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Saturday, September 03, 2011

"Pomes Penyeach" *

And doesn't The Throne of Psyche look pretty lying there?
Want to read more, to lodge a vote for my work and my publisher by claiming one for your own? The peddler's sack is here.

*Post title borrowed from James Augustine Aloysius Joyce.
No wonder he signed himself "James Joyce."

Below is a little gift for you--a rather strange gift. Earlier I linked to Paul Digby's video of the poem; it can be found on youtubeLinks to prezi and video versions of poems (by Gary Dietz and Paul Digby) from The Throne of Psyche, review clips, and blurbs can be found on my website.  

Originally published in Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency.
Reprinted in The Throne of Psyche (Mercer University Press, 2011).

THE NESTING DOLL                                                        

Once upon a time a little doll
Encountered demons in the woods near home.
One took the guise of well-bred traveler,
Smiling and chatting as he touched her here
And there, at last worming into her mouth
By cunning sleights so he could taste her soul.

At first the demon could not find the soul,
And he was roiling-wroth against the doll,
Sending her vomit, scalding her small mouth
With curses; Mama turned her out from home,
And Papa yodeled, “She won’t bunk down here
But take her thwacks and be a traveler.”

How cruel to make a child a traveler,
A ditch her nest! The black night of her soul
Expelled a single star; the demon could hear
It crackle, plunging like the tears the doll
Had shed when she looked back at Home Sweet Home.
Wrinkles were rock around her papa’s mouth.

The demon snatched the starlight in his mouth—
Then grief was in him like the traveler
They call the Wandering Jew, who has no home
And cannot die. The fiery drop of soul
Explored his throat and gut; meanwhile the doll
Kept dreaming that some girl would beg, “Stop here.”

Nobody did. The demon still could hear
Her words; in pools he must have glimpsed her mouth
Bewailing fate, although it seemed the doll
Was rubbish to him now, the traveler
Less than the tiny prisoned flame of soul
That made his mazy heart a hearth and home.

A demon’s heart is a queer sort of home . . .
Yet the star burned as brightly there as here
Or any place and had not changed from soul.
At times it whisked up to the demon’s mouth.
Perhaps light sought to reach the traveler
And knew when demon yielded to the doll.

When home was starlight singing in her mouth,
All powers burned to hear the traveler
And marveled soul was nested in a doll.  


  1. Quite impressive. If this doesn't do the trick, I don't know what will.

  2. Just got my first numbers report. Could be better; could be worse.

    I must start doing more, now that my two big ones are ensconced in college and my so-called little one is wearing shoulder pads and committing on-the-field brutality...

  3. Huh. I just arrived at a theory of why my copy of Throne never arrived: maybe I never finished ordering it?

  4. I've done that. I also clicked a button twice and got a giant double order from Kinsman Company. I really didn't need that many arches and trellises...

    Hey, you passers-by, if you click on Dale's name you will get to see the cover of his upcoming collection. Worth seeing (and buying) too.

  5. Lovely photo, and the poem is stunning in its mystical unearthly quality, like that of the many ancient myths from different countries.

  6. Thanks, Zoe...

    I'm glad you liked it. More Clive for you soon!

  7. I take that as a high compliment, coming from you, marja-leena, woman who loves myth...

  8. As much as i admire the poem and the artwork, i want a closer look at all those lovely glass orbs!

  9. zephyr,

    Curiosity is forgiven! They are rather fun, aren't they?

    Maybe I'll go for some close-ups soon.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.