Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Burnt Angel

The Burnt Angel

Following the jesus of absence,
flying on the defunct
pegasus line,
will the angel come again
when the moon walks through the pines
or under the yolk of sun
frying unbroken above, or
on the dancing floor
where  flying leaves have one last waltz
before they're dirt and leaves no more?

Will the tongue
that was a biting worm
push deep into the shifting worlds
to eat the wide silence
of the last legends ever heard?
How will the hands
that broke down stone by stone
each road and arch, bricked bridge and hall
pile up that rampart place at last
without rafter or wall?

The icewind says nothing
in her bully brief run;
nothing to the questions
the coming dark
asks the sun.
Pegasus flies, but
Icarus tumbles

~December 2014

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Kerry's Weekend Challenge: In Other Words
Kerry O'Connor has been doing a series of prompts focusing on word replacement in the titles of various works. This week she turns us towards some Christmas-oriented titles--yes, this is about Christmas, of the hedgewitchian kind. I have been out of action for awhile, but couldn't miss Kerry's last prompt of the year.

Image: Pegasus, by Wojciech Siudmak


  1. What a fabulous way to see the year out.

  2. So happy to see your post, Hedge! I absolutely love the subtle rhyming and the images are haunting! Happy Holidays!

  3. Oh thank you for participating in this mini-challenge, Hedge. What questions you have posed to your own dark rhythms and slippery rhymes. This works as the perfect companion to the surreal painting you chose, but also is self-contained in its acute portrayal of the human condition. We want to believe in something greater than ourselves and have the imagination to do it but there is gravity and an ice wind blowing. Thank you for this thought-provoking piece and for all the amazing work you have shared with us this year.

    1. Thank you Kerry--I was lucky to stumble on that painting--sometimes there is just a serendipity with that. Your support and your inspiration is a great gift, and one I am deeply grateful for--happy solstice to you, and a better new year to us all.

  4. "Following the jesus of absence." God, that's brilliant. A knife with a double twist.

  5. sun / frying unbroken above

    damn, I just love that line, the wry twist - it seems we brushed the same or similar absence, though I find your portrait more satisfying in its broad sweep. good to read you, H ~

  6. Hi Joy, this seems to me a rather Lucifer-type angel, which I realize Icarus is--at least in the overreaching aspect--the pride that goeth before a fall, or brings one--here it seems the angel combines a bit of the serpent, as well as Shiva--and in that way is a very human angel, since humans are so very good at arranging their own downfall. I found the middle verse, with the worm tongue and the difficulty making a rampart after all had been destroyed, especially compelling. Well, the beginning and end too. I also really like your use of slant rhyme, which I too have been more drawn to lately. It is musical without becoming singsongy-- Thanks, an interesting poem to contemplate--my burnt angels were mainly cookies, when I was baking--ha. As I write this, I think of the burnt angel as a burnt offering--but when we dismantle what we depend on--it may not go very far. Thanks and the best of holidays to you--k.

    1. Yes, an angel that has arranged its own downfall is just exactly what was in my mind, k. Thanks for always seeing the light inside the words(or the dark) and the best of holidays to you and yours in turn.

  7. Such a brilliant observation.. so smooth and exquisite in the references and mingling of myths.. The last stanza of the result of hubris really made this poem for me.. Have a great and restful holiday.

  8. That last "Pegasus flies" has something of the past tense about it--so tiny, so distant, the eyes water and then burn trying to see her going, going....

    1. Yes--like the Dylan song, 'going, going, gone..' (just reached a place/where the weather don;t bend/not much more to be said/it's the top/of the end..') Thanks, Mark--may your season be bright.

  9. Icarus just never learns. Perhaps Daedalus will do better in some alternate reality, but meanwhile, this alternate Jesus his day to light and burn any fliers he may select.

  10. HAS his day, that should say. Sorry!

  11. very very interesting piece

  12. The infernal work here is the fall of Satan/Icarus, heavenly light crashing down and shattered into the chthonic magmas of earth. It it the end of human ambition to yearn and raise and rise to graze the heights only to fall? Or is it that only in falling is ambition taught its deeper purposes? Lucifer was the morning star, and angel of light; it was pride of exceeding that got him the bum's rush out of Happy Heights. And yet our imagination follows him, loves that careen of descent and the creepy haunts to inhabit down there; there's hell in burning words, and we're better (more creative, at least) for it. OK, in your poem all that is bare and spare with winter's wolves bearing down; the traceries of the rise and fall are there but in atheist sights there's a celestial brutality to it, perhaps the post-human mirror of wrecking stars. The god here is the maker's own voice, poetry as scripture, writing an epitaph for its opus while keeping open the possibility that the myth carries on even without human invention. Maybe it never was ours in the first place. Tight and taut with the winter's mind, angel enough for me. Peace.

    1. Well, not entirely felicitous if Satan learned his deeper purposes of evil in falling--I was juxtaposing those two figures as one does a choice and its consequences--two ways of flying, heroic, demonic(self-destructive) Pegasus, spawned by Poseidon and Medusa, a mount that enables Bellerophon to defeat the Chimera(such a confusion of form, such a mixed-up beast)--Icarus the child-man that longs to fly but steals another's wings to do it, and in his rapture is wrecked forever, as is the heart of his father. (Yes, this is more a personal myth, I'm afraid, as you know, since someone I love remains always poised between the two--one is always hoping for the winged steed to fly and not the melt of waxed wings.) Anyway, thanks for seeing so much in something rather bare bones, B, and the best of moonlight-drenched solstices to you.

  13. Opening lines are stellar but the questions framed at the first two stanzas made me think about our failures and challenges in our journey ~ We fall as Icarus but surely there is redemption in the attempt/s ~

    Wishing you Happy Holidays Joy ~ All the best ~

  14. Great to see you, and happy new year, Joy--

  15. A deeply philosophic offering for the Yule Season and end-of-year cycle. I was most struck by that section: "How will the hands/ that broke down stone by stone/ each road and arch, bricked bridge and hall/ pile up that rampart place at last/ without rafter or wall?" Please pardon the extended quote, but this is perfect poetry and the greatest of questions. I suppose we are all in the rebuilding mode daily, whether we know it or not, New Year's resolutions or not.

    Have a great Yule Season, Joy, and a fulfilling New Year.

    Steve K.

  16. to eat the wild silence of the last legends ever heard....
    dang....i could sit on that line for a while...and the questions
    the coming dark asks the sun...they each have their purpose
    and perhaps in that, there is hope....

  17. damn, that bully brief run phrase captures all the winds- social, political, weather- of a bitter Chicago winter. I am also completely enamored with your lines: "How will the hands/ that broke down stone by stone/ each road and arch, bricked bridge and hall/ pile up that rampart"
    The images these lines bring are vivid enough to smell and feel.


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

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