Thursday, February 12, 2015

Love Letter




Love Letter
[From/To Self]



An hour choking at the compassionate basin
coughing up the vinegar of your indifference,
pen an ungainly stick insect that jolts and poses
on the leaf, leaving behind its pinprick holes
and black tar droppings.

Your saloonful of buffalo girls are
making a mud-wallow of your business--
broken bottles, shots at midnight, the clumsy winding
and unpicking of the bandage, the childish rush
to clean the wound,
needle threaded with a flame
to poke white hot into your swelling
bringing only tainted blood and no relief.

There's no hero dawdling home upon
a handy wine dark wave, no velveteen nurse
to blot the nightsweat from the page,
no diagnostician or connoisseur of blight
to assure you fatality is a condition
that with proper care and rest
may show improvement.

There's only one who loved you once
and whom you've since
taught better, and no one here at all
to read a letter
never mailed.





~January 2015, rev. February 2015





Process note: I have added the subtitle (from/to self) above to clarify the intent and the point of view, ie, the 'you' here is the writer.  I have reached the point where I am through with rewriting and editing this for now, and the poem still apparently doesn't make itself clear. Apologies, and at some point may revisit to do a better job.




posted for     real toads


Kerry's Challenge: Is Love a Tender Thing?
Kerry O'Connor (Skylover) asks us to ponder some of the more obscure corners of this thing called love. Or even " to write to the theme: Love Thy Enemy or Love is The Enemy or Love, Despite Your Enemy." This is a poem about love and the inner enemy.



Image: A Lady Writing, 1665,  by Johannes Vermeer
Public domain via wikiart.org



30 comments:

  1. I am struck speechless by just how intricate, brilliant and brilliantly executed this is. Simply awe-inspiring to read and marvel at.

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  2. As always I am glad i posted mine before I read yours. The images of this letter --- (alas never mailed) .. is stunning. Especially the vitriol in the second stanza is a perfect description of the criminal indifference of what is clearly not mutual love.

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  3. There is so much emptiness in this piece, and a full worth of ennui; great craft

    happy Valentines 2015

    much love...

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  4. Your saloonful of buffalo girls are
    making a mud-wallow of your business-- Priceless!

    From first to last, you deliver a stinging account of the other side of love, with its wounds and bandages. Your wit is on top form
    (fatality is a condition
    that with proper care and rest
    may show improvement...) and the final stanza burns!

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  5. ha. ok, when i read the title i was like, this is not joys usual faire...but it carries the normal grit...and lots of little sensory points along hte way...the taking off of the bandage...ouch...the lancing of the wound/infection....gag...ha...damn, nice close too....

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  6. Such heartbreak! "Coughing up the vinegar of your indifference" will stay with me a long time. Painfully, beautifully written!

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  7. *sputters* There it is. Hedge trotting out her literary heavy artillery, blowing the rest of us, and that bar, way the hell into next week. The opening stanza is inspired and as attention-grabbing as a slap in the chops. Then you maintain that level of inventive intelligence and immediacy throughout the poem. I'm not going to quote the entire thing back to you. I'm just going to sit here like a feeb and yank out all my hair. *yank yank* This is what you do when you're really really "on"! Criminy.

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  8. Hey Joy--I have to get to work--but will be back--my favorite line is the no hero dawdling him on a handy wine dark wave. No!????? It has my inner Penelope laughing for sure. There's a lot of vitriol of sorts but great caring too evident--that tension as well as all the very developed and clever and creative imagery--what makes it work--I actually liked the last two stanzas best--though the stick insect if pretty gripping--but for me, you really get into your stride, Ulysses comes out of the closet. I did get something up-- a little weird. k.

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    1. WHEN, Ulysses comes out of the closet. k.

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    2. I too am walking out the door--will be by your place when i return from the feed store. This is a letter to self--I get very tired of my winter moods. I am laughing, but because it was originally titled Penelope Redux till i rewrote it because of the buffalo girls. Take care,k.

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  9. This is incredible, Hedge. It doesn't get any better.

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  10. I don't know what I can add here--but know that when I read your work, I feel blanketed in your words--if that makes sense--just wonderful writing

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  11. Fabulous. I can't choose between several favourite bits... but
    "one who loved you once
    and whom you've since
    taught better"
    is a great way of putting it. I would never have thought of that, but it makes great sense.
    Luv, K

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  12. So many seeds... some with full grown thorns that prick true and draw blood. I read it twice. The first time, the words were so robust in my head. Not loud or screamed, just so... big, taking so much space. The speaker is so sure of every word, and one reading suggests that she is sure because she has lived it. During the second reading, I heard disappointment and hurt coming from so many places... And that last healing stanza, of course, chanting that some lessons take time, but they are learned anyway. ♥

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  13. That's a poem with bite. Remember the line from the old pop song? "You don't know what it's like to love somebody the way I love[ed] you."

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    1. Yes, a classic , Mark. Still, this poem is not about the other. I have added a note above to clarify, and sorry my writing skills were inadequate to get the point across without it.

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  14. This smacks of the dark side of love. There is nothing like a broken heart.

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  15. Damn! I lost long comment! Agh!

    Okay--I am writing separately now.

    First, so glad to come back--I read the sub-title before your note, and wondered how I had missed it before. I think it is helpful, but honestly, once it is there, it is hard to read the poem without it. If you feel you need it--you might even think of a title that includes the word “writer” in it--”writer’s lament” --not that--but something--because truly what this poem reminds me of is Yeats’ “The Circus Animals’ Desertion”--which is such a great great poem, and such a great tradition of poem--in that everyone who writes must feel this sense of self-exposure and (ocassional) self-loathing--the tearing open of the bandage--the needling of the wind--the pouring out onto the page, the infection or healing or whatever it is hangs around a wound--the references to the childishness of it are especially apt and poignant--of course, your use of the buffalo girls, etc. seems very personal and true to you as your circus animals--the performers in your show as it were--and the backdrops-- I think the reason people have a hard time getting the poem is because they look on you with so much respect, they can’t fathom that you might describe your backdrops that way--

    The “Penelopian” weaving and unweaving of the tale is so much the writer--but waiting for what homecoming--what hero--what savior--because of course that would be the end of the tapestry--if the hero or the nurse or whoever it was really appeared--

    But then the end is a real shift--as a reader, hard to know if that one, is the poet, who really does love their work--or perhaps a person whose someone been abandonned by the poet in the pursuit of the work--and that too is common enough.

    My point is that if you were to work on it again, or wanted it to be clear, it may be helpful to have some reference to it being the particular issue of an artist--you do that in the beginning, it is true--but because it is a letter, it is possible to think of the stick insect putting droppings on any missive that isn’t quite realized--or isn’t what one wants--and not connect it to the particular quest (and self- denigration) of an artist.

    I hope my specific suggestion doesn’t overstep bounds. You’ve kind of got your own rag and bone shop going here with ripped bandage and wound--and that’s great--it is certainly your own--but Yeats could avoid the direct references to being an artist because he was so well-known--I think he probably does talk about his art though, I honestly can only remember little bits of that poem. Anyway--your poem really does work, and any failure of people to understand may simply arise from the fact that they have so much respect for your work, they can’t think of it in this light--k. --I'm going to post before losing--but ps--does one really want to be cured of the condition? The fatality--well, of course, yes, and no. A hard question!

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    1. PPS --sorry that I did not re-read before posting--so forgive all the usual incoherence and the extra-usual incoherence--I'm sure you get the gist. k.

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    2. ppps--just went back to the Yeats--such an idiosyncratic poem really--but there's a kind of tradition there that is similar--but of course, quite different--although you both of this rather confident and authoritative idiosyncrasy which is quite wonderful as it allows you to be very particular and detailed in imagery--this can drive a very literal reader (like me) crazy however! Ha!

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    3. I do love that Yeats poem. He was a true great, and yet when I read through the volume of his work, so uneven, too. But that one is a standout and very flattered to be compared. AFA reworking it with a little more attention on the emphasis, I might--I don't like having to cop out with an explanation in the title. OTOH, I don;t like poems that are too thoroughly explained. I like to leave some room for a reader to play with it--I just felt maybe here I had left too *much* room. ;_) Thanks for taking so much time and effort, and for being so generous in your praise, k. Much appreciated, and will try not to drive you crazy too often. ;_)

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    4. I didn't really mean the "crazy" part, and regretting sticking that in as a kind of joke--it was really more aimed at Yeats than you--as I was re-reading that poem this morning, and always find myself a little irritated by its self-referential quality though in fact, I also love the poem, and think it one of his stand-outs too--so I meant that there can be a feeling of having to track things down and one feels he makes it a little hard--ie. that he requires one to know the specifics of his work--

      I understand about not wanting to be too transparent and agree that it is hard to know how much to give out. I honestly am fairly different there in that I can't seem to help being direct--maybe because I am pretty hard to follow even when I am being clear! (My brain is just a little bit jumpy I fear.) But any way, I can understand wanting to give anything a break once it is posted and then forked over--it would be impossible for me to go back to for a good long time in that instance-- but please do not take the driving crazy comment seriously--k.

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    5. The jumping around and the desire for clarity are not incompatible but I think you are such a narrative writer--that is, I feel when i read a poem of yours that you always have a narrative sense of the events/characters in your head, whether you explain it all or not--and I'm not, really. I am more of an Impressionist, with a lot of blurry lines and colors and images that are supposed to focus only after you step back(if at all..;_) ) And yes, i knew you were joking, so fret not.

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    6. Yes--I am all about narrative typically, which is why I never feel like an actual poet--especially when I see the work of others who do as you say--like Pound with the petals on the black bough in the metro--

      I would go on and on with the train schedule! k.

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    7. I meant--do as you do--or write as you do--more impressionistically--although honestly, it's pretty vivid--one doesn't actually have to step back so far! I think close-up view okay! k.

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  16. Dear John letters are bad enough, but what happens when Eros writes off Psyche? A hellish condition for sure, most people spend their lives coming to know that the internal paramour exists at all, what happens at the far end of that, when love can't hold a candle to the dark window (of one's own mortality?) Interesting poetry, at least ... Still, I wonder what can be loved that cannot be so satirized as this--desire writ like (translated into) a stick-bug's prods and poops. And no, there's no Poets' Anonymoose or any other therapy I know of to help us mend the singing wound. But whatelsearewegonnado? I wonder if Love is just another of those fading gods as we age, reduced to a storybook tale of silly boys and girls. At least that paramour is--or does love of death--Thanatos--rescript the old erotic limerick? To become a chocolateur of blight ... Sorry this took so long, home Internet's been on the fritz since yesterday ... just got a new modem installed.

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    1. How irritating,B. I live in fear of such things, as I have no back up at all(ie work comp or neighbor I could descend on) Anyway, there is love and there is love--in poem or life, I hope not to forsake or be forsaken utterly by Eros, or the IP (no pun untended) but I have a long past of loves I've screwed up, fraternal, familial and erotic, so plenty of variety in who I've run off over the years. And that's without even seeing it in that other dimension, as a writing metaphor. But there is no getting away from the dwelling on the swelling and its peripatetic cauterization that brings no relief, is there? Thanks for swinging by and offering your thoughts.

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  17. " There's only one who loved you once
    and whom you've since
    taught better"

    oh, i have done that... and pushed away before i was rejected. this is, as always Joy, a stunning poem. the opening lines are brilliant, the ending perfect.

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  18. I admire the first and last stanza's with there powerful imagery of pinpricks and unexpressed woe… and sandwiched in-between the resolution to show no more compassion for a love, lost.

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  19. ah, each reading, more goosebumps. fantastic. wish I weren't brain dead and could leave a coherent comment. 5 teen boys, 4 days, 3 nights, 200 miles, and a birthday... good to see you've unleashed the pen. sometimes, aren't pens *supposed* to let the reader look more than one way? ~

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