Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Lamp Black

Lamp Black






Silence, poisoned with crows.
Jade candles in a porcelain oval, blown out.
Pearls in a blind man's ear, swinging
what can't be seen.
Lamps doored by blue clouds, shut,
freckling  night luminescent;
all these things

kissed by the tongues of wasps
violent then numb
rasped by polar wind 
filing off
sensation
all these

you brought for the offering
altared before me, for the ritual
of unknowing, unmaking,
unwinding
back to blackness
to the first
dividing cell struggling uselessly
to be whole;
unswelled,
like a yew bald of needles,
like an unborn moon.




~January 2014




 posted  for    real toads
Challenge: Get Listed with Brendan: Moon Madness
Brendan, of Oran's Well, has proposed a word list challenge drawn from the poem  The Moon and The Yew Tree, by Sylvia Plath. I have tried to incorporate those images as well as the chosen words here. For the list and the full challenge details, see the article at real toads linked above.





Image copyright She Who Is (Lisbeth Cheever-Gessaman) via facebook
No copyright infringement is intended

27 comments:

  1. TMATYT is one of my all-time favourites and you DO manage to carry the fear through and into your own version, releasing more imagery. I have always found wasps more disturbing than bees too. A polar vortex of chills as I gleefully shiver through the genetics of the final sacrifice and into the blinding darkness of lunar pangs.

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    1. Thanks, Arron. Missing your poetry, appreciating you reading.

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  2. nice...cool touches throughout this...great imagery, the blown out was a nice offbeat for me...and the whole second stanza really conveyed sensation...i like how the lines shorten about halfway through as the pace quickens...through the dividing cells to the likening to the moon...nice piece joy

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  3. You had me from the first line - all the way to the final two. I love how you used the words 'doored' and 'altared'.

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  4. The wasp kiss is an incredible, visceral image. The whole thing has the same bleak, tired-of-hoping feel as the original by Plath. Sometimes we think, if we could only unravel the pain back to its beginning, its source, we could undo it, but it undoes us. To go that far back is to negate ourselves. What then?

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    1. I have had to come back to this, on a literal level, after looking up what lamp black is. I had heard the phrase, but didn't know the meaning. Now i see the second stanza differently; the wasp sting is the flame, the polar wind the air that fire needs to expand, even as it consumes itself. You are above the room sometimes, especially when I am in the room dumbing it down! ;-)

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    2. You could never dumb *anything* down, let alone a room with my poetry in it. ;_) Thank you Shay. This comment, as always, means more from you than roses and chocolates from anyone else.

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    3. You two are hell bent on educating me, aren't you (and I am thankful).

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  5. I think you captured Plath's relentless, laser-beam epistemology here, driving with such primal force back to a source that was relentlessly primal and damaging to her psyche. That is essential to every poem we write, a willingness to go naked "back to blackness," to stand there and witness origins with every resource in the language. At least, that work is asked of us, though not many willingly devote their voices so. It's precarious, fer sure. And the jury's out whether "wholeness" is " unswelled, / like a yew bald of needles, /like an unborn moon." That's one choice among many. A fine homage to influence that manages to keep from getting moon burn. Great huge pic, too. - B

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    1. I had to get this out rather quickly this morning before running out the door--the pic really *was* a bit on the huge side--made smaller now.Thanks for reading, B, and for your challenge today.

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  6. "Lamps doored by blue clouds"......and "unswelled...like an unborn moon". Fantastic writing, Hedge. Whew.

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  7. All I can do is echo Fireblossom "The wasp kiss is an incredible, visceral image. The whole thing has the same bleak, tired-of-hoping feel as the original by Plath. " I think you have really captured the 'Plathness'

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  8. What a grievous, dark, beautiful imagery! Great writing.
    -HA

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  9. what is there to say? sublime in its imagery, stunning in its phrasing, amazing in its entirety ~ another of Joy's exquisite poems!

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  10. I'll take the simpleton approach : I adore the " pearls in a bind man's ears… and the ritual of "unknowing"… how many of us would belly up to the altar for that?

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  11. Brendan wrote a great prompt. If my plate wasn't so full tonight I'd take up the challenge too.

    Lamp Black is a pigment used by painters - a strange, strange name. And you seem to step back, word by word, from the furious imagery of Plath/Hughes, to a place so dark, so small, so devoid of air that you take the reader's breath away. Amazing.

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    1. Thank you, Mark. It was an excellent prompt (though I am not big on the 'literary legend' aspect of Sylvia, she was an exceptional, unique and amazing poet and a great place to visit though I don't think I want to live there.)

      I'm sure a late submission would still garner attention.

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  12. Hi Hedge, I did not know lampblack and looking it up was very helpful for me, as many images that I did not, in my plodding way, get, I then got, and I could much more understand the kind of "aborted" sense of everything here. It is very plathian but also your own - very much like Lorca too, I thought, in a kind of surreal grasp of imagery. One thought - suggestion - comment - and please don't take offense - is to put lampblack together. I understand that your spelling is correct - both are correct - but I fear for the ignoramuses like myself who might not realize that it is a specific term when they are two separate words, whereas I think the fact that it has a specific meaning is clearer if they are run together. Just a thought. I bring it up because knowing what the title signified really helped me with the poem - particularly the whole first stanza which really gives such literal and vivid descriptions of a kind of darkness- I did not realize my lapse for a while - as I was just thinking of it as a lamp darkened--which makes a kind of sense too but not nearly so much. k.

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    1. ps - very much like the parallels of you and yew. And so much else - silence and crows- unborn moon - the pearl in the blind man's ear - very evocative I thought, and of course wasps -

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    2. Well, but k, I *want* it to be ambiguous. I want it not just to mean the pigment, or the residue left from light burning out, but also the 'lamp' gone black...therefor I am not going to take your kind suggestion this time--things that one misses on one reading only make a poem richer the next time--though of course, I flatter myself as a blogging poet that there ever will be a 'next time' for most readers--nonetheless, those are the stars I steer by. Thanks for reading, for your always keen appreciation of detail, and for your input. I hope the seminar is becoming more tolerable.

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    3. It's okay. It is very informative if kind of strange being here and tiring. I understand the wish for ambiguity-- not right word-- breadth. I tend to think you would have that no matter, but I'm sure you are right. Maybe my suggestion is to make up for my ignorance! Ha. All very interesting. K.

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  13. Oh, if we could only unwind, unmake, unknow...this has a definite Plath feeling to it. There have been times in my life when I have wished the lamp had never shown its light on things....

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  14. What an imagination! tongues of wasps!!

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  15. "to be whole, unswelled, like a yew bald of needles, like an unborn moon" ~~ a poem never saw a finer end.

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  16. oh, you let grief and black play with scissors and dolls on the kitchen floor, screen door open to the heat and now buzz and spike of that wasp's hunt for a spider. or maybe it's just late and I need to turn out the light and wait, wait for this to renew itself as I try to fall. to. sleep.

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