Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Terra Cotta

Terra Cotta

 "Maybe you'll get a replacement/There's plenty like me to be found
Mongrels who ain't got a penny/Sniffing for tidbits like you on the ground"
~Bernie Taupin/Elton John, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road 

Heretic's hand that sings
and  howls
hovering so close above me,
radiant with reflected heat
caught in tangled hair,
give me a last devil's blessing
before the waterfall of dawn
tumbles us apart to drown.

I followed the yellow sun
down a terra cotta road
striped over trembled hills
to four wild umber walls:
the house we once built
where plain clay cupped rosemary,
pooled scarlet poppies
to sentinel the door.

The wind that blew there
was neither desert nor sea
like me
like the green wood
or the cat
that kissed its own paw,
grown horns neath the murmuring tree;
inside there might be

hidden, on fire, all manner of feral feel
that we never knew. I walked on,
the changeling cat looking for you
in my next meal.

~July 2014 

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Challenge: The Yellow Brick Road
Susie Clevenger (Confessions of a Laundry Goddess) gives us three songs having to do with the famous mythic road to Oz and points west as inspiration today. I incline to the one by Elton John, lyrics I'm sure by the incomparable Bernie Taupin.

Images: Tile mosaic, artist unknown, photo only copyright joyannjones 2014
Cat and Bird, by Paul Klee, Public domain via


  1. Umum ... what the cat has hunger for: flying things, food, after breakfast naps in golden rays of sun, tomorrow. Love your densities, your illustrations.

  2. "Over the trembled hills" Beautiful!
    Love the meandering, stumbled wandering of this piece.

  3. that last bit is a little haunting...looking for them in the next meal...
    i like the position of the link me line...playing off the wind and it being neither of land or sea...
    the heretics hand and devils blessing set the tone for this early joy....

  4. The image of the house is so vivid, Joy, with the cat , the rosemary and the poppies. It has a feel of unreality or dream-like shiftingness, and makes me look behind to see whether I have passed through a looking glass.

  5. Many striking images here--I especially like the waterfall of dawn as the day certainly does put one in its tides and rush and separates all that came before--this feels like a real changeling sphere, where something that was kept down bobs up in a sort of way--the changeling cat, now on the prowl--maybe after learning a trick or two from the one that gives the devil's blessing==tables do get turned now and again. I found the last stanza especially compelling--feral feel is such a beautiful combination of words--and the hidden fire--a real menace there, but it feels deserved. Soft clay that has hardened perhaps. Thanks as always for a different outlook on things, that is particularly yours but one that can be related to by many--k.

    1. Thank you, k. Cats seem to always be opportunists, to me, capable of affection but not attention, as well as keepers of their own counsel. I am a dog person, but I do like their independence. Hope all is going well with you.

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  7. Your description of the house in Tuscany grabbed me since I was just there last week and saw the scene on the tiles and in your words.

  8. This is wonderfully surreal, and both pictures add an amazing visual dimension to your words. I was particularly struck by the yellow sky and terra cotta road, the clay cupped rosemary and the cat kissing its own paw. This is quite the alternate route to Oz.

    1. Thanks Kerry. This tile mosaic hangs in my living room--I wish I knew the artist.

  9. Cats are so mysterious... Weird things they like... Of crs foods a neccesity more like....

  10. There's a haunting indeterminacy to this, woven like a pop song two decades lost that we hear a fragment of late at night, and from that shred sing a world. The road (terra cotta, more wan than gold) goes back through history to a house (reminiscent of the one Graham Nash sang about) and a home and a cat and an appetite that never could resolve. ("All manner of feral feel / that we never knew.") Music weaves that tapestry, though the singer is us, part Dorothy and part Wicked (OK, Hedge) Witch of the West, whose innocence and tooth were both lost on that road. Late at night you could pick up the distant AM stations, Memphis half a continent away, perhaps even Sappho's courts. I wonder if insomnia still tunes to those frequencies, whether radios and pop songs were just confirmations that that bittersweet sound was always real. Sometimes we eat the history, and sometimes the mystery eats us. Great stuff. (And the cats, of course, are dancing tap with their dainty rubied paws.)

    1. You can't plant me in your penthouse. ;_) Also, you'll never make a saint of me. And other tidbits--the Graham Nash a favorite of that whole hippy peace and love thing--a very very fine house, though perhaps not built of brick, yellow or otherwise. I agree-- I don't think those musical fragments that impressed themselves on our lives and transcribed for us so perfectly our emotions ever leave us, B.Thanks as always for your insight--I know I lost innocence along with Dorothy, but did I lose a tooth somewhere for real, or did you maybe mean sooth? I have misplaced that many times, but like to think that like me, it isn't lost, just mislaid. ;_)

  11. There is a feeling of a dream state, but also surreal reflection on reality. The second stanza is so vivid. I can see the sun and road. So many have already spoken much better than I what the poem speaks. Thank you for this beautiful response to the challenge!

    1. The yellow brick road is always a dream state, I think, Susie. I loved your poem, and this challenge. Thanks.

  12. This blew me away. Incredibly beautiful.

  13. Oh, this feels so magical... Oz-like, perhaps with a touch of the Tin Man special... The second stanza took me to an orangey brown road drenched yellow in sunlight. Beautifully crafted!

  14. love the final stanza ~


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

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