Friday, January 3, 2020

Cricket Cage

Cricket Cage

When I fell
I came belly to belly
with gravity's captain.
I lay curled, crying
unable to rise, waiting for
your lipless apparition to come for me
to spin me up from the earth,
light on the snow of molting swans
but nothing came.

I was bound in
distorted hours, a prisoner canary
crammed into a cricket's cage,
whose solitude has not improved her song
whose circle of bamboo
bars catches fire
whose moonless screams
won't spread her charring wings.

I wept the rasp
of my beggar's chant;
for release,
for something more,
something without tears
that lives behind the moment
when all the universe was fragrant
with life's confusion, but
nothing came.

Only the root born
of dissolution pierced my spine
with its sharp shoots, as it pierces
each bloody battlefield
only the dead
have seen the end of war.

January 2020

Disclaimer: The final couplet is not mine, but a rendering of a quote often attributed to Plato, as in a speech by General Douglas MacArthur in May, 1962, but is actually by George Santayana, from his Soliloquies in England (1924)

Image of cricket cage via internet, author unknown, manipulated. Fair Use


  1. Wow. The wish to be spun from grief up from earth, the cricket cage and the bird "whose solitude has not improved her song", the moonless screams and charring wings.........with what admiration I read your work. So glad to be reading you again.

    1. Thank you dear Sherry. I hope the new year brings us all better things.

  2. So...a cricket cage is an actual thing, who knew? I love the image you provided with your poem, Joy. Afa the poem itself, it is a blunt and bitter encapsulation of the bizarre and troubling times we are living through. A third war in the middle east on the horizon unless cooler heads prevail, a planet on fire or in flood...every day the news seems to inundate us with disaster, dishonesty and death. It's frankly too much to take in, and so disheartening. As always, you've chosen just the right words to depict the charring wings of the current era.

    1. Thank you dear friend, for seeing so much in this, and for all your help and support when they were needed most.

  3. I feel this poem so deeply, Joy. In many ways I have been that canary in the cricket cage, 'solitude has not improved her song' over the years. Life is tough, disaster never more than two steps behind, and it takes real courage to break free of the mindtraps we set in place for ourselves. This is how your poem has spoken to me today. It is painful to think of charred wings and a root piercing the spine but you have made exceptional use of the wordlist, which took me to a darker time and place than now. Unforgettable.

    1. Thank you Kerry. For such a long time I've been unable to write out the impact of the experiences of this last dreadful year, but perhaps the dam can break,the light find a crack eventually,as somehow we see what we thought was a carefully constructed nest is pure cage, better destroyed. Thanks for giving me the hope to hold up a merely intellectual realization that this, like all things, will pass.

  4. Our curse is living through, and then it is living on; I'm sure the lost wish that was their burden, but they have their own work to do ... The cricket cage is a personal cell though it is deemed by events we have no control over; we can only size up its confines and wonder how long we'll endure the solitary confinement. Just apprising the magnitude of prior harrows is a confinement in itself, but my bet is you have the poetry to do both. And to emerge on the eve of war, that is some whiskey. 'Tis a master of craft who can turn a word list into a scorched wind; I was hoping you would find your way back, even if the word and its world is so fraught ... BTW, your cricket cage reminds me of one of my favorite Larry Levis poems, "Elegy With A Thimbleful of Water In Its Cage." Check it out, to me it about the voice in us that cannot die. (

    1. Thanks, B. An amazing poem, and I blush to even have mine mentioned in the same paragraph--the images in it, not just of the caged oracle, but of the collective inhabitants of the poem, are just dazzling, and even sweet, in the way the that the truth behind bitterness can be sweet. It's indeed terrifying to have to find this out "...What do you do when nothing calls you anymore?/When you turn & there is only the light filling the empty window?/When the angel fasting inside you has grown so thin it flies/Out of you a last time without your/Knowing it, & the water dries up in its thimble, & the one swing/In the cage comes to rest after its almost imperceptible,/Almost endless, swaying?" Wait? Breathe? And hope for the angel to return, or to be replaced by another story, another voice, another elegy, I suppose. I prefer this to silence, infinitely. Thanks for the mental fodder, and long may we all continue to pass our letters across the sleeping cat.

    2. Great poems think alike -- There aren't many poets that I keep coming back to, for rewards buried three deep, but Levis is one of them, and who isn't warmed all over again by a shot of the Hedge spell? Levis died young, in his 40s, heart attack, fought addiction all his life, a major talent slipped off his own swing for lack of courage to remain. As long as the cat is there, letters are worth passing ...

  5. This poem I read over and over for all the imagery... the sadness of a cricket cage and the deep confinement is something that defy any attempt at singing, which for all purposes tells us a lie of noxious gases that only might be true... Which tells me that there is no way to know when war is upon us.


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