Saturday, December 14, 2013

Funeral Of The Knife


Knife STabs Downwards




Funeral of the Knife




In this absence,
sudden pause, naked as a strip-mine
half-precious as a licked pot
clean-cheeked as a skull,
the knife is waiting
for the silence of burial
to lie null and dulled
in earth packed beneath
still-bloody boots.

Let it be so: that it fails,
is ready to go, to be dropped,
death-work unremitting
finally too much.

So long we've spent making it,
honing it, plunging it deep,
so long it's been
sharp-sunk at the center
revolving a delirious
compass, pinning us
blind to course, swinging
between hate and fear
never still long enough
to map the latitude
of peace.


We are lost without it
shoveling here, lost
as the freed needle spins, lost
but waiting, wanting
these mortal wounds
somehow to
scab over.



~December 2013







posted for   real toads
Weekend Feature: Nelson Rolihlala Mandela ~ In Memoriam
Kerry O'Connor has given us a thoughtful, suggestive and loose prompt, to reflect, in micro or macrocosm, on the life and struggles of this recently passed larger-than-life figure and great man of South Africa and the world. Here I have tried to write about the possibility of peace, and how it seems to be an elusive promise wrapped in blood and struggle.










Top Image: Knife Stabs Downward, by Anthony Easton. on flick'r.
Bottom Image: Copper with knife, by GollyGforce, on flick'r 
I have manipulated this photo. You can see the original HERE
Both images shared under a Creative Commons Attribution Only License.

23 comments:

  1. powerful piece...how long will it be before we do lay down the knife...bury it fully without intention of returning to dig it up again later...letting our hate or fear go....

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  2. Wonderful poem, Joy. Such an oxymoronic idea really that you have used with great force. I sometimes think of burying a knife as burying a murder weapon to escape guilt, but here, that is kind of spun on its head. All the physical imagery of the compass and the knife keeping it in place and the spinning of it wildly, and really our sense of unmooredness without it is very powerful and eloquently and vividly expressed. K.

    PS - so interesting to think of the idea of burying the hatchet--the knife raises the image to such a universal level. k.

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    1. Thanks, k. Those who fight for peace are always shoveling, yet it seems the knife is never buried for long.

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  3. Yes, indeed. Mankind has learnt to live according to the laws of the knife - very hard to turn swords into ploughshares, as history may testify, but not impossible either.

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  4. PS _ very cool adaptation of photo - love the blue--k.

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  5. Great piece here, Hedge, asking, I think, the question that South Africa had to ask, or must continually find sufficient words to keep asking, just who are we without are violence? Plowshares have strange uses, and none of them quite work until the blade's fully bent. Rotsa ruck ... on this first anniversary after the Newton shootings, how terribly far indeed we here in America have to travel, so in love with our guns. How will our own barrels will eventually sight for peace? Questions for us all as the peacemaker travels home under our earth. The sense of eulogy here is the right hammer to set to the task.

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    1. The thing that always hits me is how each single human being on the planet has to start from scratch with the same material, and learn everything on his/her own--this struggle has been going on since the first Homo erectus clubbed his neighbor down for a haunch of antelope or a shot at his mate. Or for all the other even less useful 'reasons' we kill each other. It's in our wiring somewhere, and until we learn to figure out how to short-circuit it, I see no end. Thanks for reading, B. It is indeed a heavy weekend for these reflections.

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  6. what I love most here Hedge is the angle. I was so taken by the sharp imagery. the horror in the excellent sense of the concept and the neatness, as if honed to an inch of excruciation - the awe of your creation. So taken was I with chills which I rarely find in any written work but constantly seek. it takes something special to creep me and somehow when I get to the end and read the inspiration I am more moved because of the double pass and the sadness, the ice white brilliance and the iridescent afterglow of the double tumble of the darkest dice. So excellently conceived and the delivery is hard to believe but I do not need converting I am already a cold cut disciple:

    In this absence,
    sudden pause, naked as a strip-mine
    half-precious as a licked pot
    clean-cheeked as a skull,

    I am stripped and gripped and reminded of one of my favourite (because it is so good and the link with Infinite Jest) passages:

    Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio; a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; he hath borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?

    and with this as added context , FUNERAL OF THE KNIFE (what a title too!) keeps giving. dialogue, text, inter-contextual necks are breaking

    I am hung-up on this PO!

    thanks Joy, best.

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    1. Thanks Arron for the very kind words--from you they are precious--not half-precious, but triple-precious--and I'm taken by the allusion to Hamlet--it all comes to that, whatever jest or murder we undertake, and so why is it so hard to value life? I had originally scribbled the skeleton of this thinking of what I myself need to bury to find personal peace, but it seemed to fit our common human denominator as well. Thanks for reading, and thanks even more for valuing my intentions and effort.

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  7. An elusive promise, indeed, my friend. I've been thinking about peace, and war, and struggle, a lot today. One of the Davies cousins sent my brother Clint our grandfather's record from the First World War, the one they called "the war to end all wars"...and I wonder how Grandpa felt when Dad went overseas in World War II, and how today's mothers and fathers feel when their boys are sent to the other side of the world, how the African mothers felt when their children were killed for no reason other than the colour of their skin.
    Elusive, indeed.
    K

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  8. "Never still long enough to map the latitude of peace". Loved those lines, Hedge. Great write.

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  9. I love the title and use of the knife- waiting, making it, honing, plunging but never making it for long lasting peace ~ Beautiful Hedge ~

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  10. This has some serious power, Hedge. "Revolving a delirious compass" is so vivid, so apt.
    I really like this.

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  11. "never still long enough
    to map the latitude
    of peace."

    Just awesome

    much love...

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  12. "sharp-sunk", among all the other images, really 'pops'. Where will we spin? ~

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  13. Swinging between fear and hate...there is far too much of that in the world today. People minding other people's business, and doing so from a distance, with no intention of trying to understand that other person. It's a lot easier to dismiss and dehumanize than to demand something of one's self and stretch out, unlearn, let the barriers down.

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  14. So many great comments it hard to add anything. A tribute to the work that lies ahead.

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  15. I believe it was the Iroquois Constitution that specified the burial of weapons under the Great Tree of Peace to form alliances ... not easy ... when it is "finally too much" but we are "lost without it." How brilliant your poem, mapping the good, evil and yearning of human nature.

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  16. Joy, you so eloquently write of man's use of violence to control and subdue one another. It has never brought true peace. I pray each of us can become peacemakers in our own part of the world and have it spread globally.

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  17. A wonderful and powerful poem. He was a giant of a man and I pray he rests in peace.

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  18. It seems peace should be a graspable ideal...you've gathered in the raw slippery nature of it, Hedge. I enjoyed this much.

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  19. the knife and the spinning needle. the shovel. there is much metal in this, and you didn't even mention guns. i enjoy your tactile earthly verbs...shoveling and mapping, honing and plunging.. peace, at its core, is not complex I don't think. getting there, however, is riddled with turns and choices, and of course Waiting. really great piece, Hedge.

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    1. Thank you Jane. Much appreciated--I agree, peace is like the unicorn, that only comes to the pure and virgin--if you are pure and virgin, there's no trick to it at all.

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