Friday, August 2, 2013

The Farewell Book



The Farewell Book




I always keep the Book of Order
close by my chaos bed
at the masthead of longing,
to lift a half-numb hand, touch its
sleeping lover's cover, think
I'm not alone.

The Book has first and last page
but only a hole in the center, infinite,
secret, full of talismans, gauds and baubles,
wrack and whatnots, bones and blood,
astrolabes and artifacts of
someone else's life that is my own.
 
I sang out 
the genius from the cavity;
all things marked with your name.
I made for you the kiss
of peace 
and the moon on a stick.

There
you were born to lie,
to slither up and slide
your bendable spine into
the hammock of that crescent, to
murmur with flickering tongue

divine
the language of mind to mind,
but when at last I put
my feet to the morning's board,
I felt only the pricking crackle of
the skin you'd left on the floor.

Still I go on, a lunatic singing apart
flying waves of darkness
with a used moon
and a hollow book.




~August 2013
 


posted for     real toads
Challenge: Fireblossom Friday:
 the book within the story within the poem
The incomparable Fireblossom asks us to think of matryoshkas, to pick a favorite poem and nest it in a story with a book and a reader all in an ever-shrinking embrace, or something like that (see above link for a more coherent exposition.) I've chosen not one but two of my favorite poems by Wallace Stevens to nest--In this unholy matryoshka, I have used various words and phrases from:


The Idea of Order at Key West
(text and reading by Stevens)

(text)




Photo © joyannjones 2013



32 comments:

  1. Wow. The way the language slithers in the fourth stanza into the fifth is just masterful. Double wow.

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  2. Oh, those opening lines are sublime - the juxtaposition of order and chaos is inspired. What I like most in this description is the idea that a poetry book has a hole in it - an open vortex of ideas, a wormhole to take the reader into another dimension. Perfect.

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  3. Thanks, Kerry and MZ--I think it's way too long, but I just got beaten down in the editing.

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    1. I struggle to let a poem grow let alone overgrow. I love how a work unfolds with your words. Always a feast, always enough. Enjoyed as always.

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    2. Thanks, LaTonya. I am just a natural-born blabbermouth. ;_)

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  4. Wonderful. Really - the stepping out onto morning's board onto the snake skin my favorite part but all wonderful. Great breaks in the stanzas - very snakey - also lovely touches of rhyme and assonance. I do not know Farewell to Florida - will have to check it - (one doesn't need to know it to like your poem clearly) but I do feel a bit of the hopelessness of Ramone Fernandez's rage for order here, sort of turned upside down, for there the human does cast a kind of order on the universe (by there, in STevens, I mean) whereas here, it seems that the humans are pretty much stuck with the chaos.

    I have been working very hard at work and really unable to think of prompts - the one I thought for this one was comic, based on something old - but don't know if I can manage. This is terrific. I know what you mean about feeling it is long, but it reads quite quickly. Some of the details are just beautiful and musical but if you wanted to cut more do not progress the "story" as much as others. On the other hand, I don't think they weight it down particularly either. Always a very hard call. Maybe easier to see when you take it further from the prompt. k.

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    1. Sorry to be a bit incoherent as per usual. I was just moving from personal plaint back to poem - I'm sure you can follow but perhaps should have made new paragraph. k.

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    2. Thanks, k--I did cut some pure wandering description--hopefully I can use it somewhere because of course, I liked it! you always like what you cut and hate what's left I think--anyway, I also thought of cutting the 'list' stanza, but that seemed extreme, so then I thought I'd pare it down, and couldn't even seem to do that, so gave up--I'm not good at editing new poems. I'm too attached to the little fancies in them. That's why mine usually don't go up till several weeks/months after I write them.

      I hope you'll find time for writing (poetry) again soon--but I do understand that the pressures of work and life can sap one dry at times.

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    3. PS Farewell to Florida is linked at post bottom, and it's text.

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    4. I know about the affection for what's cut. I would keep the last stanza intact. I hesitate to say what lines feel simply beautiful but arguably do not add new information to the gist of the poem, since I'm afraid that would sound like I didn't like them!

      I personally find it very hard to look at a poem once it is posted. It almost burns the cheeks at that point. But when time passes it is easier. k.

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    5. PS - the farewell to florida is beautiful! I had Harold Bloom as a professor a few times and he had met Stevens. He said that he was like a walking refrigerator. k .

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    6. Yes, it's a sobering thought to think he was a Taft Republican. ;_)AFA the poem, I'm through with it for now.

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    7. Yes, it is wonderful as is!

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  5. Mercy! Right up front, I'll say that I read the second Stevens poem, but will have to watch the vid of the first one later--my stomach is rumbling--but even having done only half my homework, this is an amazing poem.

    " The Book has first and last page
    but only a hole in the center, infinite,
    secret, full of talismans, gauds and baubles,
    wrack and whatnots, bones and blood,
    astrolabes and artifacts of
    someone else's life that is my own."

    ^^This is one of those stanzas that you come up with, that just keeps getting better and more amazing with every line. I especially like "gauds", as I've only ever heard it as a modifier--"gaudy"--but I love it used this way as a noun. And the artifacts of someone else's life that is my own, wow. That's a biography in a single line.

    I also especially like "the moon on a stick", and the subsequent stanzas that echo the Florida poem you reference. There is so much here, so much soul, if you will, being sung out for this changing, shifting, probably unworthy snake, until one comes to that ending, where the song continues, but having lost its animating force.

    I'll come back to say more after I have aq chance to hear the first Stevens poem, but this is first rate writing, dear friend.

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    1. Thanks, Shay. You know how much your comments mean to me. Don't worry about listening to Wallace--he sounds like a very dignified penguin with a head cold, but I enjoyed hearing him read his work--I'll put the text version up top in a link as well if you decide you want to read it--it's a very long poem.

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  6. Incredibly beautiful, words escape me. I enjoyed hearing Mr. Stevens voice, reading his words ... your voice as well.

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    1. Thanks Helen. So glad you enjoyed both voices.

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  7. I wonder if you've ever lived in Florida (I do, and once lived in Key West). No matter. It's a great pleasure to read Stevens over your shoulder, and through him, you - a great pleasure. For you are the maker of the song you sing. You had me with the first stanza, for many is the time I've carried a book with me into the world, just to have a friend along, and countless the times in a library or bookstore I've gone to a certain shelf, not to buy (I owned them all), but to touch the spines and say hello. What deep purpose did poetry serve for Stevens, I wonder, as he filled those long days behind a desk, scheming ways to make even more money? Somehow it saved his soul, or the best part of him, the part we treasure. Yet such a flimsy thing it is, a book, like a sail, until the reader fills it with breath.

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    1. No, Mark, I've lived in California, but I know that's not the same. Still, I feel sometimes that I've been there, reading Stevens. And I am the same with books--have carried some with me for my entire adult life from town to town, to doctor's and lawyer's appointments, on long car or bus rides--for the company, for the breath it puts in my own lungs, too.Thanks for reading, and your generous comment.

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  8. There is something in the Florida Keys, something that pulls poets and writers, then sends them away again. I can't quite put my finger on it right now, but it will come to me in the middle of the night, when my mind has a mind of its own.
    Like Shay, I love the word "gauds" — I thought perhaps you'd invented it (people who work with words are allowed to invent them, I believe) until I looked it up. Nice job, using a grand old word like that!
    My senses are still quivering from listening to Wallace Stevens. Quivering in my elbows, for some reason. Odd.
    Fabulous work here, my dear Hedge, fabulous.
    K

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    1. Thank you Kay. I have to admit, I had never heard him read before, and I sort of fell in love with that sound of his, so measured, and each word so alive with his own particular flavor of it. I'm glad you like gauds--I read a lot of old, old books. ;_)

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  9. really very nicely done hedge...and finely layered...love that you keep order near chaos...and that in the book is a hole...ha...all the things it is filled with...and the kiss and moon on a stick...very nicely done joy...smiles.

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  10. The words in your writing are so wonderfully chosen and used...an amazing creation.

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  11. Ooo...this is tantalizing!! I love the description list with the talismans and baubles and what have you...all of this is very alluring...love your close and you've caused me to want to check out this author! Thank you Hedge, great write! :)

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  12. I would like to spend time where your imagination lives. You are always able to pluck pearls from it. I simply love the ending..."Still I go on, a lunatic singing apart flying waves of darkness with a used moon and a hollow book."

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  13. I loved the picture with this poem in a favourite shade of midnight blue. The poem brought out a recognition - the relationship we have with books, their juxtaposition in our lives.

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  14. this makes me think of the time in my life when i was so close to books, and a few in particular. it has happened throughout my life, but not lately. it's interesting how i developed a little bit of a relationship with a book or two by virtue of the fact that we were inseparable. the used moon, for me, put into perspective what poets do: work with words that have been already written. flying waves of darkness will be in my head all day. thanks:)

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  15. Wow a really excellent write! Too many great lines to mention but this poem caught me from the forst word and kept me to the ends wEll done.

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  16. WOWZERS!!!!!!! I kept noting extra special lines but when I got to the last three, they were the best. Case closed. Whew, Hedge. Fantastic write!

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  17. This speaks to me of something just beyond reach- which eventually warrants a farewell, I think. Finding astrolabes in your second stanza gave me great technical imagery, along with your artful moon-bending. This is one of those poems that releases more meaning, the more I read it. The layers are rich. Like a new fruit, I'm peeling this and enjoying the response to what sounds like an incredibly complex prompt.

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  18. Wonderful language...emotional, archetypal...this resonates so well. The idea of life as an empty book with only the beginning and end written...it's one of those things anyone would wish they'd thought of first, but congratulations to you for using it so well. I really enjoyed this. And I don't believe its too long. Not when it builds and develops so consistently and inevitably, as this does.

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  19. "..someone else's life that is my own." Love this. And the idea of a used moon--full of making stories to be lived, discovered, or left behind.

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