Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sleepsong Of The Poppies



(c) Vandy Massey

Sleepsong Of The Poppies




Claret red 
poppies
heart painted deep
with crosscut black
standing like Kalypso
on the edge of sleep
calling Odysseus back
to a dryer wine
than the wine dark sea,
a warmer bed;
like him I'd choose
to sail instead
if I were free
as you are red
tho no lover prays
for my blue-knotted hand
to bridle the wave,
no mind contrives
to remain unbound,
still I come
in the slow
weaving of lives
to the white 
stone walls 
of home.


~March 2014






posted for   real toads

Weekend Challenge: The Art of Vandy Massey 
Grace, of everyday amazing, introduces us to the watercolor art of   Vandy Massey. Her painting, Sunshine On The Field, used above, can be viewed here on her Pinterest page 
You can see more of her work at her prints and artwork store on Redbubble and on her blog 






Image: Sunshine On The Field, by Vandy Massey
Used with permission. 


23 comments:

  1. I was just thinking how effective the painting is in that long narrow panel and then I saw how you had written your poem. So cool. As is the move from the passionate shades of red to the cool white of home.

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    1. Thank you, Kerry. Your comments are as always, a touchstone.

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  2. The theme of moving from poppies and their lull to sirens... and yes Odysseus going back home.. such brilliant progression... you made me walk beside him. To some extent it's like a poem of ageing for me.. at the end we long for home...

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  3. Maybe it's just because insomnia was a recent theme at the Pond, but I hear this song rowing on there, perhaps getting further down into it or massaging the problem out in a fuller way. Maybe I'm just resonating with my own thought that sleep is like a distant Other we woo. (But then I don't own that thought any more than I own my dream, it all comes from one great sea ..) The narrow height of the poem is like the image, a column, a tryptich panel -- an installment in a nightly series of songs perhaps. To choose to sail rather than stay with Kalypso is to suffer the conceit of freedom, which is equal to the conceit that poppies are red; there can be no getting free of sleep, that's why insomnia is a torture. And if we could be truly free of sleep, what greater homeland is there to sail to? Gorgeously wrapped around a bony wicker ("blue-knotted") calyx. I think I'll just lay here in these poppies awhile, Dorothy, and consider, hmm, mmm, zzz.

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    1. Ah, but my poppies *are* red, though they are still just ...poppies, thin petaled things that flare and die, whether I employ them as flowers of Dorian Gray, or as some more inflated metaphor...Yes, there is some sleeplessness here, but also, as you imply, the greater sleep, towards which we can sail or from which we can futilely try to run. Thanks for reading, B--I have tried to comment at your place, but WordPress is rejecting all my efforts today--will try again later.

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    2. Your blog is still not liking me, Brendan--you might look in your spam folder and see if any of my comments have turned up.

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  4. This is such a beautiful poem- a new favorite perhaps--I confess didn't really focus much on the sleep aspect till reading Brendan's comment as I tend to have very different knee jerk associations with poppies--and I focused more on Odysseus and the sea--but of course, they have their opiate aspects--

    Well, first, there really is beautiful music here--the rhyme and meter is quite hypnotic, and yes, a sleepsong-- I just love the interplay of the wine--the claret and the wine dark sea and Kalypso's different wine--(I always loved the wine dark sea in the Odyssey--I've heard since that that kind of repetitive phrasins was a kind of mnemonic device in the oral tradition.)

    But putting that aside, there is a lovely interplay here of wanting the wandering--wanting to escape the heavy sleep, even the dream scape--because the sea (nonsleep) is freedom and doing--oddly the doing is all ultimately aimed at a homecoming, which is its own kind of sleep too--maybe a deeper one--I am suggestive enough that can find longterm closed eyelids in the white walls of home--that no mind can contrive away from--I especially like the lines of no lover praying for my blue-knotted hand but still wanting to wend on--"bridle the wave"-(great metaphor) ==but -the blue-knotted hand I find especially compelling because of course it is kind of like this pale blue-veined hand--but here really it seems to be the hand knotted to the sea--
    This is certainly my form of insomnia as I want to be up and working on something and in that land of engagement--the finishing internal satisfaction--even if it is only extremely short lived, can feel like a walled home--Query though--where is Penelope? And the dog? K.

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    1. You've uncovered a lot of what i was aiming for, as always, in your very perceptive and sympathetic reading, k. The 'blue-knotted' hand was almost my last revision, and it did indeed come from a downward glance at the keyboard. Thanks so much for all the insightful feedback you give, and all the time and energy you put into it--I appreciate it very much.

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    2. Sorry to be so inarticulate--I'm glad you can read through the typonese and early onset you-know-what. . k.

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    3. Pretty easy to read what/how I'm so good at speaking myself. ;_)

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  5. its a back and forth within me...the comfort of home and those fields....verses being on the ship sailing for the horizon...i still have the wander in me...but i take them with...made me think of that moment in the movie gladiator where he is finally coming home across that golden field...

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  6. Forgive me for the tangent, but if this were my poem, it would go "as you are, Red" and be off in a completely different direction, probably with Coal at the helm! So, good job that an adult stayed in charge. ;-)

    I love the way you sometimes make the layout of the poem suit the subject itself, as you have done here. Your rhyme scheme is unusual, to say the least. I had to go back and read again to see just what you'd done. It flows so smoothly that the rhymes seem very subtle, though there they are, scattered like poppy flowers. I'm looking, and you've got deep/sleep/sea all between red and bed, themselves ten lines apart. The way I've put that makes it sound like it would be awful but it's quite the opposite, it reads marvelously.

    Further, your rhymes interlock, if that's the right terminology. After "bed", you've got "instead" and a reprise of your theme word "red" hot on its heels this time, but with "free" harkening back to "sea" from earlier. They are like puzzle pieces that fit only the way you've arranged them, to create your poem-picture.

    Then your ending has a nice alliteration with weaving/white/walls topped off with the slant rhyme slow/home. It's a blast to try to "see how you did it", as if could ever plumb what you do. Another fine poem that only you could have composed, Joy.

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    1. PS--Lovin' BB King on the side bar.

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    2. No one bends the strings like he does--and that song is perfect for 3 AM. Thanks, Shay, especially for your perceptive analysis of the rhyme and structure of this. You can lift the hood and see all the moving parts, and I appreciate that always in your comments.

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  7. I love the imagery and formatting of the words to complement the painting ~

    I admire this part best:

    for my blue-knotted hand
    to bridle the wave,
    no mind contrives
    to remain unbound

    Thanks for writing and linking up with Sunday Challenge HW ~

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  8. I like the image of hands that bridle the wave to move away from the lure of poppies on the edge of sleep to the white stone walls...

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  9. a wonderful piece. this takes me traveling internally and externally with the world around and the age within. the sea and the sea wall. your colors are marvelous and I also enjoy your short line lengths and integral rhythm.

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    1. Thank you, jane. I've tried to leave a comment at your place--you might check your spam folder.

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  10. Such an excellent title. so much I can relate to. I swear something like this is written in my bones, in code, to be translated by the earth . . . eventually, when gravity lets me go. The poppies though will not know a thing. They will just be stunning in contrast with the other colours ready for the milking. The painting is fantastic and everything about it:

    like him I'd choose
    to sail instead
    if I were free
    as you are red

    short jabs
    close range
    sore scabs
    left on the page,

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  11. This is crafted so beautifully, Hedge. Such precision. I love this.

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  12. A wonderfully spun tale...but so tightly managed in your succinct lines and phrases. It's so interesting that Homer can still engage us. But here you take his cues as a starting point and voyage on to your final beautiful stanza. So well done.

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  13. It's 2 am and I am as yet unable to cohere, these days have been... sunny. Perhaps sun is anathema to poesy, or posies, or poppies. Still, a fine pen, even in my addled state. ~

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