Thursday, September 11, 2014

War Staff





War Staff




You are the stick carved
to support the madman's
stuttering canter,
like the Tablet-Smasher's staff,
often breaking to a snake
for maximum effect.

You are the magus-wand
of moving plague
 pulling each first-born
from the unmarked house;
dipping only your tip turns rivers
bloody at your
unexpected pleasure.

When will it burn,
this crutch of tortured alder?
How understand the pushing thing
that has no shape it can own?

So we lie awake,
we slaves, listening for 
the shifting of the snake.



~September 2014






 posted for Meeting The Bar
at dVerse Poets


Karin Gustafson (ManicdDaily) asks us to follow the metaphor through--for me, that has been rather a winding, even snaky sort of path. I am drawing(and transposing) here from the biblical tale of Moses and The Plagues of Egypt.








Images: Staff, by Nakahara Nantenbo
Public domain via wikiart,org
Snake wallpaper via wallpaper.com
copyright information unknown.


20 comments:

  1. There will be no resting easy, here. Perhaps weirdly, this seems like a metaphor for current events, to me, despite the biblical angle. Whether it's ISIS, floods, sink holes, Putin, or some dumb brute of a football player, sompin's gonna git ya.

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  2. I agree with Fireblossom...rang true to current events for me...as "we lie awake, we slaves."

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  3. The story of Moses came to my mind, when the smasher staff turns into snake & pulling of the first born from their homes ~ The staff is our guide or deliverance or maybe we are all puppets and slaves with no will of our own ~ Sharp as always HW ~

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  4. Ugh. Very powerful. Very sad. Very witty in spite of all of that. The first stanza wonderful--I love the stuttering canter--but for me things moved even more quickly as you went along and the poem seemed to become more mordant and double-edged--love the use of magus-wand in the context of moving plague, first because it makes magus seem like maggot somehow, and also brings the idea of the plague itself as a moving object. Is the colloquial phrase--dip your wick? I don't know--I am forever a bit naive about that kind of language--but the dipping of the tip could not help but bring up something phallic, especially when combined with the pleasure of the last line of that stanza--(I may have that wrong as hard to look back and forth for me on blogger.

    I understand that the last stanza echoes powerfully the Biblical part of the metaphor, but I actually found the second to last stanza most sad somehow, with even the wood tortured, and alder is such a poetic wood and tree--with so many echoes of meaning--elder, alderman--all of us--I don't know--waxing tired here. Don't know when I will get mine up but suspect it will be embarrassingly quirky! Thanks so much for joining in, and thanks for wonderful poem. k.

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    1. Great title too by the way--I can't help to think of the other kind of staff when it comes to war--as in chief of staff, army staff--staph infection--(well, that last is pushing it.) k.

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    2. Well, maybe a little. ;_) I agree with all your other allusions, though--there is nothing much more phallic than War, either, and staffs and rods and so forth undeniably call forth the Freudian in us. I hope I followed this metaphor through as intended in your prompt, k--it got a bit murky, but I am always prone to side with a little murkiness over over-emphasized unilateral definitions. I was just very glad I could take this poem, which was originally quite different, and mold it to my frame of mind yesterday, and the topic I wanted to write about. Thanks for your as always, insightful reading, and for your challenge, that enabled me to get this off my chest.

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  5. Masterful. You seem to always find the best method, the best words to address your subject in the best way. Superb!

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  6. So many levels to read this as usual.. Just the fact that you write this to a person (me).. Causes me to listen extra careful, a staff could be both that support, the magic wand.. (Harry potterisque) and the stick that kills the snake.. How descriptive this is for the complexity of a relationship.

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  7. great metaphor hedge.. the big difference for me is that mose perfomed all the plagues to free his people from the egypt's terror - some politicians nowadays seem to swing that staff to force people into submission under their dictatorship

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  8. Listening to your sidebar song, Dylan in 75, realizing that both Shay and Karin have said what I'm thinking. Perhaps also this: if these are the beginning of the troubles, as Moses prepares to lead his people out - what are the plagues to come? And who is Moses? And what is the Promised Land? And then the jump, to me, of what rough beast, it's hour come round at last ...

    that final stanza susurrates ~

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    1. Who is Moses, indeed. Aren't they always Messengers of the Lord? Don't they always have to be laying down the law with death threats?--though I will say, Moses gets a few brownie points for tipping over the Golden Calf. Glad you checked out the Dylan--obscure, but a fave of mine.Thanks, M.

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  9. A plague, a disease, you've expressed it well here!

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  10. In the Book of Trees, alder is the warrior's rune, the spear-shaft ever too thirsty for another red throat ... as we are swept back into the quagmire we were just months away from finally being rid of, god spare us from the hierophants and magi of boots on the ground. "Crutch of tortured alder" is the best line here, the finest equivocation that helps us see exactly what we're up to, and how futile and finite the use of war is any more. Ancient and irresistable. I scratch my head rummaging through the hope chest of gods and can't find a single one whose deity meant Peace, can you? Even Venus had a thang for Mars. Slaves we are to war, from President on down to us locals who wish those damned Republicans would go poke their war-stick up Dick Cheney's arse for a change. Myth may be outre, but that doesn't mean it doesn't still rock in rooks like these.

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    1. That's pretty amazing, about the alder symbolism. It was a line that just jumped feet first into the poem. You have nailed every single thing I was trying to say here, and actually given it more light--thanks for that, and for reading, B. It's nice to have at least some small thing to be thankful for, as the blood, fear and bullshit start to flow from the broken rock.

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  11. Excellent write and so true on so many level esp. the literal one. Seems like there will be no rescue for some slaves? Plagues of South Africa, South America, Children sent over without parents, pure slave bait. Have to house them to cause some interceptions. Marked or unmarked plagues falls.

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  12. Such a powerful and thought provoking write.

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  13. Your words are so rich in mythology and archetypes - they should be carved on a sandstone in hieroglyphics.

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  14. Beautiful philosophy behind thunderous words.

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  16. This is an absolutely brilliant poem, and it's goal is accomplished with such a jagged proficiency. The hostility, the aggression; it is all captured perfectly by your word choice, and by the metaphor itself. Reading gave me chills. Superb.

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