Friday, August 12, 2016

The Third City

The Third City

The orange grey sky,
the maple that reels like a punchdrunk boxer
under the fists of the wind,
the metalpunch that's moved in
behind my left eye,
the icemaker home
in the specimen bottle,
floating in a pious pickle, little pig fetuses
taken unborn from my pen;
this is my city of day

but under my bed is a highway
blurring lights, sleeping
up the staircase green hills
blackened by night and a fogfull sky,
from the golden-gated park to
the golden-girled beach looking for your dark eyes,
deeper than the mines, in the City
that needs no name
nightwarm and whispering California,
curled like a child's fingers

round the hand of my heart;
but in the crosshairs of dawn
my feet greyed with sharded dust
from the madman's white temples, I'm here
in the City vanished, the City made flat
as the infinite Horizon of Aten
by the sledge of centuries
remote as the moon
wiped clean of the gods
and all folly of men, home

where the parch-wind and the murderer sun
and endless night and I have come to live forever
in the dead sky, nowhere left to run.

~August 2016 

posted for    real toads

Notes: The City: A term used around the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California to describe San Francisco.
City Of The Horizon of Aten: "Amarna (Arabic: العمارنة al-‘amārnah‎‎) is an extensive Egyptian archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city..built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten .. and abandoned shortly after his death (1332 BC). The name for the city employed by the ancient Egyptians is written as Akhetaten  in English transliteration. Akhetaten means "Horizon of the Aten[sun disc] "    ~wikipedia

Optional Musical Accompaniment

Top image: dustbowl sky  © joyannjones 2014
Footer: Small temple of Aten, Amarna, by Einsamer Schütze, via wikimedia commons


  1. If I start quoting I won't stop, so I'll spare you. The desolation in that third stanza is almost suffocation. Brilliant writing, Hedge.

  2. Magnificence work, Hedge. The horizons rolled out before my eyes, past, present and the ancient of days all blending into one image - part apocalyptic part archaeological... and what a setting for this strong feminine voice.

  3. The imagery in the first stanza are so very vivid. I found myself searching the back of my eyeballs as I smelled the pickled bits swimming inside glass... I was also quite taken by the description of San Francisco. It makes me think of NYC, in its needing-no-name status.

  4. Omfg. THIS is the poem I set out to write, and I posted something but it is a brain-damaged Pomeranian compared to this kick-ass Cerberus of a poem that you've created here. Every word, just so well chosen, every image like burning sulphur. I admire this more than i can say.

  5. WOW! A powerhouse of a poem. I most loved the astonishing highway beneath your bed - what an amazing idea that is........beautiful work, Hedge, as always. Original and unexpected, with images that leave me breathless.

  6. Ha. First, I just love the musical accompaniment. I used to listen to that track again and again and again in a very lonely time when I was living in an extremely rainy England very homesick. (I wasn't even from California, but the song just encapsulated what I felt like I wanted to return to.)

    You have used the concept so well here, in a kind of triad, with great imagery from all three places--I especially like the pig fetuses from the pen in the first and the metal punch behind the left eye that feels like something I know (only my case it's the right eye.) The images of San Francisco are so beautiful and vivid and wonderful under the bed, and the desert of the last so vivid--I especially love the white temples with its word play. Agh. You are doing pretty well under that burning sun though! k.

  7. There is a circle of life in this travel for me... from the pain of birth to the living in the City to the being buried (which I first thought would be Pompeji)... It's as if a life could be a travel between those places... as usual you write it with such music in your words...

  8. After my first read-through I had to read it again, with Joni's sweet voice playing in the background. :-) Love how the music and your words place me there, in these cities I've never been and have only dreamt of -- Thanks for sharing.

  9. This reminds me of the Sibyl of Cumae who was granted eternal life but forgot to ask for youth, and so kept aging through the centuries, aging and shinking, completely from sight though never dead. What is it to have one's California deep in rare billows of sleep, only to wake and wake and wake? The gift never leaves, but it becomes so ... calibrated ... with age, rinsed again and again in the acid baths of time. Aten is a good metaphor for that dusty holy city which used to celebrate those eternal summers of love. Amen.

  10. it's a myth now, a much as in your pen, this City. ~


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