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Wednesday 27 February 2013

Flame for a lonely Man

Written for the dVerse Poets Open Link Night bartended by Joseph Hesch

It grew where few eyes witnessed it,
a bloodstained hand upon the land,
a rosebud in the wilderness,
flame of a cactus, hard as coal.

Alone and conscious of itself, it stood
with little to recommend it
(save its beauty),
Less still to worship it,
and nothing to which it could turn and say:
There stands a plant like me!

Alight, alive
with love and light,
and humming with desire,
child of a green head crowned with thorns,
torn from her gutta-percha flesh,
cradled among her cruel spines,
it flourished with its Mary --
the desert sands their Bethlehem.

Only a lonely man
saw in the bloodstained hand
his twin, his earthly next of kin.
He was its saviour,
it was his.

Day after day
he travelled in the lonely places
creating in his mind a wilderness,
a barren land where that bright thing,
so finely knit by those sharp pins,
might grow.

His mind reflected back the image of the rose.

And when the wilderness stood dry
and dust and sand and empty sky
condemned the lovely thing to die
he threw himself upon the thorns
to feed the roots with blood.

Common as cow dung the ways of the stranger,
yet rare to the plants as nitrates
in a desert running to dust.

Wise men travelled far to view
the all-exciting bloom,
yet overlooked with careless eyes
the green head crowned with thorns.

This is the umpteenth version of a poem that obviously is quite important to me -- otherwise it wouldn't have gone through umpteen versions! Strange to relate, though, I have not yet come to fully understand WHY it is so important. Maybe I'm just becoming obsessive in my old age....


Ygraine said...

Could it be the loneliness that makes it so important?
Whether it be of man or plant, loneliness brings the same sense of isolation...of being cut off from other beings.
And loneliness brings a sense of dread to most people. As we grow older I believe our fear of it increases, because we gradually lose loved ones...begging the question: Will I someday be the only one left?

I found this deeply moving and, indeed, thought-provoking.
It certainly stirred my emotions!

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed all the spiritual undertones and allusions in this, Dave.

Brian Miller said...

some nice allusions to the christ...and i imagine as well during this time of lent and on the march to easter it def comes back up...its pretty cool though when one latches on and wont let go...

Anonymous said...

I agree that a rose is a very interesting symbol. Have you read the Nigjtingale and the Rose -- sorry for misspelling - I don't have Internet and I'm on an iPhone-- the Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde. It uses a rose as a symbol of love and sacrifice. The thorns and beauty and color are very compellingly. You do a very good job with this rather mystical subject matter! K.

Mary said...

Glad you continue to work on this poem if it is one that is important to you. Nothing wrong with that. One of the things I enjoyed contemplating most was 'common yet rare,' which I think fits Christ beautifully!

haricot said...

Loneliness is not desperate but embraces some flame as you wrote, I found. It is far from isolation and we can share our loneliness even when we are getting together.

Joseph Hesch said...

I think onew of the important things about writing of any kind, and poetry in particular because of its personal and intimate nature, is the constant act of discovery, Dave. The fact that you keep going back to this fine piece tells me that your search is not complete, but you're willing to keep at it no matter what. A great lesson for us all.

anthonynorth said...

I've found that things we keep turning back to become symbolic of the journey we're on.

Grace said...

The opening lines drew me in...I can't missed the biblical implicaitons ~ The image of the rose, head crowned with thorns, most fitting with the Lenten season ~

Optimistic Existentialist said...

"he threw himself upon the thorns
to feed the roots with blood"

That's some powerful writing...

hedgewitch said...

The poem just feels important, David, reading it--it has that something that makes it burrow into the brain--the primal imagery, the symbolism and the exquisite language. The journey is the point, sometimes.

Claudia said...

i second hedge, it feels important...lots of passion and felt heartblood in these lines..the feeding the roots with blood for me is the most passionate part here

Elephant's Child said...

You are a poet and a writer and only you will know when this poem is finished. It seems wonderfully complete to me - but I am not its creator. I look forward to seeing it again. And again until its final incarnation is reached.

Arron Shilling said...

hi Dave

it may be that i have read one of your previous version but i have a strong feeling about this poem: as if i'd read it before, some sort of connection, i feel the image wheel it produces connects with a hardwired blueprint, along the lines of THE actual archetype perhaps . . . it certainly taps into a profound streak of knowing inside of me, which is all V heavy but aside from such weight i really like it . . . i say keep going . . .

Cloudia said...

something rich and deep.

ALOHA from Honolulu
Comfort Spiral
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Stan Ski said...

A great focal point coming up to Easter...

Kathy Reed said...

..something very compelling about a poem eager to be written but that you are not satisfied with, or you do not feel is yet complete..or needs revision..or still, can be told in many ways...I love that the plant is very real, endures, nourishes itself and grows eternally in the desert, alone, until someone finds it on his or her path and realizes it's what one has been looking for all their life...

Dave King said...

Once again, thank you all
for a bunch of replies exceeding my expectations. I am responding en bloc on this occasion because I feel that all my responses are relevant to you all, there was so much concurrance in your replies.

I found the suggestions as to what the importance of this poem to me might be both fascinating and moving. Several making loneliness the focus of their remarks - and that certainly would be part of it: the loneliness of being different or "set aside". The loneliness of rarity. Others mention "the journey" and/or "the act of discovery". Also true. A couple simply said "it feels important" -- and that is more than good enough for me. My thanks then, for all your suggestions.

I had half expected that the allusions would be a stumbling block for some, but they seem not to have been, which I find reassuring. Perhaps quite to the contrary.

My symapthies to manicddaily that she is till without broadband. Sincerely hope that situation changes very soon. I am full of admiration for the way you have carried on meantime.

lucychili said...

powerful imagery
difficult journey

Anonymous said...

Ha. Thanks. It's getting very tiresome to use the phone. I have wifi at work of course, but I am working! I am supposed to get today I hope. And honestly it would not be a big deal at all but I feel a bit bad not to return comments very well. K.