Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Cry


Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico May 24th View

The Cry




The quick sun-sigh spreads
over a rusted land, bed turned down for the long sleep,
and a whisk-brush wind pushes
through the bare attic of dawn.
With a hawk-swooped
aching cry the rabbit dies
sapphire night still jeweled in
his daybreak eyes, but
for one nest today, the hunger's gone.


Far away in the great salt-dance
the plankton fall, the feathers blacken
into glue, the tendrils of  the kelp begin to fray,
weaving darkness deep in the carbon flux,
the foxfire flicker of disappearing grace
receding as the moonwife calls it home
down to the deep forgotten mud
where the stew of the millioned dead
breaks up the bones,
 


where none except the crab will
know its  taste, where none
will see its face except the drowned
in light that falls as shallow as a breath
through a day like this that began with a tiny death.




~November 2013



 Photo: Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico, NASA Goddard Photo & Video
 "On May 24, 2010, the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this false-color, high-resolution view of the very tip of the Mississippi River Delta. Ribbons and patches of oil that have leaked from the Deepwater Horizon well offshore are silver against the light blue color of the adjacent water. Vegetation is red."

To learn more about this image go to: earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=44078

 via flick'r creative commons



posted for     real toads
Sunday Mini-Challenge:The Poetry of Marianne Moore
 Kerry O'Connor once again offers us the definitive example of 'challenge,' to write a poem which replicates the concept behind the title of Imaginary Garden with Real Toads, a line written by Marianne Moore, by creating an idyllic scene and injecting a disruptive, toad-like element. I did my best with the concept, though I'm not sure how idyllic nature really is, with or without the toad of a poisoned environment, but the syllable count had to fall by the way--I have gotten into a habit of using stresses, and un-using them is almost impossible, though I did try.




32 comments:

  1. If I may begin with your last line: a day like this that began with a small death...
    This, I believe, shows the poet's eye on the pulse of our very existence on this planet. As you state in your explanation, nature itself is unforgiving, and to idealize it is to forget the very foundation of 'tooth and claw'. To idealize the daffodils is to forget they have crowded out another species of flower. I love how you have shown this from start to finish and reminded me that to love the world requires an acceptance of toads, and the part they play.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PS. Since the Gulf oil disaster, I have never bought petrol (gas) from BP.

      Delete
    2. Thank you Kerry. This was a very difficult one for me--I really appreciate your comment and insight.

      Delete
  2. The harder, harsher poem of nature is not the one that shows its cycle of dying, but the one of how that dying is accelerated due to the accidents of human nature. The Mary Oliver poem of rapture even in nature's cycles has a hard time calibrating this sort of rising gorge. Makes you wonder if there's any point in kissing the human frog prince. Fine work. Was it Rilke who said, "trust the difficult?" Some other said, "resist what tempts." Finding poetry where the sun can't shine is work we need to be more about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You don't live long with Nature without seeing her ugly side--as I've said before, Nature doesn't care if you're Einstein or a tapeworm--it's only about survival, and beauty is an incidental tool that is meant to assist procreation--still, it's an interesting tool for her to choose, nonetheless--almost a digression--another practice to which she is prone.. Thanks for reading, B.

      Delete
  3. I feel a little guilty reading this, as I was so cavalier about the prompt, and it definitely shapes this poem. They are almost like two poems - both wonderful--and yet they fit together very well too as one may show nature rapacious--but at least someone is getting the benefit--those little hawklets get the long end of the stick as it were----while in the manmade disaster, only carbon seems to be getting its own return, and not a very satisfying one at that. You have so many beautiful lines and images and you manage to have a very different tone in the first stanza--not just tone--but word usage. All the hyphens imply this great dependency--everything growing into and from itself or its counterpart -- only present in the second part with salt-dance, which is also naturalistic. I just love these hyphenated descriptions - they are such a wonderful way of making action happen--backing into verbs that you never then need to use--they work so well as they compress all the action into a little distilled picture and allow us a kind of peephole at the edge--

    Such an irony in the second part with the plankton falling rather than swooping (not that it would be so hawklike but it might swim around a bit but for the oil) and the feathers of the kelp turning to glue--everything mucked up--the foxfire/disappearing grace line is so apt and beautiful (in a horrible way); the millions dead stew seems somehow prehistoric to me--back maybe not to the drawing board--but to the primordial stew that gave rise to all those "fossil" fuels to begin with--so we feed with more death.

    It is very interesting that the tiny death here is kind of ambiguous. It would seem you are looping back to the rabbit, especially given the title, but my sympathy is all for the plankton. (And even the poor crab having to taste that gunk. And of course the drowned.)

    And now, I am thinking of the hawk again, which while writing this comment I confused in my mind with an eagle-- Hawks it seems to me are ambiguous figures for any American writer--

    Since, I'm rambling--the moonwife is a lovely image here too. And all those images at the start--the rusted land==the bed turned down for sleep--love that --whisk-broom wind--the attic of dawn--this is just terrific stuff.

    These spills are so tragic. There is nothing that the companies can pay to make them right. k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ps - sorry for long rambling comment--I would much rather sit and ramble on about your poetry than what I am supposed to do today. (Job work.) But should not fill up your comment space! k.

      Delete
    2. Thanks, k--glad I gave you a place to hide from the homework for awhile, and many thanks as always for your in-depth reading and insights. Happy Sunday!

      Delete
    3. cavalier about the prompt (did you read her poem, Joy?) She's being a bit too humble :)

      Delete
    4. I agree--I thought Karin's response was one of the best--in fact, it inspired me to keep plugging away till I got this one in some sort of shape.

      Delete
  4. nice....life is a cycle...the dying allows the birth, the life to grow from it...hopefully retaining a bit of that original life as well...we are a cycle too...there are some lovely lines within this and it is not without its grit as well as its beauty...the last stanza though does it for me...the noticing and tasting of it...so sad that so few will experience it...

    ReplyDelete
  5. Beautiful poem. Wonderful images in this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Grand imagery. Ironic to see such a beautiful picture caused by an oil slick.

    ReplyDelete
  7. through the bare attic of dawn. is such a fantastic line hedge, really made me SIT UP and LISTEN! . . . the poetry is riveting and stirring but for me it is the concept, your concept, the housing is a master stroke because like you 'I'm not sure how idyllic nature really is, with or without the toad' but this treatment crosses the levels of understanding. The poetry is consistently strong 'the foxfire flicker of disappearing grace' an octopus thrashing in a sealed plastic bag, making a noise that can be heard by dogs at distance, or babies up-close but being heard and experienced with equal pleasure in the poetry and relative reaction to your power!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Arron. This one was a beast to write. Only you could put an octopus in a plastic bag for a simile--making this baby smile long distance.

      Delete
  8. The oil spill ... a man-made disaster that poisoned the environment ... you truly injected something so devastating about the destructiveness of the human condition. About nature ... I do think there is a survival instinct in nature ... prey & predator ... but it seems more benign to me than human nature. I don't see evil in nature ... though it's hard to explain natural disasters, like earthquakes etc ... yet even in that, I see abscence of malice. But humans can be so cruel against nature and other humans, and many don't see the need for redemption. So sad. A thought-provoking, well-written piece ... great imagery.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like "moonwife" and the interplay between the rabbit, who loses its life, and the nest where hunger is sated for a day. It is always the particular, rather than the general, that brings home the power of a story, and you have mastered that, Joy.

    Some events bother me so much that I just can't even engage about them. Deep Water Horizon was one of those; seeing all that oil just gushing into the gulf sickened me. It always bothers me more when animals and birds suffer than when people do, I suppose because the animals are bystanders who get hit by the truck of human greed and stupidity.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, me too--animals are innocent in the debacle we make with our greed and viciousness and stupidity, and seeing them suffer for it hurts more than knowing families lost income from the spill for me--income is fungible, a tortuous death isn't. That's why I didn't choose a more graphic picture to go with this of an oil drowned creature of some sort--believe me there are plenty of them, but they are deeply disturbing and sickening to me as well. Thanks FB, for the thoughtful comment.

      Delete
  10. Wow so many great comments on a truly great poem. I was taken by the image and a language here:

    With a hawk-swooped
    aching cry the rabbit dies
    sapphire night still jeweled in
    his daybreak eyes, but
    for one nest today, the hunger's gone.

    An excellent description of life and death. Well done.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You have such mastery over words, my friend, they seem to spring unbidden from your fingertips, and this poem is the proof. I love your use of hyphens here, too.
    K

    ReplyDelete
  12. yowza, this made me stop and shudder:

    the deep forgotten mud
    where the stew of the millioned dead
    breaks up the bones

    ReplyDelete
  13. Your poetry brings tears to my eyes. How can something so ugly be so beautiful? I can sing this one, truly. This one has personal resonance for me too, since I live on the Gulf. I agree with you, btw, on being doubtful on how "idyllic" nature is. Nature can be very cruel, very messy, and most terrible and terrifying. And it's interesting to know how 'Toads' got its name!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Mark. Your comment means a lot to me. I'm glad you see ugly and beautiful both in this--that was what I hoped to convey, and why I ended up with that particular photo--all the beautiful silver is actually black stinking tarry oil, floating and tendriling like something immaculate instead of the awful death that it is. I feel for you, having to see this first-hand.

      Delete
  14. A truly poignant poem on the nature of man and the destruction we cause. I only hope the younger generation can learn from our errors. I have missed reading you, Joy Ann, you always make me look at things in such a different and deep light. Your use of language is superb lady.

    Pamela

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is heartbreaking in its subject matter, all the more powerful for its statement of fact feel, and purely breathtaking in its craft.

    "for one nest today, the hunger's gone." Had to quote this.

    This is some of your best work, Hedge. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Hedgewitch, you moved me to tears with this. I live in a gulf state and know so well the tragedy of BP's atrocity. I failed this challenge so miserably. I don't know what is wrong with my head lately!

    ReplyDelete
  17. This is poetry at its finest. I hurts my heart to know humans are capable of this brutal treatment of our home. You make beauty of the spoilage.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The rabbit losses his life, yet sustains the little hawklings, hawkletts… just looked it up = eyas. But the oil spill - well - it makes an interesting oil slick photo. I agree with everything said above - your command of language and story-telling is spell-binding.

    ReplyDelete
  19. These two competing cycles you describe are beautifully drawn and developed--the one reflecting the natural progression of life-death-life, the other showing the self-inflicted wounds that provide no commensurate nourishment, not even for the crab, really...the adjectives and adjectival phrases add much throughout. This is so very thoughtful, moving in a rhythm, that matches, in my mind, the objective movement of your themes. Very fine piece.
    Steve

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Steve. I was thinking of the scavenger crabs being stuck with the waste, and of course, as you point out, there is nothing in it for them at all, even as they perform their rightful natural function. Appreciate as always your insights and kind words.

      Delete
  20. I shouldn't have read (all) of your comments before commenting...*palm-smacks forehead* I have to agree with FB though...I'm absolutely sickened by the news, especially when it's "our" greed and idiocy that is murdering nature...one tiny death at a time.

    I loved this image:

    "aching cry the rabbit dies
    sapphire night still jeweled in
    his daybreak eyes"

    That is so alive!!

    Well written indeed, Hedge...I'm so glad you persevered with this, totally worth it. :)

    ReplyDelete

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