Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Century






Century



A hundred years ago
you came to undo my buttons
throw my calico skirt, my muslin shift
over the moon, unpeeled teal eyes
laid me down in piney night,
exhaled a smokering sigh to drift
around me, knotted with me tight
in deep green black.

I spit this centenary curse:
that we ever came back
to the skins we couldn't shed
on that cabin floor,
from murmuring boards so old
they glowed snake blue, luminous
as the windfall shapes we wore,

dropped apples of a  slanting 
summergone sun.
I walked like a freckled young lioness
before she learns her scarlet roar,
my mane of stars shook out on the jade inflow;
who could know I'd die there
under the gun
a hundred years ago?




~January 2013













Header: Cabin Under the Trees, Paul Gauguin, 1892
Public Domain, via wikipaintings.org
Footer: Jungle with Lion, Henri Rousseau, 1910
Public Domain, via wikipaintings.org

13 comments:

  1. In the very first handful of lines, I saw and felt something so western, even frontier, and I was hooked, transfixed, caught in your knots!

    Loved the whole of this, Joy. :) xox

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  2. This is remarkable on several levels. First, there is the unorthodox rhyme scheme. I can't quite figure it out, only see that it is there, and that it sounds right.

    Then there is the sheer beauty of the language:

    "exhaled a smokering sigh to drift
    around me, knotted with me tight
    in deep green black.

    The whole thing reads marvelously, and that coined word (or so I assume) "smokering' is a gem.

    There is the otherworldly, or super-natural tone of the thing, especially that middle passage about the shed skins, though it permeates the entire piece. Even the shed clothes in the beginning seem to somehow be more than just cloth.

    Finally, there is the impossible hundred years, pointing up all the more sharply the lost vitality, sexuality, and simple animal here-ness that these melancholy words describe, and mourn.

    Finally, I like that art with the lion, after the poem. It fits, utterly.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Shay. The rhyme scheme is just spontaneous--I wanted an echo-rhyme in each stanza from the one before, and then I just added in a few more that felt right. I paid a lot more attention to the meter than I usually do, too. Smokering is a fluke--ihad it hyphenated, and as two seperate words, and then I just liked the way it looked mashed together, as that gave a whole otherness to it, and now it can be read either way. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. You know they mean a lot to me.

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  3. your colors and textures have me sensorily mesmerized. I keep returning to weave through the images you've created. there is something about the freckled young lioness before she learns her scarlet roar that takes me back to another time in my own life. I really enjoy this.

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  4. A little TOO rhymie for my taste MoonBat...:P:P

    But you poets have a way of making the obvious...Abstract!
    What a fascinatingly poetic thought process you have Joy.
    You must drive your old man FUCKING CRAZY!!!!
    He's somewhere between the Luckiest, and the most Tortured man alive!

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    Replies
    1. He would totally agree with you, G, at least on the second part--but I maintain he was crazy before we even met.

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  5. This is it! I am sticking to prose! Novels! Children's books! Elephants! Law!!!! (Not to make this comment about me.) I'm just saying....

    A really beautiful poem - very poetically felt, with the mystery and magic of what that means. Too much to enumerate. It's terrific.

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  6. really intriguing verse hedge..read over it a few times looking at the patterns....from the undressing and its contrast of skins you could not shed in the next verse...to the lion with mane of stars...to the gun in the end as well...its enchanting for sure...and the rhythm of it as well...

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  7. A beautiful poem, I love it !

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  8. Your voice always grips me from the getgo like glue . . .
    but from dropped apples onward i was eleated by the language
    and i couldnt pull this apart

    dropped apples of a slanting
    summergone sun.

    I walked like a freckled young lioness
    before she learns her scarlet roar,
    my mane of stars shook out on the jade inflow;

    and then the killer question . . .

    the whole package, with the picture(s)
    does like it should grips and fires the imagination
    into the expanding areas that ripple away from the poetry
    in the reading, into the jungle or woodland
    out of sight, out of frame . . .

    cannot be contained!



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  9. This is exactly the reason why I love metaphoric language in the hands of a master - the images wind through the meanings and create a textural experience:

    throw my calico skirt, my muslin shift
    over the moon...

    I spit this centenary curse:
    that we ever came back
    to the skins we couldn't shed... What a way to introduce the contrast of the second stanza.

    I walked like a freckled young lioness
    before she learns her scarlet roar...

    So much about passion and its fading; youth and its aging; love and its dying here.

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  10. There's lots to love in this poem- the word and rhyme choice and the startling images- but my favorite is the young freckled lioness just before she finds her roar. I remember that feeling and admire how you captured it here.

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  11. You weave a magical tale like no other... always, I am entranced.

    "I walked like a freckled young lioness
    before she learns her scarlet roar,
    my mane of stars shook out on the jade inflow"

    loved these lines especially.

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