Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Crusade

It was during the blackout,
In the time of the plague.
I came back to our apartment, leading my exhausted horse,
The cross on my chest dotted with sprays of blood
Like funeral flowers.

You never understood,
When I spoke of slaughter.
Yes, you let me tremble, bare-skinned, in your arms, in the dark,
My heart the very last thing unsheathed;
But I think you still pictured the dead, if you pictured them at all,
Laid straight and pretty in fragrant new rosewood coffins
Unmarred, like asparagus stalks upon a plate.
In your version, they do not lurch,
Cradling their guts in their hands,
Grown men, dying, calling for their mothers.

It was during the scaly week,
The interminable seven days without you,
That hopelessness seeped into me, like poison through a corrupted membrane.
I am your prickly girl, laying my dented helmet
On the counter at the 7-11, embarrassing you.
Haunting the kitchen, I touched my fingers to your copper pots,
So emblematic of the order, the care, the warmth that is you, baby.
I wept. I did.
Then, I lit smudge sticks to banish myself
From this good place where I no longer belong.

In war, in the smoky mornings,
We would sift through the dead and maimed, taking their coins, their shoes,
Anything we could use and carry.
In the dawn, riding slowly along the freeway ramp east of town, with the rising sun behind us,
Our horses' hooves made a jarring racket,
And we shocked the early commuters with our taken scalps
And the heads of our enemies on skewers.

Over time, I know, Love,
That I have become foreign and hard.
Your friends hate me, they say I smell like a stable;
They exchange looks and discuss the white scar
That runs jagged through my short-shorn hair.
So, bless you for coming back,
Like undeserved, untenable salvation.
You hold my head as the television drones, now that the power is back
And the plague has gone.
You kiss my scar as if you were a mother
And I were good, and worthy, and beautiful.
_____

for Monday Melting #14. I had to use these words: tremble, prickly, lurch, asparagus, blackout, copper, scaly, smudge, skewer, sift, membrane and slaughter. Also linked to dverse open link #41.

28 comments:

Daryl Edelstein said...

so many layers ...

Hannah Stephenson said...

You could do a whole series of these, I bet!

Nice work using those words....no easy task.

Mama Zen said...

Unbelievable, Shay.

hedgewitch said...

Love the mix of the surreal now with the non-fictional then, the confusion of times, of identities and of spirit, that somehow is resolved through a kind of faith that Joan never knew, or did she? Regardless, this tale of the time of plague and war is cold and cruel, and yet, salty sweet underneath.

Lolamouse said...

That second stanza is a real killer, Shay!

Sherry Blue Sky said...

You captured perfectly the broken, bleeding, exhaustion of surviving battle. The tone of this is pitch-perfect. I cant believe what you did with the prompt words........no one writes like you. Yours is a genre all your own. Bravo!

Kerry O'Connor said...

This reads like the monologue of a futuristic Joan of Arc. You have mixed the age-old images of war with the post-modern city seamlessly. The pathos of the main character is so well-wrought.

Shawna said...

You pulled at my guts with this one, Shay. With a chasm like that between two people, their varied experiences are incomprehensible to one other no matter how hard they try. All that fills the gap are the motherly nurtures and the returns.

These are powerful words:

"You never understood,
When I spoke of slaughter."

"My heart the very last thing unsheathed"

"In your version, they do not lurch"

"I am your prickly girl"

"Haunting the kitchen, I touched my fingers to your copper pots"

"I lit smudge sticks to banish myself"

"I have become foreign and hard"

"You kiss my scar as if you were a mother
And I were good, and worthy, and beautiful"

Thanks for writing, Shay. You touched me.

rosemarymint.wordpress.com

Brian Miller said...

vicious description of the bodies in battle and even the lack of understanding too that comes from those that have not seen war in all its ugliness...i have only heard myself from those been there and seen in the eyes of those that are still there...

Lynn said...

I'm so impressed with your imagination - that you came up with a great Joan poem with those words.

Fred Rutherford said...

Very cool read. Love the post-apocalyptic feel throughout and the way you really paint a story. I'll have to look up smudge sticks though, so I thank you for that as well, as I always enjoy encountering new words, terms or references to take the poetry past the read itself. Great job. Thanks

Scarlet said...

Passionate, raw and romantic.

liv2write2day said...

Oh my, I just had to take a deep breath after reading this. Sigh! Effective intermingling of past and present, how you show the horrors of times past are still with us.

Buddah Moskowitz said...

LUV LUV LUV how this goes back and forth in time, back and forth from Crusades to the 7-11 to the apartment - it has the perfect syntax of a dream - where everything means something and it's all connected but still somewhat inscrutable. Big Thumbs Up! This is writing of a sublime order. Thanks, Lady!

Hannah said...

This has such rugged words interspersed with the "Melting," words, you really captured the feeling of crusade times very well and I like the contrast with these closing lines...

"And the plague has gone.
You kiss my scar as if you were a mother
And I were good, and worthy, and beautiful."

Nicely, done, Fireblossom!

Cloudia said...

See, your first three lines amaze and satisfy me. what is all the rest for?



Aloha from Waikiki
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Cloudia said...

-for I am a bear of very little attention. . . .

HermanTurnip said...

No snarky remark tonight. Absolutely loved this one. Wow!

PattiKen said...

Awesome, Shay. The time warps, cultural swings, shifting lives... all made me think at the end, Eternal Woman. Centuries of strength and strife, and she keeps on keeping on.

chromapoesy.com said...

Perfect and whole, it spoke to me like a myth.

signed...bkm said...

Ah St Joan...your horse awaits...love it...bkm

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

Sorry I missed this, glad i can It was chilly and a dark read. very good.

blueoran said...

Times of war and plague are no place for the heart, or the heart: one sups with horrors and beds with vapors, taking a beating from dreams, affronted by ghosts at every turn. Black Death or simply blue blue depression, the affect's the same, turning sour every affection, bleeding from too may wounds. I get the blood-stained campaigner of the heart here, victim of too many gored battlefields, surviving by taking what's left, where love is such a different thing to this speaker than to her beloved who hasn't been around long enough or exposed to how hard things can go in the heart. I loved those dead lined up like asparagus spears. - Brendan

Semaphore said...

A tapestry woven from historical and modern sensibilities. What a re-working of the myth of the maid of Orleans.

Heaven said...

I didn't suspect it to be a famous myth.....but this is a stunning write

I specially like the last stanza ~

Ginny said...

Wow--an impressive narrative poem. With just the right touch of emotional pauses to unsheathe the reader's heart. . .

Shawna said...

http://rosemarymint.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/thursday-melting/

Here's a bonus list, if you're interested.

cronk said...

Very well done, as everyone else has said.
Though the smell of stable is divine to me. :)
You draw the tension between these two quite well.