Sunday, May 15, 2011

Three Flowers

Photo by Fee Easton

Three Flowers

In the clearing two horses endlessly cable
the moon, white shadows blown
before a hooked wind on a black plaster sky.

A flying worm lights its brief light;
a little boy tries to wear it on his shirt.

In the forest bare twigs chatter against
the bony branches shaking wet snow
down upon the field rat’s muzzle
stopped ten steps from life under the
white owl’s eye.

Two sparrows splash in the birdbath.
The sun is a haze through green locust leaves;
 in the clearing a winding horn finally
blows to summon the storm-dispersed hunt.

In the boneyard by day and by night
three flowers bloom red:
poppies named
 Tomorrow’s Fight
to forget
the thing that lies buried here.

August 1988, revised November 2010

photo by joy ann jones  2010

Posted for OneShootSunday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Header photo used with permission


  1. A lot of rich imagery. My curiosity is piqued by the three red poppies.

  2. i remember chasing fireflys... and wearing them!

  3. quite interesting read!!!!

  4. Perfect bunch.. liked it so much.. Its a beautiful read...

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    Twitter: @VerseEveryDay

  5. That was amazing! One of the most visual poems I've ever read. I love the symbolism of the flowers.

  6. Many thanks.
    @Shashi enjoy your unique perspective, and the view it gives me of your country in verse and photos.

  7. Thought provoking imagery that leaves me wanting more of your work! hugs, pat

  8. ..stopped ten steps from - really hedge - i would like to know how your brain works that you always come up with imagery like this...hope you're having a great time with your grandson

  9. I love the contrasting interaction of your imagery. For example, those splashing sparrows, "A flying worm lights its brief light; / a little boy tries to wear it on his shirt" and the chatting twigs seem lively and carefree against the introduction of rat's muzzle, hunting, and the boneyard... invokes many disparate as well as complementary feelings in this reader throughout the piece.

  10. I love the imagery ... And I love the three poppies yesterday, today and tomorrow.

  11. Curious inventory -- two horses, one boy, one worm, twigs, branches, field rat, owl, two sparrows, and, of course, the three poppies--all wound by elementals of moon and wind, snow and storm, day and night, and time's three dimensions -- to complete the count which can't or won't be summed. The whole here of what's here and in that hole is almost complete, but then the counting could go on forever, couldn't it, since what's in the ground is so unquiet. Some things never add up, and this poem makes a sort of peace with that. Accepts without acquiescing. Great the Cloud has found coherence enough to let you baaaaaaaack. - Brendan

  12. You have such a gift for taking me into nature. This kind of makes me want to go into the woods and run barefoot or ride bareback. Love it.

  13. The second and third stanzas are especially vivid, for me. Nice ending as well, dear Witch.

  14. The first stanzas are a truly wonderful lesson in deploying poetic images, with "a little boy tries to wear it on his shirt" being my reluctant favourite. However, the final stanza is where the poem stops delighting with images, and instead delights with message, reminding us that we may enjoy our beauty today and tomorrow because of yesterday's ugly sacrifice of so many brave and selfless souls. A lovely tip to them, and the act of our remembrance. Great prompt response.

  15. Lest we forget, as they say...

  16. and those poppies sure dont last enjoy the memories and making them while we can..

  17. Such a grotesque (in a good way!) take on this photo. Every ghastly line is layers upon layers of wonderful imagery until we reach the seeming beauty of the flowers...until the twist when we are left hanging with the question of what could possibly be buried at the center of this world. Excellent!


    P.S. Following you on Twitter. :D

  18. For me this is a protest poem that speaks to that other poem by John McCrae: In Flanders Field
    "Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place, and in the sky,
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
    Scarce heard amid the guns below. ..."

    And the symbols of war are all there and three flowers blow there for him, for thee, and me. And we are like candles in the wind, or poppies in the breeze. I see it; I live it; and then it's gone.

    Subtle, plant imagery that speaks to the quick and the dead. Why does life always feel as though it will last forever. Were people who lived through the plague traumatized? Or did
    they come to think of it as another day in the life? Dragging their dead out to the carts? I wonder.

    Another brilliant piece from you, Joy.

  19. Thanks all for your very kind comments. I had not a thought in my head about wars when I was writing this poem--but I am as always, amazed by where words can go once they leave my pen--glad you all found so much in a poem of personal allegory.

  20. I must ponder "the fight to forget the things that lie buried--" I don't think we can, especially digging up this poetry from somewhere deep down. We open doors and obey temptations to look in.

  21. A perfect poem about what's to lie buried long after the seasons and other seasons begin and end--the birds, the grubs, the winged worms, the eyes that see them, the lips that kiss petals and talk about the glories of beauty and the briefness of it in Three Flowers named in the name of Forgetting that potion for pain...I so love the lines and how they taper in the end. Thanks again for another poetic sip of your brew!

  22. Many thanks again to all who've come by and left their unique thoughts and impressions.

    @Ann: I agree with that assessment--I think we can't look away, can't forget, but in writing we're still fighting and looking, and we also alter impacts and effects. (This was written in the main twenty-odd years ago, with a younger mind, and only revised as to a few line breaks and bits of punctuation, which may explain some things, as well.)

  23. This would be a great poem for a class to dig into. Symbolism, imagery a packed poem - but then again so are all your works.

    Have a great week :)

  24. I love this one! The image of the boy trying to wear the firefly is wonderful as is the field rat and the owl and the 3 poppies. And I covet your mouse with the azalea hat picture!

  25. as goes life, so go the three...

  26. @Lolamouse: The mouse pic is from I can haz cheeseburgers--but I stole it from laughingwolf's blog. Thanks, lw. I read your site every day.

  27. Joy Ann, this is a wonderful piece of writing. I haven't posted to one stop in a while, and have missed reading you, as well some of the other fine poets over there.


  28. Level 65 Druid. Hmmm...maybe the left paw. What about that roundhouse right that's been known to KO the moon? ... - Brendan

  29. @B: Just beware my Dragon Staff of Temporal Displacement +5, is all I'm sayin...

  30. This is truly rich and beautiful. I see the wheel of the seasons turning, but the three flowers and the fight they represent remain always.


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