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Unread 04-15-2021, 04:43 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,346
Default poem

The Bastard Wing

This is what the things can teach us: to fall, patiently to trust
our heaviness. Even a bird has to do that before he can fly.
― Rainer Maria Rilke

The sky is blue with clouds. It takes time
Not to see this. It takes until the crow is not
Too close and close enough to see the bulging eye,
The juniper eye-blink. Three crows circle her, then go
Leaving me alone. I scour the bald beach and the blank air
For anything else compatible with crow.
The sea glitters. What do you suffer with?

He told me once, combing the bladder wrack together,
Sometimes light hides more than darkness does
So widen your eyes to your ears, get a feel for the edges.
That's how we'll find what we're after. The treasure.

In the high trees the air strains
At the violation of a crow's wing,
The wing da Vinci figured would usher
Umpteen glistening machines,
Stopped dead by the line of a kite
Caught between the shore pines,
Hanging by a bone-thread.

The wind drops from the windsock.
The air has turned to stone.

Alula! the bastard wing,
Black cap of the executioner,
Black flag of refusal to surrender,
Cold steel feathers knifing the sky.
Oh, birdwreck! You have hit rock bottom,
Foundered on the crack in heaven
Where the skyhooked, in spasm,
Hang like fools in the unfathomable air.

And the day takes the weight of it,
Knowing the comedown of the earth,
Until the bird falls, and then I must
Tease the tangled line from the claw
Of a thing so light you'd think it empty, but
When the heart revives—

A crow stares out of the biting wind

............A belief in love that will not

Be made

....................Nothing of.

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Unread 04-15-2021, 09:18 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,586

Dink, this is powerful, masterful, and wonderful. I wish I could write paragraphs of praise. It reminds me a little of your first poem in sapphics, the one where someone counsels you. The music in this poem is symphonic. There's only one unnecessary word: unfathomable. I think it's one too many words in that sentence, and without it, "air" would feel much more like air. The last four lines could move mountains - they certainly moved me deeply.
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Unread 04-16-2021, 07:54 AM
John Riley John Riley is online now
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 4,724

Oh, Cally. You make my heart break for a crow. You should be more careful. From the beginning, the taking time to not see the sky and clouds so you can see what is "Too close and close enough to see the bulging eye/The juniper eye-blink." Then the crow's eye, plus the way the crow flies through the poem! It slips and soars as though it's flying through trees or maybe a "sky blue with clouds." I can see it weaving as it weaves the poem. The sadness of seeing the crow "Stopped dead by the line of kite" and then

The wind drops from the windsock.
The air has turned to stone.
I'm going to go ADHD/Bipolar for a second to say there is a young girl singer, very young, from Norway named Angelina Jordan who I can't stop listening to because her voice grows straight up from the earth. I know she's trained but there are fibers of forever in her voice. This poem is like that. It makes me feel the same way. Do you know what I mean? It's as though it's been here forever and you found it. I know you crafted it but maybe you carved it from a stone you found?

I don't have any suggestions for improvement. I love it.

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Unread 04-16-2021, 08:59 AM
Mark Blaeuer Mark Blaeuer is offline
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Arkansas, USA
Posts: 590

Cally, such a beautiful poem, repaying this reader's attention amply. Every touch is perfect, to my mind. Any guidance I might offer could only mar the fineness.
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Unread 04-16-2021, 04:54 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,346

Oh, you Three! Words like salve.

I want to explain—that this poem means a great deal to me, and while I rarely send out poems for publication, this poem, well, I believe in it, and it wants to be read—I feel this from it, that it doesn't belong to me, and it wants to be in the world. So I have sent it out a few times, and it gets sent back. And it got sent back again recently, and, well, I just don't know. I really don't. I need to know if I'm utterly wrong about this poem, if it's just not communicating what I think it is. All I could think to do was post it here, to learn.

And your three voices have helped me so much. I don't know what to say.

Memsical, I remember the sapphics, but not the title! And you've drawn my attention to something I hadn't realised—that a counselling voice appears in several poems I've written. Interesting . . . Memsy, I am so thankful that you can hear the music, and feel so moved.

John, you have repaid me by breaking my heart right back. By the time I'd read through your comments I had sheets of tears on my face. And then I went a-googling for Angelina Jordan, and oh my goodness, I hear what you mean—"fibers of forever". It is the voice of nature. The sound she makes is not a single thing, but a polyphony. It is truly coming out of the many-voiced earth. I do know what you mean, and if you hear something similar in this poem, then it is what I hear, and can only dream of making that come across with only words on a page as instrument. I can honestly tell you that I did find this poem. The voices and the music—they come from outside me. So did the crow. John—thank you, my friend.

Mark! When I saw your name here, I felt a burst of joy! How lovely to hear from you! Thank you for 'appearing', and for your encouragement. I am thrilled to get your reaction to this poem.

With love

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Unread 04-16-2021, 06:50 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland Maine
Posts: 3,627

It is an amazing piece that tells its own future. It can't be entered lazily. The first stanza has to be approached from the side of the eye but once you are in then you realize what is staring back at you from the weave. I know nothing outside that 1st stanza should be touched but I wonder if maybe, as things are still coming into consciousness in that opening, beach and air should remain unadourned by bald and blank. Something about that moment of the living eye coming into focus needs the backdrop to obscure like the field of vision does when life is at the center. The only other thought before the sheer magic of the rest is that phrase Leaving me alone. Has the eye come awake into the viewers mind already there? Leaving us alone. Tough choice. Could go either way.

That experience of the crow coming into being befoe the eyes in S1 takes a minute or two to orient in. It is hard on the poor editors, trained as they are by all the pieces painting their own insides rather than risking anything outside their own confines. This is unhuman. And its great.
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Unread 04-17-2021, 10:38 AM
F.F. Teague's Avatar
F.F. Teague F.F. Teague is offline
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Gloucestershire, UK
Posts: 696

Hi Cally,

I think this is the first poem I've read that you've posted on the 'sphere. And I really enjoyed it :-)

I like the intriguing title, the quotation by Rilke, the scene setting with the crows and the glittering sea, the imagery especially in S3, the drama of S4 and S5, and the change of pace towards the end. I relished the images that came to mind and also the music. It made me want to write a symphonic poem.

The only suggestion I could make is to try not using caps for the beginning of every line...

The sky is blue with clouds. It takes time
not to see this. It takes until the crow is not
too close

and so on. I'm probably being weird, but when I read these lines 'not' and 'too' sound softer and seem to have more flow, which is very much in keeping with the poem.

Bird poems are ace :>)

Best wishes,
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Unread 04-18-2021, 02:52 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,079

Hey Cally,

I've really gone back and forth wondering whether to post this. Wondering if I have a point or if I'm missing something fundamental. I confidently expect to be told that I am haha. And that's fair enough. Anyway...

I wonder if the poem might benefit from cutting the first two stanzas entirely and starting at "In the high trees". There are good things in the opening and I can see the argument for the slow build. But for me the poem seems to gain in power without them.

And here's the thing. Without the first two stanzas, what's left, for me, is a nigh on perfect poem. I absolutely love it. It's dramatic and elemental and utterly heartbreaking.

I really heard Plath in "Oh, birdwreck! You have hit rock bottom" btw.
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Unread 04-18-2021, 03:06 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,371

I think Mark may be right. Perhaps I'd amend his suggestion by saying keep

The sky is blue with clouds. It takes time
Not to see this.

and then proceed directly (after a stanza break) to "In the high trees"?
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Unread 04-19-2021, 06:50 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,346

Dear Sharkey and Roger,

I've been thinking/listening long and deep to your suggestions, which I truly thank you for voicing. I'm glad you overcame your qualms, Sharkey!

The thing I'm trying to be still enough to see is the difference between what I want and what the poem wants. Because to me, there is a huge difference. Your suggestion seems radical to me because it does remove something that still feels core to the poem, to me. But I could be too close, to the poem and to the experience, to be the best judge. I mean, if I cut, future readers would never know what was there before. And what difference would that make? This is the question I'm trying to feel an answer to....

This will take time, so I won't make a revision above right now. Please know, however, that I am taking your thoughts very seriously as I wait for the need of the poem to become clear....

Andrew, your thoughts on how the opening stanza could go -- I hear you, too. And you do touch on elements of the first stanza that I'm still thinking need to be preserved. It's about perspective, about coming into focus. And you are right -- there are some tough choices to make! I will keep you posted....

Fliss --do you know, it's the first time in my whole life that I've used initial caps! ha!! It was weird to me, too, that they came. I think now that it had something to do with the formal feeling that comes with suffering, the great dignity it brings. And capital letters are just one tool for signifying that dignity, somehow. I'm so pleased you enjoyed the music!

To all who've commented -- your words have given me great heart, and I'm so thankful to you all.


Last edited by Cally Conan-Davies; 04-19-2021 at 06:55 PM.
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