Sunday, May 25, 2014

Stone Ghost




Stone Ghost
A Terzanelle (of sorts)
for RCC





There was a ghost then
who seemed to touch my face
who smiled without the words again,

black horses in a broken race.
He thought he was alive;
I thought he touched my face.

I only counted up to five
fingers of flesh and air;
He thought I was alive

when we walked handfast there
above a sea of dust,
soft dolls of flesh and air,

the sharp cliffs shadowed rust
as sun bleached caryatid hair
waved white in a sea of dust,

snagged on the moon's rocking chair.
There was another ghost then,
with a sun blind caryatid stare,
no smile, only words to make it end.




~May 2014







posted for      real toads



Challenge: Play it Again
Margaret Bednar(Art Happens365) once again asks us to pull a challenge from the abundant archives at the Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. I have chosen Kerry's most recent form challenge, the terzanelle, but with apologies, because, as usual, I've not attempted pentameter, or even a ten-syllable line count, and taken a few liberties as well in slightly altering the refrain lines.












Photo: Caryatid, via wikimedia commons

21 comments:

  1. I like your variant of terzanelle a lot.. I have often made small variations when writing villanelles.. but never this bold.. yes we need to challenge the forms to create poetry... and what a story you tell .. ghosts and sadness.. so much to read here... and as usual such wonderful music reading your poems.

    ReplyDelete
  2. "soft dolls of flesh and air"...that's my favorite line. These dolls seem not even to be ships that pass in the night, but rather, something more insubstantial and illusory than that, barely there at all. I've looked up caryatid, and it seems to be a human-looking architectural structure, a pillar. But what could these two misty ghosts support? Not much, it wouldn't seem, except their own barely-touched illusions, which are sent scattering in the end without so much as a smile.

    ReplyDelete
  3. look at you, breaking form...smiles...you are a woman after my own heart in that regard....smiles...i like the rocking chair of the moon as an image...as well as the soft dolls of flesh and air...the mention of the ghost thinking you alive brings it into question...the caryatid hair...waving...when it is sculpted, interesting contrast as well..

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think we all feel like this a sad majority of the time. Thinking ourselves real, thinking others real, looking for connections, trying to make sense of ourselves and our realities, feeling sort of dead and wishing someone could make it stop.

    The poem hinges on a few words, like "then" (as opposed to now; things have changed a lot, and you're about to tell us how), "five" (fingers yes, but also perhaps an age or a number to which you can count; I picture the speaker remembering herself as a toddler, haven't felt this emptiness or death for as long as she can remember), "thought" (obviously this is all based on perception, which changes so very much as we look around and reasses, as we age, as we gain insight and wisdom), "handfast" (there is an deep, unspoken connection here; an understanding beyond description), "rocking chair" (draws forth an image of a mother or sage grandmother sitting on the moon, waiting for you to come to her to be eased through this transition into the next life, perhaps; if nothing else, just to take away your pain; it's as if this older woman is a god figure)

    This is also my favorite line: "soft dolls of flesh and air"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "re-asses" ... What a hilarious typo. That was to be "reassess," of course. There are several other mis-types, unfortunately, but that was the funniest.

      Delete
    2. Typos are often our most creative moments. ;_) Thanks.

      Delete
  5. Hey Joy--sorry appearing so late in the game--I read earlier but taken to different activities--

    This is such an interesting concept of a poem. I kept hearing the (imagined) rhyme of katydid in my head, and thinking of the myth of the lover of Eos (Dawn, I guess). I've looked it up--it was Tithonus--the one who was granted immortality but not eternal youth-- I don't know that it has to do with your poem, but it kept flashing in my mind with the caryatid--the oxymoronic idea o faded immortal as the stone ghost-- the substance with the insubstantial--and what that means--flesh and air--thinking one is alive--or that the other is--the difficulty of being oneself both alone and in relationship, and yet also supporting this edifice of life and world.

    I guess the sense of death and being above it briefly also comes up with walking above the sea of dust--not much water to walk on--

    "Handfast" is actually my favorite word of the poem, and the idea of counting fingers as a way of finding or trying to prove humanity (and life.)

    I also loved the idea of snagged on the moon's rocking chair--only this to me seemed like a sickle moon--very cool image.

    But what I get most is almost a wizardry of what language does. (In this sense it actually reminded me of Ursula LaGuin--the Wizard of Earthsea series) where words is what give substance and life--and here there's a sense of animation from words too--though, of course, they don't always work. Like that gift of immortality without the youth--the stare without the sight--really it's a pretty chilling kind of poem, but very effective. K.

    PS - thanks for your kind words by me. k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PPS - I meant "concept FOR a poem." You know I'm not very articulate at times. k.

      Delete
    2. Words ARE what give substance and life. (Ha.) It feels late here. k.

      Delete
    3. Yes, they is! Long day here, too. I so appreciate your thoughts on this, k. I believe you have mentioned the rather chilling figure ofTithonus before( there is a flower, a very vivid red, sunflower-looking one, called Tithonia--I wonder if it's named for that flare of bright youth getting what it wants before the reality of immortality without what would make it worth it sets in)
      In many ways, that's what marriage is--this is a poem about marriage-- or how love is often seen as given an apparent immortality in marriage, I think--not always in a negative way, either, but here, not so much.
      Yes, a sickle moon was what I was thinking, too. I am a fan of Ursula K leGuin, but many years since I read those books--didn't she also write the Dragon Riders of Pern books? I know she wrote The Lathe of Heaven, which has the title quote I love so much in its frontispiece.(Just put it at the top of the sidebar.) I am being wandering and incoherent too, just to keep you company. ;_) Hope you had and have a great weekend break, k.

      Delete
  6. 'the sharp cliffs shadowed rust' and 'snagged on the moon's rocking chair.' These lines make images snap at me so sharp and with a biting Hedge-twist in the head, I am, as-ever, torn in a good way to re-read and bathe in the myth made real somehow that connects with MY real - as I see it. great to be at your place again Hedge - best

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Arron--I'm drawing on an old tradition always, and your linguistic heritage as an Anglo. a native English speaker and inventor of the tongue, is the backbone of my writing--if I can echo back some of those ballads and myths from the dawn of literacy through the flowering, I am doing more than I could hope with my meager ability.

      Delete
  7. despite my mathematical inhibited brain I can't seem to construct this form, but do admire what you've done - perhaps breaking the form would work better for me, too.

    what stands out to me is the successive lines of 'soft' and then 'sharp', and 'flesh' and 'rust' - the contrast of senses the intimate and the ossified, or perhaps decayed.

    glad to see you pen again, Joy ~

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, M. Good to be writing, even a little. I found this form a lot harder than its parents--villanelle is pretty simple, terza rima not too bad, but combining them is a bitch. Never be afraid to break the form a little--imo, it's meant to be a tool and an enhancement, not a torture device. ;_)

      Delete
  8. I so enjoyed this, Hedge and I am very happy you got to go back and try this form. I am liking it more than I did at first, and your poem shows me why that is. The repetition must work with the progression of meaning, I believe, and is greatly strengthened by slight alterations in my opinion. The best part of these poems. for me, is the final stanza and yours brings all the strands together so cleverly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kerry. I agree on the alteration often being needed in forms like this(to avoid too much droning stress on a refrain and give more nuance) but I found that last stanza excruciatingly hard, as it really breaks from the tercets in rhyme scheme (and in my case, the syllable stresses, which I will not dignify by calling meter ;_) ) --and I have rewritten the last line at least a dozen times. But a very rewarding challenge--thanks for unearthing it for us.

      Delete
  9. My inroads here (which come from my own readings and prejudices) begin, oddly, with Swinburne, a sort of fin de siecle aged-beyond-recognition or finality. I guess that stone dude is in that sense Tithonus. As a marriage-figuration, I think any long-habited couple suffers this dreadful dryness at its worse, where everything has ossified and fossilized and crumbled into dust -- repeated conversations, arguments, end-stops that go nowhere and can't resolve. I and Thou become Ma and Pa. Spectral stuff, almost danse macabre except Death is no leering fool here, he's dried beyond that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Swinburne was indeed a frequent user of this sing-song cadence, and I'm sure an influence when I do so, which is too much, sort of my fall back position especially now when the writing is being very spotty. And you know I think,from my past writing that though a ghost may be stone, even the ghost of a soft doll, the caryatid at the end is me -we have our tropes and they must be used ;_). This poem comes out of my second marriage, and is about someone who is both literally and figuratively dead, so you are picking up the subtext with all your usual acumen. Thanks for stopping by, and for your take, B, as always.

      Delete
    2. Hmmm, I wonder if the trope extends to the deadness in our long habitation with the word -- I mean, why write, with so much overspoken history all around us? I've been feeling out of rhythm with my writing -- the moods come more frequently now -- writing words is easy, but saying something is hard. Lots of half-written false-start poems swirling in the creative bath these days, more miss than hit. The dead guy in my mirror is frequently me. But you know how that goes. It looks over, dead, silent-- and then the ears are flooding out the mouth. I don't know why I always get that gothic graveyard-walk in Swinburne's cadence, he's so vibrant despite being locked in the iron maiden of Victorian poesy. A poet struggling to wake from his age, I suppose. Aren't we all ...

      Delete
    3. The 'why write' part doesn't phase me--it's the how that I seem to struggle with lately. But perhaps there is some of that heavy stone spirit haunting my words, or lack thereof. I do feel too often when I start to scribble-- 'wait, you already wrote this poem,' and yet, I know each one is a subject both fungible and infinite, because of course, there are no final answers. Still, we go looking, chasing that message that says 'Not here.' What could be more tantalizing? I think Swinburne is well described as walking through the Gothic graveyards, perhaps hammering out a roundel to a past that never was or a future that can't be.--"writing words is easy, but saying something is hard."--no kidding.It's so easy to make nice, interesting, even beautiful sounds, much much harder to use those embellishments to carry a meaning equal to the artwork. I too am awash in half-poems You've made me want to do an Off the Shelf on Swinburne, though--thanks.

      Delete
  10. (Of sorts) included in your title - made me laugh. I leaned a lot in all the comments - always very educational. I honestly don't think I would have known this was about marriage, but I did pick up on time and change… a sense of loss, yet familiarity.

    ReplyDelete

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