Friday, September 6, 2013

Escape from Bugtown

The inimitable Fireblossom has provided a crackling challenge over at Real Toads, and supplied us with a list of words from which we may assemble the title of a poem, which of course, we then have to write--details!. I felt a deep affinity for some of the words, but was also confoundedly attracted to others--the result is a pair of efforts--does this make me a Terrifying Prodigy, or just an Obsessive Docent of the various circles of Hell? Not sure, but here they are, and please don't anyone feel they have to read them both:

The Unexpected Ecclesiastic
(or: Escape from Bugtown)

I thought it odd you
blessed the home
where even a lost dog wouldn’t stay,
where the manger was lined with such nettled hay
no ox could eat, no saviour lay.

I didn't see the wrinkle
of  robe beneath your shell
in the worm holes we crawled
to find the Big Haul
when I was your doll.

I still didn't guess
when tunnel turned catacomb
the clicking wheeze of your true occupation,
the insectile calculation of my twice-damned station
in your holy equation.

When I found my familiar,  
you fought me, of course,
with the bell and the book
the withering look, the Fisherman's hook
the sinkhole, the black hole, the brass cross that shook

till I ran from the grinding
hallelu, from the sermon of you,
your structural integrity beltlessly down
wrapped in noise, blood and crowned
a bug on its back, the Bishop of Bugtown.

~September 2013

This is the poem I feel I was intended to write, so I did:

The Minuscule Incubus

Here inside the lacquered box
of scar and pretend,
only the smallest of devils still fits,
the one with the key,
adroit as a nosetwitch rat
every bit as strong
as a lion till dawn,
tiny as the tip of
a red hot wire

passed with a hiss
through the gray matter
laid over mountains of char.
His muzzle is a mask,
his tail bobbed like a Rott,
his torment an ashen tickle
no longer sweet
not even forbidden,
compulsion missing the point.

past this place
where the worst has already happened
and is waiting to happen again,
there's a hole made in a dream
through which I may wiggle,
a worm waiting wings,
if only it were possible
to make myself
smaller than he.

~September 2013
(The other poems in my incubus series are    here )

posted for     real toads
Challenge: Fireblossom Friday
Build A Title

Thanks to all who read  either or both, and apologies for completely giving in to the dark side of my verbose tendencies.

Images: The Reprimand, circa 1890,  by Jehan Georges Vibert, 
Detail from Death and The Miser, 1490, by Heironymous Bosch
Public Domain via


  1. This is a feast for all word-lovers. You certainly put your lexicon through its paces in both pieces.
    First place goes to 'insectile calculation'. What a wonderfully evocative combination.

    I also felt the incubus was made for you, but you social commentary in the first is ever-relevant. I loved them both.

    1. Thanks, Kerry. they sort of go together, now that I read them in sequence. I appreciate you working through them both, and everyone else who does so.

  2. Yikes. I don't think verbose is the right word--maybe rich-tapestried, or frighteningly-embroidered, or the poems of someone with a very wild bell, thick spell book, and flaring candle. I'm not in a position to make detailed comments right now, but they are both terrifically rich - terrifying and fun, my favorite lines probably are the description of the place where the worst has already happen and waiting for it to happen again. I think I know that spot. k.

  3. Lushly dense, dark, chilling: "tiny as the tip of/ a red hot wire"

  4. 'the lacquered box of scar and pretend' - there's a whole story in that phrase.

  5. Wow, Hedge, cant believe we picked the same words. I didnt read any before I wrote mine. I really enjoyed your flight from the bishop of bugtown. But the second poem stole my heart with its "nosetwitch rat" and the "hole made in a dream" and the "worm waiting wings". Sigh. Fabulous writing, as always.

    1. Thanks for reading both, Sherry. I never read first either, so these things happen. No problem.

  6. terrifying prodigy with your employment of varied voices. your brilliant hedgewith imagery is at play in both with wonderful layered meanings, and your worm holes tie the two pieces together for a brief time, both equally illustrative. "a worm waiting wings" one of my favorites. great reads, both.

    1. Thanks, Jane--really nice to see you here. Hope to see you writing again yourself soon.

  7. I could easily point to either of these to justify my baldness, but I particularly love the first. Well, perhaps "love" isn't the right word to apply to something so chilling. "The clicking wheeze of your true occupation" is pure genius, and I would be out in the street doing the naked hokey pokey if I had come up with that first stanza. Perhaps it's best that I didn't!

    1. Laughin. Yes, that sort of aberrant behavior, young lady, will not be tolerated in our fair state. Thanks much.

  8. I just read Sherry's before yours, and you both chose the same title! Of course, yours was a bit darker! I love both of these poems, and they do seem to fit together nicely. The first is a wonderful warning (The Bishop of Bugtown is fantastic-could be a twisted, Broadway musical!) The second is just so YOU! And I adore the picture. Bravo!

  9. Oh my! When you take me on a journey to your dark side ... I don't want to return - ever. Your poetry is rich, lush, deeply satisfying.

  10. I know I say it so often but I do think it is so important and intrinsic to the blog PO experience but you picture choices are A. second to none that I see and B. like me I can feel how connected they are to the words. also, as a painter I write pictures and as a poet (he says without fear of irony;) I write pictures and as obvious as that may sound, I think it is THE amazing key to our creative wonder - our ability to render, synthesis and reverse the two on canvas, screen, paper etc.

    The first is so yummy and entertaining and also somehow excruciating which for me is SO plus!!! the rhyme and shape spark an unsettling harmony with the picture which i adore for itself but may be influenced by the robes that tilt me to Velasquezs' Pope and in turn Bacons screamers. Add this with all the quick paced HW character and the Bishop of Bugtown and i am signing hymns.

    for number two i again refer to your characteristic verve, wit and sharp ability to make me smile Cheshire at the diorama as it extends and wiggles wields mini-dynamics in the dark.

    for me the marriage of picture and poetry presented makes you an animator . . . like Disney but less fascist which is pretty darn cool
    especially the lack of fascism!!!

    and i couldn't believe it when i read this:

    a Terrifying Prodigy,
    or just an Obsessive Docent
    of the various circles of Hell.

    a carbon copy of all my school reports!!!

    all the best Joy

  11. you hooked me with the lost dog in the first poem... great story telling.


  12. in all my sleep deprived, broken but wildly ecstatic outpouring i forget to check my comment for A. sense and B. spelling mistakes!
    Diego Rodríguez de Silva y Velázquez would might be impressed that i sign hymns too!!!

    as ever HW i loved every inch and on second thoughts i do detect the odd flicker of fascism which i kinda like between you and me as long as it remains firmly within the poetry.

    1. I just assumed you had spent years in counter-intuitive missionary work with the deaf. ;_)

      There's a bit of fascist in every ecclesiastic, especially the ones that gaud about in their purple robes--(you can see him contemplating sending the young lady to a Vatican cell for her crimes of reading and owning an astrolabe.) But none in me, my friend.

      Thanks for reading, Arron, and for your lavish enthusiasm, and appreciation of the picture thing--I usually spend as much time or more hunting out the images I use, and then I find they subvert and redirect my poem, more often than not, the devious bastards.

  13. oh i really like the second one hedge, from the lacquered box of scar and pretend to the hole of a dream you may wiggle through, a worm waiting captured me....very well played joy...smiles.

  14. I can't add anything that hasn't been said. maybe just a wow.

  15. Outstanding, both!!

    In the first the fact that a lost dog didn't even want to stay stood out to me, what an awesome way to say it...planting that image firmly.

    I n your second the worm waiting wings and the poignant under-meaning within those closing lines are a punch.

    Great writing in both, enjoyed thoroughly, Hedge! :)

  16. I love all that you did! The ending so did it for me-our wings are always waiting! Ka-pow you brought it!

  17. "Somewhere
    past this place
    where the worst has already happened
    and is waiting to happen again"
    — that's the best bit, from my point of view, but both poems are you, my dear Hedge, ever so very you, and therefore superb.
    Luv, K

  18. These are both darkly delightful, and for that I thank you. Nothing wrong with the light-hearted tone of most of the entries, but a little leaven of malice is good for...well, for this reader, to be sure.

    I love the part about the worst having already happened "and is waiting to happen again." That's the way to stagger them with an easy left and send your readers to the wig shop with a sharp right.

    This Catlick girl loved your jaundiced view of clergy in the first poem, as well. Familiars and tainted mangers are just the thing, if you ask me. Thanks so much for spoiling me with not one but two excellent poems for Fireblossom Friday, Hedge.

  19. I will not......I repeat will not..... Play srabble with you. Your writing is as intelligent as any I ever read. In addition how good are you that your writing is as intelligent as it is and still rocks my socks with style substance and beauty. Damn Joy.

  20. You always floor me with your use of words. Such incredible talent...Both seem so real to me. Elements of both I seem to have lived. Great write!


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