Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hedgerider's Lament Repost

This a repost for Form for All  at DVerse Poets Pub
The topic today is the sestina, and Matt Quinn of Poemblaze blog  is hosting. Thanks to him, and to Gay Cannon for bringing us the chance to explore a challenging but rewarding form.

Hedgerider's Lament~Part II can be found here
Hedgerider's Lament~Part III can be found here

The Hedgerider's Lament
Part I: Yule Sestina

It’s the time when amber green light soaks the sponge of mist,
dripping softly where worlds rub shoulders in vast night,
dreaming in the nest where brown eggs shift and crackle in the air,
where I’m looking, looking, hearing soundless bells in the blue.
The grass bends, the sparrows talk, and magic guards this place
as I edge myself along the walls of the razorleafed hedgerow.

I see them all, patient, living, bent to purpose in the hedgerow
waiting where the edges are sharp, or under the amber green mist.
Horehound lolls silver tongues, mint droops, amanita puts in place
red spotted chairs for sprites and roofs for toadlings. Shadow night
hides monkshood in its cobalt cap, telling me something fatally blue,
and ladyslippers wait for mousewomen where foxgloves dot the air.

My skull is a tangling rootball of hair and bone and air.
My skin is ambergreen bark against the razorleaves of the hedgerow.
My eyes are storm clouds flickering outwards, grey and blue.
My rabbit nose is twitching, pink in the dripping mist,
breathing in and out, sifting and shaking the smells from the night,
passing hands above the edges, feeling leaves for the right place.

I see a medicine fire drifting the air with grey, burning in the place
where a fallen piece of star has struck a match against hard air,
making sage smoke and sweetgrass smolder in the night,
like tobacco in the pipes of gnomes carousing in the hedgerow.
Other nights I lift a glass, beg them wash their beards in mist
but tonight I cannot stop to joke for the place is near, so cold and blue.

I can hear the worlds go sloshing in their shells, spinning in the blue
almost touching, noses pushing membranes towards the place
where the new year sleeps in the old year's arms, damp with mist
and the quick bear the dead upon their backs, howling thru air
sharp silenced by what dwells just past the hedgerow
because the time is not quite yet, though it nears in the shortening night.
Day has sighed and gone, spent from matching itself to night
so perfectly. My hair jigs up in Tesla’s dance, jumping white & blue.
I feel them creeping, riding the top of the razored hedgerow
where it's thin as my skin. Now all but my hair is frozen in place.
Burnt tumbled smells, the soft horse muzzle of the night air
nudges them at me, while at last the steelsharp leaves begin to mist.
Now I can see you blur and move, in mist waves of ribboned night.
I reach out to the air. There where the thorns have turned  blue
is the place I can pull you from your lost world, thru the hedgerow.

 ~December 2010

If this seems familiar it's because all three of these sestinas were originally
Posted for One Shot Wednesday at the inimitable One Stop Poetry

With thanks to Rabbit
The first of what will hopefully be four sestinas loosely based on the neopagan festival days of Yule, Candlemas, Beltane and Samhain.


  1. Excellent poem. You have risen to the occasion! You've done a great job of getting this to flow like free verse and still carry a magical tone throughout.

  2. this is gorgeous...fairly certain i read this prior...the stanza withteh description is the one that caught me...really bringing the character to life richly...lots of nice texture too...crawling across the top leaf thin as my skin...yep i wiped my arms hairs were prickling...

  3. There’s a great narrative drive and an intense connection to the corporeal breathing of the earth through these sestinas. The terror, the hunger, and the cold become in your nimble word-weaving sharp and insistent, fully embodied. The deepening of metaphor, the spinning of time weighs in gold. There is a wonderful sense throughout of diaphanous layers, as if each thing in its specificity is also the vessel of the universal. The lilt and pace of the lines is well balanced and rings true. This is excellent work!

    I know I already said this elsewhere but revisiting your sestina makes me want to sing them again with feeling!

  4. Thanks all.

    And thanks, Anna, for revisiting--I know you read all these not that long ago. I'm glad you found them enjoyable enough to read this one again. they really were a huge time-consuming but extremely rewarding labor of love and I just hope I have it in me to pull out one more.

  5. Hey hedge

    so fine. love the gnomes - sooo great to imagine such things. I think you cracked the form as i read i forgot the repeat - i lost the idea that the same words were appearing and that must be the aim - depth so much. this form lends itself to getting your self lost amongst the words of others - and the realm you create here hedge is the kind of place i wish i could curl up in and sleep for a millenia or 2.

  6. Thanks Arron. I use a sheet with the keywords all already lined up at the ends of the lines. Otherwise I'd never keep it straight what went where.You'd think that would make it stilted, but actually, it really helps me say what I'm wanting to say--not without a little screaming, cursing and hair-pulling, but still...I loved yours, and thought it was very good and very you. Thanks for reading.

  7. I do the same thing when writing sestinas. To me, it's a formula. This is very creative prose; you've given it your unique touch... love the first stanza.


  8. I do the same - type the words out in the right order. It helps to frame the direction of the poem. As usual wonderful vivid imagery and poem that does not need a Phd in prosody to feel and understand. And which allows the form to scaffold the poem without becoming the only thing seen.

  9. Wow! I haven't read a Sestina as so uniquely done as this one. I think you go beyond the usual expectation for a Sestina. You eat the whole form with no hesitations and now here's the result of a most cleverly penned piece. I am in awe with the substance of your Sestina here and how i wish i could have done the same with mine. I took some risk of trying a Sestina and i'm glad i made it somehow acceptable though must admit wasn't as fine as what you have here. Excellent!

    Good Day!


  10. Joy! OMG! I have fallen in love again! This is simply stunning, and one of those pieces that made me I do this? You know I'm no critic and know nothing of form...I simply love your writing, however you choose to display it...I need a break after this piece...I'm going to share it with my partners in crime here in the real world :)Happy Friday!

  11. I really love this piece, particularly this line: "Passing hands above the edges, feeling leaves for the right place." And this: "Making sage smoke and sweetgrass smolder in the night." And the ending is incredible: "Now I can see you blur and move, in mist waves of ribboned night. I reach out to the air.There where the thorns have turned blue Is the place I can pull you from your lost world, thru the hedgerow."

  12. beautifully penned Sestina. love your end words and your envoy is spectacular.

  13. Steelsharp leaves ... great image and strength of beauty and creative expression. For what I know :) this was a great use of the form as a vehicle to speak your heart. I enjoyed it. This form is my weakness, it masters me, but I am glad to read someone who walks it with their leash.

  14. Thanks so much for reading, all. If I haven't made it to your sestina yet, I will try very hard to do so over the next two days.

    @Henry--you have no idea how long it took me to write this. It definitely didn't like the leash; really needed a choke collar. ;-)

  15. This totally beautiful realm you have created and the softness of your content is just unimaginable.
    The art posted with your Sestina just gives the place you have created supernatural life. Your poem had already described this place with prose. I am going to read the other three. Bravo! Can't wait to read the encore someday...


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