Monday, July 14, 2014



The drum is beating low
constant as Leviathon’s heart
far up in a moonless basin
lapped by the ocean of night.

Flame flares ghosts of grasses
born on the banshee’s wind; a
bent man dances in animal mask
to the calcareous rattle of bones.

In this black smoke and flicker
his hunter's chant chimes like electrum, 
his words are a lintel of stars 
on the doorway of morning,

each flying its arrow
home to a circle of tears.
Wounds unhealed, wounds unknown
open and close

like speaking mouths
with tongues of silk.
I’m undone for the ritual
more than naked,

brindled with shadow
wings spread like Isis
to fall instead, only
Psyche’s origami moth,

feathered eyestalks a tickle
on his palm till 
dark’s next whisper.
I reach my hand

to the mask, sweat-slick
where it rubs the skin raw.
The drum, the dance
go silent.

~June 2011
 revised, July, 2014
posted for the third anniversary of 
The Imaginary Garden With Real Toads
Since Kerry asked us to celebrate the occasion by sharing an older poem, here is one, revised, which I wrote a lifetime ago, or was it only three years....time flies when you're flying.

Top Image: Figure de pleureuse, Musée du Louvre
Eighteenth dynasty (between circa and circa  BC)
Terracotta sculpture; thought to be Isis mourning Osiris 
Bottom: The Goddess Isis, from a painting in the tomb of of Seti I
circa 1380-1335 BCE 


  1. dang. nice intensity in much in that last moment of utter silence as when the drums were going...some really cool lines in this...the undone, more than way of putting it...some rituals carry such magic and mystery to them...

  2. This poem is evocative of the kind of ritual dance which links the tribes of the present with those of the past - there is a thread (of DNA, of culture, of inheritance) that stretches back to antiquity and your poem the wherefore. Wonderful share, Hedge.

  3. We are connected to the past whether we choose to recognize it...although the history isn't as ancient Charlie's grandmother, who was half Cherokee, spoke of her families rituals and gifts handed down from soul to soul.

  4. I've often wondered what it would be like to participate in one of these, to throw on animal skins and wear the hand carved mask. I don't think we can know, but it's fun trying. "Wounds unhealed, wounds unknown / open and close" --like knowledge or awareness, flickering in and out.... Love that first image from the Louvre, too.

  5. his hunter's chant chimes like electrum

    a line to linger

    You take me there. Into it.
    Through the ceremony that I know in my bones.

    Poetic reportage like first hand knowledge but better on the edge of us.

    the textures and the beats feel real enough to eat.

    happy birthday Toads!


  6. ...his words are a lintel of stars on the doorway of morning... gorgeous image.

  7. This sounds like a rather elaborate ritual... Though its fun watching some rituals.. Many are just a bit scary...

  8. Exquisite description--like that of a vase-painting, or a paleolithic cave--ambling close and closer to the inside of this ritual, which occurs, I think, when the mask is lifted and the poem goes silent. Is that as far as the speaker can go, or is that of more she must remain silent in obeyance to the mysteries? Whose face is under there? A death mask? a god's?, a person from the past or future? a paramour? or one's own? Hush. I think you're wise to know why that border is there. The lavish and precise description is loving, perhaps of a lover's, though that may simply be the outer sanctum in preparation for an inner one. Perfect attenuation to the rhythm and ardor of a firewalk over burning words. A great anniversary poem to make the toads all go Whoa.

    1. Yes, a love poem, but also a little of the Isis/Osiris myth too, where the goddess first mourns and then acts to repair the torn body of her lover, her self? and the symbol of so much else in the inner and outer worlds. Miracles, mysteries and mayhem-- the old gods continue to laugh. Thanks, B.

  9. That puts me right in the thick of it. Wonderful.

  10. You poem carries me straight back to my life as a traveller in Europe. Thanks for sharing, Hedgewitch. Love, cat.

  11. This to me feels like the ritual of dreaming. Where one goes in the night when eyes are moth like tickling osyche's palm. It connects that personal dreaming to a collective unconscious. I particularly like the drumming becoming the post and lintel of the morning and the stars becoming arrows Orion-like. Thanks. K.

  12. Sorry I am on phone on train and it will not allow me to write p--syche

    1. Because osyche is obviously what you wanted to say! Never mind, I got you--and thanks for the read. This one I did write in that waking dream state where love has replaced our brain cells with something more like the primal ooze. ;_) Safe travels and I hope you have a good week, k.

  13. Yes, it is a beautiful thought that we can dance and chant the is all here.

  14. Intense indeed!! Hedge, this is rich, rich writing!!

    I love the use of brindled with shadow and this:

    "Wounds unhealed, wounds unknown
    open and close

    like speaking mouths
    with tongues of silk."


    Excellent writing...whoo-hoo and happy anniversary @ the Garden, too!!

  15. This is amazing. The opening with the masked dancer drew me in, but then the sections about the circular tear target and the wound mouths just blew me away. The eye stalks are unreal, and i wonder if a mask is all there is, since everything goes silent when it is removed?

    I love the Marlene song on the side bar!!!!

  16. like speaking mouths
    with tongues of silk

    that's a phenomenal couplet ~


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

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