Thursday, March 31, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Orca, Straight Up

Orca, Straight Up

Tilikum Tilikum come wave your fin.
Make children laugh, let the fun begin,
let the money flow, let the crowd come and gasp,
for death sells many a Family Pass.    

Tilikum Tilikum make us Believe you;
nobody drowned, and we Dine with Shamu
in a cartoon world that's built on denial.
A fin says you'll anthropomorphically smile.

March 2011

Posted for Friday Flash 55 at the G-Man's

Many Pertinent Factoids extending beyond 55 words for those interested:

fin 2:
Slang  a five-dollar bill

from wikipedia entry, Tilikum:   "...Following a year long hiatus after his last killing, Tilikum returned to performing at SeaWorld Orlando on 30 March 2011...

"Tilikum was the feature of the SeaWorld show 'Believe'.....[he]measures 22.5 feet (6.9 m) long and weighs in at 12,300 pounds (5,600 kg), as of 2010. His pectoral fins are six and one half feet long, his flukes curl under, and his 6 feet (1.8 m)-tall dorsal fin is collapsed completely to his left side. He is the largest orca in captivity...[and] has been involved in the deaths of three people. Tilikum was captured near Iceland in November 1983 at about two years of age...

 " ...First incident: While at Sealand, on February 21, 1991, Tilikum was involved in an incident which resulted in the death of a female trainer. The trainer slipped and fell into the tank with the whales. Tilikum, pregnant Haida II, and Nootka IV grabbed her in their mouths and tossed her to each other, presumably playing. The trainer subsequently drowned. The orcas had never had humans in the water with them before. 

Second incident: Tilikum was at the scene of a death on July 6, 1999. A 27-year-old homeless male intruder was found floating naked in Tilikum’s pool...

Third incident: On February 24, 2010 Tilikum was involved in a third incident, when he killed Dawn Brancheau, a 40-year-old trainer...following a popular 'Dine with Shamu' show as at least two dozen tourists looked on...Tilikum pulled the trainer into the water by her ponytail, possibly mistaking it for a fish or thinking it was a toy. Brancheau's autopsy indicated death by drowning and blunt force trauma..."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Musical Interlude ~ Silkie

This song has moved into my head this week after reading a poem over at Oran's Well, called The Selkie Bride, by Brendan. His piece would be an excellent thing to read in conjunction to this tale of a sea-demon lover and an 'earthly nurse' who bears his child, rendered  by a young Joan Baez. The song was collected from Orkney by the American folk music scholar, Francis James Child in the late nineteenth century (Child ballad number 113.)

The full title is The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry, Sule Skerry being a remote escarpment off the north coast of Scotland in the Orkneys.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sleepers Awake

Far Away, by ~lorency

Sleepers Awake

Last night I went back to the old house.
It looked like a house in a moon,
a purple moon in an ashen sky
with wisps of wind walking
through red clouds
picking their way like spider’s legs
through a saucer of wine,
drawing out a cord to hang
one bright green star
for you to wish on.

You were down the long hall in your bed
made from an acorn and a husk,
covered with blue cobwebs,
holding your smiling
stuffed creature of cloth
tight to your thin chest,
breathing low and ragged.

I reached to push the hot hair 
from your face
with a hand of smoke,

and house and hand and moon
were gone.
Gone as you are, far away
but close as a fear
behind me in the dark.

Waking then I watched the ruined leaves 
come down in the bleached storm light,
watched them erase the russet walls,
the old bridge;
a falling hush, their
dirty drained bodies
made grey twitching shrouds
in the coldest hour.

Down through the darkness
startling the eye
an owl dropped from clearing clouds
claims the heart.
A rabbit's squeal,

till the nightingale sings on,
a song of purple night. 

March 2011

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable, Shorty Award-winning 


"Sleepers Awake, 2009, Ashley, Bach," courtesy YouTube
(With thanks to the unknown Ashley and her teacher,  friends, parents or relatives, for posting her piano solo, which I found by chance and seemed to fit the mood of the poem.)

Top image: Far Away, ~lorency, courtesy deviantArt

Monday, March 28, 2011

That Smile

Mona Lisa, by Leonardo da Vinci, from C2RMF retouched

That Smile

Her father sent her off to wed
the husky son of a hundred counts.
He took her in his arms, she bled
her credentials out upon his bed.
He smiled.

Six strapping sons, three dead at birth
four daughters later, the silence mounts
a siege before what’s left of worth;
the sea, the sky, the endless earth
still smile.

Somewhere beneath the castle floor
the masons are bricking the crypt of counts.
The catacombs are quiet once more;
just the faintest echo behind a door.
She smiles.

March 2011

Posted for  Magpie Tales~#59

Image: La Gioconda, by Leonardo da Vinci, c 1503-1519, Oil on poplar
Leonardo da Vinci [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Old Woman, Going

The Old Woman Prepares to Go

A rondel

Don’t come too close she’ll soon be gone;
don’t speak, she can’t be evergreen. 
Don’t hold her when the rains convene    
and bulbs all come and bloom like dawn.

The roosting roadrunner shy as a fawn
will scatter twigs and clack and preen               
but find no seed for she’ll be gone.
Don’t speak, she can’t be evergreen.

Out on the cedar speckled lawn
the redbud’s face will rouge unseen
and dot the eye, clear cruel and clean
with shadow snow that melts at dawn.
Don’t come too close she’ll soon be gone.
Don’t speak; the world is evergreen

March 2011
Revised to follow correct rhyme scheme: 
ABba/abAB/abba AB

Posted for  One Stop Poetry Form  at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Since this is all about writing form, I thought it might be interesting to some to show how a free verse poem turns into a form poem in Hedgewitch’s kitchen, and also I have to admit an attachment to both versions. So, I’m posting both the derived rondel and the original verse it’s based on.  

Here's where I started(free verse):

The Old Woman Goes

Don’t get too close to her.
Soon she’ll be gone, never to see 
the redbud bloom again
dotting the eyes with soft purple, 
or the bold marauder charge of the bulbs
upward green to a flaring yellow.

The roadrunner will come roost on her porch
with its haphazard scatter of twigs
and odd clicking chatter to be chased off
by someone else.
The feral guinea hens will find no seed
beneath the empty feeders, and with
the thincheeked minimalist squirrels, dimly mourn
hungry in mindless confusion.

All the books and the vinyl will be sold,
the illegible scribbles, the antic photographs
thrown in the dumpster 
after the poorly attended
estate sale. She'll be forgotten 
faster than snowmelt on the vernal equinox
except perhaps in a far crumbling house
where an old man dreams of seed and birds 
and spring
remembering shelter.

March 2011

Photo: redbud, by joy ann jones, March 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011



Unraveled by your nearness
drunk with your skin,
body in the  blue crucible, what is cold
compressed  and heavy melts outward, 
a joyful
lead liquefied 
and endlessly rolling where
depth meets depth, and fire water,
wavering, thrown 
bobbing on the surface
then endlessly falling down
end over end unshaped,
a spirit of the mercury ocean
transfixed and transformed, liquid
flesh and lead.

Something dies unburied, 
where this other thing is born,
borne upwards by the rippling tide 
of indigo blood and the
sudden balloons of oxygen
swelled in its leaden lungs.

Your hands fly, your quick fingers tow,
your wide eyes of dark surprise pull me,
a bubbled half-formed  thing,
across the quick and silver sea
between dimensions
still liquid, but a liquid fire,
to the plane where water pushes on air
and air hangs heavy over water
where we
burn on a raft of being
between the two

O my love
     come closer

July 1989
revised March, 2011

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry 

Image: by Roger Allen Baut (@ChasingTao ) 
Used with permission

Friday, March 25, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive~March

I’m doing a bit of a departure from my usual routine with the Off the Shelf page this time, and  reviewing a book I just purchased featuring the poems of Lebanese poet, Khalil Hawi, entitled: Naked in Exile, Khalil Hawi’s The Threshing Floors of Hunger; Interpretation and Translation by Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard. ( © Adnan Haydar & Michael Beard, 1984, Three Continents Press. All rights reserved.)

While randomly reading on the internet about the situation in the MidEast, I came upon an article discussing modern Arab poetry, in which was quoted a short unsourced quatrain from  Khalil Hawi (1925-1982)  which impressed me considerably. (I finally found it in this book, the first lines of Lazarus 1962.) 

In the West, we’re more familiar with one of his countrymen and predecessors, Khalil Gibran, but Hawi is a poet of a  different stripe; political, allegorical and dark. Hawi's date of birth is given variously as 1919 and 1925. He was born in a remote mountainous area of Lebanon in a small Greek Orthodox village community, and was educated first by French missionaries, then at the American University of  Beirut, followed by Cambridge University,in England, where he did his doctoral thesis on Gibran. Politically he  was an Arab nationalist by belief but unaffiliated with any party or movement, and he published a great deal of poetry, very little of which is available in translation. He taught at the A.U.B. til his suicide in 1982 on the eve of the Israeli invasion. 

You can find both my review of Naked in Exile and part of one of the poems therein called The Genie of the Beach, here, in the Off the Shelf Archive for April.

To make room for Hawi, you see below the prior Off the Shelf selection, the surreal poem by Federico Garcia Lorca, The City That Does Not Sleep. As always, feel free to comment on either the Lorca poem, or the Hawi piece here, as comments are disabled off the main page, and also feel free to make any suggestions for next time. More information on Off the Shelf and what it's about can be found on the Missionary Statement page.

The City That Does Not Sleep

In the sky there is nobody asleep. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
The creatures of the moon sniff and prowl about their cabins.
The living iguanas will come and bite the men who do not dream,
and the man who rushes out with his spirit broken will meet on the
street corner
the unbelievable alligator quiet beneath the tender protest of the

Nobody is asleep on earth. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is asleep.
In a graveyard far off there is a corpse
who has moaned for three years
because of a dry countryside on his knee;
and that boy they buried this morning cried so much
it was necessary to call out the dogs to keep him quiet.

Life is not a dream. Careful! Careful! Careful!
We fall down the stairs in order to eat the moist earth
or we climb to the knife edge of the snow with the voices of the dead
But forgetfulness does not exist, dreams do not exist;
flesh exists. Kisses tie our mouths
in a thicket of new veins,
and whoever his pain pains will feel that pain forever
and whoever is afraid of death will carry it on his shoulders.

One day
the horses will live in the saloons
and the enraged ants
will throw themselves on the yellow skies that take refuge in the
eyes of cows.

Another day
we will watch the preserved butterflies rise from the dead
and still walking through a country of gray sponges and silent boats
we will watch our ring flash and roses spring from our tongue.
Careful! Be careful! Be careful!
The men who still have marks of the claw and the thunderstorm,
and that boy who cries because he has never heard of the invention
of the bridge,
or that dead man who possesses now only his head and a shoe,
we must carry them to the wall where the iguanas and the snakes
are waiting,
where the bear's teeth are waiting,
where the mummified hand of the boy is waiting,
and the hair of the camel stands on end with a violent blue shudder.

Nobody is sleeping in the sky. Nobody, nobody.
Nobody is sleeping.
If someone does close his eyes,
a whip, boys, a whip!
Let there be a landscape of open eyes
and bitter wounds on fire.
No one is sleeping in this world. No one, no one.
I have said it before.

No one is sleeping.
But if someone grows too much moss on his temples during the
open the stage trapdoors so he can see in the moonlight
the lying goblets, and the poison, and the skull of the theaters.

Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca

Image: Invention of the Monsters, by Salvador Dali, 1938
Art Institute of Chicago Collection  source link

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Cult



The cult bought the old Rickert place
and moved in down the road.

They cut down the scrub oak and all
the snowghost sandplums,
brought crawling earth movers with crocodile feet
smashed things flat and built three religion boxes.

Then they planted
baby trees. 

They died last summer.

I doubt they’re doing any better

March 2011

Posted for Friday Flash 55 at the G-man's

Image: US Navy Military Grader, courtesy wikimedia commons

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Mandala Interrupted

Don't Sit On Me

Mandala Interrupted

The roundness of life rushes out
with the snap of a fan spread suddenly,
end meeting end in full revolve,
a circle of spines, and death
the vacuum at the heart
of understanding.

In my palm
a star journeys out
from speck to pentacle, to yellow dwarf
pulling all it meets into a glowing
globe, imbuing a map
of ancient
 with all
the colors of light
painting tracings of veins,
a mandala of brooks into rivers,
fan ribs rilling soft hills of cheeks,
weaving the willow weeds of hair
white with wheels of sunsets,
starsets, sunbursts and
the monsters that be here
into a heliosphere

illuminated husks,
shrivelled buds, dark
matter in the interstellar cloud
watch the armies, the dead they eat,
ruptures in the planetary floor, bleeding
stigmata of tempests, the dead they provide,
 the oceanblue spiral maelstrom of events
over which we mull without control,
etiolated phototrophs in the dark
dwindling as the sun fades
 redhot and cold now
watching a brilliant molecular ballet shuffled
 in a child’s makeshift slippers, starsilk
on the solar wind that blows the bubble,
a  whirling jig through a corona
haloing an orbiting ball
circling a matrix;
a roundness of life
where the vacuum
the core
doubting an end,
a beginning, an age,
even a void before the round became.

March 2011

I've been working on this poem for many months, inspired by the photograph above, taken by my friend Petteri Sulonen in Sydney, Australia last December. Recent events have altered its original intent, yet I felt the mandala image still does, perhaps always, remain pertinent.

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Thanks, Petteri, for your gracious permission to use this image.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Nothing Exists Except Atoms & Space

"Sweet exists by convention, bitter by convention, colour by convention; atoms and Void [alone] exist in reality." ~ Democritus

Nothing Exists Except Atoms And Space

A rondel

Come ride the atoms where I walk.
Be real before you blow like smoke.     
Be dreams but then be dreamer woke.       
Be acts not sacks of empty talk.

Call back the dogs, call back the hawk.
Do the thing you can’t revoke.             
Come ride the atoms where I walk.
Be real before you blow like smoke.

Unpick the stitch, unlock the lock.
Unthread the needle words we spoke.
Take form and be the antidote
to poisons, not the killing shock.
Come ride the atoms where I walk.

March 2011

Posted for OneStop Poetry Form at the inimitable OneStopPoetry
~Okay, I fudged the rhymes a bit in the final stanza. Young padawans--don't try this at home.

Image: Spinward,  by nmsmith, courtesy deviantART

Sunday, March 20, 2011



The glittering void
is laid across brown velvet
a string of trade beads
centering a cysted eye of nacre.
All else is dark, dark
except the running lights
of the impending journey.

Voices in the distance bubble and fizz
or creak mournfully, 
a failure of imagination.
A crowd that is passing
its own shadow on a circular track
of air and darkness
makes no noise.

Later, the screens and screams,
the flags, the stations, the reports,
the caterwauling coupling of
grinding track and moaning air brake,
the yammering and jamming of doors,
the blundering of the blind
coming and going of time.

Now, only the rush of the blood
fulltide in the ear,
the heartpound of desire,
the catch of a breath,
the settling intake of the thought
of leaving, leaving

March 2011

 Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

 Photo: Grand Central Station, by James Rainsford

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Wheatfield

Van Gogh - Weizenfeld mit Zypressen3


Isn’t flesh as strong as wheat,
born singing its own gnostic song?
The field prays and the earth answers
in the same voice.
Smuts kill its blades, sun freshens,
but the sea of grass goes on
waving in the wild prairie storms,
leaning blade on blade
from horizon to horizon;
and so we all.

March 2011

Image: Wheatfield with Cypresses, Vincent Van Gogh, Oil on Canvas, 1889

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

On The River

Corot - Boatman of Mortefontaine

On the River

A day on the river, processional, surrendered
in a shell of whispers, floating down a blue nave.
Leaf ceilings in the transepts lace like our fingers,
our heads bow over the side as if to worship
the spirit holding us up.

Jade waters full of secret life
blind back our defenseless eyes with
their shifting coat of surfaced silver,
a door of running glass we pass through
into moving darkness

full of quick fleeing shapes, green-glazed stones,
waving grass that clutches with hands and feet,
water babies swimming through our fingers, 
gloving us in their slickness,
cartwheeling to escape our careless giants’ grasp.

Minnows like chrome torpedos, mirror-sided
decorate the shallows, fishermen’s bribes
spinning vertical on their lips between the stones
like the ghosts between my thoughts
feeding there and shining.

This is a journey we do not
wish to disturb by any arrival.
Watchful faces in the high rock follow us
but not so thoroughly, so aptly, so archly
as the faces in our dreams.

The river loses and wins her mercurial battles
without any knowledge of a contest.
So it is in the river of your touch
where I spin silver, slick and never stopping,
carried from twilight to another dawn.

July 1989
Revised, March 2011

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Image: Boatman of Mortefontaine, by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot,
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot [Public domain], via wikimedia commons

Monday, March 14, 2011

Dustbowl Pavane

Dustbowl Pavane;
in which the wheat dances

The wind begins, a breath, a sigh,
blades bend, wheat whispers brow to brow.
Clay cracks, green browns, the voices die.
The wind begins, a breath, a sigh.
The dustbound seed  is born to fly,
turned up beneath a burning plow.
The wind begins, a breath, a sigh,
blades bend, wheat whispers brow to brow

March 2011

A second triolet to pair with last week's, found here.

Posted for Form Monday, Triolets Part II,  at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

Photo: prairie grass blowing,  by joy ann jones, 2010

Musical Interlude ~ Idiot Wind

Idiot Wind appears on the 1975 album, Blood on the Tracks, Dylan's 15th. 

The lyrics of both versions of this song, the studio cut and the bootleg outtake, have been knocking around in my head for a long time. This video clip is the bootleg version, a much longer, less polished and also less abrasive take in my opinion. It's a full nine minutes long, but there are so many excruciating lines in such a stark deadpan delivery, punctuated by the man's antiphonal, insinuating, ancient-sounding harmonica that is almost another vocal, that it doesn't feel too long by any means--in fact, though there are no lyrics after the seven minute mark in this one, the studio take of seven and a half minutes seems rather edited and formal in comparison, though it contains some excellent lines not heard here, in particular, "I can't even stand to touch the books you read..." (--that one always gets me.) The first part of the first verse remains puzzling to me, and if anybody has any thoughts about why this very intimate song begins with a throwaway smartass punchline, feel free to expound in the comments.

Anyway, here it is, the quintessential crashed and burned anti-love poem.

"...Idiot wind, blowin every time you move your jaw,
from the Grand Coulee Dam to the Mardi Gras...

...You close your eyes and  part your lips, and slip your fingers from your glove.
You can have the best there is but it's gonna cost you all you love, 
you won't get it for money.."

Bob Dylan - Idiot Wind - Bootleg Series Vol.2 - MyVideo

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Night at the Fair

Night at the Fair

The carnival has come to town, its mouth agape for rubes.
A hissing bustling mass of noise, it builds its world in a day.
Where anything can be believed, then nothing is untrue;
the weight is fair, the freak is real, the prize is worth the play.
Where any shadow seems a threat, feel free to act the fool.
Boil the blood and hoist the flag, if you have the coin to pay.

Triviality and wild excess,
dark skill and the beat of the drum.
Shoot cigarettes from the mouth of a whore,
and wait and see who’ll come.

March 2011

Posted for One Shoot Sunday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Image: Photo by Fee Easton

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ The Apricot Tree

The Apricot Tree

Will it live, you ask,
the old apricot tree?
Half of it died three years ago,
the other half is blooming.

Will it live, I ask,
the geriatric heart?
Half of it died six years ago,
the other half is blooming.

Old sorrows, borers in the wood;
dead wood needs a sharp saw.

March 2011

Photo by joy ann jones 3/9/11

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

String of Beads

String of Beads

A circle’s string of beads decks out a hook
beside a broken wishbone on a nail,
a mouse’s skull within a warded nook,
all relics hidden from the cyclone’s tail
and given me to make a summer song.
Sharp shadows thrown by arbitrary light
convinced my heart that time had right or wrong,
unlike the void that opened with the night;
that will could make things speak that had no tongue
and days be numbered in a wheel of sense
with grace, like beads so innocently strung
beside the broken bones for recompense—
but now I draw a breath in quick dismay
to find the sickly smell of sweet decay.

January, 2011

Posted for OneShotWednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

This sonnet previously appeared for the January Creative Challenge at Facial Expressions Poetry Circle, on Facebook