Saturday, February 2, 2013


Heads in
relay boxes
wait for postmen to come
to place them softly in their bags
by night.

By night,
bright-keyed angels
gather the weary ones,
and, graceful as birds, home in and
head in.

By night,
the blue-trousered
messengers soothe their cargo
as if kisses were a postmark
from God.

From God,
by carrier,
the rescued heads are sent
to outward points by hand, by day,
by night.

Heads from
relay boxes
will change the world under
aegis of the eagle and its

This is a crown cinquain for Marian's mini-challenge at Real Toads. The top photograph is hers, and is used with permission. It shows what look to me to be postal relay boxes. Collection boxes are the familiar marked blue boxes, but relay boxes are unmarked dark green boxes which are used for temporary storage of items to be picked up and delivered later the same day.


blackwildflowers said...

There is a stairstepping of image and idea here that showcases this form even as it goes beyond it.

hedgewitch said...

I'm very fond of this form, Shay, and now I may never write it again *tears hair*--no of course I will, but you really use it beautifully, chaining together your stanzas with the delicate stitchery of precise repetition, coloring softly with a feel of brass keys and blue trousers images that propel the poem forward like so many strokes of the oar, flying over the water of thought. What I love most of all is that the surreal heads become so homey and sympathetic, not dismembered horrors, but homes for a million personalities, as indeed letters --real ones--are, postmarked with a kiss. The short form here blends seamlessly into the longer version, and each stanza builds from its predecessor. Really well done.

Marian said...

bravo, Shay! bravo. i too love how this builds and flows seemingly effortlessly. you may never be able to credibly claim a distaste for tight little forms again :)
i'm thrilled by your poem.
(and i too like that photo, it's really the only one i love from a big pile of city snaps. yay!)

Poet Laundry said...

This is an amazing work with the form. It feels as if you've taken the crown to a new level here with the chaining; I love the way hedgewitch put it 'delicate stitchery'. Masterfully done.

Helen said...

The USPS should consider making this required reading, part of the manual.

Seriously, your crown cinquain is amazing.

Anonymous said...

This really is an amazing use of the form.

Lolamouse said...

Oh you show-off! I knew you could do amazing things with a tight little form! ; )

Anonymous said...

"bright-keyed angels
gather the weary ones"

breathtaking, the comfort you've provided the dead (with broken necks) ... the severed heads might represent any sort of separation or death; I can't help but read "bags" as "body bags"

"messengers soothe their cargo
as if kisses were a postmark
from God" postal workers as angels; I do love this imagery

reading it with a more optimistic view, the heads might represent thought, imagination, invention, reincarnation, revival ... the brightest minds delivered to save/alter the world

Anonymous said...

you just pretend you don't like form poetry so we'll be all the more impressed with your complete mastery of it, don't ya?

only you could write a poem about {what appear to be severed} heads that has a feeling of tenderness running through it!


so's the Joe Cocker song ~ i got to see him in concert once. Love him!

vivinfrance said...

Very enjoyable. I caught a whiff of Auden's The Night Mail. :-)

Loredana Donovan said...

I agree with Esmi's comment. I, too, am interpreting this poem in an optimistic way. There is something spiritual about it, as if thoughts and souls are carried away through imagination to a better place ... to reinvent themselves. Well done on the crown cinquain form :)

Kerry O'Connor said...

Brilliance from every angle. I love the cyclic pattern of the repeated lines, the heads waiting for collection - like the forgotten consciousness of saints left in storage. I am always in awe of words that break through the boundaries of possibility.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written!

K9friend said... though kisses were a postmark from God.

Love that image!

Critter Alley

Laura said...

intricately woven... " though kisses were a postmark from God" loved this line too!

ellen abbott said...

poetry escapes me...usually.

re Joe Cocker. I've always thought he had the strangest body language, stiff and jerky.

Tatius T. Darksong said...

Like the way each stanza is woven together, flows with a smooth rhythm nice very nice.

Mama Zen said...

This is wild and subtle and trippy and . . . and . . .

Susie Clevenger said...

I should never doubt you will take a prompt beyond what would be expected. This is flows from one to the other with such ease.

Ella said...

I too love your unique trippy stitched linkage! Bravo Shay! I have to try this form, again~
I love how effortless your words appear ;D

"as though kisses were a postmark form God" <3 it!

Anonymous said...

Effortless (or so it seems) intermingling of the ethereal and the mundane, a tale of angels and civil servants, of heavenly deliverance and collection schedules. Even more impressively, there is a flow, an outright musicality which belies the restriction of the form. Top-shelf work, and I'm awfully jealous of it.