Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reposts for Christmas, #2

As this posts, dear readers, we will be somewhere in the wilds of Oklahoma, hiking with the dogs through a strange, season-less landscape hung between summer and winter, with warm sun and cold cold winds. And no internet. Hope that all who celebrate it enjoy Thanksgiving, and also this flashback from August 2013 which I've exhumed for your interim diversion. See you soon, and thanks again to everyone for your support.


The Farewell Book

"..High above the mast the moon
Rides clear of her mind and the waves make a refrain
Of this: that the snake has shed its skin upon
The floor. Go on through the darkness. The waves fly back.." 
~Wallace Stevens

I always keep the Book of Order
close by my chaos bed, my flag
at the masthead of longing, where
the brush of a half-numb hand upon 
its sleeping lover's cover lets me think
I'm not alone.

The Book has first and last page
but only a hole in the center, infinite,
secret, full of talismans, gauds and baubles,
wrack and whatnots, bones and blood,
astrolabes and artifacts of
someone else's life that is my own.
I sang out the genius from the cavity;
a wild shadow marked with your name.
I found for you the kiss long lost
in the dusty centrifuge, and made
the sickle wand that was
all the moon on a stick.

There atop the crease
you were born to lie,
to slither up and slide
your bendable spine into
the hammock of that crescent, to
murmur with flickering tongue

the language of mind to mind,
but when at last I put
my feet to the morning's board,
I felt only the pricking crackle of
a skin shed on the floor.

Still I go on, a lunatic singing apart
flying waves of darkness, hook'd
on a used moon and a hollow book.

~August 2013

originally posted for     real toads
Challenge: Fireblossom Friday:
 the book within the story within the poem 
 Fireblossom asks us to think of matryoshkas, to pick a favorite poem and nest it in a story (see above link for a more coherent exposition.) 

I've chosen not one but two of my favorite poems by Wallace Stevens to nest here, using various words and phrases from:

The Idea of Order at Key West
(text and reading by Stevens)


Photo © joyannjones 2013


  1. good to see this, and you. I've been absent of late, working 16 hour days, and have no mental energy to summon a cogent comment beyond, good to see this, and you :). Also, OpenID is telling me I no longer own my identity (wonder if it's those damn russian interlopers who clogged up my blogger site, and have now taken over wordpress) - but another barrier to commenting. weird. hope this makes it through ~

  2. I can't make a full comment on this yet this morning, but whew what a wonderful poem. I remember it--you use the Stevens so beautifully--especially from my point of view the Idea of Order at Key West--and that seems somehow fitting with the life not one's own that one gets stuck with from the Book of Order. Seems to me that all kinds of ordering is going on here. It really is a very good poem. I am glad that you are out hiking--sounds terrific and hope that you only run into the shed skins of snakes out there (ha!) Terrific poem and will be back to read again, when a bit less hectic. Thanks as always. k.

  3. This is such a fine poem, Hedge. The relationship between a person and an object of artistic merit is so well-drawn in the way such an intellectual 'thing of beauty' may consume and also fail to fully replace the solid world of beds and floorboards. The second last stanza is just the most perfect summation.

  4. "My flag at the masthead of longing"....you write so brilliantly, Joy. "Artifacts of someone else's life that is my own" and the image of the moon on a stick. Wow. Your closing lines are absolutely spectacular. I hope the trek in the wilderness sings through all the wild places in your heart.

  5. I really love the opening lines:

    I always keep the Book of Order
    close by my chaos bed, my flag
    at the masthead of longing, where
    the brush of a half-numb hand upon
    its sleeping lover's cover lets me think
    I'm not alone.

    Ok, the whole opening stanza. You've already got order, chaos, longing and loneliness. The whole piece is exceptional, but I really love the opening.

  6. hey you...sounds like you will be having fun...i would love to be hiking right about now...one day away from a school break...and boy do i need it...ha....been offline for about 3 weeks myself....someone told me you posted something so i popped out of the tomb to see...smiles...travel light hedge....

  7. There's something about hiking that's so grounding. Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. A wonderful poem to come back too--I had not been as conscious of the parseltongue aspect-- very cool. Hope you are enjoying your hiking. I've been lucky enough to spend a lot of time outdoors in the last couple of days (in about a foot of snow.) I can't say I'm recovered, but it's helpful. k.

  9. A book is surely a boat, a master's library -- like Stevens' Collected Poems -- frigate for circumnavigation of this globe of self, this mind, that heart, the art ... My "Immrama" series of poems were all "voyages from I to Thou," and were as much about finding the Beloved (the surface journey) as plumbing the depths between (the conversation with the Paramour, the Singer, the Song). It helps to have a Book of Order by one's bed, anchorage for the messy chaos of a life, one that redeems the mess by calling it a "complicate amassing harmony." Stevens was a Connecticut Yankee who loved to vacay on Florida's venereal sands; it could not be his home but it sure did soothe the singing bone. When my father had is initiation dream at Iona, the spirits of the island told him, "Our work is your work and your work is our work," a statement no more true than when we commit our own rages of order on the page, dirtying speech (or it silence) with more words. Stevens had the humility to admit the futility of his work, but its worked such gorgeous magic ... so to have you brought to this forum so much artful surrender. Hope you're hanging by Cerridwen's vat with a spoon to bogart the next three drops of heaven. Still we go on. Best -

    1. Yes, a perpetual comfort, and a nagging irritation, these dialogues with oneself, with art, heart, Other, and poets living and dead--still, Order might be completely empty without all that chaos to wring out and fold. Spent my own vaycay non-venereally drinking great draughts of anthologized poetry--still a bit dry, but the throat is indeed somewhat soothed. AFA the great witch's vat, always, B--I hope to die paddle in hand stirring up the sauce that is cheaper than whiskey.


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

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