Monday, October 31, 2011

The Cat in the Well~A Halloween Fantasia

It's here at last! The Big Day at Castle Hedgewitch: Halloween, All Hallows, All Souls Day, The Day of the Dead, whatever you care to call it, my favorite holiday. To commemorate it, I've written a nice cozy horror poem. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.

The Cat in the Well

My name is not Odin (I forget my name) but I’ve lived
in the well for a mad moon’s making, alone with the roots
the deep water oozing and lapping the bones’ sweet arch
that lifts my home, my tumulus a wet black mouth, alone
till the cat fell. My dying was long, my strength nearly gone
till the cat fell, till the cat came down the well.

Odin was a god, (so I heard before this spell) death gave him back,
yet a well took him in, his eye for a drink from the frost giant’s blood
below the world tree. I am not he, but a shrunken spriggan,
devil’s daughter, giants’ kin hung here stranded in small skin
to guard what I can't spend, when the faith gave way gave out gave in.
Even the dark forgets my names, forgets my games,
even the dark, till the one I played at with the fallen cat.

Because when the cat fell the light (so remote, so far above) blazed
sudden and sure it could end the dead dream that crawls
through my veins of a land where we once loomed large long gone,
because of that I let him live, alone of them all. He took my hands,
he took my tongue, he gave his eyes, I loth to stop what he’d begun.
He took my tongue the cat that fell, the cat that came down the well.

So we climbed mossy walls (my cat tail lashing) dank with the muck
of an ancient thralling, slippery with uneaten grief, treasure slid wry,
each stone a stele for a life thrown away, each drop in the bucket red
until we came to the rim, and his amber eyes set in mine
began to shine, began to glow so all should know
the spirit cat was up from the well, with many another tale to tell;
the spirit cat that fell, the cat that came up from the well.

October 26,2011

I've mingled (or perhaps mangled) several different archetypes here:
Odin, god of war, poetry,prophecy and magic in Norse myth traded his eye for a drink from Mimir's well, where the ancient wisdom of the frost giants was said to flow up from beneath the world tree Yygdrasil from the primordial void of Chaos.
A spriggan is a mostly malevolent spirit from Cornish folklore, generally found guarding treasure in burial mounds or the like, believed to be small ghosts of an earlier race of giants.
Cats, of course, were thought to be malignant, and often said to be familiars of witches or demons in medieval belief. Other cultures, such as the Ancient Egyptians, have held them sacred, and believed they possessed various magical qualities.

Special thanks to my son for the video he sent, which set me off on this particular trip, and to Brendan, for his input on the one-eyed god of the hanged.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

All Hallows Musical Interlude

Yes, we're very close, and there will be a suitable poetic celebration of the Halloween spirit over the next day or two, but till the witching hour tonight, here is some music to get you in the mood. 

Thanks to Fireblossom for setting me off, with her Season of the Witch contribution--(enjoy the class while you can because this post rapidly descends into silliness):

If we can't have Eye of Newt(I hear he has security) how about some Eye of the Zombie:

The original Marie Leveaux performed on the great Shel Silverstein's houseboat, by some guys  who, as usual, are having way too much fun--didn't anyone ever tell them that voodoo is some serious shit?

Happy Halloween All!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Repost~Oxygen Vine Dreamscape

Oxygen Vine Dreamscape

 a voice was singing

Oxygen vine
sweet life of mine
o how you twine
oxygen vine

You began to turn me leaflike
browsing me in slack moments,
a subscription of yours, a pastime.
I saw a skewed wall in a lunatic jungle,
undeciphered petroglyphs
scrawled over by flaming flower graffiti
dark hands of roots, celladon vineshadows,
utterly unreadable

a nonsense song

Oxygen vine
trace me a line
o how you twine
oxygen vine

I was deaf from the reverberations
 of collision when you told me
I was a wall against whose
resistance you built your self, but
I was only flesh behind a  wall
etched with the sigils of an unknown cabal,
 its vines and shadows
become my skin

in the deep night
Oxygen vine
black columbine
o how you twine
oxygen vine

Love is a cannibal you explained.
His first goal is to kill and eat the other
then make tuneful bells from the bones.
Just so you grew your tensile intoxicant ribbons in me
so hungry and alive, tickling, strangling
composting accommodating flesh till I was friable ooze
  root-fractured, absorbed into your sucking shoots
flensed down to my skull for a drum

sweet notes pulsing

Oxygen vine
razors in wine
o how you twine
oxygen vine
I was wined and twined
cut so quickly
I never knew when my smile lost its lips.
You pierced and numbed me
bubbled my blood out with your own
beads of verdant air, an antagonism of life support
careless of  the red drops’ splash
or my cyanic throat

rattling and humming

Oxygen vine
ventilator’s whine
o how you twine
oxygen vine

Autumn brings a bonfire.
 Dry leaves and twigs burn tinder fast
thorns and flowers flaring farewell
in a temperature that crackles,
twining flames fed hotter
by an inrush of escaping air exploding
black under the lids into
smoke blown like seeds on the wind


Oxygen vine
darkness define
your ashen design

into silence

March 2011 
Posted October, 2011 for   Poetics   at  dVerse Poets Pub
Claudia is in charge of the prompt today, titled Call and Response, and has asked for a poem of two voices speaking. This is one which I wrote to have three separate threads, or voices, going on, the single lines make one poem, the non-italicized 'song' another, and the italicized main body the third. Each can be read individually, and each either answers or supports the other. I've used a little color to make it easier to see for the prompt.
Hope this meets the requirements as I had no luck with a new effort today.

(Originally posted for One Shot Wednesday at the inimitable OneStopPoetry)
Photo: Trellised Hand, by joy ann jones, march, 2011  

Thursday, October 27, 2011



The cricket
trapped six months ago
in the bathroom sink
where I forgot him
wakes me in the desert night
with his dried song.
The keg of his body is empty,
antennae broken.
His fiddlebow legs
have fallen off one
by one long ago. I should
take him out
and throw him
away, but at night alone
I like to hear him sing
even if he only
sings of his murder.

Some six centuries pass
recrossing the desert night
before we break down, the
trap of your forked tongue
over mine parting to find
dawn blustering at  the
locks on the abandoned car,
broken antenna, where in
the empty back seat, springs 
still rattle in a  phantom’s opera.
I know it’s time to peel away
your white plaited bones,
let your dried lips fall
one by one
from mine so I
can hear you sing
again of my murder.

October 2011

emmett wheatfall hosts a prompt this week, asking for a poem of conflation. Not sure if I've produced one, but had fun trying. 

(Also, this continues the All Hallows theme nicely, I feel; apparently the cricket wasn't through with me yet.)

Orion Rising


Orion Rising

Across the coliseum
celestial, Mars blinks his
red eye, battledancing
with the milky chimera.

I‘m caught in a glass twist,
shadow of river blue
fluorescing aquamarine 
where light once was
under a sky 
made before men
threw away
the gift of night.

No New York fortune
buys Orion rising,
tigertail dangling
my lifeline.

October 2011

(The discerning eye will note that this poem contains exactly 55 words,
and immediately realize it to be my entry for
Friday Flash 55 at the G-Man's.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Fortune Teller

The Fortune Teller
 A roundel in the rough

The cricket knows who’ll take the flag and bleed out in the sand
which one tells as many lies a day as the melon's black seeds
who’ll marry her love at last to find he's a red-eyed Caliban;
The cricket knows.

The cricket‘s dead antennae twitch the word from the yellow weeds.     
I hear his dessicated legs push out the code, a one ghost band.
His deathsong chirps through the lacy curtains, then recedes

bowing of birth and murder, plagues of blindness on the land.
We have no secrets he and I, in the brainbowl where he feeds.
I re-bury him each day, each night he burns me like a brand.
The cricket knows.

October 2011

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub 

This is my attempt at a roundel, a form created  by the English poet, 
Algernon Charles Swinburne.  
Rhyme scheme is ABAR BAB ABAR. The refrain (R) consists of the first four syllables of the first line, and may or may not rhyme with the B lines. Each main line should have the same number of syllables, or possibly stresses, but Swinburne appears not to have paid much attention to that aspect in his own work, so I haven’t either

Image: Still Life with Origami Figures, original charcoal drawing,  
© All Rights Reserved. This artwork is exempt from the Creative Commons 3.0 license in effect for the rest of the blog and may not be reused or reproduced without written permission.

The Dawn Singer

The Dawn Singer

The wind is old
in the rose coloured country
where I walk with you towards the dawn
where we drink of a cup
that never was
that brings no loss
that swallows pain
all remembrance 
redone, remade anew.

You sing to me
in a soft foreign tongue
I used to know before being born,
full of rolled r’s and ocean hushes.
Your white skin pearls and uncurls
a parchment of promise, your hands
outline my wants, full of birds and forests
gods and devils, angels and skinwalkers
and the long fall down Eden’s well.

Nothing could be as sweet as
this dream of it, of your palms
under my chin lifting
my face to your eyes,
your voice in my ear a touch
itself, deep cobalt echo of
a distant windrung chime,
our fingertips feathering  
to read the tale marked in braille.

Your eyes of moon;
how their light rips
against the black,
dawn songs sung
above the ears’ range
only in the choirbox
of my heart.

October 2011

Photo: The Rose Coloured Country, by Petteri Sulonen 
Thanks Petteri, both for the use of the image,
and for choosing the phrase from the poem as title.
Petteri's blog, Come to think of it

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Incubus III

Ménade relieve romano (Museo del Prado) 04b

Incubus III

He’s decided 
we dance tonight, 
and so we do
the moonmad cleft-foot jig, 
tail tickling around my waist, he
the bacchanal dancemaster
marked with a silver’d shadow,
I the bemused pot of honey 
on his vinyard arm 
thyrsus in hand,
thirst pouring 
from a red-figure urn.

 Tranced, I turn 
in that 
serpentine accord
 of smokedrift and dream,
my body his netted lattice, 
that squintslanted  
 backslid eye
 tight shut still knowing
every bridge 
every fret
that builds a chord
across the rippled ivory
of my spine.

A cat can’t deny a lion
the gazelle’s throat, 
the tail lashes;
one red drop shows where
my lips fell last.

Don’t think there’s
no toll here
in the 
processional of lost girls.

October 2011

This is a companion piece to IncubusIncubus II 
and Incubus IV

Ana Belén Cantero Paz [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons posted here on Flick'r

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Paladin

The Paladin

I rose from my trial and testing vigil
now a knight, God’s holy knight.
His fire was a flame I held within
a tremulous but incandescent light.

I set out from my high stone
seat, now a threatened tower
answering my sovereign's call
to break the Old Ones' power.

For the land was soured with the
bile of evil, bled by a heresy, sharp
as my father’s Damascus blade,
that cut and left its soulless mark

upon their faces, or their limbs, that
scarlet scrawl of Satan’s passing wing
shadowed, then tatooed blue with sin. We
found and burned them in their faerie ring.

We burned them in the towns, with ease. Our
horses drove them to the village square;
flames kissed the magic in them black
as pitch, and let it out with a hissing flare.

Their smell, their cries, they pierced and split
the misty air, deep red-edged as any sword
but we stopped our ears with writ, while in the
crowd, grey monks intoned the Blessed Word.

We watched the Godfires burn ten days
and nights, bright hot and ever brighter still
till I wondered why I felt in me such pain
to see the luminous working of His will.

When all was colorless smolder, ashen silence
I knelt in humbled fear before the priest
who called God's glory down to cleanse my soul;
from all misplaced regret he gave release.

But later at the inn when she brought meat,
somehow it had a smell too wrong to eat.

October 2011

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poet's Pub

Mark Kerstetter is hosting today, and  has given us the fascinating prompt of entering into another persona, and writing a poem from another's point of view, from inside their skin, as it were. I don't know how successful I've been at completely escaping my own point of view here, but I have made a stab at it.

The Rat Wars of 2084

The Rat Wars of 2084
for the ratling

It started simply
when the food ran out.
It became a lifetest for
meat between the small rats
and the bigger rats.
The talking rats attempted to
convince the others they could eat words.
This was clever, but

Then things began
to escalate.
Bombs and air raids
made the night sky uneasy
as a pudding in an earthquake.
Bodies decorated the street in streamers
hanging red tinsel from the bending lights
dark blood came down like rain
blood enough to drown in

to float the enterobacterial rodships of every plague
ever seen on a globe of filth and plague.
Anthropophaginian shapes scrabbled for hiding,
dissolved in the shadows of ruin
gnawing on last year's bones, drinking vintage sewage
welling from craters in crazystone runways.
Exterminate the plague bearers,
came the panic cry on the black wind, exterminate
before it’s too late!

But the humans are much
much tougher 
than they look.

October 2011

 Straying from the gothic to the post apocalyptic, but clinging still, hopefully, to the October miasma for your Halloween pleasure.

To see the image I originally had reproduced here to illustrate this poem, follow this link to  Untitled Work by ZDZISŁAW BEKSIŃSKI to a copyrighted site where his entire opus is on view. It's worth it.
Beksinski's bio on wikipedia

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Sad But Instructive Tale of The Anchoress Who Threw Her Panties Over The Moon

The Sad But Instructive Tale of The Anchoress
Who Threw Her Panties Over The Moon

She’d found a place
where being stopped,
where mind surrendered,
all emotions rendered
primal slop, no drop of life
to another tendered.
Any quip could be slipped
glib as bishop's tongue,
but he made her care;
now the bell’s unrung.

No salvation’s in
the anchoress cell
since he taught her again
what she knew so well

October 2011

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

anchorite(or anchoress) one who "...who lives in seclusion, esp a religious recluse; hermit"
via World English Dictionary 

Image: Enclosing an Anchoress, medieval manuscript for which I can find no credits



Playing at love poured out in a twist stem crystal glass
clear ruby,with notes of cherry and madagascar vanilla bean,
I’m here to sing them straight from your lips, drinking in a kiss
heavier than the outlaw tang of saddle, earth and tobacco,
far sweeter, sunnier than cranberry, red current, ripe raspberry
chambered blackberry, or clamoring, astringent key lime.
I'll crush the garnet red fruit and bitter black together
tilt back my head and toss them down, the taste
teasing to a lingering earthy finish
(tangerine and nectarine)
with just a bit of pepper and
restrained use of oak.

It’s all nuanced
bright green
(and pears)
on the nose
of living
with a round
a mossy
(no kiwi)
to finish
short and dry
with perhaps a little heat,leaving behind
a fleeting hint of licorice and clove over wet stone.
A vintage year for pinot noir, chenin blanc and the occasional lover.

January 2011

Reposted October 2011 for  FormForAll   at dVerse Poet's Pub

Disclaimer: all these analogies and terms are commonly used in the world of wine critique. I simply rearranged them a bit in a silly shape to entertain myself (and hopefully the reader) on a very dull day.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Doll's House

“Dolls with no little girls around to mind them 
were sort of creepy under any conditions.”
― Stephen King, Desperation

Doll’s House

The doll has found
a child.

It took many years
patient in the dark
behind the furnace
blue eye unblinking, little smile
cut like a curved salmon tail
on her faded plastic face.

No one comes
but spiders.

The girl has found
a doll.

Bored with rainy days
exploring in the dark
behind the furnace
where the whispering was
she looked, blue eye unblinking
little smile, where she shouldn't.

No one comes
but flies.

The doll and child together 
find forever
in the basement
behind the furnace
with the buzzing


till in the dark
they make themselves
darker still,
dark enough to

No one comes.

October 2011

which, in the spirit of this my favorite season, was to take a quote from Stephen King and write a poem with an emphasis on psychological terror. I think I may have strayed a bit into the supernatural, but I've  tried to remain true to my chosen quote.

Image Creepy Doll, by ~Sleeping Samurai on deviantArt

The Kitten and the Witch

The Kitten and the Witch
a fable for Halloween

The casement windows
fitted with lead
meant to keep evil out
kept it in instead
the rowan tree with berry red
died by the door,
then all was dead
save the witch and the kitten Mandragore

His jade green glance
saw through the floor
where the dead were put
that came before
His bright black paw was
soft and sure
as he paced the pentagram back and fore

The witch was caught
with ashen mouth
frozen in limb
and deep in doubt
but Mandragore
danced the charm full out.
The runes shimmered on the floor
No demon came but a child was born

where the dead held sway.
The witch jumped up
and fought that day
until the shadows were no more,
and now they play
by the open door,
the witch, the boy and Mandragore.

October 2011

With thanks to Brendan for his many celebrations of the feline
such as this one in Octoberal,

Header image: courtesy google image search
Footer image: Witch and kitten, 1988 (c) joy ann jones

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



When I was a girl
I raced my lines
            over the paper,
                                      words skipped
                                                           like stones across
                                                                       the aqua vita of the page

in a most provocative way.
Now, of course I'm old and
write quatrains that rhyme

or at the very least
free verse in numbered lines,
serious in an unserious world.


Oh there are benefits.
You can smile at many more things 
that over time 

have proved
to be ridiculous
like yourself.

You can go to the hiking 
trail in the park and 
walk backwards, waving

your arms like a windmill
and feel 
no embarrassment.

Or have your dinner
of buttered toast and 
lightly scrambled

eggs at four o'clock
because you can.
All is measuring out, so

that the hard part about
getting old isn’t the ache,
the dizzy, the suddenly 

moment standing in a void,
the knife breaking in the bone,

but the ceasing
to care about things
that once were important

such as being hip,
and what you
look like.

The new jokes don’t seem as reliable
as the old. The new people seem
a consciously constructed alien race

and the cold comes up
from the very bottom of you
the bottom of all being.

Warmth pools tiny in the center, shrinking;
the fingers are stiff with ice
for marrow

and the heart is just 
another abandoned thing
raddled with years and miles

the whole rusty as winter bones
the fox leaves for a child in spring to uncover 
with dreadful curiosity

                           startling at a
a sharp crackle,
something in the air

the fire of laughter
the smell of smoke

the shadow of a melody
faint and distant 
as a falling star

then into the pocket with it 
and going on home
before the darkness falls.

October 2011

Posted For   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Process Notes: I haven't played around with lines like this for many years but over the last few weeks I've been reading poetry before bed from people who do and have been corrupted. Oh well.

aqua vita, or aqua vitae, Latin for 'water of life'  " an archaic name for a concentrated aqueous solution of ethanol. The term was in wide use during the Middle Ages, although its origin is undoubtedly much earlier having been used by Saint Patrick and his fellow monks to refer to both the alcohol and the waters of baptism..." ~wikipedia

Header image: Ghost Car in Big Bend, 
Big Bend National Park, Texas by joy ann jones, 1986