Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Fall Of Night


Fall Of Night

And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all. 
~Edgar Allan Poe, Masque of the Red Death

Open the last door
of the windowless room
to find the darkness.

Slender thrust of moonsword
through matted velvet musk
you are hollow as all the other

castings of Ouroboros
a black beam of my own sending,
shot scarlet with motes of self overlooked

by fevering dreams, the tart taste of
amanita on the tongue, red dotted white,
I put inside your gaping mouth.

The night knows as it closes
I am not a source of light
but the lens sent to break it.

Still you are so deathly
beautiful, cerise smile in the shiftspin
of the prism's red masque

throwing back mirror bright
all the carmine dazzle of darkness,
that I can’t look away from

the bloodshine in your eye; it
spills through the heart locked
heavy round my neck

drips in a tankard
skull white, ice cold
raised to the worms of your lips.

Look—you lift your arm--
you seem to call me
deeper into the ruins

before the light
goes out.


February 2012

Posted for   Open Link Night   at dVerse Poets Pub 

I'm ghosting tonight at the pub, where the party will be free of darkness decay and malign influences, and only poetry will have dominion over all. 
Come join us. 
Link in will be live from 3:00pm Tuesday to Midnight Wednesday, EST.

Header Image: Relic, posted by practicalowl  on flickr
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License
Footer Image: Illustration from Masque of the Red Death, 1919, by Harry Clarke [Public domain], via wikimedia commons

Monday, February 27, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~February

Barely making it before the end of the month, the Archivist frantically bestirs herself to change out last month's Seamus Heaney selection for something to give us a breath of madness and spring, from Lorca.

I never get a lot of readers or response to this feature, but I do get a lot of personal satisfaction from it, so I'm going to continue it, but without the tedious commentary on my part. From now on it will just be poems. In that spirit,  you will find Ghazel of Unforeseen Love, by Spanish surrealist poet Federico Garcia Lorca in the March

and below is last month's Punishment, by Seamus Heaney, read by the author. As always, feel free to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page.

~by Seamus Heaney

Here is the text:

by Seamus Heaney (1939-)

I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.

It blows her nipples
to amber beads,
it shakes the frail rigging
of her ribs.

I can see her drowned
body in the bog,
the weighing stone,
the floating rods and boughs.

Under which at first
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin:

her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn,
her blindfold a soiled bandage,
her noose a ring

to store
the memories of love.
Little adultress,
before they punished you

you were flaxen-haired,
undernourished, and your
tar-black face was beautiful.
My poor scapegoat,

I almost love you
but would have cast, I know,
the stones of silence.
I am the artful voyeur

of your brain's exposed
and darkened combs,
your muscles' webbing
and all your numbered bones:

I who have stood dumb
when your betraying sisters,
cauled in tar,
wept by the railings,

who would connive
in civilized outrage
yet understand the exact
and tribal, intimate revenge.

Sunday, February 26, 2012



Can I trace it, that spider footed midnight kiss
that once walked its lips across my crying skin?

Is it hung head down in the cobweb spun across my
crumpled cheek; waiting still? starved rigid?

But no, it ran; I see its mark, staggering spider steps
through dry sand floating on the dust of desert years

at home in emptiness, a secret life uncurled after the
scirocco passes, charming away dead flesh from bone

not even a smell to hang in the drying frame of air.
Any little busy thing consuming convenient corpses

to white skull’s stare knows each precious drop preserves
savor and sweat for a  hankering life spent waiting

for the next foolish thing to drop, hamstrung by thirst
lost beyond finding, hallucinating deliverance

blinded by a lunatic sun that tilts the web's sweet spin
to catch an oasis kiss and in mirage to live again.

February 2012

Posted for  real toads

Sunday Challenge
featuring Ellen Wilson

Top Image: Web, by Ellen Wilson
Footer image: Blossom, by Ellen Wilson
of Ella's Edge, Used with permission. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Feather From An Empty Hat


Feather From An Empty Hat

In the whirlwind
leaves in tumult turn
seasons change, chiseled from
an empty hat
hooping along the curb,
flown to drown in the sleety river
by snow’s hardliquor breath
huffing in staggers through the
winter grass cut before the storm
where dry brown leaves nest
a broken feather pulled
by djinns of the stuttering south,
homeless in the field.

The poem I wrote in my sleep
was huge
it moved the earth
it changed the world
it was a rock mountain
out of which I carved
clanging truth in heads of jackals,
ravens and goddesses
and wrote their conversations
verbatim etched in a brazen font
upon the golem’s brow
yet when I woke
in the blue crystal light

there were no words
on my pillow, only one
spent feather, ragged
from the cold.

February 2012 

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Image: Guinea fowl feather 
By User:Ben_pcc (Some bird.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Leaves of Absence

Pressed Leaves

Leaves of Absence

One comes
while another leaves.
One afternoon 
 a month of falling leaves.

The long job
of loving needs
a leave of falling months,
leave to go
tho leaving is grieving
gone is better so;

to leave
Love's little fat god
 pleased to
take each sacrifice
and close his till,
dead leaves.

February 2012

55 falling leaves for    the G-Man

Thanks, Petteri.

As well as sharing his photographic talents on flick'r, Petteri blogs eclectically at 
 Come to think of itan always interesting read.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Another Poem Written at Morning

Diane et Endymion 1630 Detroit Institute of Art

Another Poem Written at Morning
for Wallace Stevens

We always were
as different as two things can possibly be
as far apart as a white bear on an ice floe
from a neon flamingo preening on one leg
or a thinking mouse in a live trap
from the distant hawk that stoops.

We always were
as close as two feathers nesting in
coralpink scales on that same flamingo, 
as mouse and thought, 
as the freeze of boreal ice
to the bear's shaman paw.

When all there was to read 
was ratscratch and pigeon droppings,
you'd already written for me
the encyclopedia of myself;
Go on through the darkness, you said
The waves fly back.

When my only drawing was child's
chalkdust, fumbling baroque intricacy into
crude streaks, you painted my adjectives in oils
with the extravagant precision of a Poussin,
carved from cloud within the sister, mother and
diviner lover, out of our own imperfections wrought.

Ever you were truer to me than any breathing man.
Even now in the room where the interior paramour 
lights the highest candle, begins the twilight music, 
I bend in the dance with your businessman's stone 
in its calico gypsy shirt and cobweb shoes,
still try to read your book of granite mossed

with shadows, sudden lightning burst over 
inkblack seas pounding meaning
in constant making and unmaking, 
whispers calling, fill the four corners of night
flutter your empty sleeves, 
it's the spirit that we seek,
ask often. No matter if answering is all reflection,
dimmer, poorer through prosthetic eyes;
let them shine and serve, let the wench's tongue wag,
if only in echoes softer than tumbled shells suspiring 
on a ghost beach, because you gave not killing order
but the idea of order 

that grew the garden that saved me
from the domination of black, sent
dreams of baboons and periwinkles,
put peacocks in the
heavy darkness of hemlock,
rejoiced in green curls.

February 2012

Reposted for Meeting the Bar: Literary Allusion   at dVerse Poets Pub
Victoria is hosting today and this poem seemed to fit her challenge to write an answer to another poem, as well as cite a literary influence.

Poem Written At Morning
by Wallace Stevens

A sunny day's complete Poussiniana
Divide it from itself. It is this or that
And it is not.
By metaphor you paint
A thing. Thus, the pineapple was a leather fruit,
A fruit for pewter, thorned and palmed and blue,
To be served by men of ice.
The senses paint
By metaphor. The juice was fragranter
Than wettest cinnamon. It was cribled pears
Dripping a morning sap.
The truth must be
That you do not see, you experience, you feel,
That the buxom eye brings merely its element
To the total thing, a shapeless giant forced
Green were the curls upon that head.

Italicized words are quotations or titles from Stevens' poems.

this was originally posted for   real toads
where Kenia's challenge was to dialogue with a poem or poet.

Image: Diana and Endymion,  by Nicolas Poussin [Public domain], via wikimedia commons

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



It was the time of cold.
The water from the sky ran black as inky blood
and the tree in the dark storm was ripe for burning,
solitary acolyte in a serpentine ceremony of snow.

You kissed my summer dry palms
just before you ran to your winter white pack
far off along the indigo rim of night.
I heard the howling begin

without me. I pulled in the last syllable of stone,
stripping myself to bare words. A single step danced me 
from maenad to anchoress, peering through the squint
at your unconsecrated communion.

January 2011

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Having nothing ready for tonight, though a huge snarl of cantankerous works in progress, thought I would post an older poem that had limited exposure. This was originally submitted for a prompt (at the now defunct Big Tent Poetry) to utilize alliteration by choosing a letter, writing a word list, and using the ideas it generated for subject with a word from it for the title. Apologies to those who have already seen this.

Photo: © Copyright Colin Smith and licensed for reuse under  Creative Commons License.
Cell of the anchoress Christine Carpenter, 14th Century. Shere, Surrey, UK

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Details - Femme Piquée par un Serpent (Woman Bitten by a Snake)


There’s a little grey snake most cunningly faced,
curled up in cleaved breasts, well hidden in lace.
It’s only as long as a tailgunner’s song
only as thick as a Semtex stick
but it bites to the raw with a jaguar’s jaw
then tucks its head down and keeps drilling.

Sometimes it slithers outside on warm fingers
disarming observers with its plastic display.
Others the poison tongue drips out and lingers
soaks through the lace in a green disarray
to the sponge in the core
that echo'd reservoir
the little grey snake’s slowly filling.

Sculpture - Femme Piquée par un Serpent (Woman Bitten by a Snake)

February 2012

Posted for   real toads
Open Link Monday

Images: Photos of Femme Piquée par un Serpent (Woman Bitten by a Snake)
1847Auguste Clésinger (1814 -1883)Musée d'Orsay, Paris, France  by fmpgoh on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Desert Trip

 Desert Trip

Dust for dinner
in the day end bitter and
nothing to drink but a glass of sand.
Bare souled and dry mouthed
plodding shredboot through hoop
after hoop of unrolling heat, horizon
radiant with mirage mirror lures to
push me from the path

cut through the fantasia of quince colored
coral curled cactus. Behind me a torn trail
of shed skins, miles of peeled naked 
shins fondled by creosote shanks
corkscrewed and toothy, my airs 
leaking from memory holes
spined through raw scars, burnt lashed,
blinking blue coals under swollen lids.

Ahead a whirl of drab dirt devils
dance down a blind mountain's ashes 
to the parched hellfloor where I am not going.
Pooling improbable greenery shines
lush O surely too much a skirt of
turquoise and lemon on a stone doll
to be so stubbornly alive, brushing
jade shadows where the new dwelling sits

with no guards, no guards at all
except the length of hardscrabble slope
pulling world worn flesh
step by ebbing step to the
moon's seat, the hidden well
that holds all I can drink
before darkness so
tenderly falls.

February 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub 

Brian is hosting today, and has brought on board the expressive photography of Reena Walkling to get the word pump primed and flowing. Come join us. 
Link in is live till midnight Sunday.

Image: Photograph by Reena Walkling  (c) 2012
Used with permission

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Woodwife

Sandys, Frederick - Morgan le Fay
The Woodwife

The woodwife fled
when none could see
and went where none
but she could go.

Green were her sleeves
in the howling snow, out
from the halls of Kingswinter
when no moon shone.

Ashen she was as the grey
before break of day
from living where no fire
could stay, or sun's ray pierce.

She’d come to learn
the celestial dance, practice
the arts with a man of air
for the time that never came.

She tired of the silken crucible,
cameos cut with  quicksilver scissors
and learned instead to laugh confetti
from chains of handfast paperdolls

tossing their snow as she ran, to fall
on dead hearths, blow for eternity 
round empty halls, behind the cursed
blind windows of Kingswinter.


February 2012

Based on a dream. We all have our own heroes.

Image: Morgan le Fay, by Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys 
[Public domain], via wikimedia commons

Night Light

Owl Flame

Night Light

Luminous the globe
around my hope, a diamond
phosphorescent fish
that undulantly beams along
darkest ocean floor,
or in meadowed night
a child’s eye
swimmy deer gaze
peering through the heart’s glass lantern
stuttering, fluttering, dancing,
burning the fitful wick
that lights my way to you,
whoever wherever
in this dark place
you are.

March 1990

55 eyeballs gleaming in the dark   for the G-Man

Note: This was one of the last dozen or so poems I wrote before stopping for ten years. I've revised it today a bit here and there, and cut a few words to get it to exactly 55. 

Image: Owl Flame, by Darkr, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Hansel Ate Gretel

It's Valentine's Day, that most commercially candy-coated of holidays, and the day when Love in all its sweetness is celebrated across the land--except, of course, at Castle Hedgewitch, where instead we have a twisted cautionary tale for hungry young lovers whose eyes may be bigger than their stomachs, and a retelling (with customary poetic license) of an old feral, er...faerie tale from the Brothers All-too Grimm.

Offterdinger Hansel und Gretel (1)

How Hansel Ate Gretel

Looking back, as I make off into mothering trees
I see your trail wind under their stooping knees,
snake of cherry heartbits beneath the moon
and know it for what it is, your pheromone croon
baiting the sweet biological trap up on the heath
where every heedless sacrifice drops its spore.
See your sisters all come running to hide from death
and instead become your food supply, nothing more.

Your candy call draws the lost ones, wild to eat 
the gingerbread house with sugar hands and feet.
Each famished girlchild sucks at white icing's sweet
slick, swallows glazing and dreams the full child's dream
inside the cage made to plump her up as the oven heats.
With luck, the last one's fallen bones gnawed clean
make a silent deceit to a blind eye’s need for meat,
pinched to test what's forever incomplete.

Still, gingerbread girls will always let you start
those hungry cannibal gulps that crumble the heart
but what surprises is the discipline you show
sparing some of the half-baked morseled dough
(bitten off, those cookie legs can’t run like flesh)
to pull and scatter speck by speck as you refresh
that trail that tells the strays just where to go.
O we all need to eat, so I don’t mind the meal 

or being dessert that's thoroughly lost in the woods,
nor the  sandpaper licks I took so I could feel.
It’s the marker you make of every spit-stained crumb
to bait your sweet-breathed trap for damaged goods
that freezes all I have that’s still not numb.

February 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Note: I've significantly altered this old tale to suit my  fancy, put it into a  valentiny rhyme scheme and fictionalized first-person form, removed the stereotypes of the wicked cannibal witch-hag and evil stepmother and made poor innocent Hansel, who was the original victim, the villain of the piece. That's what happens when you let feminazi witches rewrite the history books.

Image: Late 19th century illustration  of Hansel und Gretel, by Carl Offterdinger, photo by Harke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 

Saturday, February 11, 2012




It is in changing that things find repose.

Between this breath and another
is that atoms' dance that abides forever
intrinsic parity, growing in declension
and likewise myself constant in tension
now new now dying change and remain
endlessly negated perpetually created
ocean sunned, a steam of water meeting flame.

Restless blue remakes the river drop by drop;
time's dry file rasps on vanity's hide
as friction cooks the soul to snakes of smoke.
All things set free their savor in a smolder
of the sum to nothing, intangible but plain;
we're brought to know each essence
by the brazier and the flame.

Rosehips and lemon wet on my lips
only kindle the dancing blaze, a salamander
that cleans itself with coals, whose breath turns anything
to a wild wisped arabesque of incense,
the airgrace  and deathgift of fire the same
from a  pinched wick as from a burning slum,
all rising from the identical artist’s flame.

So these lips, only tasted now by time, kissed
only by citrus, salt and hips of roses,
exhale their essence; between this breath
and another, spirit dies and comes again
as it did before the world moved on and does
once more, sweet as any smoke of mutable flame
that finds repose in what is born to change.

February 2012

Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Charles Miller of Metanoetic Poetics  is hosting at the pub tonight, and his theme is the exploration of philosophy through poetry. Come join us. Link in is live till Sunday Midnight.

"If all existing things were smoke, it is by smell that we would distinguish them."
You can find these and more of the words of Heraclitus which influenced this poem here at wikisource.

Image: Heraclitus, Detail of Rafaello Santi's "The School of Athens" (1510)

Wayfarers' Tale

 Wayfarers' Tale

The Watcher and the Wanderer
and the Wayward Child
walked hand in hand across the Moor
in the midnight wild.

The moon was only a distant eye
that looked the other way.
The Moor was only a frying pan
that cooked the heather grey.

The Watcher kept her eyeless watch,
the Wanderer went astray,
the Child thought it saw another child
and ran after it to play.

Night grew long and the cats all wept,
till there was nothing left
but the empty path across the Moor
and the watch the Watcher kept.

February 2012

Posted for    real toads
Prompt: Photography of TALON

Image: Photo by TALON
Used with permission.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jasmine Rain


Jasmine Rain

The front rolls in as I’m
drinking the jasmine
from your silver eyes.
Hearts and clouds kaleidoscope,
revolve, shine, shred
to murk; storm
falls, petals tattoo
waves of night white 
with hurtsweet fragrance.
Bruised away are all
the broken things
that can't outlast
the big blow;

every storm ends
jasmine rain.

February 2012

55 torn petals for the  G-man

Image: Stratocumulus by Darkr, on flick'r
Shared under Creative Commons 2.0 Non-Commercial License

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Repost~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
I'm reposting this for Kerry's Wednesday Challenge at real toads, which is to explore the idea of Magical Realism, making connection with things through their unseen and mysterious attributes.  Thanks, Kerry, for letting me dig this one out of the cellars of Castle Hedgewitch.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Running by Winterlight

Running by Winterlight

Midnight called me up from my rifled bed
where I’d searched in vain for sleep’s last hiding place.
I went out to look at the fraying brindled clouds
taped to the far ice moon, and the Hunter's sword
once Freya’s distaff weaving the ravelled world.

And I knew beyond my doubt your soul ran free
parkoured from star to star canopied above me.

I saw the aching dumbshow of what’s past, 
a flickering stereopticon of days 
each one still a sharpness of blinding glass
stuck in time’s deep gut the bleeding pass of 
a dance above oblivion’s shifting cracks.

Light of my heart, you make a fine traceur;
one slip's enough to kill, yet you endure. 

Clouds cry ice, sweep in the shaking void
with its black mouth wide, its bone white lich’s grin.
I’ve made myself so small, so fine a dust
that plaited baleen will never seine me out,
just lose me where the cell-shed seeds sprout green. 

What's lost flies out and floats on seven winds.
What’s left puts down its root to live again.

February 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub
Brian Miller is our host tonight. Come join us at the Pub for a night of poetry sharing lasting through Wednesday at midnight.

Process notes: Parkour...is a training method which focuses on rational movement [where] the focus is to move around obstacles with speed and efficiency...to move through the..environment by vaulting, rolling, running, climbing and jumping. Parkour practitioners are known as traceurs.~wikipedia
The last lines of the first stanza refer to the constellation of Orion, a Hunter in Greek mythology whose belt of three stars holds the Orion nebula, representing the point of Orion's sword, and in Norse mythology, the distaff (a spinning tool) of Freya, goddess of love, beauty, fertility, war and death.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Wall

The Wall

Behind the green mountains
is a green towered wall
around the green center
of a thousand sprouting dreams

sown in an unseason of
crepitant hollows, dry
depredation, where
sleep is
and shattered below

in shards that grow
a yeast of redolent fantasies
piercing their way out
each with a flower

of bright loss nodding swaying
releasing dancing airsprites to
put Dorothy to sleep
in an opium dream

till twilight’s brighter wife
glares down and scorches
the slime from the stars

and the wall
jumps on its own back 
taller and taller, 
greener than green.

February 2012

 Posted for    real toads

Image: Photo by Richard Schear, provided by the Imaginary Garden with Real Toads