Wednesday, January 8, 2014

River Mountain


River Mountain



Earth and the river
love in secret, miles down.
Their kiss is so forbidden
it lasts ten thousand centuries.
Earth bends in a ripple, muscles sheeted in jade,
river sighs with the leaf-breath of wind
in the vines. Sweat from earth's flanks

drips pearls in the sand. The river
brings ferns, blue feathers, flying foxes, 
and their child is a jungle
under ceilings of light.

Here death's sharply riven
by the futility of entropy, baffled from
fallow by the great golden eye, with
emerald bedding for love in abandon
where the snake of brown river
should hiss obliviously only to herself.

All this should be
the boiled-sterile kettle of darkness,
collision of forces, rock shield and wet spear,
not murmuring of lovers, junction of bodies;

or is light only the blink 
of the godmother's eyelash
a toy beam abseiling, a flaneur-dilettante 
obsessed with the lavish equipment
of flowers, possessed by a
whim to embellish  
what it will never own?


~January 2014










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Challenge: Out of Standard:Reverse Globetrotting




The creatively convoluted mind of Isadora Gruye once again confronts us with the paradox of a paradigm, and asks us to "Write a poem which features an exotic setting where you have never been and (here’s the twist) where you would never want to go." I chose the incredible and other-wordly Sơn Đoòng Caves in Viet Nam--as I have only the greatest abhorrence for depths of any kind and would never allow myself to be dragged into this magical place without use of deadly force.








Process Notes. Sơn Đoòng translates roughly as River Mountain, or Mountain River, take your pick. Abseil is a caving term meaning to descend by rope. Flaneur is  a French term for an idler, or purposeless stroller, and of course, a dilettante is a very similar type, one who picks up and drops amusements, doing nothing seriously. The  eyelash of the 'godmother' refers to a worship in Viet Nam of various mother goddesses, known as Đạo Mẫu.




Images sourced here.    No copyright infringement is intended.



24 comments:

  1. whew. "muscles sheeted in jade" is just a phenomenal image; you manage to bring both the life and age of the earth, its flexion and strength, with this personification. ~

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    1. It made me crazy, M, and there a few lines that still are bugging me to death. I'm glad you liked, though.

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  2. I want to go there after reading this luscious piece. Your descriptions bring this secret place to life, with so many subtle twists of gem stone imagery and notes on the human psyche.

    I love the whole 3 rd stanza, especially the way these lines flow like the river itself:

    with
    emerald bedding for love in abandon
    where the snake of brown river
    should hiss obliviously only to herself.

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    1. Thanks, Kerry--that stanza gave me the most trouble of all of them(still not happy with it) but I *am* happy you relished it, because that means it was worth the effort.

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  3. oh i would love to go there...i used to cave quite a bit when i was younger...into some rather scary dark holes in the ground....forded a few shallow streams under there but tried to steer clear of water cause its hard to tell what is going on in those caves and you can get lost so easy....

    the opening stanza is strong and i def like the question you end on...the relationship between river and earth is strongest around those areas as well...

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  4. I'm with you, I wouldn't want to go there, but this is a fabulous poem, and would convince a dilettante that you had been there.
    K

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  5. "baffled from
    fallow by the great golden eye"

    That is so beautiful it made me gasp aloud!

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  6. This poem led me into the depths where the river and earth make love though forbidden and sweat nurtures flowers where all should be barren. And why not? I am convinced that even in the human world beauty silences and exists most exquisitely where least seen or heard, as if in the blink of a goddess's eye. Though I want it to be permitted. And I, too, would never travel to see.

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  7. You had me from the title - the first two stanzas are simply lush. Love the whole idea of earth and the river having a secret forbidden underground love.

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  8. That opening line is so cool. Opening *lines*, I suppose, poetry-wise.

    I share your horror of such places, no matter how beautiful. I don't even like elevators.

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  9. That last stanza kicks ass, and this - "a flaneur-dilettante / obsessed with the lavish equipment / of flowers" - oh, how jealous I am of that! I'm fascinated by the idea of beauty that is never or seldom seen by human eyes, whether it's something grand like this or as humble as a wildflower.

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    1. Thank you Mark--as you know, your approbation is deeply appreciated and meaningful to me, and I am happy to make you jealous for a change, though there's no need, as I am pretty much knocked sockless by almost everything you write.

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  10. Extra marks for any poem using "flaneur"-- I am too tired to comment intelligently--my only thought is that flaneurs always seem rather pasty to me-- don't get out in the sun enoigh and I love the imitation flowers of the stalagmites and stalactites. K.

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    1. Thank you thank you. *bows* I do love that word, and probably was going over the top pairing it with dilettante, but hey--I had to have *some* fun with this. I had a line about a Viert Namese mother goddess who wore the stalactites as earrings in stalagmite clearings, but something had to go when I was cutting--this one got chopped into cobb salad and reassembled several times.;_) Rest up k, and may work & the weather cut you some slack up there.

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  11. Ah hedgey, once again you bring richness and posh to the garden. I love your choice here, and completely understand the terror of deep down depths. This piece triumphs over that and sings praises of a safer realm above ground and in the light!

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    1. I thought it was rather cool that the cave had brought the surface world down into itself--well, and ominous and unnatural as well. Thanks for an interesting challenge, and for reading, Izy.

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  12. "collision of forces, rock shield and wet spear," a defending and piercing.

    I agree with Mark Kerstetter, the last stanza does kick ass and I too am jealous.

    "rock and a harrowed place" - great! :D

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    1. Thanks, TUG. Neither of you need to be jealous, though--you both write things I would be ecstatic to have conceived.

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  13. Your alchemy of imagination is wonderful in this perplex vat of thought, peering down to where the sun don't shine to find a gleaming grotto that is yet isn't yet is what it is. The gleamingest parts shine with love-lights only an old-school Venusian could dream, even though the Snow Man knows the mind of mountain-heart can't go there. A paradox of forces, much like that of a river inside a mountain, opposing hexagrams producing this surprising result. We can't really know what transpires down there, only dream, which is exactly "the whim to embellish / what it (we) can't really own." The only awkwardness I found was in the transition between the first and second stanzas; why end the first with the start of the second?

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    1. Thanks, Brendan. Not only a river down there but jungle as well, with previously unknown plant species--such a contradiction, and so full of various metaphors that it would take many poems to mine the lode--it has an amazing collection of calcified 'cave pearls,' also, for which I didn't include a photograph, and flying foxes really live there. Just insane.

      As I mention in reply to Michael, there are several awkardnesses in this for me--the cadence is *badly* off in the last line of stanza three, for example. AFA the line breaks--I started with a single block with just the end split off, but ended up with seven line stanzas offset by quatrains--my whim to embellish what I surely don't own. I often break stanzas like that to keep a line count, which is my Capricornian version of order.. Sorry if it made for any awkwardness--there may be more revision needed. Thanks for your reading and commentary, B.

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  14. Honestly, the beauty you create makes one feel it would be a joy to traverse beyond 'earth's flanks" and descend …. well into paradise. But for me too, is the fear of caves - I've been partway in one and even though I was amazed with its beauty and sound - I feared going deeper and used my youngest child as an excuse!

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  15. Somehow you made going to that dark place enticing. I have wanted to visit Viet Nam for some time, to Da Nang where my (then) husband was stationed for one year. Like you, I would avoid the caves .. (claustrophobia rules) and focus on the lush above ground beauty of Viet Nam today.

    (thanks for the process notes)

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  16. I love this!!! Super job -- depths shared to those who hear the call!

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  17. This is so visual...it makes me want to go to it and not run from it. I fear traffic more than anything, and wouldn't you know I would live in one of the biggest cities in the country.

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