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[Foto Friday 40] Effigy Aflame
Inuki

"Men cluster to me like moths around a flame
 1
And if their wings burn I know I'm not to blame"
 2
- Frederick Hollander & Sammy Lerner
 3
 
 
i. Milankovitch Cycles
 4
 
 
the sky was cyan
 5
above the sabkha;
 6
the alkali flat,
 7
the remnant of
 8
an endorheic lake.
 9
the small round depression
 10
was devoid of vegetation.
 11
the waterfowl had gone
 12
and the sandhill cranes
 13
and shorebirds
 14
had lifted up their great
 15
brown and white wings
 16
and flown away
 17
to wade elsewhere.
 18
 
 
as the pleistocene epoch
 19
drew to a close
 20
the waters of lake lahontan
 21
dried out
 22
left only desiccated remains.
 23
in its wake
 24
it remembers the first men,
 25
naked animals
 26
scavenging and making their way
 27
carving pictograms in caves
 28
with ochre, hematite
 29
manganese oxide and charcoal.
 30
 
 
black rock desert
 31
glimmers in the blaring sunlight
 32
as if the star above
 33
knows and wishes to partake
 34
in the destruction.
 35
that solar gaze
 36
joining the radicalism
 37
prematurely.
 38
 
 
 
 
ii-a. A Man and His Dog Running into the Sun
 39
 
 
we gathered round
 40
the paintings,
 41
staring contemplatively
 42
at them one at a time.
 43
the splashes on canvas
 44
emotive and fragrant
 45
like polka-dotted flowers.
 46
 
 
an overweight, naked man
 47
trundled by,
 48
his sagging flesh
 49
creasing across his stomach
 50
and buttocks.
 51
 
 
we lit the wooden man
 52
and wooden dog
 53
aflame, and watched
 54
them burn
 55
along with the sun
 56
down to the horizon.
 57
 
 
as i saw two tiny figures
 58
engulfed in flames
 59
sizzling out at last,
 60
from the corner of my eye
 61
for a fleeting moment
 62
i caught a white fin
 63
on the waters;
 64
the froth of splashing waves,
 65
no doubt.
 66
 
 
perhaps, though
 67
it was the spirit
 68
of the great white
 69
that devoured
 70
albert kogler junior,
 71
the swift hand of death
 72
keeping a watchful eye
 73
upon our weary souls.
 74
 
 
on the beach men came to tan
 75
talking of the burning man.
 76
 
 
 
 
ii-b. Beyond the Ruins of the Sutro Bath
 77
 
 
flames licked
 78
the seven swimming pools
 79
black smoke rising
 80
from the destruction.
 81
 
 
the remains are a labyrinth
 82
of cement skeletal blocks
 83
blocked off
 84
by stairs and passageways
 85
leading to a dark tunnel
 86
with a deep crevice
 87
in the middle.
 88
 
 
we approach the ruins
 89
headfirst,
 90
running furiously,
 91
our legs pumping
 92
as we pant,
 93
ignoring the warning sign
 94
advising strict caution.
 95
 
 
our forefather's advice
 96
is in the wind now
 97
and we are for the sea,
 98
uncaring, unknowing,
 99
seeing with our hands
 100
and our pulsing blood
 101
and youth.
 102
 
 
we creep along
 103
the dark passageways,
 104
flitting like nymphs
 105
whooping like birds
 106
or stale stereotypes
 107
of ingenious injuns.
 108
 
 
in the day,
 109
large waves sweep up
 110
washing away visitors,
 111
sending them to
 112
its depths,
 113
drowning them
 114
like starving sailors.
 115
 
 
inside one of the cement pits
 116
a paragraph describes
 117
the age old glory:
 118
the small beach inlet
 119
had glowed with the smiles
 120
of children who played
 121
within its walls,
 122
lineups to leap
 123
into the water.
 124
 
 
a concert hall,
 125
an ice skating rink,
 126
and a museum of varied
 127
personal artefacts.
 128
 
 
a child runs by the abandoned pool
 129
the ruins eclipse the sun
 130
the shoreline is pink
 131
and varying tinctures of orange.
 132
 
 
 
 
iii. Put On Your Most Fabulous Outfit and Turn Your Fans On FULL Blast
 133
 
 
in preparation
 134
we got piss-drunk
 135
on booze
 136
and smashed things:
 137
a desk lamp, a clock radio
 138
a chandelier, and a mug.
 139
we tore the pillows to pieces
 140
and put on our best outfits
 141
stacking fans in the corner
 142
and turning them on
 143
creating a gust of feathers
 144
like a thousand pigeons
 145
taking flight.
 146
 
 
we took turns in the ovens
 147
and the freezers
 148
melting the icicles
 149
from our hair
 150
and cooling our scorching burns.
 151
 
 
we cut ourselves
 152
and bruised ourselves
 153
and burnt ourselves
 154
in the sun
 155
we licked electrical sockets
 156
hoping
 157
to be conducive.
 158
 
 
we spent hundreds of dollars
 159
on grass skirts
 160
strings of pearls
 161
platform shoes
 162
we danced in red clown noses
 163
and lime green stockings
 164
with silver and gold batwings
 165
we did our hair up
 166
in mohawks
 167
and fauxhawks
 168
and tethered it together
 169
with dirty pairs of socks,
 170
but forgot it all behind.
 171
 
 
 
 
iv. Leaving San Francisco
 172
 
 
bringing luggage
 173
backpacks
 174
coolers
 175
suitcases
 176
camping gear
 177
duffel bags
 178
clothes bags,
 179
they gathered round
 180
generating electricity
 181
in the air,
 182
filling vehicles
 183
to the brim.
 184
 
 
we inhaled
 185
preparing our minds
 186
for the journey
 187
to a stark and desolate
 188
prehistoric expanse.
 189
 
 
the sun-baked lake bed
 190
unravelled
 191
for hundreds and hundreds of miles.
 192
 
 
we ran
 193
from babel
 194
evacuating before the flood,
 195
shedding off our comfortable attire
 196
of habits and routine.
 197
 
 
and we pledged our allegiance
 198
only to the man
 199
who burns
 200
like a crucifix,
 201
worshipping this strange idol,
 202
at the apogee of our commitment.
 203
 
 
when wood
 204
was to become ash
 205
and smoke.
 206
 
 
 
 
v. Rite of Passage
 207
 
 
a long line
 208
ran across the desert floor.
 209
each person
 210
filing over the border
 211
to unknown territory,
 212
a gigantic conga line
 213
in limbo between
 214
two worlds;
 215
as we crossed
 216
we danced to the carribean rhythm
 217
in our heads,
 218
together, leaning backwards
 219
to do the limbo.
 220
 
 
 
 
vi. Lesson of the Watchtower
 221
 
 
as we assembled
 222
the massive
 223
figure
 224
a splinter
 225
stuck into my finger.
 226
 
 
 
 
vii. Wind's Challenge
 227
 
 
desolate flatness
 228
arid and empty,
 229
on the dark line
 230
in the distance
 231
arises the sky's light
 232
first turning pink
 233
a brilliant spark
 234
hovering behind
 235
the silhouetted mountains,
 236
growing into an orb
 237
as it clutches the rock
 238
and climbs overtop
 239
the sky glowing golden.
 240
 
 
circular columns of dust-
 241
devils, dance across the floor,
 242
in those last moments
 243
windstorms
 244
at fifty miles per hour came
 245
and b l e
 246
             w
 247
                e  v
 248
                       r     y
 249
                                 t   h
 250
                                        ing
 251
                                                a
 252
                                                   w  a
 253
                                                           y
 254
 
 
the intense wind storm
 255
knocked down the tents
 256
like bowling pins.
 257
crash crash crash crash
 258
echoes in my mind,
 259
and wind looked down on us
 260
forebodingly.
 261
 
 
we looked right back
 262
and spat into the direction
 263
the wind was travelling.
 264
 
 
 
 
viii-a. Gypsy City
 265
 
 
the city is not a city
 266
but a salt bed,
 267
the buildings accost travelers
 268
with sharp colours
 269
and edges.
 270
 
 
the dissassemblable city
 271
of black rock
 272
full of memories
 273
of summer solstice parties,
 274
of art and brandy
 275
intertwining like our
 276
double-helix strands.
 277
 
 
and we
 278
desert walkers
 279
align ourselves
 280
with the great man,
 281
setting out to complete
 282
the journey.
 283
 
 
 
 
viii-b. The Pilgrimage
 284
 
 
i felt my feet begin to sweat
 285
in my dusky sandals
 286
which were tearing
 287
and expanding
 288
from the heat,
 289
bursting all around me.
 290
 
 
as we walked
 291
the great idol
 292
grew nearer,
 293
it had been watching us
 294
all this time.
 295
 
 
we were the petty men
 296
who lived petty lives
 297
with our comings and goings
 298
insignificant
 299
to the giant
 300
whose shadow
 301
yawned across our site
 302
where we constructed
 303
with our hands and minds
 304
where we built
 305
our new homes
 306
and wooden roofs,
 307
where we sat
 308
and ate and shit
 309
and pissed and cried,
 310
together and alone.
 311
 
 
in our hearts
 312
we all knew
 313
this small walk
 314
was only a tiny part
 315
of the long journey
 316
we were taking,
 317
sometimes together
 318
sometimes apart.
 319
 
 
we came down the path
 320
in the tens
 321
and then the twenties
 322
and then the hundreds
 323
and then the thousands
 324
and the millions
 325
and soon
 326
we were pouring in
 327
from all corners of the earth,
 328
the numerous dreadlocked
 329
and footloose creatures
 330
wild face paint
 331
some on bikes
 332
and some by foot
 333
with black top hats
 334
umbrellas suspended in mid-air
 335
jutting out
 336
like lotus leaves
 337
from their wriggling
 338
                 wiggling arms
 339
and amongst them
 340
came the clown
 341
it's leering laughing
 342
plastic face
 343
and parted mouth
 344
revealing a pink tongue.
 345
the paintings
 346
on baker beach
 347
transmuted into
 348
its polka-dotted green
 349
yellow and blue uniform
 350
a gaudy yellow ruffled collar
 351
the outlandish eyes
 352
puffed up by its impressive cheeks
 353
and all around
 354
giant cupcake men
 355
with basketball sized blueberries,
 356
a man in a white fur coat,
 357
all blowing, blowing, blowing
 358
having conquered the wind
 359
blowing toward
 360
toward what?
 361
 
 
 
 
ix. Sunday Evening
 362
 
 
they say God rested
 363
on the seventh day.
 364
 
 
the man is looking at me
 365
watching over me again
 366
and i know
 367
beyond that neon glow
 368
of wood and wire
 369
his hollow face
 370
is asking me a question.
 371
 
 
when the hourglass
 372
of temporality
 373
has run its course
 374
and when the noise
 375
of secular life
 376
brings only remorse,
 377
growing immobile
 378
as ineffectual activism
 379
has come to an end,
 380
when everything around
 381
is still,
 382
as still as in eternity
 383
time may suspend,
 384
and now we gather round
 385
the man
 386
who holds court
 387
and our tidings and tribute
 388
we pay
 389
in the form of terrible memories
 390
away, away.
 391
 
 
a new tide begins
 392
washing through our hearts
 393
as open flames ignite
 394
from men's tongues
 395
igniting the legs
 396
of the wooden effigy;
 397
soon a river of flames
 398
runs freely over the land
 399
and fireworks shoot high
 400
into the air
 401
freeing us
 402
engulfing the entire statue
 403
lighting the night
 404
a silvery halo
 405
of starbursts
 406
crowning
 407
the dying king.
 408
 
 
 
 
x. Charcoal Man
 409
 
 
his ashes
 410
left the vague impression
 411
as he lay on the ground
 412
like the chalk outlines
 413
of bodies
 414
that children draw
 415
like the chalk outlines
 416
of bodies
 417
that police draw
 418
those few
 419
dark marks
 420
smoking
 421
 
 
reminding us
 422
of its sacrifice.
 423



Foto: http://tinyurl.com/38ns9z

21 Nov 07

Rated 10 (6.9) by 1 users.
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Comments:

Wow   Truly epic.   Is this all original?
 — poetbill

overseasoned.

smaller servings necessary.

you are what you bleat.


st3ntorian
 — unknown

All of it is originl poetbill, but l75-76 borrow the form of another poem
and 372-378 are modified from another writer.
 — unknown

Thanks for noting that.  I asked because I sensed some inconsistency in the quality of the stanzas.
 — poetbill

fantastic ^_^
 — Virgil

i doubt this was inspired by or written for the foto.

you probably had this written, saw the foto and perhaps saw a connection.

or you perhaps just tagged the foto friday to this, in order to have more people read this.

a lot of your stuff, inuki, is long and circular. it drags to corners where it need not visit.

and your line breaks are predictable.

but the story is fun.
 — unknown

The poem was in fact inspired by, and written for the poem- I sat down yesterday, saw the photo, and wrote the piece.

If you do some research and/or read carefully, you'll see how it all connects- though I think I've made it painfully clear. The photo is of the burning man festival (it comes from an album of pictures of the event), other images such as the blueberry man also featured in the poem in lines 355-357 and the man in the white fur coat are in the exact same album.

I take elements of the clown, bikers, etc. from the photo and intentionall dispersed them throughout various parts of the poem to show the history of the festival coming together into the "decisive moment"- and they make their respective appearances.

I don't believe my work is circular, and I break where it is natural (or unnatural where appropriate).

I've done my research, do yours before assuming things about others.
 — Inuki

Be that all as it may,

I've had the opportunity to read much of your work, but if I could be your editor half of it would be gone. It's like you have the affinity to make poems long when they really don't need to be. In writing, you have talent. In editing, well...

Whether natural or unnatural, you breaks hardly ever surprise me anymore. All your poems feel, read, and look the same. Stylistic? Perhaps. Innovative? Unlikely.
 — unknown

damn.
 — jittery

Inuki, I can understand your defense here, but...

1. Is it worth engaging in a debate to defend your work over a poetrycritical.net space?

2. I feel like some of what "unknown" is saying is touching on an important truth, as some trimming might help your overrall works impact. I can also understand the circular argument. Do you understand specifically what he means here? Perhaps some specific references might help him validate his point and allow you to meditate on those points if you feel they are valid enought to engage. But, like anyone that reads the majority garbage on this site, I suppose I owe you thanks for presenting us with something fresh to "pick apart." Also, I like reading raw poetry these days, mainly as a healthy change from this summer where I studied Yeats - who is at times unbearably "polished," with Helen Vendler (the foremost poetry critic in the country) in Sligo, Ireland. Thank you on thanksgiving.  
 — uncjaf

Unknown) My poems are long for necessary reasons. If you think they are "circular" or repetitive then you are missing the details/depth/layers to the poem. Every word is there for a reason.

I was not aware that the primary function of line breaks were to "make a poem interesting or surprising". Line breaks carry the flow of the poem- and I therefore only make them unnatural for effect when necessary. Inserting random linebreaks which serve no purpose other than to make things more "shocking" to the reader sounds like a gimmick, one that would annoy me as a reader.

Uncjaf) While I know the "OMG Internet is SERUS BUZNESS" argument, this is a poetry workshop site. People ask me why I do certain things or make particular suggestions/criticisms, and I respond to them as appropriate. I am not arguing or "debating" per se- I am doing exactly what this site is supposed to consist of- working toward writing better pieces.

I have no clue what the unknown commenter means with respect to "circularity"- the poem follows a clear journey from beginning to end- each canto/section tells a piece of the larger story while making their own individual points. Each line and canto adds more depth to the poem or continues to build on the various preexisting layers.

My only understanding is that the unknown commenter has not read my work closely enough- which I believe he or she has not, since this poem was accused by this same commenter of not even relating to the photograph for which it was written. Their utter lack of investigation and thought leads me to believe that they failed to notice the various layers developing in this piece or to really give it the time that it deserves. But, ah, such are people on PC much of the time.
 — Inuki

Your linebreaks are pretty predictable.

Magnificent poem though.
 — eyesaque

"the waters ... dried out"
???
ive heard of dry ice but not dry water
 — unknown

Water may refer to H20 or it may refer to a body of water, such as a lake or ocean. Go look up the definition of "water", you'll see it is not limited to a single one.

According to the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, water may be defined as

6. waters,
a. flowing water, or water moving in waves: The river's mighty waters.
b. the sea or seas bordering a particular country or continent or located in a particular part of the world: We left San Diego and sailed south for Mexican waters.

When a lake or other body of water dries out, the fluid evaporates.
I'm not sure how much more obvious I need to make this. I am surprised you did not already understand, or perhaps you are being facetious.
 — Inuki

this is fun, and laid down by someone who's got extra words and needs a place to write them. some of the rhythm gets fucked of course -- as it must hear in "CNN Critical" in order to "tell this in english". this is just tremendous fun to read though. it's kind of an ars poetica, but of a poetry out of Nabokov by Trakl and George. a lot of fun to read. nice to be reminded of this kind of writing. i think i maybe burnt all mine like this long ago, out of a sense that i'd not been in control of the wording -- that i'd just tried to sound "clever". "clever" is ok, now, and maybe i shouldn't have... maybe it would have made me feel more like... well, "normal".

probably not.

good read.
 — joey

I LOVE this!  I love the connectedness of it, how you wrote one entire suite under the roof of one poem.  Just beautiful!  Having read some of the other reader's critiques, I can see how you could write this in 11 separate pieces, but if you did that, it would be disjointed and random.  This is just right in my opinion.  A couple of minor spelling issues though, if you will:  L128 artifacts has no "e" and L309 I believe the plural of roof is "rooves."  I could be wrong and mine could be regional (New England.)  Otherwise, magnificent work of art to have read today from work.  Thank you and keep up the awesome writing.  My favorite part is Part III:  Put on Your Favorite Outfit and Turn Your Fans on Full Blast."  Peace!  :-)
 — starr

Oops.  Sorry...I mean L307, not L309.  :-)
 — starr

p.s.  Congratulations on your #1 Top Rated poem.  :-)
 — starr

bombastic & verbose for such a dull point.
 — unknown

Love it. I loved especially your references to nature and the way you have made the letters on lines 246-254 look windswept. 10/10, definitely!
 — Linnac

effigy aflame.....
indeed- this is a banquet of words beautifully arranged and orchestrated
as a flowing work of art.
 — Liliana

say what you mean...mean what you say......
if such were the case- am afraid even shakespeare should be bitch slapped.
very rich work!
 — unknown

Thanks to those above who enjoyed this thus far.

As for Mor, you should know I don't treat anything you say with the tiniest speck of worth. If I did you'd probably have me writing bagpipe medleys or some similar drivel. Speaking of which, I'm surprised you rose from your grave to try to make an ass of yourself yet again. Pity I could care less. Go back to haunting the moors.
 — Inuki

Aye! Inuki man, an explanation for giraffe soup would be great. Thanks!
 — unknown

Thanks for taking us" there." Through almost every poem (segment) I'd read most of the way, wondering where it's going to the point of becoming very dull, when you'd redeem yourself with a fantastic line or phrase. Good work.
 — Seditswing

This is amazing..a really good read..
 — brother_sun

happy valintines day inku.....
 — brother_sun

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