Showing posts from April, 2010
When Your Nest

When your nest
runneth over
and your child’s

broke a bone

tumbling down the slope

and the other child


in patience and
in sympathy
we don’t believe

in love;

we don’t believe,

we know.

Mark Twain

Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she laid an asteroid.

Alchemy and Metaphor

The American Heritage Dictionary defines a metaphor as:

“A figure of speech in which a word or phrase that ordinarily designates one thing is used to designate another, thus making an implicit comparison”

They give as an example Shakespeare’s “all the world’s a stage.” Clearly all the world is not a stage but Shakespeare had the line delivered from a stage and compared the people of the world to actors playing their parts.

It was more than a century before Shakespeare that the word metaphor came into English and it did so in a most appropriate document. The year was 1477 and the document something called The Ordinall of Alchimy by one Thomas Norton. This is actually a kind of poem about the secrets of alchemy and the reason that the subject of alchemy is so appropriate for the word metaphor is that writings on alchemy written by alchemists had always been as obscure as possible and used piles of metaphor in favour of straightforward explanations on how to turn lead into gold. The autho…

Milton on Trismegistus

...Or let my lamp at midnight hour
be seen in some high lonely tower
where I may oft outwatch the Bear
with Thrice-Great Hermes or unsphere
the spirit of Plato, to unfold
what worlds, or what vast regions hold
the immortal Mind that hath forsook
her mansion in this fleshy nook.

Wilbur on Trismegistus

O Egypt, Egypt—so the great lament
Of thrice-great Hermes went—
Nothing of thy religion shall remain
Save fables, which thy children shall disdain.

His grieving eye foresaw
The world’s bright fabric overthrown
Which married star to stone
And charged all things with awe.

And what, in that dismantled world, could be
More fabulous than he?
Had he existed? Was he but a name
Tacked on to forgeries which pressed the claim

Of every ancient quack—
That one could from a smoky cell
By talisman or spell
Coerce the Zodiac?

Still, still we summon him at midnight hour
To Milton’s pensive tower,
And hear him tell again how, then and now,
Creation is a house of mirrors, how

Each herb that sips the dew
Dazzles the eye with many small
Reflections of the All—
Which, after all, is true.

Longfellow on Trismegistus

Thine, O priest of Egypt, lately
Found I in the vast,
Weed-encumbered sombre, stately,
Grave-yard of the Past;
And a presence moved before me
On that gloomy shore,
As a waft of wind, that o'er me
Breathed, and was no more.

J.V. Cunningham

For My Contemporaries

How time reverses
The proud in heart!
I now make verses
Who aimed at art.

But I sleep well.
Ambitious boys
Whose big lines swell
With spiritual noise,

Despise me not!
And be not queasy
To praise somewhat:
Verse is not easy.

But rage who will.
Time that procured me
Good sense and skill
Of madness cured me.

The Various Ways 'Oh My' Can be Said:

With dread,
with a head
full of something else

that can't be said,
with a sigh,
over mai
at a slice
of oversized

pumpkin pie,

on noticing
an open fly,
with a grin,
when contemplating
not enough,

or everythang,
with a pretty
southern twang,

outside, inside,

in feigned surprise,
while looking into

starry eyes,

on Sundays,
on ladder rungs,
on the slips

of Freudians,
on the tips

of foreign tongues,

and somehow

oh my

oh my

can fill the air
when underneath,

and barely there.

(first published in TNPR)



.via Inky Fool:

She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight.

(- The Little Sister by Raymond Chandler)

Synaethesia is either a mental condition whereby colours are perceived as smells, smells as sounds, sounds as tastes etc, or it is a rhetorical device whereby one sense is described in terms of another. If colours are harmonious, or a voice is silky, that is synaesthesia (or some other spelling).

It is a common enough device, except that there seem to be rules, or norms governing which senses can be coupled. Sight and sound are interchangeable. Quite aside from John Lennon's request to George Martin that the orchestration of Strawberry Fields should be "orange", colours can be loud or discordant while melodies can be bright and rumblings dark. Tone is even an ambiguous word that can be applied to either sense, and I thoroughly recommend Ernest Bloch's Sketches in Sepia. (I omit colours that are purely symbolic: blues music is no more blue than blue movies are)…

Patricia Wallace Jones



I used to suffer
bouts of knowing
the ordinary
was always growing

in my backyard.
Now I buffer
my bouts with trees.
Ordinary, yes,

but these afternoons,
how effortless
it seems to me
they do as they please.

(first published in The Glass Bead)



Watercolor on arches
There’s Nothing More

There’s nothing more
erotic than
one red
Chilean plum

slumbered in
the brown palm
of the curved
of the right


(first published in Poetry)

Socrates Cafe, April

This month we gathered to consider the question of Morality.

Moral relativism was invoked in many languages. As was absolutism. As were Fyodor, Nietzsche, Gandhi, Camus, Hitler, and various deities and prophets. Several confused morality with contemporary righteousness and bible thumping. Societal influences and instinctual impulses were poked and prodded. Morality and Ethics were compared and contrasted. Semantics and ideas were bent, blunted, blurred and collected.

I said, To speak of morality, one must speak of immorality -- and of both in their rhetorical extremes.

The concensus replied: There is no such thing as evil. Said one woman, there are evil acts, but there is no such thing as an evil person.

Said another:

What do you call a person who makes shoes ?

A shoemaker, she replied.

Ah, he said.


Perhaps in our collective and rational eschewing of religion and mythology, we have also eschewed philosophy, imagination, and wisdom. But certainly not morality.

Watercolor on Yupo


The Ampersand

The ampersand itself is thousands of years old but the name we use for it is only a couple hundred years old. It's a pictograph, or more accurately a logogram, and it’s so useful that Europeans have been addicted to it ever since it was invented.

It was invented by Marcus Tullius Tiro, who was born a slave but proved smart enough that Cicero freed him and hired him to keep track of speeches and things.

In Latin the way they said “and” was et. If you squish the two letters of et into a single character, what do you come up with? The ampersand: &.

Two, three and four hundred years ago this little squiggle was useful enough that children were taught it right along with their ABCs. At the end of the alphabet, it was usual during this period to have the ampersand as the last “letter” following the Z. So when kids were reciting their ABCs and they got to the end they didn’t stop at “w, x, y and z” instead they said “w, x, y, z and per-se and.” This is because for this symbol they were …
Patricia Wallace Jones
Coincidences are spiritual puns.

- Chesterton

Watercolor on Yupo

Be it ever so humble, ever so worn, ever so cluttered, there's no place like home.

The tune is not that meter

The tune is not that meter,
not that rhythm,
but a resultant
that arises between them.

- Frost

Post Modern

We Post Modern
Fear of vision.

Fear of wisdom.

Fear of foolish


Fear of witches

and magicians.

Fear of new

and ancient system.

Fear of crow,

and altercation.

Fear of slow


Reviewers and the Cliche'

Top Twenty Eye-Rollers Used in Book Reviews:

1. Gripping

2. Poignant

3. Compelling

4. Nuanced

5. Lyrical

6. Tour de force

7. Readable

8. Haunting

9. Deceptively simple

10. Rollicking

11. Fully realized

12. At once

13. Timely

14. ” X meets X meets X

15. Page-turner

16. Sweeping

17. That said

18. Riveting

19. Unflinching

20. Powerful

Best comment to the list:

In my house, a page-turner is a book I skimmed.

Patricia Wallace Jones
The word pen comes to us originally from a Latin word meaning feather.

Recent Literary Pleasures, Provocations and Gifts




aroo ...





The First Critic

Totem poem with egg

(click image once to enlarge)
Off Kilter, by Patrica Wallace Jones


pencil & ink

Totem Poem with Mushrooms, for Arturo

(click image once to enlarge)
Written on the Cynic's Headstone

So ?