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.



  1. Life is a bit like a cactus, full of goodness, until you encounter a prickle or two. Really liked what you did with the shape of the poem, and the words you used to emphasise the rotundness, heliopause, love that word!

  2. this is exquisitely written...the image is so potent, bursting with life and its never ending cycle...one thing dies another begins... beautiful.

  3. Rilling Hills and Willow Weeds...
    You are soooo Smoooooth Hedgewitch!!

  4. snap. you can tell you took your time with this it is well crafted hedge...molecule ballet in the kids slippers...love it! also really like the rolling structure...

  5. The language in this is nothing short of exquisite.

    "end meeting end in full revolve"

    "In my palm
    a star journeys out
    from speck to pentacle, to yellow dwarf"

    "starsets, sunbursts and
    the monsters that be here
    into a heliosphere

    Get. out. of. town. I could go on. Just the words themselves are so well chosen, and sound so much like what they describe. Then add the overall picture you've drawn and it's really something special that you have created here.

  6. KOZMIC...trippy...head still spinning.

  7. this is a work of art and a labor of love.
    It was a joy to read and to even look at.
    Well done :)

  8. Joy Ann, an exquisitely crafted piece. I love your work. Your use of language is nothing short of beautiful.
    "watching a brilliant molecular ballet shuffled
    in a child’s makeshift slippers"


  9. Sheer brilliance, Joy. I especially loved the same phrases as Fireblossom. But so much more - the beautiful BEAUTIFUL images, perfection of wording, shape of the poem on the page. Truly one of my faves of yours so far. First class writing. It doesnt get any better!

  10. Symphonic both lyrically and visually (even the intricate shape of the poem forms a bolstering column or pedestal for the pic!) J.A., I'll have to come back to read this one a third time. Stunning

  11. wonderful turns of phrase throughout. a tour de force!

  12. Joy,

    This took my breath away.

    The hand's palmistry, the universe's bang, the religionist's make-sense, the everything at the existential nothing, gnostic realization in disappointment.


  13. Hedge: you took the time to make this exquisite and exacting...but so complex in the best way...you covered so many bases....but brought it all home well.

    An amazing piece, and so damn rich!! Beautiful, and I can fall into it, and it's like a hidden universe in a poem.

    Lady Nyo

  14. Love this--shape, subject, picture. It all works to perfection!

  15. Your threads have no knots, your embroidery emblazons the universe and no artistry is superior.

  16. A beautiful piece where have taken the cosmos into your hand and slowly opened it revealing all its mysteries and questions and then throwing it all against the sky event to give us the atoms we stands upon to question its meaning again and again....Cheers on this splendid work...bkm

  17. the time and wait was well worth it. its beautifully crafted.

  18. Read this over 4-5 times and still find something new every time I read it. Really well crafted. I like they way the lines of your poetry rush out and pull back in going with the theme. By th way, I noticed your comments on some of the other blogs. I found your comments highly instructive especially the one comparing rondel and triolet.

  19. It's not only your poetic craft illuminating this poem, it's your masterful craft of as a true artit. Adam is right in how the form along with the words with the image is the whole. I wish I had the resources of a true critique to be able to point out how this poem draws from universal depths of human mystery or as your verses intone:

    "...a roundness of life
    where the vacuum
    the core
    doubting an end,
    a beginning, an age,
    even a void before the round became."

    ...such magnificence...

  20. Funny (not ha ha) places the mind escapes to when we pass through the mandala gates. Seeing universes not known before but lived in since the art/science of the meditative mind became a part of our abilities. I for one went other places than you on your words Joy but they were as potent though interrupted.

  21. A skilfully wrought synthesis of form and content.
    There are some very arresting images here. The shape reminded me of some of the experimental forms explored by Dylan Thomas.

  22. This has such a marvelous feeling of motion, of rushing toward you. Really cool.

  23. I wondered if you had been reading cosmic physics, and it seems these meditations have some ground there, or are being worked into a compatible vortex of world and word, heaven and earth ... (I think poetry and science are much more intimate bedmates than they admit; at least, we sure get a lot of source material from the Age of Discovery.) So if the mandala's a universal imprint of psyche, itself a product of Nature, then how are we to account for mandalas broken by what we come to know about how the universe is behaving? Does the visible, complete, shining circle of unified heart and soul and world get a big bite out of its perfection by dark matter and entropy, supernovae and the idle and pointless collision of Things? In space and in our world, our lives? For any mandala to complete there must by borders of time and space, constructs we come to know are the exception to the cosmic rule, and so easily strafed by collateral fire from friendlies, from love and life itself? (I think of the Libyan boy who was shot by American forces during their rescue of the F-14 that crashed in rebel territory.) The mandala is an article faith, isn't it, maybe a pagan cross, professing a wholeness which has been chewed from every edge by modern pirhanas. Faith is faith, and doubt-retardant (maybe doubt-retarded); if one is going to write of the whole universe, then it must envision a different mandala, the shape of what is. The best as we can say it, or as you do. (Perfection, in the end, may not be a shape, but a cacophony of realities...) Six galactic mandalas whirling like carnival rides of the gods for you today ... Brendan (p.s. WordPress is being very un-mandalic today about taking comments...)

  24. Dear HedgeWitch

    You have created a beautiful essence of cosmic design here with your powerful words. This reminds me of a documentary from BBC Four that I have had just posted today at my blog "Secret of Chaos" which talks about the same thing... how a the patterns out of chaos is formed which is the essence of life ... 'Morphogenesis' i.e. the secret mathematics of self organisation of biological elements...
    Your work here is wonderful and enjoyed it throughly specially after watching that video for many numbers of times, trying to understand how chaos seemingly effortlessly forms such wonderful designs... Great art here.

    ॐ नमः शिवाय
    Om Namah Shivaya
    At Twitter @VerseEveryDay

  25. Exquisite, Joy-- the whole thing, line by line, so beautifully constructed. xxxj

  26. Yeah, this is just lovely, and made even stronger by being paired up with that incredible photograph. Really excellent work.

  27. Clever, solid structure/versifyin'. Made me smile.

  28. Many thanks all, for stopping by and taking the time to leave your thoughts and feedback. The poem turned out much longer than I wanted it to be, but apparently you all had the patience to read it all,which I greatly appreciate.

    @FB As always, you pick my own favorite lines.

    @bkm I doubt I did all that, but if so, I think maybe your own far seeing mind had something to do with it. ;-)Thank you.

    @twm if you were able to catch a ride on the words, I'm happy with wherever it may have taken you.

    @James Rainsford Thanks for the kind words, and for visiting. And for the very flattering allusion.

    @Brendan: the mandala is indeed a profession of continuity, intricacy and wholeness, but not, I think, much of a cross, ie a symbol of personification and sacrifice, very specific and liturgical; and I think the wholeness is really independent of the kind of mental monkey business we as humans like to engage in when we get on our kick of chewing away at things, defining, explaining--a doorway out of it and into something else. But I do see a relationship to some of what science addresses, and I have been reading a bit as noted. it's all good grist to the mill.

  29. Your mandala-interrupted is a lovely juxtaposition of a mandala's complexity. I was able to study a traditional created mandala last year,and couldn't help but see in my mind the complexities of it as I read your work, well done. An aside..I do hope that the 'uninterrupted' is sometime posted, as well...

  30. In a word, beautiful. This is a joy to read.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and opting to follow. After reading that poem, how could I not follow back?

    Not sure what happened when you signed on to follow, but your pic doesn't show at all. I only found you because the number of followers changed, so I hunted you down! Glad I did. :)

  31. WHAT A POEM!!! Life is indeed all about that cyclical nature..isn't it?! Wonderfully written, dear Joy.. and the analogy with the mandala is perfect!! Continuity indeed...
    I loved the helical shape of the poem... made me think of a colored party ribbon...
    Your wordplay is marvelous!! And if start about how impressive I think your imagery is, I can just go on and on and on and... you get the idea, right?! :)


  32. Probably would take me months to go into this poem. The imagery is encyclopedic if not galactic. I love the form of the poem...like a spiral helix, which I get right now.
    Thanks for blowing my mind.

    OneLove--Tiger Windwalker

  33. Wow, Hedge! There is so much complexity, intricacy and depth to this poem. I think I could read it many, many times and find something new, which is certainly the hallmark of "great" literature.

    What captures my attention (after reading this several times) is the form--a helix, yes, but also the folding and unfolding of the mandala and it's cyclical nature. Indeed, it is interrupted, but also fractured open, and the poem stares dead on at that opening revealing by its language (which, btw, is gorgeous)the ruptures of life (i.e. deaths) that often go unspoken.

    For instance, "The dead they eat" is not only apropos given the current climate, but it speaks to me the horrors (the monsters) that both complete and rupture life.

    Fine, fine writing!

  34. Joy,
    Mandala Interrupted is exquisite. The poem breathes visually on the screen. The beautiful cactus is hypnotic/threatening with thorns. I agree with Truly fool's comment about "everything at the existential nothing".Your work is so impressive. Since I read your poem "Oxygen Vine", its words roll up out of nowhere into my mind and I begin chanting "Oxygen vine trace me a line" for no apparent reason. You used a similar word layout there as well.

  35. @ libraryscene: Thanks--it's only interrupted in certain ways, I think. If you join the beginning to the end it just goes on.

    @Ann Thank you, that's surely the highest complement a writer can get, that the lines are in your head that way. (Though there is something about that refrain that I can't get rid of either--wherever it came from,, it doesn't want to go back.)

    @AM Many thanks--you get to the chewy dark center with your perceptive comment, as always.

    @Kavita--I didn't see your one shot, but I'll be by soon. Thanks for all your enthusiasm and kind words.

    And again, thanks to everyone for taking the time to read and comment.

  36. I can see how you've worked this one for a long time. It feels like every word and line is well-thought-out and crafted in due tribute to the work of the Universe. Hedgewitch, you are truly an artist.

  37. this poem feels like someone/you have lived with it for a while - it tastes like a glass of good red wine - grown ripe under the sun, stored and watched and worked on until the time was right to open the bottle..

  38. Really enjoyed this, from the precision of the words to the shape of the poem, reminiscent of its subject.



  39. I loved this poem! It was intricately laid out, just like the universe. I can tell you took your time, it was an exquisite poem that went with a beautiful picture. Thank you for sharing!


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

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