Friday, April 26, 2013

Bonfire




Bonfire



Before
the firewood was gathered,
before the driftwood hit the sand
even then we knew
we would burn down the world.

On the beach
older than children
younger than men
we ran from it to tidepools
of blue derangement, 

glassy blind to what lived there;
ran to the rush of the unending wave
thinking we could be it,
wear its bitter strength,
forget to strike the match.

That day she was the seal
who swam too far
round the cove bend,
became the dead thing
that should have been a delight

thrown up bloated
twitched and dull in the backwash
of a ministry of crabs, 
a convocation of flies.
Shadows lit the bonfire and danced

without their clothes. The music
walked like moving dunes.
The seal stared in the flames'
flicker, knowing there was
not enough sand on the beach

to bury her, only the darkness
of the mouths of flies.



~April 2013





posted for   real toads
Challenge: Fireblossom Friday
The ever intricate workings of the mind of Fireblossom have conjured up a challenge to assume that one is transformed into a particular animal, and speak with that voice. After grappling with this concept all night, I suddenly realized I'd actually had that experience once, as detailed here. I hope it falls within the meaning of the directive.







Image: The Golden Gate, 1900, by Albert Bierstadt
Public Domain, via wikipaintings.org


23 comments:

  1. your words always zoom straight for the truth of it. all of it. life.

    you are on fire.

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  2. This wasn't going to turn out well from the beginning, something you come right out with in the opening lines. What should have been something celebratory, or at least harmless, became a heedless intrusion (if I'm reading it right), and ended as something wasted and empty of what made it alive to begin with. The image of the dead seal "staring" at the flames is unforgettable and heartbreaking, both for the luckless seal, and also for the firestarters.

    Question: how do you find these pictures that go so well with your words?

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    1. Thanks, Shay--great challenge as always--this one was hard to wrap my head around at first, but finally got something. AFA the pics, I am a painstaking internet searcher, but often just get lucky. I knew Bierstadt, one of my faves, had painted a lot of American landscapes around the turn of the century, and looked to see if he had made it to California.

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  3. I read this as if a young girl had swum out too far on the night of the bonfire and drowned and is transformed in the poet's mind to a seal woman, selkie.
    The last lines are graphic and tragic.

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  4. Yeowch. A very affecting poem. One thing very interesting to me here is that the bonfire feels like a cremation fire at moments, and yet, it is burial that is at issue. But things are never as we seem or as we expect. I agree with Kerry- that I read as a Selkie too - expecting magic and ending up with terrible harshness. That happens on beaches. Beautiful lines - the tidal pools of blue derangement a favorite - k.

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  5. You write tragedy very well. I feel so sad for the seal. I too will scan the internet to find the perfect photo. Great job with a difficult challenge!

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  6. I felt the Real Experience in this piece before reading your notes at the end. I think it challenging to assume the transformation of another unless one has had the personal inkling or the spark. (i suppose this is true of any writing, tho) That said, the prompt is gut-bold,and I would like to attempt it. Your scene is secure and image-rich in a way that I can hold, and not be shredded by, the ministry of crabs and convocation of flies. not enough sand on the beach to bury her --is a conclusion complete with deep reverence. really wonderful.

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    1. I'd love to see what you could do with this challenge, Jane. Thanks for your insights.

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  7. The painting is gorgeous and is in juxtaposition to the sad death of the seal and the haunting image of her staring into the flames as she died facing the darkness of the flies mouths rather than sand to be buried in. Did you have in mind the selkie legend in writing this? It's evocative of this.

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  8. This is awesome, Joy. I had to wonder who drowned: the girl, or the girl who was a seal that day. The tragedy is that one died, and there was not enough sand to bury her.
    I

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  9. This is amazing Joy. Your poetry casts a spell on me.

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  10. The closing four lines just killed me. I think I've been here, too.

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  11. Reading your words, I feel like writing my life's story ... but I promised myself I never will ... and I will not ever be buried in the soil of this harsh country either ... so who cares about any amount of sand ... bitter words spoken and out of my system ... for now at least ... I think ... O, I don't know ...

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  12. Often it seems youth or love starts a fire that we feel more of its scaring than heat. This is such a beautiful piece of pain, regret, realization.

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  13. geez....vicious write hedge...layer on layer...the seal that could have been delight but...the ministry of crabs...the mouths of flies...well the last gave me rather a shiver...smiles...the feelings are palpable in this...

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  14. I wanted to weep as I read your poetry ... four or five years ago I spent a week on the Oregon coast ... sea lions were dying from some horrible bacteria, stranded and dying on the beach. It was devastating. Not enough sand on the beach hit home.

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  15. Oh, wow. I have been away too long. This is stunning. Tidepools of blue derangement...Wonderful write.

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  16. wow Hedge-this was sad, haunting and hit home!
    I agree the Ministry of Crabs really brought it for me.
    I grew up near the shore and have seen things I wish I had not...
    Bravo on tackling this subject and bringing it to light

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  17. This did bring to mind the tale of a selkie. I thought at first things would go well, but as I read on I see it ended in tragedy. Beautifully descriptive and tragic write, Joy Ann.

    Pamela

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  18. Before

    the firewood was gathered,

    before the driftwood hit the sand

    even then we knew

    we would burn down the world.

    such a heavy opening, like gravity-heavy
    beautiful I mean
    in its careful devastation!

    hooked me right in/into the eye:

    ran to the rush of the unending wave

    thinking we could be it

    Made my lips smack (still smacking!)))

    of a ministry of crabs,

    a convocation of flies.

    and then, all prompted by
    your inner animal . . .

    great write Joy!

    Rich man's WAR
    Poor man's Blood

    Fucking A!







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  19. "The music walked like moving dunes" - what a terrific line! What powerful writing in this poem. The closing is so good it hurts.

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  20. Oh!!! Hedge! Your closing's enough to make me cry and I too love the heck out of the same line that Sherry just mentioned!! Excellent writing...so visual, all of it! :)

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  21. Gruesome, but the kind that captivates, not nauseates. I just had an instant image of Stand by Me when I read this.

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