Saturday, November 10, 2012




Here in the country of one-armed
men, no one gets down
nothing gets done; wavering, wild,
born to be guiled,
those with a right arm strike those with a left,
those with a left slap those with a right
building their windmill.

With dandelion gloves
there's swinging and missing, uppercut, jab
below belt puffing, fluffing and blowing
lurching hands haloed in seeds throwing
themselves to the apocalypse.
Fat heads stripped to toothpick necks
make spears for the tilting.

With quick rose thorn blades
carefully sharpened under flowers and crowns
there's much kindly cutting, blood drawing,
ankle biting, soft mouths mewing, much
intricate footwork kneedeep in horse shit
a scratched cat's ballet, petals crush-trampling;
'lay down your arm' is a difficult peace.

Despising surrender
makes it hard to remember armistice
is ambulatory only when armless.
I live in the country of one-armed men;
some have a right hand,
some only a left. Don't ask me why,
we may not be legless but we'll only lie.

~November 2012

 Posted for   Poetics   at dVerse Poets Pub

Karin Gustafson(ManicdDaily) hosts today and ask us to write about truce, peace, armistice and such like. I'm afraid mine has veered off into politics.

 If you would like to hear the poem read by the author, please click below:

Image: wish,by theloushe, on flick'r
Shared under a creative commons license



  1. Fantastic. Great reading too. (A little scratchy because I put up loud to play for my husband who was also very impressed.)

    Agh. I know you're going political (and also botannical)--great photo by the way - but it reminded me a bit of Robert Bly's poem about his father, where he talks of limping men who make their surroundings limp; something like that - and it could work very well on the deeper than political level. Such great lines - and the images of slapping etc.

    The men may be one-eyed too. I'm not going to talk about what other private parts may be missing (except to say that a brain is only one of them.) Ha.

    No, but on a serious level - so many layers here - tilting at windmills - jealous of all those arms, I guess. Thanks for participating. k.

    1. I'm going to have to find that Bly poem. I felt like there was some sort of old saying or something I'd read(you know, something like, where ignorance is bliss tis folly to wise sort of thing) behind that one-armed line that was going through my brain, but I never could remember it, so finally gave up and just wrote what I had, whatever it was. Ha! On the missing parts.

    2. Here it is - My Father's Wedding - yours is very much its own thing - it's just that I happen to like that Bly poem and it reminded me of it.

    3. It - and I'm talking about the Bly now but yours is too - is a beautiful poem. I somehow saw him reading one time in NYC. Back when I made an effort to go to such things. k.

    4. That's an amazing poem--I've only read a bit of Bly, in various anthologies. That's the kind of poem you keep by your bed, so you can read it many times in many moods, and finally get to know it. You're fortunate to be able to run into such a poet in the flesh, but really, poetry doesn't need flesh, and sometimes is even hampered by it, I think, so I understand about the effort part.

    5. Well, I'm incredibly lazy in terms of taking advantage of New York! And not much is free! And, well, my life is pretty busy in terms of being able to make a plan. (Lots of excuses.) I agree that nowadays particularly you do not need flesh. Bly used to be a nice reader because he played a kind of strummed instrument when he read. There's undoubtedly something on youtube. Sort of like an autoharp. And it was just incredibly pretty to have this strumming beneath the reading. But when I've seen people--not many--one is sometimes conscious of a great deal of ego!

      That is a great poem though. He is very good. He is sometimes a bit too much himself but he's good. He does great translations too I think. k.

  2. Oy. Is it really *that* bad, Hedge? Perhaps you are the karmic balance for my mother, who found it shocking and hard to believe that Richard Nixon could have told a lie. Funny, she never had any trouble believing that *I* had!

    1. But you were guilty till proven innocent in the court of Maw. Thanks, Shay.

  3. I agree with Karin--a poem to be read on many layers. For me, it speaks of the danger of extremism, the need for balance.

  4. The one-armed men slapping each other is sadly comic - and brilliant! Sigh. I wish it wasnt such an accurate commentary on the current scene. You nailed it.

  5. fantastic...this was fun to read for the slipperiness of your make them dance, but what is within...nice wit...the laying down of the arms but keeping the one to swing away with...laying down you arm is a difficult peace....smiles...really nicely layered as well hedge...i grin...

  6. Yes, it was fun to read, yet serious... nothing really ever seems to get done with all that left and right slapping, does it?

  7. This moves so beautifully that you don't notice the teeth until they're buried in your neck. Awesome write, Hedge.

  8. love the images of those with just right arms and those with just left...slapping each others..fighting each other...building their windmill ..great image..great metaphor..

  9. This is a marvelous conceit which you execute brilliantly. I would go so far as to say you're the only person who could have written it. Witty, political, and oh so satisfying.

  10. this is f**king brilliant, Joy!!! and the last stanza describes the current situation all too well!

  11. Love the opening stanza and the comedic elements but also that you expertly weave the serious into this too.

  12. Deep reflection of a situation where the vision of what could be misses the strengths of what is

  13. comedy with a serious undertone... what a perfect match. really enjoyed reading this.

  14. I read it first and thought it may be satirical. I listened to your nice reading a few times and came away differently. The pause from ...."lay down your arms""despising surrender".. Hopeful. A battle cry almost. Rallying the troops. Don't give up, don't ever give up.
    The spent flower bowing it head to the ever present sun. Beauty fades. Mission remains the same. Carry on. Carry on.
    Interesting, in the side bar. A general extolling the virtues of moderation. Very nice all the way around.

  15. I had a "Monty Python" sort of experience reading it. They were always chopping off limbs that exploded in blood and foolishly carrying on trying to kill one another until nothing was left. This poem was more deeply layered than that though - the last stanza stating the harshness of our current political state; the feeling we have lost vital parts and may never be made whole. Brilliant.

  16. well, i'd count hedgewitch amongst the intelligent life forms. this is what it's about: gorgeous truthiness, with a purpose. if only the one-armed men would listen!

  17. im probably missing the point but the left and right arms...made me think of political parties....and how they wrangle without really experiencing the horror of losing an arm on the battlefield. very many things to read into in this...missing limbs, standing legless.... can be taken literally, or more metaphorically, could speak about loss on many levels...loss of life, loss of rationality, loss of very cool..

  18. Well said, Hedge
    A land of blame, can only have victims

  19. Doesn't it seem like it's all about delivering blows to the other side sometimes? Great description with the windmill too illustrating this frustrating cycle.

  20. Lord Krishna, I am so dull.
    I had to read the comments to get a hint of how to interpret this poem. THEN, I had to go back and re-read it.
    If the poem title were: Two Arms, Two Parties, No ARMistice
    I may have understood. :-)

    I did not understand your last line. But, again, I'm a bit dull.
    Any hints?
    I had fun trying though.
    I think the same happens in every country -- don't you?

    1. The last line is supposed to be a bit a bit of a play on words--if you have no legs, you can only lie there not ambulatory, but if you are a one-armed politician(ie, one who speaks for only one point of view) then you lie in a different way. It's basically a lot of word association on the arms and armistice, and the feeling loss and being incomplete and fighting uselessly. Hope that helps.

    2. Any time, Sabio. Thanks for reading.

  21. I really enjoyed reading and listening to this, thank you.


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

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