Monday, April 30, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~April

Now that the poem a day challenge for April is mercifully past, it's time to change out the Off the Shelf page. I've been wanting to do John Donne for a long time, and am too tired to go hunting for new and exciting poems, so I'm posting an old favorite, in my opinion, perhaps one of the three or four best love poems ever written, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning. 

You'll find it here on the Off the Shelf  page.

Meanwhile, last month's Emily Dickinson selection is below for a final read:

Bumble Bee on a Flower.

Three Short Poems by Emily Dickinson

To Make A Prairie

 To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,—  
One clover, and a bee,  
And revery.  
The revery alone will do  
If bees are few.

Wild Nights – Wild Nights! 

Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!
Futile – the winds –
To a heart in port –
Done with the compass –
Done with the chart!
Rowing in Eden –
Ah, the sea!

Might I moor – Tonight –

In thee! 
The Heart Asks Pleasure First

The Heart asks pleasure first,
And then, excuse from pain;
And then, those little anodynes
That deaden suffering;   
And then, to go to sleep;       
 And then, if it should be
The will of its Inquisitor,
The liberty to die.

  ~ all poems by Emily Dickinson

Image:Bumblebee on a Flower, by Adam Freidin, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License

Moon Sign

Moon Sign

I look to the wobbling moon
for a sign, foolishly waiting
as if love ever held back
from showing her face
when she wanted something.

Too easy to drop 
a hand on a still knee,
a smile for a stiff word
a melt where no word
means much.

Any of these things
can be done without thinking
without the ungainly moon’s say so
if not without regret, because what
love really wants she takes.

What sits unclaimed
doesn’t need  to look
or wait.

April 2012

posted for   real toads
Open Link Monday

I've used another of Mama Zen's photographs from Sunday's Photo Challenge for illustration, as I had a hard time again picking a single one. Thanks, MZ.

Photo: Moon, © Mama Zen Photography
Used with permission.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Witch's Broom

© Mama Zen Photography

Witch’s Broom

This is the motherland that once
raised outlaws, took in
orphaned indians,
hard dry land glad to get
hardluck sodbusters, mail
order brides, snakeoil
salesmen,abdicated gamblers
lost cause gunmen,
backslid preachers

all desperate some determined
to settle down;
but the blood never settles.
Wild it was
and wild it is,
thick and crazy
in mazed veins newborn
to the task of casking it.

Faults crack her red plains, 
bootleggers become
meth labbers, outlaw thugs
gladhand politicians, medicine show 
preachers preach tea, believers
still empty bellied, indians ground
fine as powder still fighting, and 
always the rule of the gun.

Prairie grass in plumed heads flags
the verge of wheel ruts schooners cut,
now blacktop well oiled where
each growth is history and testament, 
some strong and taking, upright
shadows bible black,
some bent, twisted, killing 
slow, curling into oblivion.

The body settles but
the blood never will;
each generation throws out
its witch’s broom anew
dark spores spit careless on the wind.

April 2012

Ziziphus mucronata04

Posted for    real toads
Sunday Challenge: Photography of Mama Zen

Process Notes: Witch's broom is the name given to various diseases causing deformity and unusual growth in shrubs, woody plants and trees, often showing a distorted fanned out shape or drastically tangled, contorted appearance. I've stretched the definition by applying it inaccurately to grasses (and humans) here. 

Header photo: Horses, by Mama  Zen
Used with permission.
Footer photo: Ziziphus microonata, By Rotational (Own work) [Public domain], 

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Conjuring Owls


I remember Lena
grey crone powdered corpse white
with smeared cherry juice lips gone
wrong, unthickened, loose and 
puddling in her flat pieplate face.
She pushed the stroller
round and round the estate circle drive
talking to the dead doll
cradled inside, stopping to pull
the shade further forward
over its face, crooning a sing song,
mumbled pieces falling
like rotting leaves
on its face.

Lena was always cold
and so was her dollbaby, in two
ragged red sweaters reverse cross-buttoned
one to the other muffling and protecting
in the high summer sun she
walked round and round avoiding.
I watched from the coachhouse window
holding my son she was not supposed
to see, because she might, they
said, "do something." Round and round
her breastsacks clutched to her ribs
carried empty in her stick arms
never suckled but once
by the child that died.

I remember feeling
sorry for her
till the day she hissed
and showed  me her
bloodstained teeth.

April 2012

 Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Blue Flute is hosting today, and the prompt is Vampires.
Pub doors are open till midnight Sunday EST. 
Open your poetic vault, set the Undead loose and join us.

Process Notes: Based on a true story, (though 'Lena' was only insane, and not a vampire) from a summer spent in haunted New England many years ago.

Shared under a Creative Commons License

Friday, April 27, 2012

Embracing Bohemia

'France Embraces Bohemia,' Alphonse Mucha

Embracing Bohemia

Bend your head my love
with its tangle-curls in anarchy
all concealed
under the perfect fool’s rabbitcap
and kiss the spot
where the religion left
for brighter colors,
where it runed itself
to carmine sheets and mica nights
pandemics of poetry and laughter
├ękstasis on a cross of commonality
where soul passes light to soul
through its thinnest wall
osmotically less to more towards
the forever lost it seeks 
and never finds.

Let the loop in your right hand be infinity,
tying us to the gypsy coloured wheel
flowered with dark eyes, reading and riding
the tarot of caresses, hoops extravagant in our
bell deafened ears, bleeding only the stigmata
of sighs, lotus-drunk on windfalls
of heaven’s too high fruit.
Drop the cord from your free hand
and loosen my boundaries
all the ties that scour and pinch
their rawhide demands.
Paint every line incarnadine
with the flourish of the faun,
all coverings shed white
as evening snow drifting
through the temple doorway.

Blue night tattoos with shadow
the nakedness shown to us alone
where there is no longer 
even a skin to separate
the woman on the cross 
from the stone.

April 2012
posted for   real toads
Fireblossom Friday Challenge: The Art of Alphonse Mucha

The Czech artist Alphonse Mucha is mostly known for his stylized Art Nouveau depictions of women in illustrations, advertisements and set poses,(in fact Art Nouveau was originally called Style Mucha) but he also painted other subjects, including archetypal allegories like this, and a series of twenty large canvasses depicting the history of the Czech and Slavic people. His poster-style work is so well known I wanted to chose a painting a bit off the beaten track, and this one definitely brought out my Bohemian tendencies. You can see a broad range of his art at the link provided below.

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Image: France Embraces Bohemia, by Alphonse Mucha  c. 1918, oil on canvas
Public Domain, via

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Viking Funeral


Viking Funeral

I haven’t seen you since
the viking funeral when
all the boat was burning and
you were the dog at my feet.

The wind is in the east
and my old wounds ache;
the line of scar across my
fingers, almost severed

when you drew on me
for touching,
won’t stop throbbing, and though
they were embossed on my shield

against my will
the ice age, 
the broken lands
are now my own.

I drowse when I can in the sun 
outside Sleipnir’s stable, 
where Ceridwen’s cauldron
leans ready against the wall, 

deaf to Loki making 
a bloodwar fuss over Sif's shorn hair 
the yapping liar's mouth
unfaithful, untrue.

The memory of heat
on still red scars
soothes, burning all
alike to ash, 

black bones of deceit,
the cur at my feet.

April 2012

 Hoping this will 

Meet the Bar at dVerse Poets Pub

where Victoria is hosting a prompt on allegory today (Thursday) at 3:00 PM EST through midnight Friday.

Process Notes:Ceridwen is a Welsh enchantress with a sometimes calamitous cauldron of poetic inspiration. Sleipnir is Odin's eight-legged horse on which he rides to the other Worlds, and Loki is the Norse god of deception and trickery, who in one of his escapades stole the golden hair of Thor's wife Sif to make trouble. 

The rest of this poem was inspired by a scene from the 1939 movie Beau Geste, starring Gary Cooper and Ray Milland as two brothers who join the French Foreign Legion. Here's a link to a youtube clip from the film which about 1.5 minutes in, shows a child's version of the bowlderized concept of a Viking Funeral(later to be played out in a more bloody context,) where 'a Viking always has to be buried with a dog at his feet.' In actual custom, the 'dog' was more likely to be a thrall(captive/slave.) The Viking leader was placed in his ship, generally on land, and surrounded by grave goods and sacrifices of thralls, wine and horsemeat, the ship was set afire and the ashes were buried.

Image: Photo of a Viking galley, burned at an Up Helly Aa fire festival in the Shetland Islands, by Anne Burgess 1973 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012



On the other side
of the wildest blood
stilled and pooled
in a chapel of decorum,
I would love you then
as much as when the moon
drew out your howl,
as much as when the sea
could not hold all your tears
in all her rolling bowls
and hidden chambers.
For the sake of all you
paid and pay for the
clutched and crumbled
ticket home,
I  love you immutable
or crucibled, then
or now, wherever
you stand
most alone.

April 2012

Posted for   real toads

Challenge: Ella's Edge
 Circles of the Inner and Outer Word

Image: Adam and Eve, Lucas Cranach the Elder, 1533, wood
Public Domain via

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Coalman

original photo by Phil Roeder on flick'r

The Coalman
A political fantasia

The coalman is
darkness; his dust sticks to
the hands, corpse of a snowman
black in three balls
rolled from loose night, up and
down slopes of the motherless void.

He wears a bent hat
on the small ball at the top
made from the skin
of the last living poet, his
iced buttons slick fingerbones
of extinct honest men.

His flat eyes are stolen
red swelled and sullen
winking and swollen
sucked from 
wet cheeks of a child
lost at midnight.

His nose is blue steel
hollow as promises,
the cold narrow barrel
of a murderer’s handgun
buried in lies but dug 
from the grave

and his mouth
his rotting black mouth
you don’t
want to hear
he got that.

April 2012

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

Image: Art & Blue Sky, by Phil Roeder, on flick'r
This is a photograph of an original work of art by Gary Hume
I have cropped and lightly manipulated Mr Roeder's photo as permitted
under a Creative Commons 2.0 Generic License
The original work can be viewed here

Monday, April 23, 2012


Tpyx hst big


After the fire has
almost burned out
low as the grate
in your velvet voice
heard nowhere but my mind’s eye

a single teal flame
unlikely, match small, foxtrots with the sparks
as the chimney’s percussion fades and
night settles on my shoulders,
my shawl when the sun dies.

A heavy stare is all I have to bring
that fragile blue flame-atom nearer
to fill the hollows where love's
narrow bit has cored every bone
with light and left no marrow.

I seek an unbearable density, in heat
burning bright at the forge of tomorrow
pulled from the dark hearts of seventeen stars
curved in a constellation of fired glass
that jewels the black navel of a godling

as finite and feathery as
Einstein’s eyebrow, swirling a spiral
benediction with his cape of the worlds,
whispering in velvet
from the deep blue dark:

Love like mass is fungible
and can neither be
created nor destroyed.

April 2012

Posted for   real toads
Open Link Monday

Image: Hubble telescope picture of T Pyxidis* from a compilation of data taken on Feb. 26, 1994, and June 16, Oct. 7, and Nov. 10, 1995, by the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2. Public Domain via wikimedia commons

* "T Pyxidis (T Pyx) is a binary star system in the constellation Pyxis estimated at about 1,000 parsecs (3,300 light-years) from Earth. It contains a sun-like star and a white dwarf. Because of their close proximity and the larger mass of the white dwarf, it draws matter from the larger, less massive star which causes periodic thermonuclear explosions to occur. T Pyx is a recurrent nova and nova remnant in the constellation Pyxis." ~wikipedia

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Flowers of Dorian Gray

Flowers of Dorian Gray

The richest harvest always comes they say
from blackest earth deeptilled in hard worked fields.
Still there’s a freedom in the tumbleweed
the dry unworked and feckless desert yields
or blowing dandelions, golden in the clay.

Now dead machines and poison tend the seed,
make food of sorts for swollen city hives.
The soil sprouts up a greensick paper crop;
where lawless gamblers rule mad killing thrives
while dutiful puppets pirouette and bleed.

But here’s a place I’ve made the circus stop
where seeds fall as they will, where time’s own face
is changed into wild flowers of Dorian Gray
where all deeds past with beauty interlace,
where top is bottom and the bottom’s top.

April 2012

Posted for   real toads
Kerry's Challenge: The Envelope Quintet
And challenge it was. I chose the extended alternate version of the form
abcba, cdedc, efafe in the hated and dreaded iambic pentameter, which has royally kicked my butt up down and sideways for the last 24 hours.

Also posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub
Karin Gustafson hosts this weekend, with a prompt entitled Duty Calls,
asking us to explore the realms of duty and obligation.

Process notes: In the famous novel by Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a man's evil and dissipated choices are reflected in a portrait which grows older and uglier with each deed, while his face remains youthful and handsome. I've reworked and reversed Wilde's metaphor here a bit.

Image: Flowers of Dorian Gray,
© joy ann jones, 2010, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012



a blowsy rose
to pleasure the nose,
bent head tousled from
the rough loving of the storm,
wearing silver

rain beads tiny
but luminous,
skirt of brown leaves
round her ankles,
a winter’s worth of death

out of cover,
a spooked rabbit heading
down the memory hole,
running from the fox
 of your smile.

April 2012

Image: Rosa 'Pat Austin,'  May, 2010
© joy ann jones

Friday, April 20, 2012

Gone With The Wind

Poster - Gone With the Wind 01

"..I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind..."
~Ernest Dowson, Mitchell's source for the final title

Gone with the Wind

I read the book then saw the movie; sad.
I dread the look the author must have had
When she saw her Scarlett on the screen
thin and flat as a paperdoll that screamed.

But still the sets, the dresses, widescreen shots
Shut out the gutted edits of the plot.
In hoops the glittering ladies waltzed like dolls.
In whoops the ballroom laughter, fans and shawls

Made it feel we graced that dance of time
Faded into glitter, forced to rhyme.
Missing sauce, I'm Melanie the meek
Kissing faithless Scarlett on the cheek,

Knowing Ashley couldn’t make his move,
Showing Rhett what women have to prove.
Six hundred twenty thousand soldiers died.
Tricks and love scenes, Scarlett’s stubborn pride

Are what we got wrapped up in 40’s glam;
War and Rhett frankly didn’t give a damn.

April 2012

Posted for   real toads
Mary's Mixed Bag

Framed Couplets
 (Couplets in iambic pentameter where both first and last syllables rhyme.)

Process Notes: I read Gone With The Wind three times in my adolescence, and loved every page of it, not only because of Mitchell's well-drawn characters, but because of all the rich historical detail she included--battles, facts, and thousands of lines about the background and mechanics of the Civil War itself, and through which she made them illustrate that historical period in detail (not that I didn't love as well all the soap opera antics of her main characters.) I was terribly disappointed by the movie--Hollywood at its most superficial, despite the lavish trappings and the excellent cast. But perhaps no film can ever have the scope of a thousand page novel. Anyway, both book and film are deservedly classics, and no slur is intended toward Vivien Leigh, though she never was the Scarlett I saw reading the book. To me Olivia de Havilland was THE actress in that one. And wonderful as Leslie Howard was, all one could do was scratch one's head and wonder what on *earth* Scarlett was thinking when she had Clark Gable eating out of her hand.

Image: Film poster for Gone With the Wind, 1939, By Employee(s) of MGM 
Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finding the Goldilocks Zone

UpsilonAndromedae D moons

Finding the Goldilocks Zone

Tell me again
(you don’t have to use those
jawbreaker words,
and instruments can lie)
how much I am allowed to want you
how much is too much
how much not enough
how much a perfect porridge
bowl of just right?
Because, goldilocks,
this mind reading act
of mine is not

April 2012

Process Notes: Loosely defined, the Goldilocks zone, comfort zone or habitable zone, is the area in a star's effective region where planetary bodies may conceivably have atmospheric conditions which allow water to be present, and therefor, the possibility of life, i.e. not too hot not too cold etc.

Image: Artist's Conception of Upsilon Andromeda D, By Lucianomendez (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, April 18, 2012



Too far too far

you’ve gone so far
too far to know
just where you are.

The way’s too steep
the play’s too long.
The curtain falls
the lines are  wrong;

too far to hear
a wisp of song.

The storms blow in
the wind cuts hard
the new chicks scratch
in an empty yard

too far to cry
from where you are.

No place for thee
on land or sea
No home for me
but where you are

too far

April 2012

Images © joy ann jones 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man

Gingerbread Man, or
How I Got Away

Drawn to the wreck
rubbernecking your
everbleeding heart
your crippled soul, a young
fool still I expected that the vast
disassembly of you, out of control
scattered and laying
in parts, 
could make me whole.

And so you did
if pain itself is a completer
of a circle that can’t
be finished any neater.
So you did 
know the way
to make my heart whir
like a clockwork toy
until time came to pay,

to load the gun, barrel by barrel, 
against a fast sloping night feral 
with teeth. You screamed
like a caught thief
broke like a gingerbread boy
stumbling on your crumbly leg,
button eye glazed with fears
your fingerless mitt, so round 
and soft, 

raised uselessly, too late
at the oncoming bears,
making lovely bait.

April 2012

Posted for   Open Link Night   at dVerse Poets Pub

Shared under a Creative Commons License

Monday, April 16, 2012

Postcard at the Beach

Postcard at the Beach

the open window
white sand shines in a naked
raked garden of dreams,
tattooed and ruled beneath the palms in
 green dream energy, aqua sea bordered in an order of light.

 Nightmares quartered and crossed
fill up the black room's cage 
dancing above that tourmaline dream, gliding wall
to wall sleepless, betraying me with
a vaguely pulsing mind
an old and brittle life

too fragile, too cumbersome, chipped
yellowed posterboard not winged postcard
enough to pass
through that beckoning slot,
mailed to the beach
with no forwarding address.

Only a peeled off scrap
[stiff lifted script of 'Wish I was there']
 pulled to that framing of light
by hooks of birdsong,
crams in sideways as shadows play
on a riffing surf, delivering

everything that's alive

April 2012

Posted for   real toads
Open Link Monday
Susie Clevenger's photography was too good to have just one, so I did an encore with her shot of The Lighthouse at Punto Sur from Sunday's Challenge and hooked up with it here. Thank you, Susie. I see why they call you Goddess.

Image: The Lighthouse at Punto Sur, by Susie Clevenger
Used with permission.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blue Bridge

Blue Bridge

How is it when
I only see the bridge
made from letters
of your name
the struts that string
the macrame of your steel weave
in a starpoint net
tying shore to vagrant shore
my heart tumbles
my lungs fill in panic
as if I were hung
on the edge of a plunge
sudden, deeper
into blue oblivion
where high on another scale
I hear the hum of traffic the sound of
horns fading to ghosts singing
their roadsongs to each other
inaudible as dolphins save to
themselves and my thrumming ear,
the vibrating membrane all
that moves in a softening organism
going dark,
drinking time's river wind 
sweet on my face,
every traffic
in  metal and noise 
vanishing in a
sudden slap of light and
scent of salt.

January 2012
revised April 2012 

Posted for   real toads
Sunday Challenge: Photography of Susie Clevenger

Many thanks to real toads and Susie for this photo, whose logos helped to bring this poem from graffiti lost in the file to some sort of solid form here. 

Image: Baytown Bridge, by Susie Clevenger
Used with permission.
Thanks, Susie!