Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Threnody on the Number XI

Threnody on the Number Eleven

Eleven months she missed him and feared eleven years.
Eleven times she called out to catch the ship that sailed.
Eleven times eleven times eleven were her fears.
But once he called and it was she who failed.

Across the moonwarm seas the soulship fumbled
but never stopped its dizzying careers.
Eleven charts were shredded, canvas crumpled.
Eleven months she chased him and feared eleven years.

Across the crepe black void the echoes scatter,
across each face years caracole a tale.
Across all time, all light, across all matter,
eleven times she set out, but sunken ships don’t sail.

Days dropped down wormholes time sees safely landed.
Quick hands of new craft banners from worn fears.
Smiles lace across the light but night’s more candid.
Eleven times eleven times eleven are her tears.

Soft shadow walls stand fast, their faces shimmer,
piled clouds of knife concrete, white ice so paled
by painted rose, soft sigils scarlet glimmer
where dead days shook their fists sunlight prevailed.
But once he called and it was she who failed.

November 2010

This experimental poem in the cascade form is for Magpie #41 
Uncredited photo provided by Magpie Tales removed. 
Also posted for the Monday prompt at Big Tent Poetry, which was to write a cascade piece.


  1. Good poem. And a new word . . "sigil". I'll stow that one for future use!

  2. A wonderful poem. I love the rhythm.
    Learned something new for today -- "sigil" -- thank you, for the poem, for the word.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. Beautiful. This had a lovely Longfellow-esque quality.

  4. "Across the moonwarm seas..."
    Yes, I've sailed them myself.

  5. This is interesting as hell. First, I'm pondering eleven. It's made up of two ones, obviously the number of beginnings, and eleven is a positive number, but more complicated than the simple one, or the two it breaks down to. Add to that, that it's a "threnody". Poor eleven, we hardly knew ye.

    So I'm thinking, here is a beginning that gets stalled, stunted, interrupted, and so must be seemingly endlessly begun again. A hope, a desire, something clung to. So much effort, right down to setting out in sunken ships.

    The heartbreaking thing is, after all of this, he calls, one chance out of all this hot mess, and it's she who fails. Ay yi yi.

    My witchy friend, you just couldn't have written about flowers, or sunsets or babies or something. Oh noooOOOooo. You have to knock me back with this scorching tale of doomed love. Did I mention...I love it?

  6. Many thanks all--this was a hard magpie for me, but I liked writing it. Glad you all could come by and take the time to read it.

    @FB You nailed it. The cascade form makes the topic more convoluted, but also more interesting to build, I think. And I'm heavy into teh threnody. Story of my ex-life ;)

    I did write a non-dirge-y haiku thing about babies & flowers once--no sunset tho:

    Behind the mother's mask/a child.
    Behind the child's mask/a flower.


  7. Truly an amazing and fascinating poem. I love your take on the prompt.

  8. I love the way you played with the word eleven - it slips through the poem so deliciously

  9. This made me think of Homer, or someone like that! I visualised a great tragic tale! Definitely a King involved!

  10. Eleven takes on new meaning with your interpretation of Willow's photo ... nicely done.

  11. Days dropped down wormholes time sees safely landed.

    I particularly liked this line, in your haunting interpretation of this week's prompt.

  12. ...and perhaps -twelve- comes to mind, as the magic time continues, and she'll not fail.

    Enjoyed this! _m

  13. What a wonderful poem. The last lines made me feel sad.

    "Quick hands of new craft banners from worn fears.
    Smiles lace across the light but night’s more candid." - such brilliant imagery.

    I always think of 11 as a lonely number...

  14. Well-executed form...almost like a Villanelle. Like the thoughts on the numerology of eleven. 1+1=2 Balance, duality. Or, in tarot...justice or karma.

  15. Nice cascade format - I think this may be the first time I've seen threnody used in a poem - wonderful!!

  16. Love the heroic use of form and repetition here!

  17. liked this piece alot but I'm left with many questions

  18. my favorite among all the prompts. you deciphered the mystery in the photo.

  19. How inventive you are with this. Such a fine piece, unique and quite delightful. Wonderful Magpie.

    Poem on ...

  20. Really sad that she missed hearing him the one time he called! A real little fantasy poem, I loved it.

  21. Many thanks all. I've had quite a voyage reading all the poems in this magpie; so many different takes. I appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to express them.

  22. crepe black void, moonwarm seas -- lovely your way with words --

  23. What a fascinating read! Left me dizzy, but it was a wonderful experience just the same. The last line, "But once he called and it was she who failed," is priceless...and unfortunately, recalls to mind something that happened to me in the past.


  24. Elevens..she's doomed to live her life behind that damn gate...

  25. Ohhh, wow. I love this one! I wrote three poems: two cascades and one Magpie... love how you combined the two.

    Such a longing I am reading here.

    Read my big tent poem here.

  26. A first class poem. I hadn't heard the word 'caracole'in yonks, too!

  27. Rich repetition and great ending. Very nicely done.

  28. nicely done indeed.....thanks for sharing your words

  29. Like a good ballad or a high fantasy, it works with its inevitability. Neat job.

  30. your opening instantly grabbed me, powerful imagery.

    your talent is evident and your tale is eloquent.
    carry pride, I love your poetry.

  31. Very impressive use of alliteration and a nice legato flow to the entire poem. Well done!

  32. Your imagery is waaaay beyond any words I have!!
    "Where dead days shook their fists sunlight prevailed." I almost drowned in the depths of this line... it was my favorite in the entire poem (among the 15 other favorite lines I had here)!
    That was the rendition of one sad and teary tale... and you have masterfully executed it!!! BRAVO!!!

  33. It's great fun writing poetry for poets, who see and recognize all the little things going on under the hood. Thanks very much all who've come by and given me food for thought along with all your kind words.

  34. I've read most of your poems here, but I can't believe I missed one. It's one of your best. "Eleven times she set out, but sunken ships don’t sail." Damn!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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