Reanimated Lavender Granola Switchblade Nun rides again.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Black Sylvia


Black Sylvia, moon-pale reflector of ten years' light,
I went down in the mines of you with a mule and bible.
Down there in the bloodstone
with my rock hammer and a rose,
thinking your heart was above me on the widows' walk
or below me on the skewer of a devil,
when there was never anything at all except a stupid fairy tale I told myself in a dream.

Black Sylvia, rocking funereal ribbons and indigo jewels,
tatting dry bouquets from empty veins in the phantom quick-strike,
I panned for what I could get.
Down the shaft was no place for a woman like me,
with my gingham and candles,
but I Morse'd  you a ladder of stanzas while you nodded
at the station with a spike in one eye and a deadgift in your arms, petting it.

Black Sylvia, living somewhere bedecked with onyx spangles
carrying a lockbox under her tongue, bought a black parrot
and killed it with a song.
Now it flutters against the bus-station glass of our two hearts.
A red snake like a caduceus 
wraps itself around her anger, first doing harm, then regretting it--
a living wreath of neurotoxins
hung on the mine entrance where everyone died,
                                                though they whisper like lovers in these lines.

for Desperate Poets "Desperate Desires."

Music: Delta Cross Band She Moves Me 


  1. This poem takes my breath away. Too many lines to quote. I enjoyed the labels very much as well.

  2. What an extraordinary feast of words, metaphors and meanings. That dead parrot fluttering against the bus station glass of the heart is an image I'll ponder on. Suzanne - Mapping Uncertainty

  3. Catullus couldn't elegize the dolorous rhapsodies of Black Sylvia any more pungently or entire. To love death and heaven at once is productive of the most desperate desires. I can't decide if this muse is West Virginia carnal or cathedral on the order of Plath, but that's what makes each reading so satisfying. Itches should be ever so deliciously scratched. A caduceus so wrapped and rapt delivers some sorely dark healing. Sorry response to the challenge was anemic for most of the week, it was one of my favorite at Desperate Poets.

  4. a delicious dance through a darkling tale, with metaphor for banquet. You really do write some astonishing lines and repeatedly so helping you to create such vivid landscapes and stories. I have to confess to being somewhat in awe of your talent. Thanks for the excellent prompt.

  5. From the second I read " I went down the mines of you with a mule and a bible.." I knew this was going to be one of your transfixing, utterly amazing writes, and you just continued to prove it line by line. Nightmare becomes just cloth to embroider a red flower upon, and memory the gate to a wound that seeps every midnight only to pretend to close at dawn. One of your very best, Shay, in its dark vocabulary and head-turning metaphor.

  6. How we long for what we can't seem to reach, and even more, for what's inevitably not good for us. I, too, am in awe of your use of metaphor. How do you do it? And that final stanza--wow.

  7. One of your finest Shay. I too was pulled in deep by the first line, and the last set of lines are absolutely some of the most amazing poetry I have ever read my friend! Simply breathtaking!

  8. I'm with hedge here. Line after line takes us deeper and deeper into a mineshaft where we don't belong. The dead, black parrot fluttering "against the bus-station glass of our two hearts" is truly exceptional.

  9. Hot damn, this is so good, Shay! So many gorgeous beautiful twisted lines. I'm going to end up quoting them all at this rate but the whole of that first opening stanza, its hope and doom, its exquisite imagery, is sublime. And then it continues with you in your gingham and candles, how you "Morse'd a ladder of stanzas" - so good!

    And the lines at the end are perfection:

    "A red snake like a caduceus
    wraps itself around her anger, first doing harm, then regretting it--
    a living wreath of neurotoxins
    hung on the mine entrance where everyone died,
    though they whisper like lovers in these lines."

    It's like the coolest rock song in poem form. One of my favourites of yours! :-)


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