Monday, January 16, 2012

Tidal Island

St Michael's Mount

Tidal Island
an incantation

The causeway
teases covered
shadows long
for the ebb
shadows abraded
falling away.

The mountainous
oceanfloor walks
scatter the petals of
pink anemones
on the shore abandoned
shadows gut
the found fish.

Island not
an island
not a poem
broken bridge
a bridge
grey rock 
in the wood
where no wood is,
sun center 
by shadows,
call the morning  


January 2012 

It's Open Link Monday at real toads

Process Notes:
My attempt to write a piece with no personal pronouns & minimal punctuation.

Images are of St Michael's Mont (Cornish: Karrek Loes y'n Koes meaning "grey rock in the woods") a tidal island located off the Mount's Bay coast of Cornwall. When first settled, the island was part of a mainland woods and agrarian settlement, later inundated and cut off by the ocean. In various theories, it was a port for the prehistoric tin trade, or possibly the historical nugget behind the Arthurian kingdom of Lyonesse.

images courtesy wikimedia commons.

 Pink sea anemone, via web brittanica


  1. nice bit of shadow play...the last stanza in its dance is my fav, what it is and is not...the gutting by the it much how hard was it to write with out?

  2. Hi Joy, I am a great fan of punctuation generally, but this works very well. For me, the most incantatory part of the poem begins with the abandonned shadows gutting the found fish to the end, with the sun center pulling the morning through, the beginning of the last stanza is very Stevens like with everything insisting on being itself and not a symbol or "poetic "image. It took me a long time to understand island not an island--I am just getting it, but very much like the concept now. Your titles are terribly important--mine tend to be throwaways, so I don't always focus on them well. I don't think you should tag this as "tedious plea for truth.". There is nothing tedious here. K.

    1. Thanks karin, for reading so intently. Stevens of course, has taken over part of my brain a long time ago (and it's an improvement. ;_) )so I seldom notice his influence in what I write, but I know it has to be profound. The tag comes from the title of an old poem I once wrote about identity, relationship and life, and I often use it for ambiguous poems like this--because we plead and plead for it and it must be tedious sometimes, to something.

  3. What a weird little place. How did you find out about that?

    I like "gray rock in the wood where no wood is".

  4. 'Tis a devious metaphor here, this place between firmaments, of both land and sea alternately composed. The associations in the the third stanza sound like all the interesting things that happen where the veil is thin -- the Indo-European Celts called it Otherworld; in our age, that liminal space where sine and wave occur simultaneously. (Er, the poem.) To sum these conditions in an invocation to "call the morning through" is a sort of breastplate against the real? Against what is too sea, too land? Also, why the process imperatives of leaving out personal pronouns and punctuation? Does it make the poem more ageless and impersonal, more the stuff of incantation? Whatever the case, it works ... Or I hope it does ... How I love Mont. St. Michel, formerly a keep of Manannan, ruler of all the outer limits of the knowable. - Brendan

    1. Against darkness, destruction, disruption, whatever--from an isolation for strength not weakness, protectable--this little island, and most tidal ones, is the scene of many bloody battles, and a most defensible spot, as well as one that is indeed where the veils are thin; where the world of sea meets the world of land in cycling ambiguity of definition, surely the Otherworld can't be far either. The place itself is drenched in all sorts of history, as you say--from pagan to christian mystical to political. AFA the punctuation thing--just an experiment to mimic the tidal flow visually, as something only lightly bound by artificial constraints--causeways easily swamped by a greater force--in this case, causeways of commas and stuff. ;-)

  5. Lovely poem .... Love the grey rock in the wood where no wood is.

  6. Shores abandoned echo (to me) shadows abraded. This breaks like the shore, and the last stanza (again, to me) is perfect. Here's the weird part: I was up far too late last night reading Over Sea, Under Stone by Susan Cooper. It's the first book in her "The Dark is Rising Sequence" and it draws much from Arthurian legend and...Lyonesse. So.
    Thank you very much for this.

    1. Thanks, ds. Wild coincidence--I'll have to check Cooper out, I love that stuff. Glad you enjoyed this, and you might flip over to Brendan's and read his Merlin's cave while you're in the mood.

  7. Enjoyed this very much. Liked the effort you put with the avoiding (I often hate the constrictions of punctuation), the repeat of shadow works also. Sign me up, I want to go there.

  8. And i thought 55 was hard, but no personal pronouns... Hmm. I think this might be a bit bleak for me (meaning I need more words, not the feeling of it) You are so creative, though!

  9. very nicely done.there's something of impressionist flavour to the poem, with its shifting stances and uncertainties regarding the definition of natural objects.

  10. What a stirring piece - and that image, it is like something out of myth an faerie. I love the minimalist style.

  11. Ahh... this is beautiful... I especially like the second stanza. You stepped up to your own challenge quite well. I might have to try that sometime.

  12. Great poem. I really struggle with the pronouns and punctuation. By nature I'm a prose writer, and poetry really challenges me. You've done a great job!

  13. I'd say you succeeded in doing your challenge well. Enjoyed the beautiful images, and didn't miss the punctuation.

  14. So beautiful.."in the wood where no wood it".....and..."call the morning through" especially. Wonderful writing. Cool idea, no personal pronouns.......I-I-I should try that, hee hee.

  15. Some wonderful lines in this, but for me it's abiding strength is if the overall impression it gives and feelings that I take from it.


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

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