Thursday, June 30, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Puffball

Puffball spores in SEM stereoscopic, magnification 5000x
puffball spores, magnified x5000


Poor little
puffball in a patch
of  deathcaps
poison left
and right hallucinations.
Who’d want to pick her?

fat, brown and sturdy,
dark spores ripe
and pushing,
she twirls her black umbrella;
out they fly past death.

Resting now
she sleeps unknowing;
clouds gather,
soft rainfall
springs up far away children
anyone can pick.

June 2011

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

"While most puffballs are not poisonous, some often look similar to young agarics, especially the deadly Amanitas, such as the Death Cap mushroom." ~wikipedia

The shadorma is a Spanish verse form. It has six lines with a syllable pattern:3/5/3/3/7/5

courtesy wikimedia commons 

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dream of the Dancing Doll

This post is something of a departure for me. It's the longest poem I've ever written, for one thing, which is why I'm not posting it for a prompt--it's a lot to ask for someone making the rounds of many sites to read a poem of this length. Unlike most of my posted poems, I haven't added much punctuation or  the other neatening I usually do; it's here just as it came out of my head, for the most part. 
It's also taken almost word for word from the transcription of a dream I had at the beginning of the month that covered pages of textual notes--I have cut all I felt I could, and still end up with a freight train of verses. I've worked on it as much as I think will be productive, so it's going up and out of the way. Many many thanks to Fireblossom for her help with analysis and for her encouragement. And to anyone with the patience to read, my thanks in advance.

Dream of the Dancing Doll


Sent to save the
dancing doll
wrapped in red and
shut in a box

in the crowded house
of uncaring party where
the blademen run wild
slashing and laughing

I ran with her
but you stopped me in the plaza,
at the booths of despair and dream,
where the noise was a storm of  money.

You stood in your blue frown
and said I’d failed the trust; perhaps,
but what about her was wrong? Your silent eyes 
were hooded  in the running lights.

Inside the box her wrist
still dripped
cut because they took her
from the dance

I saw her at the party
the dancing doll dressed in red
pale hair and curved mouth
she danced and so she smiled

We heard the music wild
where others heard the chatter
spooned it in  bottomless cups of ears
til nothing else could be.


the black men cooking eggs
help stop the blood
but can’t leave the kitchen
they saw her make the cut

they wrapped it tight
wrapped all of her
in bands of red satin
to hide the dark flower

with the sleeve they tore from
her red satin dress, tore across again
the cocoon strips to make her
a mummy  in her matchbox

The men in liver dinner jackets
shrank her to a twist of
finger, boiled her tongue till
she could no longer speak, but her eyes

her eyes found mine
just before they bound them
her head tossing
in the red satin mask

I  heard her glance
shattering  me and stole the box.
We ran in the dying minute for the place
where only the dance matters

not the promise
not the conditions, not the control.
From the quicksand trap I ran with her
to where all bleeding stops.


It was hard to run
in the long skirt
I wore to the party at
the house of gold

petal flare of denim blue
a soft clamor, the red apple that
parts the green leaves of heart
shroud covered. Running through,

I watched the others play,
with dice, with men
with ivory cards, bags of storebought
monkeys, bored laughing eyes of stone

no one noticed she was gone,
the vacant air where she once danced
her head tipped back to the ride
the doors of her eyes closed and bolted.

I liked the tall man
who stood in giant pants his belt
above my head but his ogrish hands
could only break a doll

There was only me to
save her so I did.
she was small and perfect
in her box, tossing, tossing

her tiny head, bleeding,
wrapped too tight
her fine eyes covered
with a red death mask

but I knew if I found the place
where the wild music played
she would dance again.
So we ran, picked up our skirts

and ran to where I set her down
and left her dancing,
in her  red dress with the
missing sleeve.

behind us oblivious mirrors,
the  empty crowd  with
eyes of gold, tongues of
dollars chattered on.

June 2011

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Epistemology: Demons

Stone Gargoyle Face - Statue


What do we know 
about demons? Angels may
float the sky in a white penumbra 
of  cloud, but you know 
where you are with a demon.

We know demons are god’s
black ops, sent to
do his wetwork, to keep
the wings of the angels
always clean.

We know they have radiant
faces of fire, red eyes
of ember, a split singing tongue,
tails that thrash like pythons
and a foot divided,

that if they speak
then they are lying, that
they play us like dulcimers,
sucking the music straight
down to hell.

We know they’ve come to
burn down the heart, but first
pull up the flowers on the doorstep
to scent the flames that
cover the smell of blood.

They are not distant
but near beside us, the better to catch
a lungful of loss and smoky grief
from  feelings clean as diamonds
they‘ve turned against us in the blaze.

We know they are as we are,
damned or dancing to the tune
of the universe, which says
some things must die
so that others can live.

Yes, you know
where you are
with a demon.

June 2011

Note: This is a companion piece to Epistemology:Angels, found here.

posted for   OneShotWednesday   at the inimitable OneStopPoetry
This is the one year anniversary for One Stop Poetry. Happy Birthday! and thanks to all the One Stop Team for their fine work and the many hours they spend in visiting and commenting on a huge number of participating sites.

Image: Stone Gargoyle Face, by Digital Wallpaper on flick'r
Digital Wallpaper's photostream

Monday, June 27, 2011

Musical Interlude~Hippie Backsliding

Some days I am amazed by what's on youtube--I lost this album many years ago, but there is probably nothing that says counterculture more for me than Jimmy Spheeris' 1971 Isle of View. So enjoy a trip back in time with two cuts that can only be called classic, with lyrics even.

I am the Mercury
I cannot go anymore to the marshes
where the gatekeeper smiles at the poisons that he's made
for my heart belongs to the one on the mountain
where the doves build their nests in the sun-ripened glade
for I am the mercury - light of the morning
looking for shelter in this thunder and this rain
and you like some windmill weave light where its storming
your love like a potion for the hunger and the pain
Let it rain
I have been bought, I have been sold in the city
I've dined with the demons and I drank of their fear
but you, you have known and waited in silence
come cradle my heart in a homecoming tear
and we are the mercury - light of the morning
looking for shelter in this thunder and this rain
and he like some windmill weaves light where its storming
his love like a potion for the hunger and the pain
let it rain - let it rain
let it rain on the mountain
let it rain

The Nest
come to me now - dove on your shoulder
white flame of love burns on your breath
I am ready for flight
oh my wings are so ripe
come wake me
take me from the nest
the scarlet ships sail sacred oceans
where tides of love have laid to rest
quiet water by night
oh my sails are so ripe
come wake me
take me from the nest
and weave your beauty
fire lacing thru me
trip the light and know that I am waiting for you
unlock the treasure of stolen pleasure
breathe in the light that blinds the pain that we once knew
wake me
take me
come to me now - dove on your shoulder
white flame of love burns on your breath
I am ready for flight
oh my wings are so ripe
come wake me
take me from the nest
from the nest

sigh...good times.

Here's the Isle of View website where I found the lyrics

The Starving Bear

The Starving Bear

The starving bear
turns over trash cans, tips the dumpsters,
learns how to eat away their lids
like scooping out a honey tree.

For one who’s used to
excavating logs and eating the results
a limp french fry is only
a slower kind of worm.

Dancing with debris,
dodging the tranquilizer dart,
he makes chaos out of order,
scavenge out of substance.

No berries, no salmon; he tears the soft
white sacks, scatters maggots like rosebuds
in the famine processional  of maniac summer
at the feet of his  bridesmaid crows.

Sometimes he screws the pooch.
but she knows better than to growl;
it’s an easy mistake to make
after all, and better screwed than food.

She will get
her dinner tonight.
But the  starving bear
must feed himself.

June 2011

Posted for     Form Monday    at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Image: courtesy google image search  
originating site


Friday, June 24, 2011

Lost in the Woods

Moonrise, Alison Jardine

Lost in the Woods

and clamor
running through the black boles of elm;
there’s no green at night
no light
only noise to see by.

I played with
the crazy ones
the blue and tatooed ones,
the ones I couldn’t keep
so deep
in the woods.

I thought
I was a wild thing
smelling blood and water
coming to me on the air
my hair
tangled with promises of nettle.

But I was already
tamed, a fallow patch
danced bare
out where
music’s ghost hunts the ear.

And when they
left me
in the clearing
under the masked moon
too soon
I saw the cage.

June  2011

Posted for Poets United Thursday Think Tank #58, prompt: nighttime.

was also posted for  Friday Poetically   at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Brian's prompt this week is to write from the intricate and surprising visual art of Alison Jardine. I chose an oil on canvas work entitled Moonrise

In addition to Ms Jardine's work,  this poem also owes something to the below song:

Off the Shelf Archive ~June #2

The month slips by once again, and the archivist wakes up out of her heat induced coma long enough to realize it's time for a new Off the Shelf selection. This time, we're looking at a woman, from another but eerily similar time and another land, the modernist Russian poet Anna Akhmatova (pen name of Anna Andreyevna Gorenko.) Akhmatova (1889-1966) began writing before the Communist Revolution  and was a well-known lyric poet and free spirit when Stalin came to power. After the rise of Stalin she was one of the few artists of her generation who chose to stay and record the atrocities of that regime rather than emigrate, for which she paid a high price, her work banned for years. Her best known long poem is called Requiem, about this time of terrors.

I've picked three of her poems, all short, one for concept, Lot's Wife, one for language, Everything, and one for emotion, You Thought I Was that Type.

You can enjoy them all here, in the July Off The Shelf Archives

Thanks to Fireblossom for pointing me to this selection, and the good people at Poet's United, who profiled her recently.

Making room for Akhmatova is the previous selection, a fine poem by Ted Hughes entitled The Howling of Wolves, archived here in the main stream for a last perusal. As always, you may comment on either piece here as comments are disabled off the main page, and suggestions for next time are always welcome.

Last look at The Howling of Wolves, by Ted Hughes:

«Come and play with me!»

The Howling of Wolves

Is without world.

What are they dragging up and out on their long leashes of sound
That dissolve in the mid-air silence?

Then crying of a baby, in this forest of starving silences,
Brings the wolves running.
Tuning of a viola, in this forest delicate as an owl’s ear,
Brings the wolves running—brings the steel traps clashing
  and slavering.
The steel furred to keep it from cracking in the cold,
Their eyes that never learn how it has come about
That they must live like this,

That they must live

Innocence crept into minerals.

The wind sweeps through and the hunched wolf shivers.
It howls you cannot say whether out of agony or joy.

The earth is under its tongue,
A dead weight of darkness, trying to see through its eyes.
The wolf is living for the earth.
But the wolf is small, it comprehends little.

It goes to and fro, trailing its haunches and whimpering horribly.

It must feed its fur.

The night snows stars and the earth creaks.

by Ted Hughes

Image: Come Play with Me, by Tambako the Jaguar on flick'r
Tambako the Janguar's photostream
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Friday Flash 55 ~ Some Observations

Some Observations
on the Natural Sciences

sleep best when fed,
with other
tigers in their bed.

that fly
try but can’t
stay in the sky.

avoid ships,
and look like mice
with wings and lips.
Just bones
we use for
 monster clones

All of these
I understand.
The one I can’t,
it's name is man.

June 2011 

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Conversation with T. alba

Lechuza (Tyto alba)

A Talk with Tyto alba

To the garden watered
by my tears
the Barn Owl came one night.
He sat on a branch,
swiveling his windowed head
and asked me why
I cried.

“Are you lonely
here, in this place
you built yourself? Do the walls
draw in at evening
and do you miss the sigh
of free wind I sail?”

I looked in his eyes
round as apples, golden
orbs drawing light
from dark, and shook my head.

“Then is it the stone
you carry inside, the one
that presses so hard on your lungs,
heavy with years, hollow with loss,
sharp with  fear
of  tomorrow?”

I shook my head 
and said,
“I don’t cry for what I’ve lost
or what I am or what will be.
 I cry for what I’ve broken
and what has broken me.”

“Very sensible,”
said my friend
with a dip of his wing
and left my garden,
chasing the soft
sweet rustlings
in the grass.

June 2011

Image: Lechuza (Tyto alba) by posted on flick'r's photostream
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Hedgerider's Lament~Part III

Note: This is the third in what will hopefully be a set of  four sestinas on the pagan holidays which mark the turn of the year, and of the human heart. Hedgerider's Lament, Part I, (Yule) is here, and Part II, (Candlemas), is here.

The Hedgerider's Lament
Part III: Beltane Sestina

It’s been a killing winter here circled deep in the hedgerow’s walls.
I hear the hungry crying, birdsong and brisk bee buzz drowned out.
Wrapped in the scorpion’s tail of drought the new sun builds no fires
and seeds fester as they’re planted in a darkness shorn of green.
Somewhere a heartwound hides itself, seeping dully under the moon
and all are made to feel that pain till the fires outburn the curse.

Things are coming through that shouldn’t, tangled with the curse
It strengthens dark and brings them kicking out at the charmbuilt walls.
The faery lights are spectral blue, dim and distant in bowls of moon.
The tongue cleaves to the mouthpiece and the song will not come out.
The world hangs on the coming of the one who brings the green.
Behind locked doors barbed evils thicken, old flesh no longer fires.

So out we go to find the nine woods needed to build the fires,
twin pyres to burn nine murders and nine times nine despairs, curse
fright that sets the handle slipping stripping deadwood from the green
fuel and future even mixed in the razorsharp hedgerow’s walls.
Babes are counted, a white horse passes vast as the veils thin out;
pale hands grip tight the reins of light that pull the quickening moon.

In the darkness that is absence floating in night’s red eye, the moon
looks down on fractals, throbbing temples, cold heart fires.
The weasel eating her young, the blighted seed that won’t sprout out
grim her pocked sad face and set her calling to lift the curse,
to begin the windsigh song the harpist brings to raise the walls
so all in the hedgerow’s circle know the lover’s kiss of green.

The flower bride she walks in May, all cup in search of filling, green
her gown, breadbrown her hands, face limpid as a slice of moon,
summer’s lord for her arms, green man of the land that knows no walls.
She carries her basket of wishes to make the spark for the high balefires
and all that dances through them comes out sound and free of curse,
for every spite of winterlong will be ashed and trampled out.

No more shelter for the fiddling tongue ravaged by betrayal, thrust out
black bloated at all comers in pours of poison bitter and green.
No more room for winter’s old man’s rage or hag’s hardbitten curse
when the summer lord and the lady come to dance beneath the moon.
There the skin is thin and the maypole thick by the heartwood’s fires:
stop, reverse and turn, as its green ward weaves the hedgerow’s walls.

Re-spin the curse to blessing, crossweave sun with braids of  moon.
Pull up the dead. Sins' tinder flares to burn out on the green.
All seen, all felt is new again. Life fires light, singing up the walls.

June 2011

Posted for    OneShotWednesday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Process Notes:
I’ve been working off and on on this for several months and  meant to have it ready for the true date of Beltane, which falls at the beginning of May and marks the midpoint of the sun’s equinox in progress towards today, the summer solstice, but the demands of a poem a day in April shunted it to the back burner.

There are too many legends, myths and archetypes associated with Beltane and the coming of summer to list, but I’ll just touch on a few I’ve incorporated here. Balefires are bonfires of purification that symbolically burn away the winter and its ills, marking the goddess of fertility’s arrival and celebrating her wedding with the sun god, when birth and growth of crops and livestock replace the death grip of winter. As always, I've taken a lot of liberty with historical detail and only loosely follow the pagan canon.

You can find a bit more general info here at wikipedia

Image: Summer Solstice Sunrise over Stonehenge, 
Photograph by Andrew Dunn, 21 June 2005 courtesy wikimedia commons

Monday, June 20, 2011

Spring and The Fool

Spring and The Fool

Spring loves a fool,
throwing her sticky caltrop
 blossoms under his dancing toes,
laughing with him as the cold white
blood of January turns blue,
brims the river
and slides his fool’s shack
off the bank.

Spring cares for a fool,
washing his winter soiled
questions of living, tumbling them
in her dryer to be folded away
neat as a fallen leaf sorted back
into earth,

sucking him up her pressure hose
for a lark, blowing him out the nozzle
or percolating him down from his cloud
as he juggles hail in the wild storm,
morning coffee for the
first grasshoppers.

Even this spring
hot as any summer
where the flatbread plains crisp
under her sudden yellow eye; where running
before the distant blur of the moon the south wind
exhales with the used heat
of dragon breath.

Spring loves a fool
as the fool loves the dance.
 Blistered feet soon summerheal,
distrained harvests soon reseed.
Thrice denied before dawn,
the sun’s judas kiss burning
on his cheek, still he sheds his skin
and dons his pointy hat
one more time.

June 2011

Posted for   Form Monday   at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Continuing One Stop Poetry's June focus on Free Verse, this week Shay (aka Fireblossom) gives her views on the differences between prose, doggerel and poetry. Stop by and get her unique perspective on just what exactly makes for effective Free Verse.

Image: Michael the Juggler, 1981, by Michael Parkes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Musical Interlude ~Born to Run

Clarence Clemons, seminal sax player for the E Street Band, passed last night after a stroke at  69. In this video, the joy and silliness of rock n roll is prominent, and is not a reflection of my nostalgia for youth and all it's follies, but a tribute to the Big Man, spiritually bigger than I'll ever be, and what he brought to his own life and the lives of others. All my gratitude for his time with us.

Wings ~ Deal With It

Deal with it

No one remembers Icarus flying
Any fool on the street can say how he fell,  
tasting the burn, laughing and crying.
No one remembers Icarus flying.

Heaven’s the place you'll go after dying.
Everyone knows I'm going to hell.
No one remembers Icarus flying
Any fool on the street can say how he fell.

June 2011

*Thanks to Fireblossom for the inspiration for this title.

Posted for   OneShootSunday  at the inimitable OneStopPoetry

Photo: of Graffiti by Chris Galford, courtesy of OneStopPoetry

Friday, June 17, 2011

Blue Sky Carillon

Blue Sky Carillon

Since you sang with me
O for such a short while
light of my heart,
the lemongrass is sweeter, the
birds fly as birds have
never flown
with each cunning feather
rimmed with the heart’s gold,
and if all I found there 
was only an echo
of my own song, it still chimes sweetly
against every surface

June 2011

It's 102 here today, but not as hot as this band. Dickie Betts is on fire. Like one of the youtube comments says, if that doesn't get you movin, you're dead.


photo by joy ann jones, 2010



The drum is beating low
but constant like Leviathon’s heart
far up in the moonless basin
filled with the ocean of  night.

The flame flares with the ghosts of grasses
born on the banshee’s wind.
The bent man circles in his animal mask
rustling soft the rattle of bone.

In this black of smoke and flicker
his chant is a shine, his words
a lintel of stars for the doorway 
of morning, each an arrow let fly
unerringly down the path to my tears.

Wounds unhealed, wounds unknown
open and close 
like speaking mouths
with tongues of silk.

I’m undone for the ritual
more than naked
brindled with shadow
wings spread like Isis

to fall instead, only
Psyche’s origami moth, feathered 
on his palm till 
night’s next whisper.

I reach my hand
to the mask, where it rubs
the skin raw.
The drum is silent.

June 2011

Image: Figure de pleureuse, Musée du Louvre
18th Dynasty Terracotta sculpture; thought to be Isis mourning Osiris

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Things Endure

Things endure
then they explode
here where our hands
are so busy working
in the round room.

In the basement
the child waits,
worn out beneath the bare lightbulb
that barely breaks the black

alone where no one
has heard,
as her wells of eyes look
for light past the screen

into the big dark.

June 2011

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Musical Interlude ~ Work Out with hedgewitch

Warning: Rock and Roll with No Redeeming Social Value Follows

Welcome, aspiring aerobic aces. You are entering Hedgewitch's House of Funk, where healthy cardio workout combined with the most bizarre dance moves of the seventies and eighties will soon have you sweating your way to a new you. (Or else you can just listen or ignore.). At my physical this year, I was sternly advised by my doctor that if I wanted to live long enough to fulfill my socialist ambition to qualify for Medicare, I would have to do the dreaded E word on a more regular basis than once every three months. Till now I've been allowing my devoted Nurse and Personal Trainer, and the former Ms. Iditarod, Chinook the Sled Dog, to pull me around the neighborhood daily. However, we have hit a snag here, what with the temperatures reaching that of the surface of Mercury, so I have devised an alternate plan--dancing like a maniac in the AC.
Fun & Safe! Nurse Chinook will provide onsite supervision

I am picking tunes I've made dance mixes from in the past,and can verify that each and every song will provide better cardio and muscle toning than a Denise Austin tape and you will get to look at blasted rock stars who look older and in worse shape than you'll ever be instead of her, an added plus in your total body workout.

 So, fun-seekers, onward to health and all that booshwah.

Hedgewitch's Fitness Tip: More calories are burned when songs for dancing are played at highest volume. This is because a) you will dance better, and b) the ears futilely attempt to pull more blood from the heart to swell the ear veins, close the passage to the inner ear and prevent deafness.Louder is better, class.

First up, to get the muscles stretched, the classic warm up act with Ronstadt's version of The Stones' Tumblin Dice:

Next the Bones really put the fever in the funkhouse with this version of "Happy." It's like it's playing at the wrong speed, they're smokin it out so fast. Keith is actually audible on vocal, and the band is kickin ass. Great lyrics too--esp the opening verse:
I never kept a dollar past sunset,
It always burned a hole in my pants.
Never made a school mama happy,
Never blew a second chance, oh no

A little too much of the Jagger derrieire for my taste(and not enough Keef,) but I'll be dancing anyway  so we'll let it slide. (Caution: Always consult your doctor before dancing to any Rolling Stones song. Beginners may want to skip this):

'kay--deep breath--drink of water--and for those left alive, we'll do some cool down, well sort of, with what I'm sure is a bootleg vid of Janis doing her tightest tune suitable for dancing, Move Over, released in 1971 on the album Pearl, three months after her death at 27 from a heroin od. I never watch her without sadness.You can see the flame in her burning way too bright, the way they do just before they go out, but hey, she'd be the first one to want you to dance. So we'll do that thing. The video quality is bad enough to make you wonder if it's Joplin(it is)or someone they pulled off the street and put a pile of feathers on, and for some strange reason it has asian subtitles, but she is in fine voice, the band doesn't screw up majorly (always a plus with the Full Tilt Boogie guys) and by now, you should be focusing on breathing too much to watch closely anyway:

For anyone still standing, we'll get to something a little less manic but quite danceable, and also a bit more cheerful--my old standby dance band, The Talking Heads, with Wild Wild Life. I'm not much for the video on this one, it's all dubbed anyway, so just the music:

Check out Mr. Businessman/he bought some wild wild life
on the way to the stock exchange oh woh

Closing with  the Kinks'  Low Budget; this is pure self-indulgence on my part, because it's only great for dancing when you're slightly tired and/or barely able to move.

Thanks all for joining me in my pursuit of cardiac fitness. Anyone foolish enough to have actually danced along can probably relate to the line in the Band song Chest Fever, " my mind unweaves/I feel the freeze down in my knees" (and--just before I heave/ I take an Aleve)

It's a multitasking blog now, my friends, till the heat breaks. I'll be doing these little projects every so often when the line up gets old, so if anyone has a particularly crazy tune to dance to that might make me live longer, feel free to suggest it. (It has to be something that you can do the swim to, remember.)

Thanks for playing. We'll be back to poetry tomorrow.