Sunday, December 2, 2012

Never You

Never You

A glassfull of repent
a metamorphed eloquent shoe
shirt flannel-and-books' humus scent
but never you
never you, back to take me as I'm meant.

No anise seed kiss bent
by morning's honeysuckle light
from you, my closed room, my lament,
no welcome night,
drinking maté, taking blood sacrament,

corrupting the convent.
A ghost braiding our hands,the blue
notes of your lion taming breaths
but never you,
come back to dance a minuet with death.

~December 2012

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Sunday Mini-Challenge
Kerry has us working with a stanza form taken from Pre-Raphealite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti's work

 maté: ...a tealike South American beverage made from the dried leaves of an evergreen

I am not entirely happy with this effort, but am posting it for the prompt, primarily as one of those examples of compressing free verse to form, and how a poem changes and shifts in your hands. Here is the free verse original:


An empty cup
one eloquent shoe
scent of flannel and books
but never you
again, no anise seed kiss
in  honeysuckle light
never you, my closed room,
drinking maté at night
pulling me up on a darkling look
to walk hollow dusk
wordless as wind
closer than breath
the braids of our hands
your lion tamer's voice
calling out the stations
of a backwoods cross,
your snake-handler's grace
in the bittersweet hymn
you gave me to dance, piped through
the panflute you made of my ribs,
never again
this side of the oven
where the bright fire
may or may not
burn as hot
as these embers
remembered of never
never again

~November 2012

Image: Tristan and Isolde Drinking the Love Potion, by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, 1867
Public Domain via


  1. you know me...i am free verse all the way...smiles...but the compression exercises are cool...there is an enchanting rhythm to the form piece....shoe
    shirt flannel-and-books' humus scent...absolutely love that desciption

    A ghost braiding our hands...another really cool touch hedge...

  2. I, for one, was blown away by the lines written to form. There is such a condensation of image and emotion within the tight lines, and the impact is huge.
    I enjoyed the free verse, everything was there that I loved in the first poem, but it felt more loose, almost watered down.
    Now I'm going back to read the stanzas again.

  3. I loved being able to read both poems and see how the form changed and actually heightened the emotion of it. "morning's honeysuckle light" and the "lion taming breaths" - brilliant!

  4. I'd like to hear this read or sung. Sensuality. Power. Passion. I liked seeing the progression from verse to form.
    In pondering the Lorca quote..I know great artists and eccentrics are different. I think there are two muses in positive relationships.

    1. Thank you Scott. I love that Lorca quote, and how even in an essay(I believe this was actually a talk he gave) he uses words so amazingly and imprints the thoughts with his own personality, or maybe it would be more apt to say, his muse. I do think that voice is other, and chooses us.

  5. I was surprised to see our resident atheist reference the stations of the cross! I'm partial to the free verse version.

  6. Well, I think the free verse works better, personally. I actually think it's more musical, and I think the places were you were fitting into the form have extra words that dilute the images (for me.) The braided hands - for instance I like much better than ghost braided hands - also the drinking mate - can't do accent here - works so very differently - it really is just like mate (the tea) in the form one, where the resonance of the drinking mate or buddy is clearer in the second.

    For me, I think one issue comes with working both in syllables and meter--if one is truly syllabic the meter is often off - or at least mine is - because I can't work in straight iambs generally, and so the extra syllables are needed just to make up the feet because I have anapests and dactyls thrown in. But when one is trying to do the exercise - and this one particularly had some weird meter things going on in the syllable count - one feels more bound to try to keep the syllables to the form, which I think can screw up the sound (and feet - if one doesn't stick to iambs.)

    Whereas in this free verse one, you are following a much clearer meter I think - and there's plenty sound stuff going on--especially like the embers remembered - Anyway, they're both wonderful.

    1. Thanks, k. I really wanted to mess with the syllable count more, that is, make it more metered than counted, and I tried, but the very oddly alternating line meters were too much for me. I don't much care for the thinness of the juice that resulted from everything that, as you say, was squeezed from the other version, myself, but there ya go. They can't all be winners. It was a fun exercise.

    2. Oh, I think it's a winner! I didn't mean to imply that at all! I just found when I was doing it that I kept having to choose between a metrical count and syllabic and sometimes I tried one and sometimes the other - as a result I felt a looser (or simply metrical) leash may have been more musically successful.

      But please, I think what you did works super well; I just prefer the free verse one because I think it gives you more scope for some of the different layers. k.

    3. I just mean 'winner' in my own head--I knew you weren't being negative--I felt the same dissatisfaction--just couldn't build the same poem said differently as I sometimes can with form and free verse, but I enjoyed the practice. I agree totally on the sound--when you can just count stresses instead of syllables(which is my primitive way of determining meter) it' much more musical, and reads better I think, especially out loud. I really enjoyed your reading, btw--I think I forgot that in my comment.

  7. You did an exquisite job with the form, but, personally, I don't know if I could bear to sacrifice "pulling me up on a darkling look" and "the panflute you made of my ribs." Damn! Even the stuff on your cutting room floor makes me tear my hair!

    1. Thanks, MZ. Good to see you here, though I hate to contribute to your baldness factor.

  8. I'm with Mama on those same two lines of your fee verse and I agree with Kerry that the form does something amazing to the content and tightness of the free verse.

    I love what you did with this...both the image and the form. Did you mean to leave out the repeating "a" rhyme for the beginning of each stanza? Because I got 2/3 of the way through writing mine and had to remedy it. Ugh...luckily it worked out without too much trouble though.

    Smiles to you I enjoyed these much, Hedge! :)

    1. The a rhymes are there, Hannah (repent/sent/meant, bent/lament/sacrament, convent--and then I fudged a little on the two end rhymes.)I liked those lines, too, and the snake-handler and lion tamer. Glad you enjoyed.

    2. Oh, I meant that the first line of each stanza was supposed to have the same word like in the example the word "before" repeats in each stanza. Sorry for being confusing, I hope you don't mind I mentioned.

    3. I completely missed that! Thank you Hannah--sorry to misunderstand. I don't know why I didn't see that. O well. ;_)

    4. Oh, goodness...I'm so glad you're not upset with's a fine line to tread...I only mentioned because I did the same thing. Yes, oh well...I actually like it better your way anyway... repetition of the same exact work irks me! ;) Have a great day my poetic friend!

    5. You too Hannah--thanks again. I often get carried away and miss little details! But I do hate repeating the same exact word, and it would have made this even harder--congrats on persevering yourself.

  9. I love them both, although the first is obviously an exercise in writing to a form, while the second one flows from the heart (or the pen, or the keys) and is much more you.

  10. Perhaps the freedom of the latter leaves the "never you" more of an open question. But I am never sure if a poem like this takes me into it or sends me on a journey of my own. Less familiar with Rossetti, I traveled with Jesus here, then with St. Francis and his pals up in the Apennines, and finally with Cyranno de Bergerac . . . . both poems work beautifully.

  11. I'm a free verse gal, but I loved the form and tightness of the second poem. They both are beautiful, but in the form, the mood is more noted. It is the difference of a budding rose and one that is opening tenderly. Bravo :D

  12. The form brings such power, wonderful

  13. Both are eloquent, but I have to say that I prefer the free form. In the given form you have achieved an impressive result, but for me it doesn't have the power of the free version.

  14. Oh my! I just read Hannah's comment to you and realized that I did the same thing! Oops! My a rhymes aren't the same word either!

    Anyway... I like the flow and rhythm of the form poem but like the others, there are some great lines that hurt to remove! Hard call.

  15. well, you know I'm as free verse as they come (what is form again?) but I'm afraid I'm with Kerry here. The first one blew me away! maybe I shoulda read the 2nd one first, eh?
    but it was all great


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

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