Monday, December 31, 2012

The Greenhouse

Greenhouse @ Noordwijk

The Greenhouse

"…only a wall of bad dreams separates me from the dead."
~Federico Garcia Lorca

Part 1

Shape without form
bones hollow tubes
delicious conduits for melons of yesterday's light
emptied, love that drips
from fingertips hung over the side
of a dolphin's drifting bed
silver drops of mercury 
up my face
hung dangling to the sky,
a root that reaches eyeless
toward a cavity drowned in moons.

My heart still
louder than the crocodile in the ivy
clicking castanet teeth in sambas to
a deaf rose
in the greenhouse of dust and wine.
Shape without form,
a dream so badly made
it's no different than waking.

Part 2.

Many of these nights
I dream the greenhouse
bench-full of musky geraniums,
doubled lilies, spreadfinger poinsettia stars,
clay pots of green bay, mimosa, impossible olive
arrayed in some sequence that
confounds Fibonacci
with its lack of gold arab tumbleweeds,
its rote root and utterly unpredictable
prime free knowing,
counting up to its number
of green secret selves.

I pass through the sleepless emerald-lidded city
a tumultuous order
going bench to bench in the humid jade drip,
pressed to compound the hours left to me,
make cuttings of minutes, 
grow them on, to let myself become
the décor I tend and sell
and finally know
the earth's sweet mouth
tumbling unpollinated silk flowers
to bright oblivion
in her kiss.

~New Years Eve, 2012

Images: Header: Greenhouse @ Noordwijk, by wot nxt on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons license 
Footer: Geranium, by Odilon Redon
Public Domain via


  1. It's all right. Really. My hair was growing back, I no longer looked like Mr. (Ms.?) Clean, and after a brief search, I had even found my round comb and my product, but that's all right. I can just start over.

    The opening stanza, with the "dolphin's drifting bed" was excellent. but i still had hair. Then I got to the second stanza. Each line in it is better then the last, and caused me to yank, yank, yank, every strand from my dome. really, Joy, the way you interpolated all those seemingly disparate things into a coherent and strikingly poetic whole is something that makes me just sit back and shake my head. With each line, I thought, "damn! there's the hot line in this poem" and then the subsequent line kept surpassing the previous one. A crocodile serenading a deaf rose in a greenhouse of dust and wine...Lorca would love this, and I did, too.

    Then you move to part 2, and Fibonacci. I had to look him up. Trust me, no else but you would come up with a named mathematical sequence to illustrate arrangements inside a dreamy, surreal greenhouse. That's brilliant. I truly love that. I'm *jealous*.

    The end brings it down from wild hallucination to soft, fatalistic acceptance of a natural and inevitable end, or at least, reintroduction into the cycle of life. The silk flowers were a deft and telling touch.

    Captain Picard retrieved the bar with a tract-o-beam and i shall now beat you with it. One day, you will go too far, the bar will be raised beyond retrieval, and i will have to devote myself to haiku for the rest of my life. Don't let this happen!

  2. Wow! You are BACK, and with such power! I love the "cavity drowned in moons", and "a dream so badly made it's no different from waking." Wow!

  3. the surreal, kinda playful crazy in this...the heart beating louder than the croc in the ivy teeth clicking sambas....ha....the making cuttings of moments and growing them on is a really cool touch as well....happy new year joy...

  4. When the moon rose last night it was dripping gold just as the picture shows, and I wondered where that residual light came from, and thought: There's a poem in this. Now, I have read it and I feel content. If anyone was going to write it, it was you.
    Love dripping, silver dropping and a cavity filled with moon. Perfect.

  5. ..I am speechless....what a little break can do for one's muse! Happy New Year..

  6. oh how I love this! That opening stanza was so rich and vivid in its description and flavour - "a root that reaches eyeless
    toward a cavity drowned in moons." - that last line is inspired! And then it goes on, each line feeding into and building upon the last to create a truly great write! I was particularly taken with the "a dream so badly made" idea, it let me wander off numbly through that formless greenhouse of dust and wine! Great stuff!

  7. Hi Joy - a very cool poem on the immediate impressionistic level - I have to read a few (several) more times - I can relate to the second part quite instantly - maybe as someone getting older who can very easily imagine the tumbled green shelves and the unpollinated silk flowers that come out instead. That is just very poignant for me.

    The first half is harder for me - perhaps because I am not a very good student of the surreal - I do love all the resonances - the mercury feels to me of a thermometer and the crocodile brings up crocodile tears - like the earlier drips - and the whole posturing of a dream that feels so real and yet does not have the life one seeks. The castanet teeth - great -

    A root that reaches eyeless towards a cavity of moons - I may not be quoting that right - - I'm stuck with a humble potato for a moment - and yet wouldn't that be nice in the context of all of that. The greenhouse of dust and wine - so arid and yet iconic too - tomblike for sure = anyway, very cool but awfully painful poem, I thought. There is a wonderful clip on NY Times today of Terri Gross interview with Maurice Sendak talking about loving life as one ages, but crying one's self to the grave also because of all one misses. You might like. Very tightly wrought here - but I think even the silk flowers might pollinate somehow. k.

  8. Well that Lorca quote is incredible, but you rose to the challenge.

    "a dream so badly made
    it's no different than waking."

    -that's heartbreaking, and there is such an aching in this poem. Those silk flowers kill me. How can so much green leave me here, with them? It seems so cheap and trite to wish you a happy new year, but I truly hope you find some peace and comfort and pleasure in the new year, Joy. Thank you for for your true and beautiful poetry.

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  10. lol

    once again i typo junko!

    I wish you could see my face as i recite and re-read . . .
    the excitement and the recognition always
    but especially the contented afterglow of united

    The Exhilaration and the appreciation though are THE vital aspects,
    as I acquire my Hedge Witch FIX (it’s cheaper and cleaner than brown

    The quote is perfectly certain to put us where we need to be to RECIEVE.

    And I am TRULY grateful for the dolphin-smooth brain-shave of your opening!

    Shape without form
    bones hollow tubes . . .

    a root that reaches eyeless
    toward a cavity drowned in moons

    I have withdrawn the nectar just so as to admire the heavy glory of the bookends alone!

    louder than the crocodile in the ivy
    clicking castanet teeth in sambas to
    a deaf rose
    in the greenhouse of dust and wine.

    This is a poetic firework-face moment!

    bench-full of musky geraniums,
    doubled lilies, spreadfinger poinsettia stars,
    clay pots of green bay, mimosa, impossible olive
    arrayed in some sequence that
    confounds Fibonacci

    If the wind changes direction and I got stuck
    With this face on, I would only have suitable
    Countenance for very particular activities! Lol

    And down to the Killer Kiss!

    I do wish you well Joy
    But don’t find too much peace and comfort
    I would feel lonely out in space
    and in the garden! :D

    All the best.

    1. I thought you might like this one. ;_) We are swimming in similar cosmic soup of late, and I say the same thing to you, best of years, better times, redemption, but keep the hand out so I can feel something out there in the darkness that isn't ice cold.

  11. such lush, rich imagery! i was really struck by "make cuttings of minutes" and i loved the Fibonacci reference. actually, i loved it all from first line to last, plus the quote and the Redon.

    i hope the new year brings you delightful surprises and much love and laughter, creativity and contentment!


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