Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peacock Mask

Lady in bright peacock outfit (P1000508a)
Peacock Mask
(or, Looking Back)

You stood in the center
in your peacock mask
in your turquoise dress
pushed and over-drenched

in the too bright room: 
The cat, you said,
is a reductionist first
but the bird is blue
and small as air.

The cat moves like light
but the bird's not there.
I'm a sugar queen now
beginning to melt.

Your encircled eyes were wild for free,
but you asked to be locked
in someone's vault, and I knew lies
and curls were all you'd got.

Unbuttoning your chest,
you spread ribs and said,
See, here's a jelly bean
red and sweet.

The bird flew hard to bring it to me.
It's watching you
now, the harder you see
the more you look away.

You dropped the mask
when the feathers cried.
I can't save you, green girl.
You'll have to melt

under the door and so away.
The stain and the taste
I expect will stay but I still hear wings.
The blue bird flies.

Balcony pix

~October 2013

posted for    real toads

Mini-Challenge: Masks
The enigmatic grapeling hosts today with a subject I've always felt drawn to--masks. I once again wrote and formatted this all online, as the browser is the only part of my moribund computer I can use, so please excuse the roughness of what would normally be for me, a draft. I'm afraid it's not very mini either.

Hover mouse for image attribution, or click on pic to go to photographer's flick'r page
shared under a Creative Commons license


  1. Lots of great visuals, love "when the feathers cried".

  2. the creative dialogue in this...makes me feel a little alice in wonderland mad hatter....the opening the ribs jellybean line...the best..ha...the harder you see the more you look away...another great one...happy saturday joy...hope this means your computer woes are passing...

  3. This has a very Anne Sexton-like immediacy with a fable-type context or paradigm. I feel like there is a real overlap of characters and voices here - between the you and I, the cat and the bird, the blue bird and the character in the peacock mask, and even the cat and the light in the too-bright room--in this way, it is almost like a maze where each step/voice opens into the next in a curious way, or when each takes off a mask (or looks in a mirror) to become the next voice. I do not know if that is what you intended --only that there is this quality of duality throughout (I thought.) -- I love all the contrasts and the word play -- the cat being a reductionist - is such a strong line--they certainly are-- but the bird is reduced even further by not being there-- (again kind of a masking and unmasking.) I love the word play of the encircled eyes - such a good phrase, as one imagines the eyes simply like a peacock's lined--but also entrapped, encircled - so that the eyes are kind of caught before they even get into the vault.

    There's also a lot of Hedda Gabler in all of this -- for me the strongest stanza is the unbuttoning of the chest to get to the jelly bean --the human bean-heart, I guess. Ugh. This part felt a bit like the peacock girl as little doll - which for me is the meat of the poem--this peacock doesn't seem actually so great at narcissism-- it seems to be a bit of a mask-- and then she meets up with someone who is able to manipulate that pretense and her too as the person beneath the pretense--and oops! Not so easy to get away whole. (Maybe the only chance is to be a little blue bird instead of a peacock.) I'm not sure about all that--but I have a very strong sense of a very human situation - the amateur poseur (that green girl) caught by the pro. (I'm sorry if I'm all off and hope I do not influence any other commenters.) k.

    1. Thanks, k, for your in depth reading. I always enjoy seeing what you find in my poems, and I really appreciate your feedback, and the time and effort that goes into it. I think you caught everything I intended and even a bit more--who knows everything that is buried at the back of what one writes. I read a lot of Anne Sexton in my younger days--the "I" style and the deep plunges--and this is primarily about being young, how strong, how beautiful, how helpless and how conflicted.But the bird still flies. ;_)

    2. Thanks for your kind words- and others should not feel any intimidation as I tend to respond on a very stream-of-conscious level and am just overly verbose. But I do appreciate any poems that deals with the trials of the young (and old). Your poems are always worth a careful reading as I know you've written them with a lot of care, so if there's something I don't get immediately (even if it's compelling), I know there is specific sense behind it and not just showmanship. I'm a big one for specific sense -- perhaps out of need! k.

    3. Thanks, k. I try not to be too pointlessly oblique, but I know the way I think is often difficult to follow--so thanks for trying, and doing such a good job. There is indeed always *something* some sense, I am trying to get across. Maybe that search for what's (missing)/ hidden is why we read poetry to begin with. Good luck with your November off! Hope it is fruitful.Will miss you.

  4. Not much more I can say after the above except an excellent take on the prompt !
    Thank you

  5. Karin always provide lucid, thoughtful replies that encompass so much, so to you, Joy, I'll say this: your comment on masks really did prompt me on this challenge, particularly to synch with Samhain, and you've shown us a superb demonstration of mask, with not a whit of 'telling'. My favorite kind of poem - sinuous, metaphoric, thoughtful, layered. Thank you for battling the computer demons and posting online. ~

  6. This is as enigmatic as anything a mask can hide.. wonderful images.. and riddling for me.

  7. Beautiful & layered with symbolism Hedge ~ I specially like the use of the blue bird & crying of the feathers ~ Have a good weekend ~

  8. Yikes, well, I'm intimidated now, commenting after Karin! I'll just say that I really liked all of the italicized lines, the lines that the masked one speaks. So self-deluded. And if this is a draft, then your drafts are ten times better than most people's polished jewels.

  9. the cat's a reductionist. ain't that the truth!

  10. I so enjoyed the exchange between description and dialogue in this poem, which affords us both an outer and inner view of the lady in question. Some amazing lines, Hedge.

  11. A riveting tale, brilliantly told. I especially love "you dropped the mask when the feathers cried."

  12. A tle well told - I a gree with brian very alice in wonderlandish...

  13. my read of this will tell too much, I think, about my own subconscious, but here goes... feathers make the wings. the green girl is sweet, sweet jealousy ---dissolving. In my read, this mask flies, free of jealously and possibly greed. The cat symbolizes realization. Now, I am done reading poetry for the day. You have simply done me in--quite brilliantly.

    1. Thank you, Jane. Your insights are always thoughtful and appreciated. I'm so glad you found so much to chew on here, but hope I haven't ruined poetry for you for too long. ;_), Feathers do definitely make the wings.

  14. I love the mind twisting imagery, Hedge. And, the sinister singsong of the italicized lines. God, good stuff.

  15. Alice in Wonderland-like for sure - I agree with the above commentator and I like the idea of "green" being jealousy. Blue birds are meant to soar. Beautiful!

  16. This nightmarish poem... wow, Hedge. The ribs parting, the red jellybean (shrunken heart?), the mask falling to reveal a meltable Green Girl... Honestly, if this is a first draft, I start to wonder about some of the stuff I've posted! Yours is brilliant, enigmatic, and that last sight of the blue bird. Honestly, you've outdone yourself. I mean it. Amy

  17. Somebody toss me some beads!!!

    1. Are you a hippie or just Catholic?

      G--I may be offline for awhile getting this thing replaced and setting up the new one, so if you don't see me for the funfest, that will be the reason.

  18. Perfect for the woman who inspired the prompt. I especially like "but I still hear wings. The blue bird flies."


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

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