burned hotter
rockets ate walls, guns brayed faster
and  we all hunkered down hard
howling

on all fours for the bare
mercy that wasn't there.

~September 2012



If you'd like to hear the poem read by the author, please click below:
war dogs by Hedgewitch O'theWilds



Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub




Process Notes: Sometimes I have bad dreams.


~*~


Header Image: Untitled, by the Polish symbolist and Surrealist Zdislav Beksinski,
born in Sanok in 1929, killed in Warsaw in 2005
Copyright may apply and is the sole property of the copyright holders
Footer Image: The Apotheosis of War, 1871, by Vasily Vereshchagin
Public Domain via wikipaintings.org

51 comments:

  1. What a fantastic poem, sparked by a dream. I was right there, especially when the dogs cowered on all fours for the "bare mercy that wasnt there". I hate the thought of animals caught in battle. Hell for humans, and an indescribable nightmare for creatures.

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    1. Sherry, we're all dogs to some people. Thanks for reading.

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  2. dang hedge...razor sharp images and you manage to write an atmosphere on just a blank page that i snap for air and there hardly is any left...felt and sharp write

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  3. Yikes. This is truly terrifying. I'm admiring that you could write it, sorry that you had to experience it even on a dream level, if you did.

    I found the first stanza especially strong - the guns barking instead or, or with the dogs, the white lies turning into the rows of bodies, blackened sap, the babies and the fur trying but not flying - and also that kayayay -you know - terrifying. Fur standing up on my neck anyway.

    Well, the end very powerful too. You bring out the terrible, incredible fragility of civilized life. k.

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    1. Yes,so fragile, and so gleefully banged around by the blind masters because I guess they think they can get a new one any time they want. (And it was from a real dream---a bit scary to be a dog-person.) Thanks, k.

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    2. Pretty awful. You are thinking, I take it, of real dogs! (Not to make light, but not the kind that is so prevalent in NYC. Well, actually a little lightness may be good. What a world.) k.

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    3. Yes, furry people, though--in my dream I thought of us all as 'canids..' not sure if that's a real word--(and obviously I'm far too old to be thinkin about dawgs. ;_) unless you mean running dog capitalists, but that's a whole nother poem.)

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    4. Hey - wait a sec - just made a connection not related to this wonderful poem - don't you sometimes refer to yourself as Madre Jones? Hmmm......

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    5. It isn't a tribute to the famous Mother Jones--just an old nickname.

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  4. Guns bark and bray, dog-people get on all fours, observe, hunker, wait for mercy--Everything is grotesquely alive in this dream, and everyone is dying--it's the last battle, horrific in its lack of mercy and lack of an enemy except the mad killer/devil/trout. I am sorry if you truly dreamt this nightmare. I hope it isn't a premonition. it's images are beyond this home.

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  5. This is savage, raw to the clawing and makes the mind whirl.
    Dogs? Man? Perhaps just the nature of all beasts primal.
    But it sure raises the hackles to hear you tell it.
    Rick

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  6. dang...coughing up god like bits of lung...brutal image....intense imagery...the dog people heeling and having their legs cut off....vicious hedge....though vaguely similar to the dream i had several years ago...

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  7. As ever I am floored by the imaginative recesses of your mind. This is stellar. Oh, and I love your very small witch, perfect!

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  8. And I thought William Burroughs had some bizarre dreams.

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  9. oh my, wow. a dream that reads as reality... so contemporary and real and terrifying.

    as anna says, stellar.

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  10. As a fisherman, I loved the flying trout reference!

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  11. My word, you describe the terrifying violence so well! Life can be fragile, brutal and short but I'm glad it was just(!) a dream for you. Some great lines, really love the 'burnt blue alone'.

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  12. It may have been a dream, but there is a sense of what it must feel like to experience war - to draw into a pack, to bare one's teeth, and to feel the monster now so much machine and weaponry as it's bearing down. What hell it must be to have to live ans survive in a war zone. I remember we were told so many stories in grade school and now I think of these long wars - Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and how it must warp the minds of those growing up in it! This poem screams!

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  13. This piece captures the horror of war with the smells and sounds - great use of sensory images.

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  14. You help us feel the horror of it for the animals who can't understand except their terror. But I think about what war must be like for the civilians involved, also innocent victims terrorized. This was powerfully done.

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  15. Sometimes I, too, have bad dreams; but dreams of war ~ war in any form ~ would indeed be the worst. I felt the helplessness, the victimization, the loss.

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  16. The imagery is so terrifying...on so many levels, Hedge.

    I think of the impact of war and disaster on animals...these floods you know haven't been good for anyone....but those animals abandoned....drowned.

    Whether a dream or not....this tells such a moral story....a timeless story , about war, disruption, displacement, cruelty, just the products of war.

    Brilliant, bizarre, but with a whallop of an impact to the heart.

    Brava, Hedge.

    Jane

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  17. This is a terrifying dream but it is also a reality for some who have suffered war and chaos and violence. This is a terrific retelling specially the third stanza...I can feel your words snarling at the reader too ~

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  18. This is terrifying. I am torn between simple horror and admiration for the writing. "the fur tried but never flew." "Coughed up god like bits of lung." "Rockets ate walls, guns brayed faster". Wonderful, awful stuff.

    Have you been watching the bullshit protests over the vile youtube video that was never distributed and almost no one has seen? Or maybe you've been overdosing on Syrians bombing their own? In any case, this may have been a dream, but it is way too close to reality.

    Final thought: that second stanza is real hard for me to read, but it had to be there.

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  19. Whew...masterfully penned. The imagery is amazing.

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  20. Striking imagery.

    And the Brautigan fan in me just loves references to trout.

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  21. This is scorching, Hedge. Freaking blistering.

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  22. Powerful images, a great write.

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  23. And I was about to go to bed...hoping I wouldn't have a nightmare after a too late cup of coffee. After your terrifying description I'll welcome my normally disturbing nightmares. You do a superb job certainly, absolutely amazing! God, wouldn't it be loverly...if the world could be a kind place? Nice to read your work after my long absence.

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    1. Yes, and for us in this country, we are lucky to have it be a lot more loverly than some others--so good to see you Ann--I will be by tomorrow to see what you've been up to. Thanks for reading.

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  24. I like the use of "It", that it's capitalized, and then: "They said It never was." -the shock and denial, and when it can't get any worse, it does. Way to work out that nightmare with a Boschian verse.

    On a side note, I'm sorry Stevens doesn't seem to be on the ModPo syllabus. But I hope you're getting something out of it. I sure am.

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    1. Thanks Mark--yes--no one ever pays much attention to Stevens, sadly. I've had so little time to dig into the course so far--I hope to devote some more attention to it this week--I particularly am interested in the H.D. stuff, and the 'baroness,' and Gertrude Stein, and the 1930's Communist poets also--after that, I don't know. But I'm glad you told me about it.

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  25. a dream mad as a flying trout - left me exhausted from the light, too. This is one of those pieces that sends me back to the beginning to start all over again. And somehow, reading it with your Mark Knopfler video playing in the background gave it a kind of hypnotic quality. Powerful stuff!

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    1. Thanks, Andrew--glad you partook of the sounds as well.

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  26. This is epic, Joy! I especially like the third stanza.

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  27. A dream I would have awakened from whimpering! War is ugly, your images are ugly... "It appeared"..."eyes mad"...shudder...

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  28. The picture . . . Zdislav Beksinski is a picture maker
    shaping the gaps in between your words and my imagination

    his work, for me, is almost edible.


    Guns barked at guns in the burnt blue alone.

    what an opening line hedge -

    impacting
    like a shredder thudding
    thru a jelly-vest . . .

    rockets ate walls, guns brayed faster
    and we all hunkered down hard
    howling


    on all fours for the bare
    mercy that wasn't there

    at this point
    the fragments are twisting in my guts
    which unusually makes me want for more

    luckily
    you provided a reading!

    it is a moorish

    experience

    like . . .

    while the fur tried but never flew. . .

    mindcrack:

    hit me!!!









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    1. I love Beksinski--he totally epitomizes dystopian for me. Totally love your comments, always, too Arron. Thanks, and I often feel moorish at your place--fortunately you have a second helping of blog out there now.

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  29. Brutal, raw, serrated..a vivid and original capture about the nightmare waste of war.

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  30. A dream perhaps, but dreams are real, too. Somewhere out there these terrifying sensations are immediate and true. This isn't a 20,000 view of the madness, but a picture there at the epicenter. What a unique combination of images/devices you use to bring us into this world. This was a great read in all respects.

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  31. Maybe a dream drawn from somewhere deep in your subconscious, but an all too real reality for many. What a pity that those in a position to stop it, won't.

    Strong, powerful writing, with images that seared my mind.

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  32. The guttery gutturals fit these empirical days so well, Hedge. I get so rattled in my cage by the tatters men have torn our world into with their teeth, they might as well be dogs. A frightening state it must have been to dream this, and feel it, as one of the war beasts. Sadly, the ones who should be torn apart and scattered, aren't. And on we go, howling. Precise and beautifully crafted.

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  33. Joy Ann, when I first read this all I kept thinking of was the political climate of the world. Then I saw it was a dream, and it made my heart skip a beat. As always your use of language is powerful. Excellent write.

    Pamela

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  34. "..and the wise man don't know how it feeeeeeels"...Rock and the flute..Ian Anderson. So good. Wild painting. Angry eyes of flying trout. A lot of different feelings.

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    1. Along with the flute. Anderson loved to play the slightly mad, whimsical minstrel--a very under-appreciated band. Glad you enjoyed,Scott--good to see you.

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  35. Nightmarish and pungently atmospheric piece. Your reading of it just added to the tortured landscape of your words.
    Gene

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  36. Bad dream but still a dream. Realities presently are very fluid. Violence in most places. Pity! Nicely Joy!

    Hank

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  37. You do 'sour pant' so excruciatingly well.

    Fearful..and fascinating.. that's an interesting combination.

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  38. The opening line brill.... set the tone :)

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  39. wicked composition. Love the dream sequencing, for all it's abstraction, yet through the abstraction, somehow a terror that feels real is produced. Terrific phrasing in the lines, building a piece well, well beyond pure poetry. fantastic write Hedge. Thanks

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  40. it wasn't until I got to your line with ky-aye-aying that i took a breath. this is audible and quite honestly, horrifying, on a base level. and eloquently executed.

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