Sunday, 8 January 2017

A Lesson in Melittology (or Tea with Plath)


















“You always made the best tea”, I confess. 
Something in the method: fanning the bag 
In the cathartic lung space ‘tween spoon and china. 

“you’re too new” she mocks, “too shiny”,
Indisposed in her sketchbook, tracing the tentacled yew tree
Down to its most primitive honesty: its brutal 
Old-man nakedness
and child-bearing insect chambers

Then down further still to where its bony roots gift hair to  
The all-seeing Undermoon-

          “What of the Undermoon?” I start,
“Off topic”
          “and the yew tree?”
“salvation” 
          “and red?”
“humanity.”

          “Then what of sentience? Of masturbation?
                        Of the lions we left to nurse the newborns?”
“How round their heads would look in crowning jaw”. 

We bake, as usual,
Outwards -> in like Grandma did, 
though our cookies are never so sweet.

“I don’t like eyes”, she offers after a pause.

“I have too many windows you see,
Too many stalls. Peepholes.
Too many cracks and crevices they can crawl into 
Like after-9 anti-gentlemen
Hunting the Blood Egg.

O eyes, eyes, eyes,
Hooking to me like pollen to the pelt of the fattest, 
Most barren honeybee.”

          “But what of the faces? The sockets they alight?”
“They would have me a table-top tragedian!
A pocket-sized Rasputin wound up to dance my

Ends again and again, a quavering filament 
afire 
afire 
afire. 

O would you not just unplug it all? 
Break from that wheezing old Undermoon?
What has it offered you anyways?

For I have known the pain of sunrise, 
How it soars like a fist - 
A swift influenza 
Blistering the grassy worms that wriggle like
Fingers on my summertide lawn. 

O tell me, would you not just unplug it all?
Detach from the great milky umbilical 
That holds us all distinct? 

They do not see, they just do not 
See!
Poetry is no gift to beauty,
It is an amputation. 

It is a funeral.
A grey hair. A gold tooth. A black leaf. A freckle.
It is a death 
of part."

“You do not see”, she smiles.
“you just do not see.

You’re too new.

Still just

Too 
shiny”.


41 comments:

  1. I love overhearing this and the juxtaposition between the cookies not being as sweet and not liking eyes. Really now I have to stop and think, is my poetry a funeral, amputation? More that than a new invention/creation.

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  2. Couldn't help reading this one a number of times. Inspired ❤️

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  3. It is so lovely to see you in the Pantry, OT! Yay! Great start to the new year. This is an amazing poem, I loved the conversation and, especially, the "you're just too new. Too shiny."

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  4. Poetry is no gift to beauty,
    It is an amputation.

    This is why I miss you when you're gone and feel uncharacteristically bubbly when you make your annual appearance.. Not only those two lines, of course, but the whole damn thing.

    Even if it is one a year, I'm glad your voice is not entirely lost to the blogosphere.

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  5. Oh the poetry as amputation... i agree with Kerry on that... Hope to see a lot more from you... I promise to be inspired.

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    1. Great to revisit for another read ;-)

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  6. This is a feast of imagery. From the "undermoon" to "eyeballs" falling and sticking like seeing broaches. Just brilliant.

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  7. I always look forward to your annual poem, and it was exquisitely timed as always. It seems a shame to tug at its seams and bare all as I used to do. I'm sure you knew my thoughts before you even read this comment. I'll revel in the layers and images for a while, glad to have something to refresh me in the dark side of the year. :)

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    1. Always great to see you pop up in the comments, Shen. Dark side of the year indeed, though after 2016 it's already looking a bit brighter...

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    2. 2016 was certainly interesting. Fantastic for my fiction, a nightmare for everything else. We're fleeing Prague in March. I'll have to try & continue our little tradition & write a poem when I'm not ill. :P

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  8. wouldn't have been a proper new year beginning without a text from you :) good to "see" you here again :) xx

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    1. haha it has become an annual tradition of sorts now (unintentionally I must admit - just happens to be around this time of year I find time to write!). Thanks for stopping by, Lily and happy new year!

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  9. "For I have known the pain of sunrise,
    How it soars like a fist -
    A swift influenza"

    "Poetry is no gift to beauty,
    It is an amputation."

    You have written the perfect poem to fit my mood. Thank you for this gift. I feel that this poem has offered me a necessary amputation. We think of cutting off limbs when we hear the word, but I think you're talking about all manner of "cutting off" that which is damaged, or is damaging us.

    This is my favorite line: "In the cathartic lung space ‘tween spoon and china." I feel trapped there. But I sense that you're inviting me to change my perspective in finding it a place of rebirth.

    "tracing the tentacled yew tree
    Down to its most primitive honesty" ... How beautiful. I feel sick in doing this to myself, sketching my tentacles, if you will. Taking a brutally honest look at my brutal honesty.

    I like what you did here:

    “I don’t like eyes”, she offers after a pause. (a paws)

    “I have too many windows [that] you see ..."

    This makes me think of feeling too "seen" after being touched. Like this:

    "Like after-9 anti-gentlemen
    Hunting the Blood Egg."

    Isn't this the irony:

    "O eyes, eyes, eyes,
    Hooking to me like pollen to the pelt of the fattest,
    Most barren honeybee." ... Wanted by everyone, with nothing to give.

    "O would you not just unplug it all?
    Break from that wheezing old Undermoon?" ... This is where I am. If I am the moon, then this means breaking away from my underbelly, my underworld. Unplugging [from] that part of myself. Letting it die an asthmatic's death.

    "Poetry is no gift to beauty" ... This might also suggest that poetry in not a gift to beauty; it is a gift to ugliness. Either because they identify with one another, or because one lifts the other into its realm.

    "Still just" ... Just when still. Continually just. If not just, then steal just. Steel just. The ideal being to become/remain/return to being a just person.

    I love both titles. And I think both are necessary. "Tea With Plath" might even belong in parentheses beneath the primary title, so that it isn't missed.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a great in-depth review, I'm always glad when people find something that resonates in some way! And funnily enough, the original title was exactly that: A Lesson in Melittology (or Tea with Plath) - perhaps I'll go back with it instead of the note
      cheers!

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  10. So glad to see this today OT! Your imagery astounds --Happy new year to you!

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  11. This is so surreal. Poetry as the aftermath of thought meditation and contemplating. The end to all these processes!!!

    Much love ...

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  12. This is so surreal. Poetry as the aftermath of thought meditation and contemplating. The end to all these processes!!!

    Much love ...

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    1. Although your poem might take hours of study to truly comprehend, you have given me an idea I will explore with both misgiving and joy. Thank you,

      Elizabeth

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  13. Poetry is no gift to beauty,
    It is an amputation. ... that's certainly food for thought...so interesting!

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  14. Well! That was a wild ride reading it... twice even. Very, very interesting.
    ZQ

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  15. Too new and to shiny perhaps to be loved as most loved things show their wear.

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    1. Yes! This is the overwhelming feeling I got. Loved things show their wear, and with wear comes invaluable wisdom.

      Lovely, thought provoking poem!
      Kay

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  16. i can only say this conversation leaves me breathless. yes, it is a fist that connects sweetly.

    poetry, oh dear. it is an amputation, a funeral. maybe much more.
    it is a descent into hell and halfway there you want to crawl back up to the edge. and i don't understand why we continue writing reading that stuff.

    and this poem is great! :)

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  17. Having tea can reveal the deepest of thoughts - i love the raw and also the considered thoughts of this poem

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  18. This is quite a wonder piece of work and thought - the eyes piercing through into crevices - to many windows- poetry not a gift - there are so many ways to view this- and yes at times unplugging is the only thing that can keep a poet sane - to new...to shiny ... very nice piece...thanks for tea...bkm

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  19. Contemplating poetry & how it makes us feel, our relationship to it - beautiful, yet dark thoughts here - tea brings deep thoughts with Plath, indeed. Love that is is a conversation, and the end is a vision. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. I've re-read it several times, and keep being dazzled by a new aspect each time. At first, I was curious as to the speakers' relationship to each other but then wondered if it was an internal dialog between muse and poet about the madness in the compulsion to keep creating art.

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  21. on the other days of the year, when there is no poetry, when we are all blind (again), too shiny, too new - I wonder what other erstwhile truths meander.

    Good to read you again - your words blaze, a comet for us. ~

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  22. I love, love, love this. Her yew tree. The tabletop tragedian! I wanted to read more (saying quite a lot from someone with a short attention span). Thank you.

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  23. Love your work OT ~ So glad you gifted us with your powerful words ~ Happy new year !

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  24. Well I too am entranced and see that I must wait a whole cycle of 13 moons until I am so taken again. So be it. I have marked my moon.

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  25. I liked the lines: "Poetry is no gift to beauty,
    It is an amputation."

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  26. Fascinating conversation to "eavesdrop" in on.
    I liked the line:
    "It is a death
    of part"
    Indeed. At times.

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  27. Tea with this sibyl, witch, ghoul and yew-scribe must have been daunting -- Plath was an early light for me (along with Roethke), and they're both fag-ends from the Confessional tide: cold intimate voices both. How to honor without mistaking emulation for annihilation? That's the rub. In these tea-leaves there's a scent of a way, but such things do take time. (I remember a guy who's now poet laureate of Florida telling me that "it takes decades" to write good poems.) Great stuff.

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  28. First time I have read you, OT...but it won't be the last time. I would assume this is an example of narrative poetry? I really like the back and forth of both characters, and for some reason, it reminds me of some of Robert Frost! I love the pace, the rhythm of your lines, it lifts it up from the surreal (which I am not that taken with...) to a realism that I am. Is it so that you only write once a year? I will wait for the next one, because it is more than intriguing...inspirational, it speaks to an elevated form of poetry. At least to me, but my experience with poetry is so new. Jane (Lady Nyo)

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  29. You know, I have been checking for months for something new from you to read and then I couldn't for a while, and now seeing this just made me very happy.
    The piece is exquisite, you don't need me to tell you that. I really really got captivated by this part :"“They would have me a table-top tragedian!
    A pocket-sized Rasputin wound up to dance my

    Ends again and again, a quavering filament
    afire
    afire
    afire. " - but the whole poem, and your writing in general, is very captivating for me.

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  30. Stunning! I love the surprises that the read doesn't expect...like pairing "pain" with "sunrise" and leaving lions to nurse the newborns. It keeps us on our toes and the sensory imagery is spectacular :-)

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  31. Quite an interesting conversation!

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