Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blue Ice


Blue Ice
"They tell me of a home far beyond the skies. They tell me of a home far away.
They tell me of a home where no storm clouds ride.
O they tell me of an uncloudy day."
~traditonal Southern spiritual





Each year you've been gone
in the last warmth of ten crawling Novembers,
I wrap the roof in blue lights.

Their infant's eyes in the night
open wide over me.
I don't pull the plug

when the slow seep of the sun
lanterns the cloud-muted sky;
they are the ward

the spell that says
as I speak so shall it be:
blue eye meets blue eye

to spark the white moon,
forgiveness will make
uncloudy day,

love given will tune
out the tolling mistakes.
Home is not

it is not far away.

Each year in the dead cold
of eleven Januarys
I take the blue lights down.

They tangle in my hands like
skeins of  blue ice. There's no
feeling in my fingers when

at last they're packed in the attic,
where their blindness shows clear
 Home is not here.




~December 2013









If you'd like to hear a very rough recording of the author reading an unrevised version of  this poem, click below:



Optional Musical Accompaniment














Photos © joyannjones, 2013

28 comments:

  1. Joy Ann, what a hauntingly beautiful piece of writing. Your recording is superb. What song/hymn is that in the beginning? It gave me shivers. Really excellent write and recording.

    Happy New Year to you!

    Pamela

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    1. Thanks, pamela. It's just an old spiritual, I think originally recorded by the Staple Singers in a gospel format.

      Mucho sol en su nuevo año, amiga.

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  2. This strikes me as one of the saddest poems I've read in a long time - the hopeless hope, the feeling that after 11 years, forgiveness is not coming, or perhaps the lights commemorate a life now gone. The melancholy note, the icy cold, are felt throughout.

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    1. Thank you Kerry. Some times of year are just harder than others--for many, not just me.

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  3. cold, cold, and distance looms. yet the Henley rendition is kind of reggae / upbeat.

    really liked your reading. ~

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    1. Yes, despite the pictures of tornadic catastrophes! But the message of the song is upbeat in that "you'll be finally happy when your dead" religious way. Thanks for reading M--I am not much of a singer, or spoken worder, but glad you enjoyed.

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  4. To me, the lights are akin to the proverbial candle in the window, with blue eye meeting blue eye, like calling to like, heart waiting for heart. We all hope that love will make up for the wrongs done and mistakes made, but if it doesn't, who's to say where the blindness really lies? The lights are there, every year for eleven years; even packed out of daily sight in the attic, they ARE there. It only takes one blessed moment for them to be seen.

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    1. Thank you Shay. Your voice always rings clear to me, never more so than here.

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  5. loved them as skeins of ice... there is a certain sadness in packing away the holidays... maybe that is why they shine so brightly

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  6. Love the seeing/ blind dyad going on here, the sense of time passing, a cycle, a kind of ritual of opening the potential of seeing back up again. "Their infant's eyes in the night / open wide over me" is a great line, the tension between that and packing the blue ice away in darkness again is powerful.

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    1. Thanks Mark. That was a difficult line to get right and had many incarnations.

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  7. Hey Hedge==a beautiful poem and a great reading (and singing.) For me, the pivotal lines are the "nots" with the not home and the not far away, which feels like the toll of the tolling mistakes. The blue lights are beautiful as eyes, and are like children of sorts (in a Christmas like way.) Not to question your decisions, but I like the version in the reading very much--the glow and the way the sun lantern works --I can't quite remember how you have it but different from the seeps--your end results--the written version-=are wonderful too, but there is a rhythmic simplicity in the read lines that works very well. (I don't honestly know which I like best, so don't pay too much attention to me here--I just thought what you read worked pretty darn well as far as the meter went, though I can see that you may not think it works as well on the page.) I can see that you might think that the open wide works more like the blue sky too and the glow more like stars. Agh--hard decisions when both versions are so good!

    Skeins of blue ice a wonderful image too--all of it--the simplicity and matter-of-factness adds to the poignancy. k. (Manicddaily)

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    1. Thanks, k. Of course I put the cadence I wanted into the spoken stuff, and you the reader sort of do likewise reading it silently,or hopefully what I put down comes through. But I liked both ways--they are just that little bit different, and you can't put it anywhere else--so ARGH, on the rewriting. But at least you got to have your cadence and read it too, as it were. ;_) I didn't want to redo the recording to match the page because I knew I could never sing that beginning right again. Thanks for mentioning the matter of factness--I always worry with these sort of emotional ones of being too purple and maudlin. Hope your week ahead is not too grueling, and your New Year's wonderful.

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    2. PS - Yes--I know that the decisions are always mullti-layered and involve giving up and getting so didn't mean to sound second-guessing--only that I was expecting for the recording to be rougher I guess and more unrevised from your introduction of it, and I thought it sounded pretty great! Also, I didn't mean to bypass the "blues" aspect that everyone mentioned--very wonderful title by the way as it gets at both the sadness and the detachment--not the right word--how about distance--the time and the difficulty--and the songlike aspect allows for a greater breadth of emotionality simply because those are the words that sing--although honestly, this does not rely on that at all.

      I do have to start working again tomorrow, but I am hoping to do it away from the City, so very happy about that. Thanks. k.

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    3. Well, that sounds like an improvement. The whole commute thing frames the work itself in added tension, imo, the dressing, the time factors, the stress of just the physical stuff. I hope it works out well for you.

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    4. Hi - I think we all read so fast, i do anyway, even when I think I'm rereading or being careful -- I was just looking back at this and realized that I had not fully focused on the framed song. I was conscious of changes in cadence and rhyme but had not really absorbed the change in type face - even with your lead-in about the spell spoken and the colon! (You'd think I'd pay attention to colons--I do not mean that in any comic sense.) Or maybe it was because I focused on the recorded reading--anyway--this central conceit (not right word) is lovely and it works so well with the physicality of the putting up and putting down, and I like especially the rhyme and line break with the "tune"--one is forced not to go instantly to the "out" because of that moon rhyme, so it allows for a greater vibration in the meaning.

      Does everyone notice these things--the inner song? I don't know. I don't know that you'd want to separate it out- extra line space--or centering==probably not. People absorb it as is. It's just so interesting to me--return visits here worthwhile--though I wonder what I miss all over the place. Obviously, one gets the poem without the nuances - and they make their way through anyway--and probably most readers do get them--I just know it is sometimes hard for me to follow things through line by line--but worth it--k.

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    5. I almost sang(had intended to sing) that italicized part, but when it came to it didn't trust my voice that far. Reading online is not, I think, the best way to come at poetry--I really really prefer the printed page, but the feedback is much better(and the actuial concept of having other people read what you write) here. And it does give you some other interesting options. Thanks for the second helping, k.

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  8. Oh, this made me sad, hedgewitch. Blue is that color which always touches my soul. Beautiful, as always, writing that transports me.

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    1. Thank you, Talon. And thanks for your putting up with my so-called photography.

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  9. the infant's eyes, the ward, the spell, and forgiveness. Your stunning string of imagery moved my mind from hopeful to sorrow and back. There is a long journey here, if not to home itself. This sings like a choir for the season. Many of us feel loss more now than any other time of year. Maybe too, we stretch more needfully towards the forgiveness --which sometimes graces great loss. I enjoy your ending. This whole piece pulls together an emotion I've no words for that I still feel when I remember my Grandfather's last words in his hospital bed. He had the bluest-blue eyes, and just before he closed them, he said, "I'm going home." The certainty of his voice assured me he already knew, had experienced, or had seen something. I hold that moment like treasure. Thanks for bringing it back to the surface.

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    1. Thank you for sharing that moment, Jane. I think we all need to feel that somewhere there is home.I appreciate your comments very much, and best of new years to you.

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  10. whew...what a last line eh...i found the ritual of taking down the lights and them wrapping your hands as a skein to be quite intriguing joy...you give a lot of feeling in this...and the imagery, the allusions of the color....forgiveness making a clear day is a cool bit of truth there...though it is never easy and if shallow never lasts....

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  11. I could write a novel about this, but I'll try to restrain myself. The beautiful, but spare and simple, language is perfect. It's delicate; it doesn't distract from or disguise the depth of emotion. It lays it bare, and lets it hurt.

    I asked Santa for the ability to write like this. Let me check under the tree again . . .

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    1. Thanks, Kelli--and of course, what Santa has put under your particular tree is your own unique gift, one I could never duplicate, but which I always unwrap with amazed appreciation.

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  12. I think this is pure resurrected Yule, combing the flames of a remembrance that is most powerfully absent yet present, like a solstice. Nothing sadder than blue lights burning all night on a roof in the middle of winter--searching for a returned glance--except maybe stowing them away for the eleventh ritual burning at the far end of the next year. The melancholy of the season must be older than the Christ child, than Christmas; an ennui for home that perhaps back to the homesickness of the first fish to crawl out of the sea's womb. The spell unbinds time and makes a home where it never can be again--the heart, I think, of poetry. For its moment, the misery of it has a hearth of serenity. Thanks for this cold hymn, and keep singing.

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    1. Thanks,B. Now that I have stopped fighting it, there is indeed a serenity in just acknowledging the depth of the pain. One cleans the hearth of the heart in this manner, and sweeps the ash out to feed the garden. Best of New Years to you.

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  13. The one thing that arose in my mind immediately: nothing can seem as empty and as cold as the winter sky. No matter that the blue eyes watch over us or that the prospect of forgiving is out there somewhere. Eleven Januaries become an eternity of time and distance, especially when we are no closer to home...I think the lines in the purely written version accentuate the inherent song in these verses. I also think your voice brings a supplemental music that enforces the primitive feelings and motives. A wonderful mid-of-winter creation.

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  14. Thanks Steve. Your insights are always valuable to me, and you nail the mood of this perfectly.There is nothing more primal than grief, even love.

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