Saturday, November 5, 2022

Lion And Ravens With Unsettled Sun



 "..It is a wheel, the rays /around the sun. The wheel survives the myths/The fire eye in the clouds survives the gods.."

~Wallace Stevens


~  *  ~

Lion and Ravens With Unsettled Sun

Two ravens circling in a spotless sky
on a warning wind with fire on its breath
soft but dangerous as a lion's hiss,
in dead grass gathered to burn a phantom's past
that now in turn burns us.

A feast of the senses is just
another place to die among strangers
hearing the hiss of lions trapped
in a body devouring itself
in camera, the dark heart.

Best to fall to the sudden sharp sword
of the god's divine panic, danced to dust
under his dusky foot, his pipes hissing like a lion,
a screech and flutter of ravens at the window.
Light is sliced to crescents dazzling at the edge;

nothing but the sun survives the myths.
The lion has no wheel behind his hiss.
Ravens flow in the tempest and its drum,
dark lettering spelling out the ride to come.

November 2022

posted for
Note: The Word List this week is taken from the works of Jim Morrison. He has always reminded me of a lion in figure and impact, though perhaps a bit more prone to roar than hiss. I've been reading Stevens again lately and somehow he got tangled up here, with more of a sun king's than lizard king's flare.
[lyrics begin at 1:12 mins]
Images: Lion, 1492, by Albrecht Durer   Public Domain
Samhain Night 2014, ©joyannjones


  1. I like that Yeats quote, but to the beginning.....Nice work with the word list. Your last stanza is superb and I like the interplay between lion and raven. They seem equals, I think. Morrison always comes across as a lion with the voice of a God.

  2. I love this poem full of lions and ravens. Beautiful. Love your note too, the sun king's flare.

    1. Personally, I'd like one of each. Thanks dear Sherry.

  3. This is extremely rich in image and impact, Joy. You've got Odin's messengers as "dark lettering" (!) foretelling of an end to things. Your second stanza puts me in mind of both Morrison and Crane, and your third stanza is full up with a wild energy and action. I was struck by the lion not having any wheel or corona, despite its power and threat. In the end it's the ravens and the eternal sun that have the message and the power, sent on the wind, for a denouement that can only be resolved with fire. Or so I read. Thrilling, beautifully written stuff.

    1. PS--I love that you chose the version of "The End" that opens with the whap whap whap of the helicopters from Apocalypse Now.

    2. But of course, what else? ;-) Thanks, Shay, for the read and for the inspiration. I would never have written about Morrison in a million years.

  4. I have just finished the huge Wikipedia piece on Jim ... he would have devoured your poem. And used it onstage in a musical piece or spoke lines he specially loved as an insertion in one of his songs.

  5. "The End" is the first song of Morrison's that broke into my consciousness and established him in my mind as one of the greats, not just musically, but poetically, tonally, apocalyptically, which is what your poem captures with its ominous stirring of ravens and a reckoning of the earth as "nothing but the sun survives the myths." So beautifully wrought, Joy, as unsettling as it is.

  6. no one here gets out alive, neh? the first stanza has musicality to it (I thought to myself before finishing the pen or reading the notes) - and then that final line. This is the End, indeed. ~

    1. Of our elaborate plans, the end/Of everything that stands, the end...yeah. I don't know how someone so young figured out what has taken me 70 years. Thanks for all the comments, m.

  7. The epigraph from Stevens points us through the myth to the man, and the lion's hiss takes beyond the rock god's postures into something more elemental and feral: five final lines of triumph despite and because of and to spite the mythic monster. Which completes the wheel that doesn't really exist. Noble rider of the storm, huh. A victory more for Stevens than Morrison, whom I've never been much entranced by - jealous, perhaps, of his stature on the stage -- a mysterium fraught with what everyone wants most to be, to become a godlike fraudlence. Still, he sought.

    1. Morrison isn't any idol of mine, tho some of his work resonates. But I lived in his time, and he in mine and in such propinquity, art gets under the skin.As I said above, he's not a subject I would have picked to write to, and writing this, I had something larger and smaller in mind, but when I was finished, I realized the poem was indeed about him, or that which I perceive/project of him and the other lost children, Hendrix, Joplin, Brian Jones and a thousand lesser little moths who wouldn't 'come down from the throne" and leave their bodies alone. Thanks for reading, B. and leaving your impressions.

  8. Apocalyptic beginnings whispering all of our endings maybe? Morrison seemed to me to understand his end from the beginning too, declaring his parents dead if I recall correctly. The wheel of life or those 'indians scattered on dawn's highway?' Bold imagery here and topped off for me with those Ravens as witness to it all.

  9. This is exceptional writing. Like rich dark chocolate. Foreboding but beautiful. Morrison could have been much more, but he choked on his own oft-altered ego.

  10. Brilliant, rich, as dark as Willard on the bed in Saigon, or Conrad taking asking us if we want it darker.

  11. Hedgewitch! :-). As always your words resonate with such ominous beauty despite the sometimes harrowing edge of the scenes I'm witnessing. And I know there's so much more I don't understand but it doesn't matter that I don't. The images are standalone powerful and whisk me back to some other time and plane, like I'm caught in a mythical storybook from which there is no escape and I'm held captive until I've born witness to the thing you show us. I love these lines:

    "A feast of the senses is just
    another place to die among strangers"

    LOVE the whole of the last two stanzas - the rhythm, the quickening, the omens, the fearful beauty <3


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

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