Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Nature of Fire


The Nature of Fire

"The  great desire of a flame  is to continually burn.
 The nature of fire is that it always wants more."

~Corvidus the Elder





Under the wing of the Crow
hides a feathery system of madness;
students burn syllables of darkness
spat into the alembic of sanity,
turning gossip of  metaphysicians
wanly cadaverous by starlight,
whispering quicksilver clues.

The philosopher's stone still eludes them
though they work with the frenzy of madmen
to dry the cold humors of water, push
a natural progression of vileness
to purity using the flame.
The nature of fire is that it's immaculate;
the essence of fire is that it always wants more.

They speak these desires of fire
in the tongue-twisting gibberish of blackbirds,
court the devilish salvation of  oddity,
vulgarly cawing of victory in the
soothing-sweet chant of the damned.
I cannot credential this lunacy

despite my degree in Catastrophe.
I toast it instead with a memory;
our glasses hold flames' flickered casualties
like ladies lavish with luxury pile
amusements in portmanteau'd  piracy,
knowing fire will always want more.



 ~December 2013



posted for      real toads
Wednesday Challenge: Get Listed
The inimitable Fireblossom is in charge of summoning poems today, and has provided us with a word list drawn from "The System of Dr Tarr and Professor Fether' by Edgar Allen Poe. I thought I had used  all 23 of her diabolical words here in one form or another, but I missed 'irrational.' But it is there in spirit! You may peruse the list in full at the link above.


Process notes: Poe prefaced many of hs short stories with quotes, and many of them were ones he made up, as I did here with my  excerpt from the works of the imaginary alchemist, Corvidus The Elder.   
"The philosophers' stone or stone of the philosophers (Latin: lapis philosophorum) is a legendary alchemical substance said to be capable of turning base metals such as lead into gold... It was also sometimes believed to be an elixir of life, useful for rejuvenation and possibly for achieving immortality." ~wikipedia

Optional Musical Accompaniment






Image: Alchemy, or The Useless Science, by Remedios Vara
May be protected by copyright. Posted underfair use guidelines





31 comments:

  1. Very impressed you managed to include all twenty-three words. I'm feeling like a slacker now, since I only used sixteen. Love the dark and dangerous imagery you've created.

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    1. After reading yours, Teresa, I realize I missed 'irrational.' Had it in the first draft but ended up cutting it. Thanks for reading, as always.

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  2. " They speak these desires of fire
    in the tongue-twisting gibberish of blackbirds,
    court the devilish salvation of oddity,
    vulgarly cawing of victory in the
    soothing-sweet chant of the damned.
    I cannot credential this lunacy

    despite my degree in Catastrophe."

    Oh goodness do I love that. Hedge, you totally had me going with your "quote" from Corvidus the Elder! And yes, Poe *did* do that; in fact, as I'm sure you know, he presented whole reams of made-up adventures as fact, including an east-to-west Atlantic crossing by balloon which was published in the newspaper and caused a sensation. All poppycock.

    I love how seamlessly you have integrated all 23 words into your piece, and further, how you have found inventive and unusual ways of using many of them, such as the degree in catastrophe.

    My only complaint: I want more! ;-)

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    1. Glad you liked, lady. I had much fun with this, despite squinting at it through a dim monitor-inhibited haze.. I took the liberty of reading several Poe tales first to get in the mood, including The Fall of the House of Usher, in which he 'quotes' at length from an imaginary medieval tale throughout the ending pages, using lines from his imaginary source to underline points of action in the progress of the madness and fall of the character of Usher. Thanks for the sojourn through the mind of Poe,FB-- one I am always more than ready to make.

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    2. Actually I only used 23 words. I have issues with numbers, especially when blind.

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  3. You do well with a word list.
    But I bet you can turn ANY word list into a Chant of the Damned.
    Such Somberness in Blogdom this Holiday Season.
    Not just you...Everywhere.
    I'm going to see if I can change some attiudes...

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    1. Hey, this was one of my lighter, more humorous efforts! What can I say. Happy post-birthday, G.

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  4. PS--I saw that music vid and went "No she didn't!" Sometimes I think you can find anything and pull it right out of your ear!

    G Man called us the B word at my place. I think we should write Friday 56's this week in retaliation! LOL.

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    1. Maybe he just miskeyed the 'W'? Ha! on the 56's. Serve him right.

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  5. there is def a certain allure to fire...and the cleansing that it can give...yes it always wants more and too much of it will burn you up, but...such wonderful words you use...alembic...nice...some cool allit as well...most noticeable in that last section...the Ls and the Ps...a rather delicious piece...and i like the made up quote you play from as well...

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  6. "Knowing fire will always want more." Cool.

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  7. no idea this was a word list: you have spun a perfectly vivid tale from gathered thread.

    "degree in catastrophe" is a phenomenal turn - I flunked out before getting my degree, so catastrophe has been following me ever since, insisting on full measure. ~

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    1. Catastrophe is my only degree, I'm afraid, and it's only an associate's. ;_) Thanks for reading, M. Always like to hear your reaction.

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  8. OH mY GoodNess! You had me going with that quote and I learned something new about Poe… fascinating. I struggled with five or six, but I THINK I gave G-Man what he's looking for - a bit more of an uplifting feel to this holiday :) Splendid painted words here - you are truly a master at poetic storytelling!

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    1. Well, I'm glad someone is thinking of the g-man and his holiday dilemma. I haven't even started a 55 yet. Thanks so much, Margaret.

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  9. This is the type of writing that makes me love poetry all over again. just an all around great piece of work HW

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    1. Thanks, Sam. That's a great compliment and I truly appreciate it.

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  10. Ooo...this list was made for you, Hedge!!

    I love this:

    "They speak these desires of fire
    in the tongue-twisting gibberish of blackbirds,"

    I also love the quote you picked to pair, (and image, too, actually). You bring a flavor of your own and a new depth to the quote.

    Much enjoyed, my friend!

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    1. That's good, since it's my own quote. ;_) Thanks, Hannah--so glad you enjoyed.

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  11. crows, blackbirds, fire and madness- what more could you want in a Poe-esque poem? This is delicious!

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  12. Taking a sick day yesterday to nurse some miasma of the neck that's gone on for weeks now, I was tempted to try my hand at FB's Real Toads challenge -- looked at the list, tried a few lines, saw the possibilities inherent in given the ingredients of a charm and then brewing it up. Thought about it enough to see how a random list can become a poem's underwiring -- then gave up. Reading this I couldn't have begun to guess it was a response to a list challenge, as finely woven as it is. Its like Gwydion lifted 23 drops from Cerridwen Poe's vat and whipped up a ripper of fire. Only a couple of places where a shorter or more succinct word than supplied by the prompt might have worked more ably. It shows how much the imagination loves limitation, where 23 words is better than a library, at least in the conceit of writing. (It still takes that library to put the resonance back into the written words.) It's mad and wicked and toasty. - Brendan

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    1. I seldom do list poems--I don't like borrowing other people's words, and the responses usually tend to all flow in one direction as suggested by the list, It was one of Karin's challenges like this at toads that got me thinking about a list of words as a skeleton one fleshes out, and taking it purely as an exercise, and in that way, it really is productive. I did have fun with this one--it was just suggestive enough to build on without boring on in an unavoidable drill, I thought. Sorry to hear you are suffering from a pain in the neck--maybe there's a small politician lodged there? Hope he leaves you in peace soon. Thanks for reading, B.

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  13. Hi Hedge--on a weird device that I can''t see and about to rush out for something so will be blessedly brief--a fitting use of Poe as you have your own little The Raven here but instead of quothing nevermore, he quoths "more and more". The Corvidus is very funny in light of the crows, but also very wise, ans these women in the luxurie piles with theirs filled-up portmanteaus--I can't remember your word and am afraid to leave the comment for fear of losing on my device--the filled-up portmaneaus have the same greed as the magpie. I will have to read again--I couldn't listen to the music as I know there is much I've not followed--I But I can't helpf thinking a bit of old hippiedom and where it could lead with enough desire mixed in. I'm sorry if I'm completely off mark. Great use of a list--amazing really--though also it shows how a list from a single author could somehow be indelibly marked with their spice. Of course you make it your own. Must run. k. (Sorry for typos). I am using iPad but the screen is too far away right now for my poor eyes to make out what I type! Ha! k.

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    1. Ps -- love the degree in catastrophe. I have a Ph.D. In that--

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    2. I feel your pain re: the not seeing--and I have a twenty inch screen that hides everything in shadows atm. The ice storm has delayed my new one for who knows how long, so I am probably creating future blindness continuing to play on this one --I can't call it work, because I'm only doing what I want to. This poem truly is about alchemy-both allegorically, and literally--the desire of the middle ages to perfect all things, their wonderful simplicity that said they could do so, even man, if they just had the elusive materials, found the Secret Ingredients, the right method. They believed that the tendency of all things was toward perfection, and that they could speed the process by purifying away the dross. Oh, and they thought everything could be solved if we had infinite life and infinite gold. I cannot credential this lunacy! Thanks for reading, and of course you are so right--there is rich allegory and metaphor in all that on many levels. best of luck with your infernal devices.

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  14. this is a fantastic list poem....my favorit expression is "degree in Catastrophe"....

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  15. If you hadn't mentioned it, I would never have guessed this to be a list poem. With its play and allusions and wry humor it stands on its own. Glad to know there are others out there with degrees in Catastrophe, and i love "Corvidus the Elder"--that old crow ;-)

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  16. Oh, this is awesome. "Alembic" is just one of my favorite words ever. And, I may just make "I cannot credential this lunacy despite my degree in Catastrophe" my new mantra.

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  17. You took the word list, turned it on its Poe-ish ass! Wonderful!

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  18. I loved that you introduced a nod to the crow in your opening stanza. This is an amazing tangle of images and ideas, which leaves this reader feeling a little unsettled. Your own word choice is totally brilliant and the list words blend right in.

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  19. a comment I left here was eaten alive by blogger, i think. In reading again, I receive it differently. This time, I sense Poe strongly and feel a sense of schooling or classroom atmosphere that I didn't the first time. I admire how you take us near the edge of lunacy.

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