Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Alive


Alive






Night is only the medium for a memory;
a kiss, tasting of dust and natron
vanilla and orange
under a dream-sickled moon,

a McLuhanish massage
on the knot in psyche's neck,
hard as the driven bolts that hold
electrified skull to softening body,

or as the hollow calcined cavities
of the mummy who walks.
What love or hate could drag
that storm of bandages and bile

from its turquoise-eyed sarcophagus--
how fond the bonds of loss must fall
on an utterly lost thing,
messages for the reanimated

matter of this memory 
that walks the night on its own business,
 trailing smears of lightning,
 spice, and white unravelings, 
  
on slow parade in the glittering
 black pageant of Hell.






~February 2015







posted for          real toads
The Tuesday Platform






Process notes:  Marshall McLuhan was a 20th century communications theory philosopher, predictor of the internet, and coiner of phrases such as  'the global village,' and 'the medium is the message,' the concept of which I have very loosely employed in this poem. Here is his wikpedia bio.









Images are of  (bottom) a poster for the 1932 film The Mummy,
and Boris Karloff, (top) in 1935's  Bride of Frankenstein
Public domain. via wikimedia commons. Manipulated.





28 comments:

  1. "Storm of bandages and bile"...love that. These re-animated rove the halls or the world or our dreams whether bidden or not, don't they? On their own business, yes, but they wouldn't exist without us; after all, someone had to wind them and throw all that treasured junk in after them for the afterlife. It's almost as if we planned it, isn't it?

    ReplyDelete
  2. Whew.... That was awweeesoome!!!! Its me on a Monday morning, lol, when life does resemble a black pageant of hell. Great work Hedge!

    ReplyDelete
  3. i spent a bit of time researching mcluhan before i saw the note...ha...
    vivid imagery....a pageant of hell...what hell have we created in our global village...
    shay has an interesting thought as well in how they would not exist without us....
    interesting...you have me thinking...and maybe for some time today...

    ReplyDelete
  4. how fond the bonds of loss must fall
    on an utterly lost thing...
    This poem is moody, dark and marvelous

    ReplyDelete
  5. You have given the dark night of a nightmare a certain beauty. So much wonderful imagery in this. I cannot choose just one line!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I like the first line here the best: " Night is the only medium for a memory"

    ReplyDelete
  8. The image of trailing lightning, spice and white unravelings makes the nightmare/ memory especially visual as does the storm of bandages and bile- fabulous. I also liked that I learned two new words- natron and calcined. Nice channeling of McLuhan.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I like your couplet

    What love or hate could drag
    that storm of bandages and bile

    so much more than the old mummy movies, which I always found laughable, with the creature dragging its foot and reaching one desiccated arm out slooooowly yet so often capturing perfectly able-bodied people.

    It's an intriguing premise-- if night is the medium of memory, and the medium is the message, then the familiar and intimate must be mingled with immense darkness, shadow and uncertainty.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly--and the mummy was a lot more terrifying in 1956, I assure you, when cinematically all was far more sterilized than the 30's,all deaths were off screen and there was no such thing as blood. It terrified me, anyway, that the dead could walk at all, however slowly, and I am sure i would have waited to be strangled simply out of frozen astonishment. ;_)

      Delete
    2. You had me rethinking and it struck me that the logic of the mummy required slowness of movement--the unimaginable weight of centuries.

      Delete
  10. powerful with striking images

    I'm thinking of the various undead in ASoIaF

    reanimated
    for what unfinished business
    after life duties

    cheers
    jzb

    ReplyDelete
  11. This makes the dark even darker.. sometimes I wonder how we can sleep at all.. that first sentence really pull you in... I want some kitten memories for my nights :-)

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is very curious to think that memories have to (or would) re-member themselves; put together their own pieces to keep walk their own planks, as it were, or do some kind of walking meditation. But one senses here that nothing likes to be lost, even things that don't have their own beings but are essentially the recycling of our minds. I find I read this poem on a few different levels--one as very personal particular memories--when the blue eyed sarcophagus is really a blue-eyed person or blue-lit, and the other as almost the endless playing of a tv in the night, playing out its own white lightning smears and static and blue light of the color when the buzz is on. Something like that. Vivid. Sad. k. Manicddaily--(I'm not even going to try--even though I don't much like the out lawyer Id!) k. - ps I especially like the Mcluanish Massage--might not be spelling it right but very funny, and the bolts in the neck ==knot/not on psyche's neck--I hate to say that I picture someone re-running memories like old TV shows or movies, and the memories getting up and talking a walk! It is so very hard to get old. k.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I mean, to keep walkING their own planks--

      Delete
    2. I do find memories to have their own autonomy, especially the ones I wish would not. I think you describe the whole concept of insomnia with that flickering tv image--what the mind does, unable either to turn itself off or realize anything sharp and clear. These memories are really Undead sorts of things.;_) Thanks, k.

      Delete
    3. Pretty hard to turn the mind off--takes extensive meditation practice--ha! And I'm not sure that really goes with poeticizing. k.

      Delete
  13. Why is it that we must abandon all hope in Hell? Seems like the revenants all know this in their addled disembodiments--no hope of mortal life, no hope of love ever again--: Yet they do carry on, they keep coming back no matter how we hack and burn and bury 'em. Strike an immortal match and it won't stop burning; Mary Shelley's Prometheus Unbourned outlives death; Imhotep was mummified for trying to resurrect his forbidden lover. Hopeless critters, our monsters, clutching still at the rotted remnants of a life, our hope. Ergo the still love-sotted ego, after all of these friggen years, most at home in the hopeless satch of deepest insomniac night, murmuring the bone rosary of this poem. This beast is a thing of wonder and dreadfulness, awe and awfulness: the romantic incense of stanza one become a McLuhanite monstrosity, as if such dayside sooth as "the medium is the message" could, in the night's otherworld perversities, be socketed like a ripped skull onto head and shoulders of dread pentameter. (Sorry.) "Electrified head to softening body," yes yes, "driven bolts" and riven proceeding, most alive where the heart remains split wide--or, to bring the Count in, staked and pinned to the wall of a life like a memory. O sing the dark -- 'tis a "glittering black pageant," indeedy -- some part of us is weirdly happy to roam there, freed of the dayside bandages of the resulting life. McLuhan was, strangely, a Catholic medievalist; his oracles of the future rested upon a way of reading the old literature. Perhaps our days are altered by the way we read our nights ... Fine, stimulating work, Hedge. U rock the nookie-rooks of Hell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did not know that about McLuhan, but it fits his rather perverse worldview nicely, I feel. It's odd in many ways how much we love our monsters, how we try to endow them with our bits of soul and self, and feel pity for them in their hopeless search for the life they've all too patently lost and probably could never have actually had...I did my best to work that lost dream phrase into something here, B--so often you can only grasp the fluttering sere-cloths as they float by, and not the moldering thing itself, which I suppose might really be just as well. Thanks for the sympatico and spot-on reading.

      Delete
  14. yowza.
    "how fond the bonds of loss must fall
    on an utterly lost thing"

    ReplyDelete
  15. "What love or hate could drag
    that storm of bandages and bile"

    That's incredible, Hedge.

    ReplyDelete
  16. You have worked the metaphor like the master of the art that you are. I have felt those bolts in my own neck, suffered the short-circuit of memory. What an amazing way to describe the process of living, when the end result is always the same.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Every other line, I told myself, "I'm quoting this one!" I would read some more and said, "No, this one!" Then I read the last two lines, and freaking wow!

    My mouth stopped working, but my mind kept saying,
    "on slow parade in the glittering
    black pageant of Hell." Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Hey, Joy, glad I stopped in. The title first grabbed me, the first line floored me, and the rest dragged and held me under. Perfect - and I mean *perfect* - read, posted on the date of my half-century gracing this brownish blue orb. I'll be visiting the rest of your posts I've missed (before dashing out again for another 5 day conference in a city well-versed in reanimation, New Orleans). Maybe the muse will crawl from her crypt to visit me, too. Who knows. ~

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have nights of nightmares that carry into my days. "What love or hate could drag could drag
    that storm of bandages and bile" I love that line.

    ReplyDelete
  20. You always send me to my dictionary. I like that. I read and then re-read this one, understanding the connections you build between the tale of those reanimated and the life we lead in the real world. Skillful!

    ReplyDelete
  21. As others have said, your first line grabbed me and would not let me go, captivated by every thought, word.

    ReplyDelete

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