Saturday, May 16, 2015

Mudslide


 Mudslide




Your left face
honors your right face
but neither one tells the truth;
neither one
is really here to talk,
while I watch a sky
curdled by spirit swimmers
move closer, watch
their filmy fingers
stroke its crushing weight
into sundered cyclones, kneading
the mud-faced earth.

What strangler
has pulled back the plait
of your hair so
tight across your tangled
white throat? What butcher has
chopped the rich marble
from your cheeks and left
your face so naked and still?
Past and present, you say--
they rain wild in this drench
so an equivocal future
can slide

all the easier
away.

Trussed in cords of your loss,
deaf in drums of your voice,
I knew myself beaten;

but untied--
--O, yes, freed--
I hear too much.

I am my own silence 
floating;
death's latest convert,
looking on numb.



~May 2015











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Weekend Mini-Challenge: John Donne



Karin Gustafson (ManicdDaily) offers this weekend's challenge, to write to the ringing of chimes, connect the dots of interconnection, or in some other way address Donne's telling lines about how no man is an island. This is what I got, a slap from the past, as it were. Despite the title, the mudslide mentioned is not a physical one.


We have storms heading in again this evening and my computer will be off, so I may be unable to respond or visit till, the weather gods willing, tomorrow.










Image: Sketch of Clouds with Colour Annotations, 1890, by Vincent Van Gogh. 
Public domain via wikiart.org

27 comments:

  1. What a poem.. I have read it four times.. and it reads different each time, so many layers and I find new things with each read, and yet you bring it home with that wonderful truth. Somehow this is so much more than observing the weather..

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  2. This is a very interesting poem--the you feels like a landscape--one that is deceptive at first--the place of the mudslide--perhaps the side----and one sees the rain and the weather--and well, I kind of feel some tracking beneath it all, so that the land feels almost like not just the land, but the "state" as it were--the powers that be-- meaning that there is a lot of mud sliding about here--and that the freedom that is granted is rather like the freedom given to be poor--free but not actually with any means to do everything--to be anything but a witness or numb. And the past and present seem like part of this too--dominating a troubled future. I am going to come back here, as I am a bit scattered right now--but this has a very haunting imagery and powerful sadness. (And the stillness of being under a bell jar.) k

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  3. Holy cow. "I am my own silence...looking on numb."
    And THIS:
    "while I watch a sky
    curdled by spirit swimmers"

    So good. Awesome piece.

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  4. So many memorable phrases .. "Deaf in drums of your voice". I love them all
    Bravo!

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  5. Trussed in cords of your loss,
    deaf in drums of your voice,

    It can be read in several ways but the tone is certainly somber - frightening even. Great job as usual.

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  6. "I am my own silence, floating." Wow. I so resonate with that. Beautiful, Hedge. Hope the storm blows over and does no damage. Crazy weather everywhere.

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  7. "Past and present, you say--
    they rain wild in this drench
    so an equivocal future
    can slide

    all the easier
    away."

    No more equivocation! But what else is there if we don't hear the truth of the layers of faces buried in the mud? Bravo!

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  8. Loved the melancholic mood of this magical piece... there is a lot of depth in the lines.. leaving one absolutely awed..!
    xoxo

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  9. Delicious. That one is a hammer, Those last three stanzas are so very cool.

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  10. Amazing poem! I'm reading it over and over, for the pleasure of the words, the sounds ...

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  11. Hey--coming back--well, to me it is very like a landscape as the second verse really does feel like both the drought and man (ha)--one can read it on a personal level too, but I can't but help to read the literal sides. Thanks. Mine is just too sentimental as of yet, and I may scrap and do something totally new. k.

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    1. Thanks k. but any oblique landscape references are meant to be a metaphor, as I was trying to write to your prompt about the Donne lines and connection. (You know, the pebble that is like a promontory, basically the same metaphor.)

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    2. Hi Joy, I haven't felt I've read this very well, closely, as honestly, I've been a bit jangled what with the prompt and other matters. It feels very much like a voice talking to the Earth, and a specific part of it--that has been ravaged and brought its people to the brink with it--the free part almost feels like the by-product of a rather terrible libertarianism--the kind of one that lets people ravage as they like--the images are very powerful==it is the second stanza I think that confused me more=I like it--but the you at the beginning feels almost hostile--while is such a victim--I can see though that at the beginning the you is simple a little indifferent--there-- Anyway, thanks for your patience with my mumblings. k.

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    3. Of course, k. I know you have a lot going on, and I agree that the poem can be read that way, but it was written about a specific event in my life, a specific relationship, a specific death. I also was trying to evoke the meaning of the Donne poem--of a piece of earth slipping away diminishing the whole earth, as one man's death diminishes him. To try to define that sense taken to a slightly different level, I used the metaphors in the first and second stanza, of seeing someone violated by forces that are immensely powerful, but difficult to name--one asks the victim why did this happen, as if they might know, but of course, they can only say that it is 'past and present,' (the result of their own life-events and reactions). Sorry this is so difficult to interpret for the reader.( I think the Escher pic was a mistake, as it forced a too-literal interpretation. )
      Anyway, like Yeats, sometimes we all draw on things that are ultra-personal, that would take too long too explain, or be too destructive to the poem. Not your fault for reading what you see--if it is anyone's 'fault' it is the writer's, not the readers.Thanks for being so interested in the piece, and spending so much time with it.

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  12. I agree with Bjorn about the layers which is so befitting of the opening image...I love the way it can speak to that picture but then it also translates metaphorically on other levels as well. Rich writing Hedge.

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  13. makes me think of all those stripped hills, men taking what they will - stone, wood, what have you. I suppose we could long for the days when robber barons were forthright in their theft and gluttony. Now, everything is couched behind the true argot of the times: lawyerese. ~

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  14. Thanks all--storms safely passed. This poem was not meant to be especially about landscape, though I have used it as a metaphor, but about personal loss and connection, but thanks.

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  15. Your left face
    honors your right face
    but neither one tells the truth

    This should be pasted across city walls - or written across the sky. It really invites an uncomfortably close look at oneself.

    The plait pulled tight against the throat reminds me of Browning's Porphyria's Lover. I find the whole to be a most intense abstraction of human relationships - the twists of distrust, jealousy, and yet the willingness to believe in something good, some remnant of what once was whole.

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  16. The second verse is so stark, almost violent. The rawness of the emotions really comes through there.

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  17. What I get out of your poem is a metaphor where "face" has a double meaning. Yes, the human face, but mudslides happen on slopes, on mountain sides, on the face of an incline. Here is the avalanche, the sudden unmasking, the "mud" of pretty coverings removed, leaving only what is more solid, and not usually as agreeable, especially when talking about time, and futures, and trying to find a little genuineness and hope in all of that. Look out below, is all I can say, dear poet. Excellent stuff, and I hope I've not missed the mark to widely with my interpretation.

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    1. Thanks, Shay--you have added not subtracted with your reading. Much appreciated.

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  18. I read it a few times and each time got something a bit different. The second stanza is the one that really makes this one for me. The first part about pulling the hair tight across the throat. Made me think of autoerotic asphyxiation -- anyway, being used. The chiseling of the face tied into that as well. A making of them into something other than themselves. The way you present the freedom, and its consequences (Hearing too much) is effective as well.

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  19. too many wonderful lines and phrases to quote ~ a stunning write! plus what Shay said. {smile}

    have a wonderful week, Joy. and stay safe in that weather!


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  20. Sorry for the seasonal gnarliness but thanks for bringing wet slaps of it here. There's a bog-body buried here in the wonderful compressions, the scalpeled lines, as revenant as it is resonant. Is this love or is this a ghost, or both? Do some beloveds bury themselves, or is memory at fault for wielding a too-inquisitive spade? There's a taut fury here, unrelenting, perhaps unforgiving, though of paramour or speaker we can't be sure. All that feral mud. Yikes and likes.

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    1. Thanks, B--yes it is a bit indirect and vague--almost every line comes directly from a series of recent dreams, so maybe stringing them together was an error--but love is the bog-body, memory is indeed the spade, exhuming the past as the future slides down the raddled mountain of the present into the sea...I guess not many can relate to a male lover with hair long enough to braid, either. Autres temps, autres mœurs.. But you have felt that strangle yourself, I'm sure. Thanks for reading with insight, as always.

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  21. The movement of these words and the progression of the poem are impressive. My first reading was done with widened eyes--watching the change, the ripping, the destruction, and what everything did to the speaker (which at first I believed to a be just an observer).

    My second reading, paying particular attention to the last stanzas, I saw the speaker (the one doing the ripping) speaking to the subject; settling in the realization of all the hurt it caused, waiting for the knowing moment of rest... and perhaps, getting ready to begin twisting through the cycle again.

    So much... so good...

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