Thursday, August 2, 2012

Double Shot of Drought

Drought I.

(55 dustdevils for the G-Man)

When it's hot 
as the devil's kitchen
week after brazen week,
grass fires with a sigh at spark's 
lightest touch, ash tornadoes fly;
fields' green finish turns to 
crackled glaze, the bones of the corn
 soften and flop, emptied by
a marrow-sucking sun;
it's too late to pray for rain
but still 
you do.

~July 2012

[Those playing the 55 game, feel free to stop here. Toads, continue on.]

Unknown found vintage photo
 Drought II.

The heat came when the fear of it had passed
and made the land bleed dust. Dry coughs, fretful nights.

Often we sat drinking with the bees till past dark, laughing crazy
our faces rolling with the stars and the night more blue than black, and your
eyes fever bright.

Days, the hot southern wind lapped on our cheeks but it was too dry to spit. Hungry as a deer, it licked the boiled-out salt our bodies gave in the sun's long leathering. 

I remember that August the full moon came twice, like a young man or a ripe woman, and it was called blue, still round and silver as a coin. No reason why.

The green fingers of the hills put on gloves of red drought, leaves paper trees brown. Their scent tastes copper flat as blood, dead as stone. Work always, but the baby laughs.

I don't know when the last rose faded, when my face changed with the dry earth. Skin crackled like glaze on an old cup, and I was painted in place with all the colors of forgotten weather.

Crackled Rose

~August 2012
An attempt at an okyfied  zuihitsu exercise for Kerry's Wednesday Challenge at   real toads

Process Notes: August 2012 will contain two full moons; this is relatively rare, and is the origin of the expression, 'once in a blue moon.'

I've grouped these two pieces together because the second grew directly out of the first, which I had written earlier this blistering hot week for G-Man's Friday 55 prompt. Then I tried to do the same subject with a 'running brush,' random-style, and it escaped and went all over the place. I don't know if I've really fulfilled Kerry's prompt properly with the second piece, but this is what happened when I tried--thanks, Kerry, this was challenging for my very non-oriental, non-prose-prone brain, but it was fun.

Image Credits: Drought I: Drought, by arby reed, on flick'r
Drought II: Unknown Found Vintage Photo, Tulsa, OK, by imarcc, on flick'r
Footer: Crackled Rose, by Big Gray Mare on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License


  1. emptied by
    a marrow-sucking sun;
    ..... Wow, this line from a poem truly for the ages (we can only hope that this drought is one for the ages). It is so powerful. I'd love to hear it read over NPR in the middle of a special report on the drought. What a stunning work it is and should be shared in that kind of way.

    Without going to the Toads prompt to read about the form I must say that you hit it out of the ballpark for me. The stanza about the blue moon is positioned as if the moon is rising over the sad heat of your words.

    1. Thanks, Lydia--so sorry I have been so long away from your place--I am just getting back into the blog thing.

  2. Your images are exquisite in these poems!
    DroughtI: "The bones of the corn
    soften and flop, emptied by
    a marrow-sucking sun;"
    DroughtII: "made the land bleed dust" "our faces rolling with the stars" "hot southern wind lapped on our cheeks" "Hungry as a deer, it licked the boiled-out salt our bodies" etc And the paint brush is definitely at work with colors and textures--leathering and glaze on an old cup.

    As for Drought, this is not a story so much as an oil on canvass, an amassing of dryness and heat so powerful my lips cracked and I too became part of the landscape. (along with dead azalea bushes)

    1. Thank you Susan. It's hard being a gardener when the drought comes--not as hard as being a farmer, but still.

  3. i def think they play well together....ugh on the the point about when we lost the fear of it, it came...and perhaps the universe is laughing a bit you your 55 your use of language def evokes the def put us right in it in both of them...think i may go take a shower now...smiles...

  4. Both really terrific poems, I think. Both moving, in their dry parched way, beyond despair just because they are so good. K.

    1. Ps mine is not very successful but has a lot of rain. I don't know if that's refreshing or painful from your perspective. It had been very dry here but we had a lot of splash over weekend. K.

  5. First time through I preferred the first, but then I had a second read and preferred the second. The land bleeding dust is just brilliant.

  6. Oh fine, let it be 110 for a few weeks and you Okies start caterwauling!

    It is so good to have our Hedge back, writing new poems. I like the first one best. It's human nature to think that the worm will turn, even if the worm is baked and crispy on the sidewalk.

    I love the side bar thing with the woman and the bear. I once read a very odd short novel called "Bear" by Marian Engel. I recommend it.

  7. Ok, Grapes of Wrath in the second one, right?

  8. BEAUTIFUL writing! I love them both for different reasons.......but in the second your images are really spectacular. Fabulous work, Joy. Hey, I LOVE that picture of the bear comforting the young woman.

  9. I especially like you 55 words version. Excuse me though, I need to fill by glass; I'm all of a sudden thirsty.

  10. Oh, this is such a strong piece, Hedge, taking the reader deep into the red abyss of deprivation.. I felt as if this was my story, my red dust, my drought.. that is the gift of a poet, to put us there and ask us to feel, as well as see it all laid before us.

  11. Wow, even a drought sounds beautiful when you paint it with words. Love the image of the sun sucking marrow from bones of corn.

  12. I second what Kerry has said...heartily!! Hedge this is super sensory...I was drawn into this solidly!!! Very well done both pieces!!

  13. Jeez, I'm suddenly thirsty!!!
    Hedge...I read this twice again.
    (Even though I got it the first time for once :P)
    Loved your 55...Part two as well.
    Thank You for disregarding any personal physical pain to join in on the Friday Funfest...You Rock!
    Have a Kick Ass Week-End

    1. Hey--it's always a pleasure to 55 with you, my friend. And I'm all for plenty of fluids.

  14. I honestly enjoyed both poems ... the directness is enchanting with the first and the second.. well, it is my favorite type of poetry. One that resurrects the past and makes it so real I can feel it! Wow, just love the opening line and the reference to a young man or ripe woman! Just amazing!

    1. Thatk you. The past and the present seem to be mixing in the weather, Margaret--we are breaking or tying all the recorded highs from the 1930's--1936 had the hottest temperature ever recorded in Oklahoma at 113--it was 112 today. It was finding that random photo of a family of sodbusters on flic'kr that really set me off, though---the crackle was perfect, and it was even from Oklahoma.

  15. Love the 2pieces, I guess particularly the first- some really great images ,thanks

  16. I'm still praying for rain. It really is one for the records.

  17. Well I think your 55 is superb. And though I'm not a toad, I love your second poem. Don't know the form, so it doesn't matter to me, I just love the picture you paint with the words you've chosen. Lovely.

    1. Thanks Myrna. I wouldn't say I know the form either. ;-) If it said something to you, then I'm happy, regardless.

  18. It is very hot and humid here in Malaysia but if your picture prompt is near how it feels for you, then I am so blessed. Hope the weather will get better soon. I love your 55!Makes me feel the HEAT more than ever. Bravo!Have you a blessed weekend. hugs shakira
    Mine is here

  19. Hot. I love the "bones of corn" reference. I once wrote a poem about corn, called Dirt Poor, which began:
    poverty stricken soil
    makes corn with missing teeth
    a yellow bucked grin
    so many mouths to feed

  20. Two well constructed poems, thank you. I think the "marrow-sucking sun" is a fine image.

  21. Oh, I feel both of these! We're apparently going through the same weather. You have me reaching for a drink of cold water; I swear I can taste the dust in my mouth.

  22. "like a young man or a ripe woman"

    Freaking classic.


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

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