Thursday, April 23, 2015

Mirror Dream

Mirror Mirror...
Mirror Dream

I think 
you were 
my last though
I really can't know
anymore than I knew you,
but when I imagine what would bring 
such a flush of life again,
how unlock the cipher,
unclock the ticking heart
from the bramble thicket moment,
I can't put
another face
behind mine in the mirror;
only over my shoulder
the blank sea wall;
only eyeless ocean gumming and
sucking, kelp caped over
her grey meals of
storm served wrecks.
If I stare
 long enough,
overlaid in silver'd prism
there is beach, two
walking in turquoise, smell
of vermillion landbreeze blowing
at the back of your new addiction.
I see her kneel and go
wet, make you rock,
medusa'd to your concrete core.
The piers of your submerged legs
root in sand, shadow-ripple 
with pulsestrokes 
of her quick algae fingers,
spasm in the whipwire strands
of her jellyfish hair.
Oh I think she's your last
though I really
can't know.

~September 2012

posted for     real toads

I admit it, I am cheating like a politician here, but Karin has generously and compassionately allowed us to use an older poem. This is a repost (though not to real toads) of an older piece, my jellyfish woman poem--it's in our book, Three-Note Howl:The Wild Hunt,  still I don't imagine anyone will feel they've read it too many times. At least I hope not. It's a favorite of mine, and the first one that came to mind for Karin's prompt at the Imaginary Garden, dealing with both legs and last, and even perhaps, last legs.

This is a recording made when the poem was written. If you'd like to hear it  read by the author, please click below:

Header Image: Mirror Mirror, by howzey, on flick'r
Shared under a Creative Commons License
Footer Image: Sketch for a Mermaid, by John William Waterhouse
Public domain, manipulated


  1. Hey Joy--thanks for bringing this wonderful piece to the mix. I am not in a position to listen to the recording until late tonight, but I am reading it slowly and carefully enough to appreciate it. First, I love the sequencing of this--the opening and closing of each lover's last; the return to that, but more the specific stream of consciousness in the mirror, the vision that tunnels in, as it were, and so that one is actually in real-time as the poem unfolds. There is a humanity about the first verse that is very engaging, and great lines--the bramble-thicket moment--but the visual and sensual aspects of the second stanza are really very compelling--I love that viridian land breeze, especially, which kind of goes with the stoniness, the rootedness--and boy, that's a pretty hot image! I am laughing over here--though it's not, you know, funny exactly, but it is certainly very sensual --one senses the lover who gave a certain flush of life turning to stone in so many ways--medusa'd is a great verb--but the whole image pretty intense--thanks. k.

  2. This is so beautiful......! :D
    Agreed with Karin.. it is very intense & intriguing :D

  3. Wow. A fabulous poem. "how to...unclock the ticking heart from the bramble thicket moment." I, too, like the opening and closing being each person's last. And the jellyfish hair. Brilliant writing.

  4. the speaker's days of agony "from the bramble thicket moment," to the "grey meals of / storm served wrecks." seem to reach a vicarious ecstasy at the end...

  5. This is one of my favorites from the book, too!

  6. Hedge, this can't be read too many times.

  7. Sensually soft yet there is this sharpness to it. This is really seductive yet terrifying. Just amazing.

  8. I would like to put this poem behind glass and hang it on my wall so I can read it every day. Some things are so beautiful in and of themselves they bring tears to my eyes and this is certainly one of those things.

    1. Thank you Kerry--I always know I have made a poem when you say such things about it--a very good feeling.

  9. A most intriguing poem, finely crafted.

  10. I love this~ I still am stuck on Jellyfish hair...I have to read it again~ Joy, this is now my favorite poem~ Thank you!

  11. I'm so happy you walked this one back from its soul cage buried on the beach, Hedge! I still keep going back to Anne Carson who said that Eros is delight in seeing our reflection in a delighted lover's eye -- point being, that we know love by seeing ourself reflected ... So here the dream mirror is a doppler of sharply seeing one's own history with love reflected back by the lover, be it person or maybe mother sea. Both are immensely conflicted, one an addict the other a salt womb as feral as Plath's "Daddy." There is a relief and a freedom in knowing both are lost back there. Or down there where the savagest poems ring true ... Anyhoo, thanks, loved it.

    1. Yes, all we can really know--and this poem is also about not knowing--is ourselves, so often. The glimpse of the other is always back behind our shoulder in the mirror, where the light is fickle. I am glad you liked this--wanted you to read my poem about the jellyfish woman, after that one of yours about the rather toxic properties of the sea-animal. And yes, some things are best last, and behind us.

  12. I can smell the salt in the air..... this reads like rolling waves...

  13. Heartbreakingly sexy... So sensual and full of yearning.

    By the way, the first time I read it, I read "orgasm in the whipwire strands".

    1. Same difference...or maybe not *quite* ;_) Thanks, Magaly.

  14. I'm not exactly sure who is seeing who, and how intentional that uncertainty is on your part or if it's just me (but your response to Brendan makes a lot of sense to me). The inability to "put another face behind mine in the mirror" speaks to the human condition. I too admire the language of this poem and its form--the two semicircles like faces in profile confronting one another. Most intriguing is how the communion between the two (lovers, it seems) becomes indistinguishable from the beach-scape. And so I wonder: last, first or all lovers in one eternal meeting. Sorry if I've butchered this reading. Your poem is as enigmatic yet alluring as a beach sunset.

    1. Well, it *is* supposed to be dream-like and a bit elusive, but not impenetrable--so sorry for that, Mark. The base narrative concerns one who sees her( presumed-last) relationship conclude, and mirror like, another one commence for her lost lover, with a rather negative love-object/rival(the 'new addiction") . And of course, it could easily be a lot of other things(last,first.all, as you say) as well, as it all happens in the dream-mirror of self, where we so many times only see the little we can understand, ie, superimpose our own face on those we love. If that makes sense. Thanks for reading, and for thinking.

  15. I remember this from the book. Yes, it can't be read too many times. You are such a word weaver. I am always surprised and awed by what your mind creates.

  16. Just fabulous, that whole second stanza takes off like a great soaring bird. Definitely worth re-reading again and again.


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

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