Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Same Stars

The Same Stars

Caught crisscross before the moon
my eyes climb through the boughs to see  
the same stars that rock me in their cradle
now rock you and so will rock the spangled void
for every lover, past the time I'll need their cover
when I am stardust in no one’s eye.

The same stars look down tonight
on every face I held like saving grace
candled in the sky lantern of my palms.
Though every matchstick light I tended
is long blown out, the sweet smoke pools
a shadowed incense in moon's dark garden

for when the spell is wound up,
and three whippoorwills call to the crow
outside the windowed midnight all in a row.
Then my last kiss to you will be
the first newborn thing
the same stars dream

March 2012

Yi peng sky lantern festival San Sai Thailand
Yi peng sky lantern festival, San Sai Thailand

Posted for   real toads
Sunday Photo Challenge: Laura Hegfield 

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Header Photo by Laura Hegfield
Used with permission
Footer Photo: Yi peng sky lantern festival San Sai Thailand By Takeaway (Own work) 
via Wikimedia Commons



Excerpts from the Journal

 July 2, 1995

...but telegrams from ghosts are unnerving...hard to somehow extract the essence [of the past] without ever wanting it back..

I shed bitter tears for ____ at the funeral Friday, went back to work, came home to crash, woke to screaming nightmares of his corpse pulling me up by the hair ...

mourning for the flame that burned so fitfully but so pure; I go in fear of the black hand that extinguished it….

After I ran away I dreamed
and dreamed of you dead
and now you are
buried in your overalls
laughing brown eyes blanks, rolled up in your head
ivory as  unnumbered dice
the way the whiskey always made them
so dead for you is just another high... 

July 5, 1995

Nearly a year on my new job. Slept too much. Crazy dreams. 

of ______ once again, this time wearing another’s body, but retaining his own insane unfocused brown eyes, ranting at me, holding me by the shirt and shaking me, starting with 

soft words, words that my new lover says to me, 

[‘It will be better, it will all be better soon’]

but always that mad look increasing as I start to know, finally screaming at me;

what, I can’t tell, 

because I too am screaming...denials, guttural cries of child's it his unforgiving ghost, coming to me in dreams, to finally show what was bleeding and real under the plastic wedding cake cover...

or guilt's last hidden gasp.

...the old dreams from when I left him, that I must fight his corpse--fattened in the otherworld, malignant and mad with unholy life...

now I dream it all again, the headstone so uneasy on the man I knew, careless kind, silly, ineffective, weak and

 [full of the ability to destroy.]

what I feel I deserved to receive / 
or what I actually / behind the masks / received…
it’s all too far gone from me now... 
it's always sleeping beside me now
where I'm afraid I'll have to look at it,
don't make me touch it
turning turning in a winding sheet of
strangling nights
blind afraid 
to look and see that those empty eyes 
[there in the dark]
 are staring back and I'm caught again
as of course they always are, and I always am….

Journal entries from 1995, revised and extensively messed with, March 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Poet Stu McPherson is running the show at the pub today, and his prompt is to explore the nightmare edge of our dreams. This is a bit of a departure for me, more prose than poetry, and taken from life ( or more accurately, death.) I've redacted names

July 5 1995

Images © joy ann jones

Friday, March 30, 2012

Flash And Thunder

winter time

Flash And Thunder

Flash and thunder can’t break the panes in
the hothouse I keep at heart's core    
where you’re centered in my cells
moonflower on fire
where no careless-shut
door can let in
a flash of

as sure as
fire consumes
or flood waters drown
but who wouldn't plead for
quick burning over a soaked
sponge of lung or the long white death,
stiff in winter's numbing arms alone.

March 2012

Posted for   Fireblossom Friday   at real toads
where her challenge is to write on a topic, er... embodied... by some aspect(s) of the physical body.

This is a more or less a nonet (or maybe two) a syllable counting form of nine lines, beginning with nine syllables and ending with one. I've arbitrarily introduced a second stanza and reversed the form, going from one syllable to nine. 

Image: winter time, by micmol, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Harem Dance

Rosati harem-dance

Harem Dance

The harem girls dance
in turn, daily nightly
evanescent bubbles in the hookah
of his pleasure.

They serve their finest dishes; tender
quails trembling with ginseng, coriander buns
redolent of cinnamon, to tempt
his failing appetite.

Each day brings another exhibition
trapped satellites of a heavy sun
turning only the loveliest warm face
outward under his needle gaze

but behind hides the cold hemisphere
of darkness, pitted waste of light's
rejection. He ponders the pale moon
breasts of the new one from Tangiers.

In the tamarisk each night
whichever one performs
the blue nightjar snaps moths and sings
straight through to the dagger dawn.

March 2012

 Posted for    real toads

Challenge: Poem Sketching
Ella asked us to 'sketch' out a poem from a short list of words as a writing exercise, as promoted by poet and teacher Sandford Lyne. I used my own list of these four words below:


Image: The Harem Dance, by Giulio Rosati 
oil on canvas, Public domain via wikimedia commons

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Problem of Being the Wine


The Problem of Being the Wine
 After reading Robert Hass

A woman who liked me once recommended my vintage
to a folksinger I seemed to love.

He told me “Judy said you have the soul of a butterfly in there
and we must make love if you would like that.”

Being young is such a snare and makes gifts of this nature
impossible to either use or refuse. ( Likewise, being old.)

So I poured for him that quick drink with the flutter of wings before
he left for graduate school and his war exemption.

He wrote he lost his blue eyed music, gave his heart to a restless
housewife, wet Pensacola nights, palm trees and a blonde summer.

Blowing down the road to the dustbowl in your cyclone of winter dark eyes
and skittering aspen-leaf hair seemed the only logical response.

March 2012

 Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Robert Hass is a celebrated modern American poet, post-beat, translator of haiku, and former Poet Laureate of the US from 1995-97. Among other things, this poem is a pastiche of his somewhat laconic style.

Image: Gold, by stephee on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Monday, March 26, 2012

In the Yellow House

In the Yellow House

In the blue room of the sun
in the yellow house, 
behind terracotta walls
a tossed night is pulled from the bed
and thrown on a pile of other nights
wrinkled, indelibly lorn.
The woman hums as her hands stroke
farewell before it goes in the basket,
remembering the voice in the deep,
how she was loved
with words and lost in silence
far from this landlocked yellow boat
on a prairie sea, ribbed by the
bleaching shipwreck of her life, where 
in the front room she hears

the men say, 
is cheap.
It takes money to buy whiskey.

Light’s first nod is still a few miles away
across the grainfed graveyard out the window
where Orion sinks in another 
lightening quicksand sky, one foot
on a scruboak branch, both hands uplifted
to the horizon plummeting hawk sure,
hanging on to the moment
before his last fingertip slips past in the fade, 
drowned till tomorrow in star foam,
floating memories, the breaker crashed
ebb of the voice in her dream
softening away away, murmured in the constant
wind rasped fretting of the wheat, sleepless
as the oblivious sea;
so she knows

no wave is ever really gone
no word ever said wasted
no whiskey bought stronger
than what musics her morning song.

March 2012

Posted for    real toads
Today is Open Link Monday at real toads, and I am using a photo from the Sunday Challenge there, which featured Kat Mortensen, late to the party, as usual.Thanks, Kat!

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Image copyright Kat Mortensen
Used with permission.

Saturday, March 24, 2012



"That which is below is like that which is above that which is above is like that which is below to do the miracles of one only thing."
~Isaac Newton, 
translating from The Emerald Tablet

Walking in tandem on the mirrored world
shadowlinked foot to foot, fingers across
eyes behind eyes, pressing out sighs
and sights that neither wants to see,
nonetheless hung unerased
on the rack of each broken embrace, 
laughing tears that would bounce
too high against that tired
cracked reflector facing up.

So let the bucket spin down again
down, where it’s deepest black
where dark’s so strong, so long
there’s no feel left for solid or sop
where the only thing that bubbles up
is oblivion. Above, everything still
wanders off, it’s an empty night
with a blackmailer’s eye
watching for when to apply 

the screws, everything to lose
whichever of us is really walking
on this sparkling silver sky.
Oh I can see perfectly why
no one else wants to mix up in it,
this blender of cosmic goo, 
why it's just we two,
staggering in sync, twin spiders
on either side of a plate of night.

There's not much you can tell me
about the mysteries you hide that 
I don't know. I've already learned that
if a woman stands alone beneath
Michaelangelo’s god bedecked array
looking up in awe, it's true
there'll be a man behind her looking up 
her skirt, and who’s to say
who has the better view.

February-March 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

 The multi-talented James Rainsford is hosting at the pub today, and has brought out some of his unique and always amazing photographs for us to work from.The title of the picture I've chosen is Reflections, and though I gave my poem a different title, it could easily have borrowed his as well.

Image: Reflections, by James Rainsford
Used with permission

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Red Flower

Red Flower

I try to imagine the poem
you'd write if you thought
about such things,
what you would say about
a torn red flower or
the racket of the crickets.

I can’t find
a single word.
only the fitful ash and fleeing smoke
of our days, and the
last winter bruises fading
to summer yellow.

March 2012

55 torn petals for   the G-man

Image: A Pot of Geraniums, Odilon Redon, oil on canvas
Public Domain, courtesy

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Last Fire Of Winter

The Last Fire of Winter

burns in the hearth. The last
strabismic look from the demon's eye
wanders in its heart,

where jumps and lurches my little man of fire;
the blue grey imp that dances
on the crackle of eaten logs.
He was there when I made dinner

making a display of himself, only a devil's hellbrat,
cackling foolishly at the dogwhistle silence of
vegetable agony as I peeled aubergines and salted their flesh.
He doesn't know my unspoken name or all the secrets

buried beside my bones, my graveyard face,
beneath the coffin boards of my floor. 
Still, he smiles that same
laudenum smile as his comely master,

happy to be the go-between
who brings the goatskin missal
where my incubus writes me
all the brimstone news from hell.

But he’s not the one who can read the answer
I throw on the flames that hold back morning,
where the last fire of winter
burns in my heart.

March 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Image: Fire, by smenzel on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Broken Fix

Broken Fix

A diddler and a dabbler
a putzer and a fiddler
finder and discarder
a fixer of sorts

but he's learned never
to love anything so much
he’d have to care
if it stays broken.

He can spend his money
for seeds the weeds overtake.
He can hitch up the come-along and crank
till the sagging fence sits up straight for awhile.

He can read the fine print
as long as he has his glasses,
but  can’t see today, see her sweating
on the tractor under the griddle sun

hawkcircling where love cuts like a razor
blade from stem, crop from soil
days from years
one from the other.

He doesn’t remember much
from when they met years ago,
when she smiled and said, one woman’s trial
is another woman’s treasure,

how she told him 
if he took all the hippie out
there’d be nothing left.
Now she stands with arms folded

propped on the fence post, watching
the old blow in to stay, knowing
hers is the first name
he’ll forget.

 March 2012
Posted for    real toads
Sunday Photo Challenge: Shanyn Silinski

Both photos  © Shanyn Silinski via Imaginary Garden with Real Toads
Shanyn blogs at Sunflower Poetry
Used with permission

Optional Musical Accompaniment
Speaking of the old blowing in, Shotgun Willie sings some Dave Mathews and shows he still can make the hairs on your arms stand up with that voice

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Faerie Tales

 Faerie Tales

Once upon a time
a nightingale
pressed her breast upon a thorn
trilled her last liquid song
to stain for a fool
one perfect rose red.

Once upon a time
a mermaid renounced her tail
trading eternity for
sea foam so her faithless
love could sleep
in his new wife's arms.

Once upon a time
a princess with bleeding hands 
sewed for seven years
seven shirts of stinging nettles  
to break a spell of swans
but seamed a curse

and once two spirits blent
under knotted boughs
buoyed by infinite air, flower eyes
green barked limbs entangled,
and someone said, Hold tight
there is no bottom.

But that was long ago
and most days
no one remembers
how it ends.

March 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Claudia hosts this weekend, and her theme is fairy tales.

First stanza note: The Nightingale and the Rose, By Oscar Wilde
Second stanza note: The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen
Third stanza note: The Wild Swans by Hans Christian Andersen. I had remembered the story this way: A princess has seven brothers who were turned into swans by a wicked witch, and to return them to human form she had to weave seven shirts of magical stinging nettles in seven years--she had finished six, and all but one sleeve of the last shirt when the time was up, so her last and favorite brother was left with the wing of a swan, and died. But the actual story summarized here at wikipedia is a bit different, and does have a happy ending, though considerably more trials en route for the princess.

Image: Gorgonzola Flew Off On Her Dragon, illustration  by H.J. Ford
 from Heart of Ice, in  Andrew Lang's The Green Fairy Book, 1892, publlc domain
republished 1965 by Dover Press, my collection.

Friday, March 16, 2012



So far, so far your heart
so deep, so deep the dark
so far the star

traveling on the bullet train new age
music of the rails still a harpy's song
rattling out each harmonic dissonance
that parts us, incessant glissando

clack and clamor of canned confusion
ricocheting off unmalleable ore drawling
the angle acuter, the fundamental ever 
smaller parallel to a paper point of no return 

and none desired. Beneath, just a small
click and the engine shoots itself
down an altered course toward
a receding destination halfbent as

the bow that launches the arrow
of an indifferent archer
physical skills to punch it home
never there and now

no different as it veers hopelessly far
from the tracks after what runs faster
than any train can catch, thinner than any
arrow can pin, feet fluid as a deer

jumping the rails and flickering fences,
dry rivers future and past, heading for the green
deep heart of the woods where it feels safe
where its thicketed death is hiding.

so far so far your heart
so deep, so deep the dark
so far, so deep, so dark the star

March 2012

Posted for    real toads
Laurie's challenge: Perspective

Image: So Far, March, 2012 © joy ann jones

Yes And No By Moonlight

Yes and No
 By Moonlight

You wrote on my lips
the summer’s ending
stitched dry leaves
across my lids
in the cooling dark
and I said Yes.

You poured the moon 
for my thirst
brimful with loss;
I still remembered
melon taste.

In the dream
you bought me,
time stands still
no matter how often
I say No.

March 2012

55 drops of ice cold moonlight for   the G-Man

Image: Moonlit Landscape, Camille Corot, oil on canvas, 1874
Public Domain, via WikiPaintings

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Too Much

This is a response to Charles Miller's Meeting the Bar prompt at dVerse Poets Pub  which was to annotate a poem to 'fill in the gaps." I don't know if I'll be entirely successful, since I'm far from sure exactly where this particular poem really came from, but here goes...

This poem has been sitting unposted in my files for several months because it troubles me. It has been difficult to rewrite it, or re-direct it in any way. Many of my poems come in the form of dreams, or as the ashes of a dream unremembered except for a few words. This one came fully clothed, all in one piece, extremely detailed, especially the smells described, and the sights were cinematically real. 

It was so much like an interior documentary that I feel I should be able to assign names and faces and dates to the events in it; yet I’ve never been anywhere near a war, or part of a medical team, or indeed, in any crisis situation where someone else’s blood was flowing. At the time of the dream, no one I knew was ill or dying. I can only say I feel the characters are functioning as archetypes representing a sense of profound loss and disjunction with expectations, due to some personal family events, none of which involved death or physical trauma, shortly before the dream’s occurrence. I think sometimes our psych interprets emotions physically, and that this is a case in point. 

That said, this was on the nightmare side of the dream world, and there are some graphic descriptions here, another reason why I’ve not posted it, so please, if you are squeamish, you might prefer not to read further.

Too Much

I don’t know who you were
who came to me last night
a dream of a time of war
Your uniform was grey
the sky was grey
the ground a mud turned red
that never came from clay
I only know you loved me as I loved you
as we both loved
the shattered form before us, frail on
the blood slick table, close to death.
Hard hours we labored to save it
hard hours in sweat and battle’s filth, bathed
in the halitus of mortis, lapped by the slosh
and reek of the charnal house
till at last we looked up across the boards
and shared an uncertain smile
before you dropped down screaming to the dirt
your gut wound angry, pulsing out a fat grey mile
your hand to the blasted side kept turned from view,
and then I cried out over the stench you threw,

This is too much , too much,
too much
not you, too.

January 2012

Image: Untitled [antique surgical kit at International Museum of Surgical Science
by Jeremy M Farmer, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Fishmonger


The Fishmonger

Last night the witchlight went out.
All that was left was a drugstore flashlight
running on green ginger tea, shining a fisheye bulb
of irrational hope netted and dragged
from behind the moon’s peridot dustsheet
over a skinwalker's wrinkled  
tillage of shadowseed fields, where
silence and sleep grow beside
dismembered acorns, and nothing
can keep out the cold.

And so, while Jupiter and Mars
two pissholes in a celestial snowdrift
laser stared from a black sky,
eight times I called out my wares
from the roof of my fogbank hood,
hair wintered strings of snowmelt dripping
while I scraped my heart’s hollow clean
with a broken pen, wound the spell
with a cropped limb’s tingle and
threw a fish upon the fire.

It may be that it will never burn, 
that silver son of ocean,
but something within it seemed
to ask to swim the flames
to show me winking from the coals
the nature of
water and heat
and dinner, and at last
the bright chaotic kindling
of a spark.

February-March 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

In the final edit for this poem, I made lavish use of Shawna's Monday Melting word list at  rosemary mint. Thanks, Shawna.

Thanks, Petteri, for the pic and the title,
both of which had proved extremely elusive to land.
Petteri  blogs with exceptional verve 
about all kinds of things at Come to Think of It

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Two variations on a theme


Pansy, turn your bright face up.
Fill the sun up cup by cup,
Shine your dark eye through the snow.
Pansy, come where hope can’t go.

Make the crocus dance your tune.
Make the violet hang the moon
from your whisker, and daffodil
blow your song from the hollow hill.

Be the bridge that spans our loss.
Be the badge for those who cross.
Pour the spring out cup by cup.
Pansy, turn your bright face up.


There is no real winter
where the pansy grows,
green beneath the ochre leaves,
folded beneath the giving snow
that melts in the next day’s sun.

I hid her there when autumn stripped the
burning scales from July's red dragon,
snuffed his scorching breath
that bellowed across September. Now the wheel
revolves from bottom to top, and the
goldfinch lights his back sunflower yellow.

The first warm cheek of spring, the first
dithering wind that tickles dead leaves
skins open her amethyst bud
to silver in fretwork rain. She cavalcades
the brightest colors, heaves the strongest sighs
from earth’s stillborning dreams,
and through her rayed mask the answer gleams.

So come for spring’s first willow kiss, 
and lift your pansy face up to the sun.
Laugh under feathered sky with me
until the last and blackest dragon comes.

March 2012

Posted for   real toads
Sunday Mini (Photo) Challenge

Header photo: Pansy 'Jolly Joker', May 2008, © joy ann jones 2008-2012
Middle image: Pansy, mini-photo Instagram, by Ellen Wilson of Ella's Edge