Friday, April 4, 2014

Old Letters



Old Letters



When I was young
I wanted to ride horses
wear long dresses,
instead, I rode wild buses.
wore blue jeans.

I dreamt of Tudor queens,
of dancing on my toes
dressed in fluff and foamy white
improbable swan, mute sprite;
instead, there was black light.

The only space I had
for everything I wanted
was deep sleep.
The only thing I had
that ever was my own

was the man who paints the rain,
an old address and a name
on blue letters fading white
tied up tourniquet tight
with rose ribbons on the bones. 



~April 2014




posted for    real toads
Challenge: Fireblossom Friday
The incomparable Fireblossom(Shay's Word Garden) asks us to contemplate the oldest of old school 'social media,' the Mail.


Process notes: 'The man who paints the rain' refers to the picture above by Gustave Caillebotte, my favorite painting at the time of this poem, and a reproduction of which from the Art Institute of Chicago has been on all my various walls since 1969..




Photograph: All Your Letters, copyright joyannjones
Footer: A Rainy Day in Paris, 1877, Gustave Caillebotte


24 comments:

  1. the man who paints rain...ha, what a cool mysterious and magical description....and them being the only thing you ever owned as well...one a side note...we found a bunch of our old love letters from college the other day....i released the tourniquet on them...smiles.

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  2. Well damn, you made me cry. This is perfect.

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  3. I almost wish I hadn't read this, before doing the prompt! (I don't usually care except with lists.) But you take it to a wonderful, if sad place. Terrific contrasts here--I especially like the black light as it works so well as darkness and yet is also such an image from the 60[s I can picture it very very well. The tourniquet is a great metaphor--and again wonderfully paints the picture. And great rhyme and rhythm. (You do this kind of short line, rhyming form so very very well!) I s this your own form or a formal form? It works just terrically well. k.

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    1. No form, just the way my mind rambles. ;_) Well, there might be a little chained rhyme going on. Thanks, k. I never read anyone's before a prompt so know exactly what you mean.

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    2. In my job, I have more than once been in a position of dealing with little stacks of old letters, sometimes written by celebrated people and even personal heros. There is something so much more powerful about them than a digital communication in that they have been touched, folded, been in the same room with, etc. the sender. I don't think I'll write about that today, but I've felt incredibly lucky to be able to do that. Actually quite a high point in my job.

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    3. Yes, that must be truly cool. k. I get that feeling sometimes just from photographs of manuscripts, especially of Poe and others long long gone--something of the person is in the contact, the penmanship, the aura, of such things--so i can imagine how much more intense in reality.

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  4. That last stanza took me by surprise - stopped me in my tracks

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  5. old world dream breaks again and again...wonderful images to paint this ...

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  6. That last stanza! And "tourniquet tight"! How do you do it?

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  7. I think letters are the hardest things to part with. I don't know why this may be but your poem speaks on that emotional level which shows that they mean far more than material and fading ink. This is the poem I would like to have written to Shay's prompt. It says everything.

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    1. Thank you Kerry--that means a lot to me.

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  8. I just used this art piece ...wow! YOU dazzle with fragments of time. The wonder we reach for-your poem is gorgeous and sad, but beautiful~

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  9. It's the second stanza that really gets to me. Amazing.

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  10. A fantastic poem. From the lines "the only space I had" on, it completely left the earth and soared.

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  11. You've wrapped this one tight around my brain so now I'm looking at the third stanza, and that's exactly it. ~

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  12. The bound letters we keep and our emotional attachments to them are wonderfully captured here.

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  13. Letters truly are such personal things. Very touching.

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  14. I have so many letters I have saved..they are truly treasures. I love the whole piece but that final stanza stands out for me..."tied up tourniquet tight with rose ribbons on the bones." Yes, don't let those words bleed out.

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  15. A great poem that has this two-step between the life the speaker always wanted and one that got dealt. All the yearning of a young life -- ride horses, dance a waltz, spaces, spaces, spaces -- gets viciously truncated here with hatchet phrases like "wild buses," "black light" and "deep sleep." Dealings all from the shadow paramour, love's badass twin, the one who stepped in to shove the dirk while the other was dancing with the Tudors. Resentment as an bundle of bones tied up with a rose ribbon—who mailed them is one issue, who kept them is another. It will be interesting to see what you scavage from the ossuary this month. - b

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    1. Yes, these Aprils have me putting on the oldest clothes and raking over every pile of unsorted corpses, ordering and settling them, laying them out neatly, (as in your All Harrows poem,) and sometimes a fibula speaks as loud as a jawbone in that dark, fusty silence below. Here the letters do hold more than resentment, I hope, as they were once a sort of lifeblood--why else the tourniquet--if you've ever waited by the mailbox for a Certain Letter in hope, and slept with it under your pillow, perhaps you understand how the bones can be relics of everything the living thing once meant, shorn of its flesh and now transcendent, and why one would keep them thirty years later.Thanks as always, Brendan, for stopping by and sharing your thoughts..

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  16. Those last two lines got me right in the gut . . . beautifully sad.

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  17. Riding horses in long dresses...riding a wild bus instead. Your imagery is vivid, and I can still see black light when I close my eyes. Wonderful write, my dear Hedge.
    Luv, K

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  18. This first part of this piece hit me like the Jesca Hoop song "Dreams in the Hollow." The second half was a shackling, a stormy hit of Rufus Wainwright against a cliff of Regina Spektor's "Samson." What a powerful poem!

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