Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Raven and Stone

Raven and Stone

The raven holds
a found brightness in his claw
that his sharp beak
will never crack
yet he eyes it with
the very speaking soul
of possession,
one hunger set aside
while another feeds.

Winter with her cueball eyes
stares me down, professionally
grinding me grey, brushing me blue;
send me something green, love
something round and alive
to put in my raven’s claw,
not this old riddle
worn in my hair
that I will never crack

the petrified chrysalis
of a dead butterfly, the
forgotten classified secrets  
of two paper forms loving in code;
undelivered, undeciphered
folded apart in an alien cryptogram,
too afraid of ripping
to yield and make
one perfect origami.

January 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest Post~The Anglerfish

A bit of a departure today, friends. This is a poem by a person close to me who I'm going to leave anonymous, and who is just beginning to write seriously. It impressed me, and I requested permission to pass it on to my readers here, which was granted. I have included some process notes to make the title and subject of the poem clearer. Your thoughts and impressions on it are very welcome. 

For those of my close friends who know or might want to speculate about the identity of the poet, I ask that this not be discussed for various reasons. Thanks.

The Anglerfish

 When scientists first started capturing ceratioid anglerfish, they noticed that all of the specimens were female...and almost all of them had what appeared to be parasites attached to them. It turned out that these "parasites" were highly reduced male[s].."~wikipedia

A floor of no note
seamless, featureless and plain
unimaginable amounts of my lifeblood
weigh it down flat

were it to move, the hungriest
would strive against one another
fighting for one sweet morsel
if only for a year

as flat and crushed as the sand
am I, every moment I live
I struggle, foolishly no doubt
just to breathe

I feel the pressure of a thousand mountains
around me, the darkness of a thousand moons
I am lost in the darkness
Yet I seek a fate beyond it

I am swimming, searching,
useless alone, I must continue.
The vast blackness surrounds
yet lights distantly beckon.

Through water thick as syrup I wander
This blackness treacle and burden
searching ever, for sustenance
a miracle of rage and love

there is only the joining in my eyes
the endless suckling prison
my mouth fused to her side
an endless sustaining of nothing

her maw approaches me slowly and still
in the thick water
teeth so deadly her mouth can never close
and dangling the light of promise in front of her.

So glorious is she that I am overwhelmed
and have to resist the urge
to swim into those lovely jaws
into pure oblivion

dazed, I stand still in the thickness
daring against hope
that I might just survive
and go unnoticed

luckless, she spies me through the veil
and begins to circle
I circle as well
thinking yet to shake the menace upon me

No chance, her gravity
is ten to mine
though she swoops and gulps greatly
still I am free

a blast of pheremones
brings me to a standstill
I am compelled beyond instinct
blindly observing

I am to her an accessory
now she free to ravage and kill
and giving a pittance for me
to remain here alive

the ultimate trap, was it me that grew
into her side, or her sides that hungered
for usefulness and purpose
knowingly growing into the weakest of me

the scales upon me, meant to protect
no gap to be seen
except for the ones ignored
in the words from my lips

those shoals of my soul
like hooks waiting
for another hook of like make
to bring misery and sorrow together

 Further Notes: "...The male ceratioid lives solely to find and mate with a female...When he finds a female, he bites into her skin...fusing the pair down to the blood-vessel level. The male then slowly atrophies, first losing his digestive organs, then his brain, heart, and eyes, and ends as nothing more than a pair of gonads which release sperm in response to hormones in the female's bloodstream indicating egg release. This extreme sexual dimorphism ensures that, when the female is ready to spawn, she has a mate immediately available..."~wikipedia

Note: This poem is copyrighted to Verse Escape, and to the author, and may not be used without written permission. January 29,2012

Image: Humpback anglerfish, via wikimedia commons.
Public Domain, full information given at link.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Train Time

Train Time

I’ve made my accommodations,
set my watch to the new time zone
for this journey rolled on the tumbling wheels
of an iron horse rocking in darkness
as the wind blows the flying flag whistle.

The last ticket crackles in my pocket
a faint fire on my skin as I
try to forget the dead girl I left
tied to the carousel, round and round;
I’ve made my accommodations.

Out the window the night’s a film
come sifting down in haze
through clouds' warm rich milk
sieving back secrets like kept curd;
only skimmed wastelight falls in the new time zone 

where we chase the hours through the lengthening night
with a cawing louder than a lunatic crow’s
up and up the spiral way through rockbound trees
before the snow, the long descent to the sea
as the journey unrolls on tumbling wheels

unwinding a silkscreen I barely can see:
bright and flashing dawns, white cabins
malachite forests, yellow-eyed owls
beginnings and red tulips overtaken, outrun
by the night horse rocking in darkness.

The sum of what I want is not where I must go
but all the places this train will never stop,
while the sleepless wheels whisper: no drugs no drink
no magic trick can ever take
the  flying whistle back from the wind.

January 2012

Posted for   real toads
where the prompt today is the photography of Daryl Edelstein
and also submitted for

Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
hosted today by Sheila Moore and Karin Gustafson, and where the theme is undercurrents. I'm pretty sure there are a few of those lurking here somewhere.

This poem is written in the Cascade form. The first stanza sets the number of lines per verse (it can be any number) and also provides the end lines for the subsequent stanzas, in sequential order: first line ending the second stanza, second line ending the third, etc. till the final line ends the last stanza. I've played with the word order in some of the repeating lines, just because.

Images: Both photos by Daryl Edelstein
Used with permission

Fireblossom has suggested the following for optional musical accompaniment:

and here is what the poem reminds me of:

Thursday, January 26, 2012


past mist...


Those eyes are holes
too much
nothing shows

sending me dark,
floating alone
listening to what’s left
when the buzz and traps
shut down:

crow-wing slapping
tap of the living rain
falling in the gingersweet
night on a

ghost's face, marshlight
flickering in the gloam;
chasing you
is all I know of home.

January 2012

55 ghosts in the mist for   the G-Man 

Image: past mist, by Robb North, on flick'r
Shared under Creative Commons License 2.0 Non-Commercial

Wednesday, January 25, 2012



Everything has its thinbeat chain
attached to the torc, an accessory
the tattoo on freedom that shows
off her white paper flesh
flower to root
star to darkling center
bird to sky, you to I
the end is reached
the chain snaps taut
but still we fly as if
the broken neck is nothing much.

Everything is coupled
and so doubled, twinned sun
defined by a shadow;
bee to queen
sea to moon
water to thirst
moon to sea, drifting
mist of pain to condensing pleasure
heart to echo, reflection to real,
ululant yowl and whoosh to song
the restless wind’s loving
chained to a passive speck in space
all forever frantic in the tender rape.

January 2012.

Posted for real toads

No idea if this comes close to what futurism really is, but I did my best, even put in some onomatopoeia, and hope I hit somewhere on the side of the barn.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cheap Shoes

Cheap Shoes

Before it was a blizzard
there was rain and wind and darkness
but we had word beams to bend
boxes full, a sundrenched attic’s worth, 
enough and more
for any shape we wanted

so I opened the back door
to let the animals in before the storm.
The mares came first fluttering their buttery eyes,
whom the bitter goats tried to hound thru the wildering night
and the geese were lost as sheep, as the braying mule
when the howling finally came to eat the world.

Then we knew it wasn't safe in the filigreed cage.
We let everything fly heartbird from hand 
so that back before it was wind and rain and darkness
and up the stairs of the sunbright grove
bumped the pit wagon---remember? it took
so many---we could still

choose not to board,
and bend and bend instead
these beams of words
to make the half moon
spill over with lovers' night
deep in the snow.

So I wonder if it's true, what I've heard them say,
that death's unbendable in his cheap shoes
and walks the longest way.

January 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub 
I'm the ghostess with the mostest tonight at the pub. Come join us and enjoy our unique je ne sais quoi ambiance and poetry au lait. Link in is live from 3:00 PM Eastern Tuesday till midnight Wednesday

Images removed due to possible copyright issues.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Back From The Garden

Back from the Garden

Out in the garden
bent to the earthworks, last
darkening hour over the herbs
I plant to remember
the driftsweet bouquet
that erases December,
fighting the lunatic wind
tugging skin tight
shaking brain loose at
the top of the tower
so it rattles downstairs to
damp dungeon, where you live
forever lost to reason and me
a fact winter can't seem to forgive.

Now slowthump half gelled steps inside
each limb's weight dragged
stiff, eroded stone cyclops clops
sponge brain following behind
a lost but willing puppy’s tail that
wags as nerve endings rewind
radar puzzles, strategic placements
for curling on bed like a grey-faced dog
on torn but precious rug
round and round, trying
to find that sweet spot where
rest will fall like rain
and system shutdown
snows over pain.

January 2012

Images: Header: Thalia and larkspur gestating
Footer: Hare in January, both © joy ann jones, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~January

I've been most remiss (as usual) at refreshing the Off the Shelf selection,  but again as usual, my excuse is I've had many poems and new-to-me poets to choose from recently and its been hard to pick. What I've chosen this month is a bit of a departure for me, a poem spoken by the author. Myself, I'm a visual person, and poetry spoken is almost always poetry that has less impact for me, and which I frequently misconstrue, but this piece works fine for me in this medium and comes through loud and clear.  Punishment, by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney, is an intriguing piece of writing to me, juxtaposing the distant past and the present for a dubious squint at the progress, or lack of it, we've made as a species.  

If you'd like to know more about Heaney, born in 1939 in County Derry, Northern Ireland, winner of the Nobel prize among many others, there's a short but detailed biography here at the Poetry Foundation.


In order to make room for the current piece, the former selection, two poems by American poet Wallace Stevens, are moved here for a final perusal. Feel free to comment on either selection here, as comments are disabled off the main page. Suggestions of poems or poets for next time are always welcome.

Two Poems by Wallace Stevens

Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock

The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
Catches tigers
In red weather. 

~by Wallace Stevens

The Snow Man

One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is. 

~by Wallace Stevens

Header image: Winter Coats, by Jose Clemente Orozco, Oil on canvas, 1932
Bottom image:  Woodland Stream in a Winter Landscape, John Henry Twachtman, Oil on canvas 
Both images courtesy of wikipaintings.org

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Epona's Dream

 Epona’s Dream

In eons’ life my white-lashed eye has caught
consuming cross the goldgreen grasslands' wave
the endless star broomed dance of come and go;
generations of ravens laughed 
as cactus centuries passed, yet
one short wishful glance, only once
a glimpse of you, the dark stallion in 
a sunmist I’ve seen prancing, seen you stand
more than horse and less than man
fiery four legged totem, dolmen jawed
pounder of the white wolf’s skull.
Never have you come to graze
the pastures I have wished and wayed,
hooves flying to me under the sickle moon. 
I dream you still as your high red eye
rolls white, sleepless on your
gravid seraglio.

Do you likewise dream of me, once only
glimpsed, the fleetly fading stippled stray
stranger, maverick mare whose mane unbound
that gold and silver ribboned sleet
stretched on prairie air with the tossing wheat;
do you ever think we might
outrun the wind that blows behind the stars,
feel again grey muzzles nudge up dawn, 
hot blow of breath, trembling flank, equine
hammering heart be all our wealth
of soul, of singing, all of rest?
Or  am I the one that wandered a step too far
in the moon of slipping tides
the one you fed just once in the hungry night
content to watch the shadows swallow back
the  empty chalice of a symbol
when the wine’s poured out?

A dreary jog a weary winding fate 
bound to go ahead of you and wait
for journeys end, the last low luminous gate.

January 2012

Posted for    real toads
Prompt: Photography of Margaret Bednar

Process Notes: "In Gallo-Roman religion, Epona was a protector of horses, donkeys, and mules. She was particularly a goddess of fertility, as shown by her attributes of a patera, cornucopia, ears of grain and the presence of foals in some sculptures suggested that the goddess and her horses were leaders of the soul in the after-life ride..."~wikipedia  

As usual, I have taken a few liberties with the mythic elements.

Image: photo by gracious permission of  Margaret Bednar



Harmless, she is, so they say.
She used to know her name
and write it too,
knew fruit from flame.

Useful she once was
in every way
now harmless is
the highest praise, they say.

The worry came when
she locked herself away
alone in a red-ribbed room one Saturday
all the better to parley and to play 

with what had bordercrossed the air
hungry for her firefly flick'ring care.
The voice that was 
its far fey self declared

within her voice, answered
its sudden, unoccluded prayer
with her mad laugh
her tousled hair;

but she's harmless,
even happy
so they say.

January 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
where Claudia gives us the prompt today to write of crossing borders, and what we find there. Link in is live till midnight Sunday.

Image removed due to possible copyright issues.

Friday, January 20, 2012

White Widow

Arthur Hacker The Girl in White

White Widow

Light stained amber, carmine, jade
sapphire, citron and amethyst
in drifts and beams makes a searchlight prism
that gilds over faded faces framed in faith
with a radiance banked;
in the far corner banished by
the clerestory where she sits 
in a phosphorescent white dress
with her black sin clutched tight
there is only blanked shadow 
of no color
no color at all.

January 2012

Process notes: Horribly hard prompt for me, (!) but I think this may come close. I'm not big on the Imagist movement, though it was an important one in that it began to free poetry to explore other more spontaneous forms of expression, and supported the emergence of vers libre. I've also been trying to work up a poem to go with that very odd moody painting by Hacker for a long time, so this serves a double purpose.

By Arthur Hacker [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, January 19, 2012

An Unfortunate Happening On The Stump

I wrote this 55 last week, and what a perfect day to post it, with a Happy rewritten Ending, as former Republican presidential candidate  Rick Perry at last surrenders to the inevitable and goes back to make life in Texas hell, instead of persisting in his bid to do so for the entire country.

An Unfortunate Happening On the Stump

I don’t know why
you came today
I only wish
you'd go away,

hair pouffed-up
in 'Statesman Grey;'
when your jaw moves
--instant replay.

Now it seems
my wish I'll get
you're finished, smoked
as a cigarette.

Your botoxed eyes
can't express dismay 
but they weep--for the money
you just threw away.

January 2012
Biting Political Analysis for   the G-Man 

Spelled Out

Spelled Out

I finally noticed
when the trees fell and
the leaves were bare
when the sandstorm rained  moss
when summer rode into January
on a seahorse
that you had put
a spell on me.

I think I saw you
slip flashpowder
in my cells and light it
with a whistle you blew
from the corner of serious and Canis Major
and when that howling is on me
when the spell is wound up
I’m deaf and leafdrunk; 
I drop

like a marionette when the puppeteer
breaks for lunch, watch you
pull a string from my
soul laces and hang it 
on your ley line
to dry in the stone wind.
I never asked
to be this 

but now I find I can’t navigate without
my wheel tied down tight, so
I drive with eyes closed
drift to the side of a two lane night’s
brownout desert, and bump
myself still, afraid of the broken mirror
afraid to get out of the crazy car 
and walk
the crooked ghost town of my life.

January 2012

Image: Carhenge, by cm195902 on flick'r
Shared under Creative Commons 2.0 Non-Commercial License

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This Blog Is On Strike Against SOPA

In support of the protests against SOPA/PIPA, 
Verse Escape will not be participating in either blogging or social media activities during the black-out period on January 18th.

 This blog is joining wikipedia, reddit, and many others in "going black" to protest the enactment of alleged "anti-piracy" legislation censoring the Internet on behalf of large entertainment and broadcast companies, now on the legislative floor of the US Congress. 

Here's a brief explanation of the two bills SOPA and PIPA by BBC News:

"Sopa and Pipa explained
The US bills are designed to block access to sites containing unauthorised copryight material.
Content owners and the US government would be given the power to request court orders to shut down sites associated with piracy.
Advertisers, payment processors and internet service providers would be forbidden from doing business with infringers based overseas.
Sopa also requires search engines to remove foreign infringing sites from their results, a provision absent in Pipa."
There are many things wrong with this, but possibly the worst is that the bills are so poorly written and conceived, they leave tremendous room for abuse. 
If you'd like a full analysis of the issue, the BBC article continues here 

Since this is a blackout, comments are disabled on this post to simulate the censorship process. Here is a link to a petition you can sign to protest to Congress:

Thanks for reading, and get ready for lots more of this, I'm afraid. The internet is the biggest single threat on the planet to those who want to control media, money and ultimately, people's minds. It needs to remain a force for intellectual, artistic and personal freedom, and that isn't going to happen without a fight.

Many thanks to Mark Kerstetter of The Bricoleur for providing links and inspiration, and Susan S, of Prufock's Dilemma for the text at the top of this post. Verse Escape returns to normal programming tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Feeding The Plumed Serpent

Teotihuacan-Entierro de la pirámide de la Serpiente Emplumada

Feeding The Plumed Serpent

The day after our wedding with the moon
in the piercing sun of a blood drinking god
we rode back through dust on the rocking bus
shy dark children patting, taking my yellow hair
for lizard feathers. They turned off Madonna and
you sang their songs. They laughed your laugh
each one the child we'd never have.  
We went back to the slum hotel and locked the door
while the drunks hurricaned up and down the halls;
we the same up and down the walls, the stairs, the
fretted sheets, up one belly and down the other

till we were drunk as they could never be
and saw the things no seer ever could say.

When your body moved on mine in neon glare
it was the black shadow and white light
of that pyramid of skulls and jaguar’s caves
where amaranthine sacrifice filled
death’s new toybox, blood for lubricant
easing the clockwork bones,
throats craned toward the copper knife, 
your dark eyes swimming with night
carving into timeblurred petroglyphs  
my life upon their lids, feathered cries
vapor murmured out in velvet visions,

spinning down down
into the solstice of light and dark.

In the cold morning we drank atole hot and sweet
with all the vanilla thickness of my flesh
against your whipcord bones a steam
rising remembered in each sip.
Your thin musician’s hands held the cup
in mimic of the circling of my breasts
stroked to purrs and sweat on the hard bed.
Oh, having me for breakfast was
the richest meal you ever bought
and paid for with
each drop of the god’s owned blood

until time came
to put the toys away.

View from Pyramide de la luna

January 2012

Note: This is a carnal companion piece to a much older poem of mine,
At Teotihuacan, posted here

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Teotihuacan Feathered Serpent (Jami Dwyer)
Feathered serpent head at Teotihuacan via wikipedia

Atole is a thick drink made with milk and masa, flavored with sugar, vanilla or chocolate,cinnamon or other spices, usually served hot. 
 The Plumed, or Feathered Serpent is Quetzalcoatl, a deity whose first worship is seen at Teotihuacan, pictured above, in the first century BC or first century AD, later spreading across Mesoamerica. He is variously, a harvest god of fertility, a creation god, god of books and inventor of the calender, a wind god associated with the planet Venus, and the god of the Aztec priesthood who brought visions to shamans. There is archaeological evidence of human sacrifice at the Pyramid of the Moon and elsewhere at Teotihuacan as the top picture shows, but it should be noted that Mesoamerican culture believed the universe was sustained by a great ongoing sacrifice and that the highest form of repayment to the gods was human life.

Header Image: Detail of one of the burials found in the Pyramid of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan,dated around 200 AD. by ~s shepherd (schizoform) on flick'r  via wikimedia commons  Footer Image: View along the Avenue of the Dead to the Pyramid of the Sun, taken from the Pyramid of the Moon,by Jackhynes via wikimedia commons (yes those tiny ant-like shapes are people--the pyramids  are huge, but set in such a vast open area it's hard to tell the scale.)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Musical Interlude~Leonard Cohen

This song, soon to be released on Cohen's new album, Old Ideas, has totally invaded my brain:

There's also an informal performance/soundcheck vid, with some nifty guitar work and rather drastically different in spots lyrics, from 2009:

Leonard  Cohen, is 77, (born 21 September 1934)  Canadian, and a longtime amazing and amazingly prolific singer-songwriter, and poet, among other things.It's typical of him to release this on the internet with no strings, no yawing copyright/piracy garbage--to me it's an example of that pure desire we all have to not just write something, but to have it be heard, and do its work.
Thank you, Mr. Cohen.

Tidal Island

St Michael's Mount

Tidal Island
an incantation

The causeway
teases covered
shadows long
for the ebb
shadows abraded
falling away.

The mountainous
oceanfloor walks
scatter the petals of
pink anemones
on the shore abandoned
shadows gut
the found fish.

Island not
an island
not a poem
broken bridge
a bridge
grey rock 
in the wood
where no wood is,
sun center 
by shadows,
call the morning  


January 2012 

It's Open Link Monday at real toads

Process Notes:
My attempt to write a piece with no personal pronouns & minimal punctuation.

Images are of St Michael's Mont (Cornish: Karrek Loes y'n Koes meaning "grey rock in the woods") a tidal island located off the Mount's Bay coast of Cornwall. When first settled, the island was part of a mainland woods and agrarian settlement, later inundated and cut off by the ocean. In various theories, it was a port for the prehistoric tin trade, or possibly the historical nugget behind the Arthurian kingdom of Lyonesse.

images courtesy wikimedia commons.

 Pink sea anemone, via web brittanica

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Mortality and the Little People

Mortality and the Little People

When I die
open the gate;
no traps.
Let this clay burn
to the visible
nothing it already is.

Let the wind blow,
let the knowers know,
let me go.

Oh I’ll see
the dancing leprachaun no doubt,
with fire for a hat and death for a snout
His cheeks are red
his eyebrows shed
and he grins like a goat with
his oversized prong
come to roast me
toast me for a party favor
but I’m determined to give back
a rather off flavor.

After the gate opens, fire
has taken all it can.
Go home
and sleep alone.

Let the wind blow,
let the rain turn to snow
let me go.

January 2012

Posted for     real toads

 Image: photograph by Isadora Gruye
Used with permission



The past is romantically rotted,
regularly rewritten
the vampire sucking at the future;
we know we can’t go back
and forth from the grave
yet still we cling to his blood clotted cloak
for that deathsmell high he sells,
the lie we can't live without.

We bathe in the black essence of a thousand
million compressed reptiles' tarred blood
fatten on the pretense a pigmentation
a language, a way of walking, 
a perfume, a feather,
a red dress, a neighborhood, 
incubates an alien immune to 
thought or grief.

We eat the spiders of our tribes and
call them good beef, though it’s closer
to soylent green, suck out the phantom
succulence from the compliant citrus
of our senses, and always always 
we worship a golden coined god
whose paper horns 
nod and approve.

January 2012

Posted for  Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Victoria is hosting at the pub today, and has given us the art of Columbian painter and sculptor Fernando Botero to work with. Come join us. Link in is live till midnight Sunday.

Images: El Conquistador, and Man Drinking Orange Juice, by Fernando Botero, have been removed due to possible copyright problems. They can be found through a google title search if you want to look at them.