Friday, May 8, 2015

The Empty Quarter



The Empty Quarter






In the dry slaughterhouse
of time imperative,
where blood disappears
before it stains the dune's
granular face, change has let

a fragment of me live
without your empty kiss
inhabited by insistent teeth,
your cold clay lips' crumble,
uncomfortable with truth,

your eyes that claim
no color of their own,
dead leaves on the green
and formless sea adrift,
always traveling away.

Change has let me live
here in its hot and proper suburb,
on the dunes that sting and shift,
where you loved me once
as much as you could love

before you thought
you'd found out what I am, where
in the sliding sand the sentence began;
the jailor's bored withdrawing bit by bit
of all on which a prisoner might live;

however skilled the hand, cruelty is
yet another loss, worrying bones 
and flesh, spitting out
the dirty artifacts of
fallacy and reality. 

So keep your empty kiss
to gnaw yourself to sleep.
Brush off the fossil bones of the extinct,
reconstruct exhibits of your conceit, 
so large and dead.

Where I have gone, where I
have still to go, no shows are held,
no knife can bite, and change has let me live
where I will never need again
the dwelling of your caress.



~May 2015











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Get Listed: Pablo Neruda

The viceroy of vocabulary, grapeling (it could be that) delves for this month's word gold into the incomparable poetry of one of the finest original poets of the 20th (or any) century, Chile's Pablo Neruda. See the link for the words listed, all of which I have used here in this feeble attempt to touch a little of Neruda's duende, (not autobiographically especially.)







Process note: The Rub' al Khali or Empty Quarter is the second-largest sand desert in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. ~wikipedia







Images: The Gift, 1921,  and Rayograph--The Kiss, 1922, by Man Ray
Fair Use via wikiart.org





25 comments:

  1. I like how the defiance started to creep through the sadness and resignation that I could feel at first. Love, love your word pictures!

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    1. Thank you, Sharon. Your support is very much appreciated, and your enthusiasm, even more. ;_)

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  2. The imagery you deliver of a parting is so strong. There are so many great lines that just stand out. the use of bone and sand make it especially strong for me.. beyond when tears have ceased.. I think you captured a lot of the same sense that I feel when I read Neruda..

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  3. Hey Joy--a tour de force here--and also a tour of a kind of desert--I think of it as the sands of time more than a specific desert--time imperative is a great phrase, though there are many great phrases in the poem. I found the last lines particularly strong--the dwelling of your caress such a wonderful line, and all the parts about the hot suburb of change--perhaps okay to be out of that city center of limelight! One can very much feel this relationship, the neediness of the speaker at one point, and the self-absorption and need for power of the you--It very much fits this kind of desert landscape, where each needs to be out for him or herself to some degree to survive. It's a very powerful poem and very surreal in a Neruda-ish way. Really super well done. I keep mulling on that line of cruelty being its own loss- which I take to mean as the loss of cruelty being kind of a loss as it is drama--and it's the lack of drama that can be very hard for us when we move out into the suburbs of change. That seemed to fit (for me) with the lack of shows, which I took to be kind of a lack of dumb shows--and again, that drama that we hate but feed on sometimes, as it represents a kind of passion--here though it is a starveling's passion=-given that withholding jailor--anyway--very well done--I have another short one I've written--but haven't posted--and aha! I looked! But it is quite different (and I may not get it up anyway.) Take care--all good. k.

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    1. Thanks, k. As always you go so deeply into things--glad you could find the depth to do so here. On the cruelty line--it is meant to be the cruelty of the you is another loss, (like the losing the narrator) a loss of his/her own humanity, more profound, really, than just losing the image of perfection that is infatuation. Anyway, long can be good, right? ;_) Hope to see your short one, too.

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    2. Thanks--I was going to say that it's a wonderful title--in terms of no quarter given, etc, and the different empty refuges here. Long is fine if readable! I worry sometimes when I break something up into lines that may be more readable in straight sentences. But I agree that there is something about fatigue and stress that leads to length perhaps--not here--but there is some French quote--Madame de Sevigne, I think, apologizing for the length of a letter--"if I had more time, I would have made it shorter." Something like that-- I think this one is a fine length, but I often think of that quote for my own work.

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    3. Well the idea of breaking things up into lines for me is to make things have their proper emphasis, as well as a structure--otherwise it would be prose. However, I think your writing is well-suited to prose poetry, if that is how you what to present something. I don't know that it is easier or harder to assimilate that way--for me, it is harder, but for many, not. Anyway, love the quote!

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  4. Okay Mohammed Ali, that's a pretty slick trick you do, playing (immensely readable) rope-a-dope before the devastating one-two knockout punch of the final two stanzas. A poem of this nature SHOULD leave the reader a little bit bruised and shaken up. Neruda, that king of emotional poetry, would approve.

    ps--that is one funky kind of steam iron!

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    1. Yes--I was going to go with just the Kiss photo, when I saw that one and read about it--it was something Man Ray made at the last minute for a friend who had helped him set up an exhibition of his works, then it got stolen from the exhibition. An iron, supposed to smooth out wrinkles, with stuck-on tacks, supposed to hold things together: when put together, it makes something completely useless for either purpose--sort of the epitome of surreal for me. Thanks for your generous words, Shay.

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  5. Loved the intensity of this fabulous piece..!!
    xoxo

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  6. Love this, especially:
    "however skilled the hand, cruelty is
    yet another loss"

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  7. What an exquisite words choice....how wonderful, 'she' can be independent now, what a lesson, but isolation makes us cold...

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  8. Fantastic! From "the jailor's bored withdrawing bit by bit / of all on which a prisoner might live;" to "change has let me live", this is a journey of strength, so well told.

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  9. "the jailor's bored withdrawing bit by bit
    of all on which a prisoner might live;"

    That is the saddest, bitterest, most brilliant description of that particular type of relationship that I have ever read.

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    1. Thanks, MZ--hope you came through last night's hailstorm undamaged.

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  10. Wow, powerful stuff. The last verse conveys a kind of peace having been reached at last. Beautiful creation of (changing) mood all through.

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  11. This feels and screams of Neruda... The "bones and flesh", the "lips" that "crumble" because the taste of truth is just too much... the hurt at the lie and the accusation....

    Delicious!

    P.S. That is a very special iron. Wow!

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    1. Thanks, Magaly. I know you are a Neruda fan, so doubly appreciative.

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  12. well, first, if I'm viceroy, then you're empress.

    and b :) I started, then stopped reading at the end of the first stanza, and started again, lingering over each word as slowly as I have ever read a poem (or any other thing) since, well, since I can remember. 3rd grade maybe. Something about this *demanded* that pace - the intensity. something. It was at "change has let" - which I read as a blood-letting, as well - and then to be rewarded (if one can say that of this dark-but-clear-eyed-pen) for the repeat in the 3rd to final line - I mean, that granular / angular face - OK, I'll just stop repeating your lines here. Moving, sere, less resigned than accepting...

    As ever I am grateful for you mining the grit and fabricating the steel of this piece, to the meagre prompt. ~

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    1. I know what you mean, Micheal, about having to read and reread, slowly, because that is what I often do with your work--sometimes the shorter it is, too, the longer I have to take to read it. First one reads just for the sound and the music, then one rereads for the force which flies the arrow. Thanks for the very great compliment, and for an excellent challenge that made me exercise my pen despite the post-April doldrums.

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  13. There is no Neruda, no duende, without its shadow. When I read the Spanish-language poets in translation decades ago--and especially with Neruda-- there was a naked starkness to the glory, a desert parch just next to the sea. How can we fully love without also fully losing it? How is the approach to love not echoed by a thin and reedy departure from it? The metaphor of a desert that has taken over a kiss is archly elaborated here, tellingly, killingly. It must change, yes? But we are never promised change for any better. Still the account of dry succumbing here would not have such force and magnitude had not a brighter, sweeter tandem not been as wetly written somewhere prior. This is both nekyia and jeremiad in the shadow of a lost god. Amen and be well.

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    1. 'It must change, yes? But we are never promised change for any better.' So true--yet sometimes, any change can't help but be for the better, even if it brings a separate woe. I look back at this and think I should have emphasized the word 'fragment' more, but I think I'm through with this one. Thanks for your thoughts, as always B.

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  14. Change has let me live
    here in its hot and proper suburb,
    on the dunes that sting and shift,
    where you loved me once
    as much as you could love

    Such an amazing - you really know how to turn a phrase. Yes, I agree with MZ. You have explored this relationship with an unrelenting grip on a certain kind of twist of the knife pain.

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    1. Thank you Kerry--it's hard not to write up to Neruda.

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  15. A broken heart finds a voice, the defiance to survive in new gained strength. I love your ending. verse. Powerful

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