Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Red Smoking Mirror

 
 
 

 

Red Smoking Mirror
 
 
 I.
 
That was a hell of a poem, that one.
Some captive of war, some harem
woman, spilled her guts to you
flayed away all her hide
to bare nerve.
You
picked it up and wore it
just like mine, our wrists flapping,
bloody faces making masks
for yours, cut lips singing
all your 
butcher's songs.
 

II.

It's plain I said, I need to make a pyre
of all these undead fears and burn them out.
Oh no, you said, there's never enough fire.
Make garments of your fears' flayed skins and shout,

for loving's a red coal beneath your feet
and being loved a poem you can't complete.

But I turned off that voodoo child advice
when I saw you line them up like bowling pins
for your mumbled brujeria to hypnotize.
I left; now all my words are my own sins,
 
spells of blood are broken for a price,
with ravensong in dreams and peace the prize.
 
 
 October 2021
 
 
 
 
 


 
 
 
 posted for Poetics
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
brujeria: (Spanish) witchcraft, sorcery, black magic
 

Process Note:" In Aztec mythology and religion, Xipe Totec [pictured at top] or ... Xipetotec  ("Our Lord the Flayed One") was a life-death-rebirth deity..[the god] was also known by various other names, including Tlatlauhca, Tlatlauhqui [or]Tezcatlipoca ("Red Smoking Mirror")... [he] is represented wearing flayed human skin, usually with the flayed skin of the hands falling loose from the wrists...Various methods of human sacrifice were used to honour this god. The flayed skins were often taken from sacrificial victims who had their hearts cut out..."~wikipedia

 

 

 

Image:Xipe Totec as depicted in the Codex Borgia, shown holding a bloody weapon and wearing flayed human skin as a suit.  via wikipedia    Fair Use

16 comments:

  1. That is quite a bloody story, and the information at the end makes the image, and your imagery, all the more disturbing. I wonder if it was the influence of drugs that made the Aztecs so bloodthirsty?

    I love your final couplet - just perfect!

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    1. Thanks, Ingrid. Apologies if I went with a metaphor that may not be for everyone.

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  2. We do feel flayed by love and by love's loss, as few things in our lives crack us open the way love does, and I use 'love' in its broadest sense. We open up and someone grabs the beating heart inside, to hold it carefully or to raise it high like a trophy or cast it aside like a trifle while we suffer. And then reborn eventually, we do the same to someone else, dragging all that flayed skin around into the next disaster. To break free of that, to wear only one's own "sins", and to achieve any kind of peace is pretty heroic, I think. As LC sang, every heart to love will come, but like a refugee." And just wow on choosing this poetic crucible to use--I can't imagine how you came to it.

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    1. Thanks for getting it, Shay,and for the kind words. I met this bit of mythology in a novel years ago, where the ritual is described quite memorably. It came to mind when I was visited by this poem.

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  3. Best to step out of that self-destructive spiral.

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  4. In the phantasmagorical realm … I love when you go there. And, thanks for leaving me a comment😍

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    1. Thanks to you, Helen. I always enjoy reading your poetry, and the way you see the heart of things.

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  5. At some point, the art of the mad dance Plaths into elaborate sacrifice and necklaces of bad love's pudenda. Who needs ovens when Daddy is a plushly revenant verse? Rebirthing what? Razor-lipped skulls? It must change: That's the tough part: We must forsake (grow beyond) influence even where the banshee crypts the mirror. (Tou fucking che) I've always thought your words could craft such power. Maybe confession is left behind along with compression. Whatever: I so admire the power that concludes "I left; now all my words are my own sins, / spells of blood are broken for a price, / with ravensong in dreams and peace the prize." Like Prospero said of Caliban, this thing of darkness I call my own. Sorry for another comment belaboring around the poem itself. It shines.

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    1. Never a need for apologies here, B. I appreciate you airing your reactions and looking for what is at this poem's torn heart. It's not a piece that is very clear to me, either,quite a pour of the unknown(or under-known) as poems sometimes are. The metaphor is perhaps an overpowering one for what happens to the emotional self;though certainly, there have been sacrifices, and who's to say exactly to what gods. Thanks for taking the time to chew on this one, even if the taste is somewhat Hart Crane-ish.

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  6. Thanks for adding the note. It helped me understand your verse better.
    "now all my words are my own sins,"...such a haunting line.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving thoughtful comments.

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    1. Thank you in return. And it's a pleasure to read your work.

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  7. This imagery and the back-story was so visceral. It is so hard to describe the pain of the soul without retorting to images of torture or sacrifice. Some of what was done in the Tower of London is not better really... humans have been a great inventor of creating and (unfortunately) enjoying the process of inflicting pain.

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    1. Thank you, Bjorn. Yes, cruelty is in our DNA it seems.

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  8. there's wisdom in this, your embrace of the blood, the poem, the flaying and the being flayed that is in all of us ~

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  9. "for loving's a red coal beneath your feet and being loved a poem you can't complete." This is gorgeously potent and wise.

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

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