Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Cambion's Tale

Dear  Readers: I had intended to take this month off anyway, but after some setbacks in the lumbar department, it really looks like it may be some time before I am well enough to manage much here. Please bear with me as I mend, and eventually I'm sure I shall return. I'll leave you with this little favorite of mine to chew on, and thanks, as always for everyone's concern and support. It means a great deal to me.

The Cambion's Tale

The wind rolls in the wildwood
tonight, teasing the last 
specklings of summer’s regret
from the moon-dripping trees,
fragmented friable tongues of 
henna and ochre milled to a dusty haze
that blots future and past, dead voices
rustling the leafsong that calls me to you
my hell born babe, heart’s delight
soul’s inquisitor.

Changeling and demiurge,
furred with frosted moss and mist
horned with bone, poised always 
to run; you regard me blinkless,
hermetic as a wild thing, gaze of
opals burning through the veil where
I pretend to be protected invisible
as Niniane, everlost instead
fate-tangled and resistless to 
the beckon of that blue unicorn eye.

So I come out of the night
for your lichen'd kiss, rain
cold, a drenching draft of rust
yet sweeter than any vintage
pressed from the sun's full flaunt. We're
as fallen as Rome remembered, love,
all my smooth green weight leaning
on the colonnade of whispers
you pull from some pocket in
the heart’s shallow grave.

My breath is gone again;
you’ve whistled for it. Lost
dog of my hollowed lungs,
it lopes at your heel, leashed 
tighter than the strangled chest
that knows its next gasp for last.
The night wind blows brimstone
around us, where the idol burns a
fading sandalwood smoke
bolted with blood, spiced with loss.

O there’s nothing wrong with us, love
that reincarnation won’t cure.

~October 2011
revised, February 2016

cambion: According to the Malleus Maleficarum, the offspring of a human male and a succubus, or a human female and an incubus. Caliban and Merlin are both assigned this dubious distinction.

*The last two lines are extrapolated from an anonymous saying passed around in the 60's.

Image: The Bathers, 1904, by Odillon Redon    Public domain. Manipulated.


  1. Joy, I am sorry to hear you are unwell. Rest up, my friend. The poem you have left for us here is so beautifully written, I would have to write a tome in response. I especially love that lost dog of hollowed lungs, and your closing lines. I hope your back eases up soon.

  2. ooh. lumbar issues. i'd make some quip but nothing funny about them... hope you recover sooner than expected.

    the cadence of this pen, the line breaks and how the words fill the mouth when spoken - I'm reminded that, finally, all poetry should be uttered, and this is example A of why.

    too many great lines to return, but I love the voice, and the wry and sweet sarcasm (as I read it) final couplet. ~

    1. Thanks M--always appreciate your perspective, and this is a very spoken sort of piece.

  3. I hope your back starts behaving soon, discomfort and pain are good company for no one. Rest and take care of you. We'll be here when you come back, as always.

    Love the landscape painted by the poem--so many sites, so many colors, so natural... around life and death and again.

  4. I'm sorry to hear of your debilitation, Hedge. Thank you for giving us this amazing poem to 'chew' on. I always feel like I learn something new from your poetry, as well as simply enjoying your wonderful way with words:
    We're as fallen as Rome remembered, love...

    dog of my hollowed lungs,
    it lopes at your heel, leashed...

    And the excellent closing lines will linger in my memory!

    1. Thanks, Kerry. The Rome line is my personal favorite, too.

  5. It really is a beautiful poem, Hedge, with overtones of Shakespeare in the richness of description and In the beginning a long introduction to the address. There are many beautiful descriptions in that first couple of stanzas-- beautiful sound and vivid images and I can see the scene-- but it is the dog's leash and pocket of whispers that most gets me. This reading the cambion child feels a bit like one of our political creations that then takes over. K.

  6. Ps the Redon is beautiful too-- not sure how you've manipulated? Brightened? I was thinking of trying to do a copy of one as a watercolor-- not a copy but riffing off one-- they are so great. K.

    1. Yes, the 'boost' function, and some increase of shadows--to brighten it a bit--I think the dark figure shows up better that way. Thanks.k.

  7. Thanks everyone. Hope to be up to visiting soon.

  8. Always takes my breath away. October is such proscenium for bone dancing, where the living and their dead paramours and the dead with their living nellies mix it up for polkas like this. This is so predatory and gentle, accusing and complicit—something for the full moon even in February, far far away. I'm going to do a Paramour mini-challenge in March, I think, hope we'll see you whaling on that bone fiddle by then. We sure miss you, Hedge, repair as you can and do save up all the fleeting tropes for your return.

    1. Things are so dry right now it hurts, B--and the physical is definitely inhibiting the mental, but I do indeed hope that by next month I'll be in better shape. Forgive my absence at your blog--I will make it up as soon as I can, as I miss my poetry fix.


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