Wednesday, July 30, 2014



Do the stars
call to each other
as you call to me
a restless wave
across infinite dark
spark to cellular spark?
Is it distance you see
measuring me
or disastrous proximity
the way light bends congruent lines
a star-egg prism'd warm
from eye to eye
before the breaking door,
the solar storm of crypted time?
Can those hunting specks
that dust the desert blue
in their shaken glass globe so
identically bright, so sweet/saltpeter sour,
in their cyclopean run
in the isolate absence of heat
dance the desolate dying of suns
knowing they'll never meet?

~July 2014

Optional Musical Accompaniment

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Kerry's Wednesday Challenge: Alienation in Outer Space
 Kerry O'Connor(Skylover, Skywriting) has brought David Bowie, post-modern alienation, what it means to listen, and outer space together for one of her always compelling challenges.

For some unknown reason, perhaps because this is Kerry's prompt and I know her love of forms, I had an impulse to rewrite this poem as a sonnet. As always in these free verse-to-form exercises, it's the same, only different. (Please don't feel, anyone, that you have to read both--just my over-achieving self-indulgence.)


Do stars so far call out one to another
the way your call to me crosses infinite dark,
small voice to voice pitched low, never uncovered,
restless wavering spark to cellular spark?
Is it distance that you see, measuring me
or the damage of diffracting proximity,

the way the light at dawn bends congruent lines
in colors breaking down the prism's door?
The ragged beat tapped out by contracting time
compels the specks that dust the ballroom floor
so identically bright, so sweet/saltpeter sour,
sparkling as their shaken glass globe's devoured,

to make that falling run in isolate absence of heat
and dance the dying of suns, knowing they'll never meet.

(July 2014)

Images: The Voice of The Blood, 1948, Rene Magritte
Time, by Wojciech Siudmak
Fair use via


  1. Hey Joy, both are beautiful, and fun to read together. Oddly, the freeverse form feels more musical to me, in that the rhyme is particularly striking there in a more distilled context, though the sonnet feels clearer in terms of content. (They both are clear, but the sonnet takes us through your thoughts on more of a step-by-step basis, particularly through the prism'd part and makes us--that is, me--more conscious of the idea of refraction and what it may mean here in terms of breaking down light.) I particularly like the beginning of both poems--that whole concept is really beautiful--and the shaken globe at the end as well (which felt quite different in each poem, for me the freeverse was more effective there..) But the poignancy of the opening--is so striking--especially memorable lines, and the restless wave is such a lovely image as one thinks of both kinds of wave across space. I found the middle harder to get except on an imagistic level, but have read it a few times and think I get it better now--certainly I can picture that distance that comes from being too close, too like--and "crypted time" is a very clever phrase, which I glossed over at first. "Crypted time" is kind of the opposite of space, I think, or maybe also a place of infinite dark. Extra points for saltpeter, vivid word--and though I know you were referring to the powder, I suddenly thought of it as a figure guarding the gateway to those stars--a combination of the Saint and Lot's wife. (I am bleary this morning.) k.

    1. PS _ agree with both of Kerry's comments--both versions are really lovely, and though I don't know that they would be paired, work really well with each other as they each kind of echo and refract/expand the other. k.

    2. Thanks, k--appreciate you putting so much time and energy into thinking about this, when I know you are stretched atm. I love your image of St. Peter and Lot's wife, fused at the interstices of time's gate.

  2. Having read the free verse version first, I am struck by the interrogative voice you have established. Each question kind of pins the reader to an answer, in the stead of the poet's partner in conversation.
    This questions seems very pertinent in today's world of on-line communication:
    Can those hunting the desolate dying of suns
    knowing they'll never meet?

  3. Now I respond to the sonnet (having read it second) and I have to say I love the end result - and not only because of my love of the form. It seems you have taken your initial line of thought and teased it out within your allowed structure,and the frame provides a strong back-bone for the images and theme. I especially like the divisions and rhyme scheme you have employed - it gives such an original flavour to the 14 line favourite. The punchline loses none of its impact for being isolated as a couplet at the end.

    1. Yes, I tried to divide it more conventionally, but it didn;t seem right. Thanks so much for your insightful reading, Kerry, and for a challenge that got me writing despite various physical inertial factors here.

  4. nice..i have had an affinity of space since i was a kid...a fascination of life beyond ours...always a suck for sci fi as the stars do call to me...and from our perspective it is hard to image all the space that is between them...the was the line on diffracting proximity and its pairing with measuring me that really jumped out at me...

  5. I am a child again, sitting on the balcony, staring at the stars as bright as optometrist's lights, hoping for one to fall. Both versions are lovely, but the first packs a stronger punch for me. It was very inspiring!

  6. you work magic in any form, I'd be hard pressed to pick between the two. Magical write.

  7. Wow. I'll come back later for the sonnet, so moved I am by the unrequited affinity of the first poem. The questions pose as rhetorical, but pull for a response, a silent echo returning across space. I wonder if a God who already contains us yearns for us like that?

    1. I've come back for the music and the sonnet. You know I love the music. The sonnet is a little dense for me, though I suspect it is a masterpiece. This is, I think, a factor of my aging. Whereas your first poem gave me room to breathe in your words and relate, the sonnet has the kind of density that I turn into a sound experience. Often when I read your poems, I have this experience and cannot comment on meaning. This is all about me, not you of the brilliant mind and startling mythic connections.

  8. Sometimes people seem to me like planets in space--whole worlds that sometimes come near each other's orbit, cast a strangely placid yet wary eye on each other (like a whale's out of the depths), maybe even bump into each other, then go on their way. But even two people who know each other well (as well as two people can know each other) seem like two worlds as well, and there will always be so much in darkness between one and the other. Your poem evokes this for me. Sometimes that distance is cause for sadness or regret or misunderstandings. But other times, maybe even most times, I think it's a good thing. That "diffracting proximity", that close analysis that can burn like solar rays is something to be avoided. It's not necessarily denial, but the knowing avoidance of areas that can pull people apart. It's a ragged beat and a dance, yes, that keeps two people together. But then, of course, there are situations in which the dance is missed, or barely addressed, and we feel that loss.

    I'm really just blown away by your offering the poem in two versions, both strong, and two quite different musics. The first one feels more natural to me, rhythmically, in the beginning, then gets a little obscure (for me). The sonnet holds together more consistently, I think, both in form and content (perhaps owing to the sonnet form itself). Both are amazing and beautiful.

    1. Thanks, Mark. Proximity of the wrong kind indeed--we crave intimacy, to be known, and yet really better(or at least more consistent) sometimes to know you are alone in your head and its no one's fault--everyone else is in the same star-scatter. . I also felt the free verse middle was a bit of a muddle--one of the reasons I re-tackled it--I find form is very clarifying for that sort of thing.Still, not completely happy with it, but finished for now--thank you so much for your impressions--very valuable to me.

  9. There're so many mysterious and rich lines in your free verse Hedge and I love the images you feature with your poem as well. For me, the wave as a metaphor for the calling is very effective and I love the question you close with. Excellent writing, Hedge.

  10. Your ability to write this piece in two different forms leaves me in awe. The first ending a question...the second a certainty. Both are exquisite.

  11. I've read both versions three or four times now and they're both perfect--and for that the free verse structure of the former for me works better for what I glean to be the poem's purposes. What is intimacy shared over great distance (an allusion, I gather, to online voices, though the distance between two people/persona/souls is just as infinite right next to each other). As Mark said, we never can plumb the depths inside the other. And language is so imprecise and approximal, offering allusion and metaphors instead of actual presence. This poem is bittersweetly poured (with such rich meter and rhyme, so much so that the sonnet form I think is too neat for what is being propounded), so near so far. Don't get mad, but when I went back to read the first version this morning I perversely heard Karen Carpenter sing "Close To You," an torch song of proximity which to my 14 year old mind knifed me with the agony of ever getting so. Poopy love and all that. Maybe that adolescent is in the globe shaken by the older (none-the) wiser speaker. The sweetness of the pouring is an adamant balm for the bane of rational / scientific / celestial freeze and isolation. Bravo.

    1. 'Intimacy shared over great distances' yes, that's what I was thinking of, and what I think of when I use the word affinity these days, because I do usually only find it over the internetz, in art, in poetry, in the minds of those I'll never otherwise meet--the so-called real world is rather barren of it in post-Obama Oklahoma----and yes, it's not a factor of distance, or conversely, of closeness either as you point out. It just happens or not. I'm not mad about Karen Carpenter a bit--at least you're not quoting Whitesnake at my poem. ;_) And my Ella-Louie thing is pretty cornball, too, but those sorts of songs are just primal, I guess. Thanks, B, for your usual acumen in following my wayward thoughts.

  12. The LDR may never be the same after this poem. I love the notion of a "blue desert" because one never thinks of the sky (or anything blue) in that way, or at least, I never have, but it works beautifully here. I can just see (and feel) those lonely stars, those single eyes searching for a twin light somewhere out there, and never knowing whether meeting would be glorious or disastrous. Fantastic stuff, dear friend.

    LOL @ your re-fighting cutie on the sidebar!>>>>

  13. The first, I was curious as to what form you were following, then you unpacked the sonnet and I realized, it is the Hedgewitchian form called "good poetry". As others have noted, both are strong, strong pieces. I'm struck with the thought that, when stars DO meet - when they collide, only destruction follows in the short term. Eons later, heavy elements form and clump and this bit of breath we term life plops out. But I digress. ~

    1. Yes, you digress, but in a very endearing way. Thanks, M--I like the way your mind works, and I appreciate, as always, the kind words.


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

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