angels standing-by

A candle salve for sorrows
intense ashen shadows of
occult observance
  lukewarm toys
    lilac musk
I have threaded pearls from tissue
pale and pink, beaded drops of
coughing slime
  mopped oceans
    stigmata cups
Powder-white, this Yiddish clown
with painted mirth, mouths
sanguine sonnets
  fetish as fable
    clockworked metre
There’s only a soft dim accuracy
poems parch and sounds scuttle from
undipped nibs
  tardy thought trails
     chequered lexicons
In undertones physicians intone
they say the sputtering candle is
solitude’s wish
  stellar fortunes
    angels standing-by

Epilogue:
My leavings all a fevered paper cache
red inked, crushed and bruised. I’m hoist from
an unsung grave
  backlogged and bound
    about face to readers.


Notes: Samuel B. Greenberg (1893-1917) – Jewish poet & painter – unpublished in his lifetime, dead from tuberculosis by the age of 23, plagiarised by Hart Crane, left more than six hundred scribbled writings. See Poems from the Greenberg Manuscripts: Ed James Laughlin First Published 1939 New edition with additional poems edited by Garrett Caples 2019

My poetry prompt was to select FIVE from the 'duologue phrases' of Greenberg's 'The pale Impromptu' - I chose candle salve; pearls from tissue; painted mirth; dim accuracy; solitude's wish; for Poetics: The charms of Samuel Greenberg

36 Comments on “angels standing-by

  1. The opening line/image is so arresting, Laura 💝 I love the poignancy with which this poem is penned!

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  2. Marvellous piece Laura. The tension in these charmed pairings – it feels like the language is being pulled and stretched – ‘mopped oceans / stigmata cups’ – ‘fetish as fable’ – nothing is certain but that it will be undermined – and then every so often there’s a beauty I can hang on to – ‘I have threaded pearls from tissue’. As Björn says, a fine elegy to this poet.

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    • spot on Peter! – I feel it’s the tension between Greenberg’s ‘charms’ that gives impact to the conversational pairing. Something i tried to emulate so thank you for that

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  3. This is a stunning piece, Laura! I like the reference to Greenberg’s TB in the lines:
    ‘I have threaded pearls from tissue
    pale and pink, beaded drops of
    coughing slime’
    and the ‘fevered paper cache / red inked, crushed and bruised’,
    as well as the lines about writing:
    ‘poems parch and sounds scuttle from
    undipped nibs
    tardy thought trails
    chequered lexicons’.

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  4. I liked the poignancy of the blood-smeared tissue, that produced such pearls. And the assonance, alliteration, dissonance making a chain of sounds.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Skillful telling of this young man’s dying and death. These lines jumped out with sorrow:
    “poems parch and sounds scuttle from
    undipped nibs”

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  6. WOW. Such poignant and beautifully startling imagery in this piece. I especially loved these lines:

    “A candle salve for sorrows
    intense ashen shadows of
    occult observance
    lukewarm toys
    lilac musk”

    So dark and sad, and it’s like a threnody. Beautiful work!

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  7. incredibly masterful to weave the poets own words to paint his brief life all so poignantly … really appreciated your added charms and I’m sure he would too!

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  8. Very impressive, and a perfect illustration for your prompt. I took the cue from you and endeavored to emulate Greenberg’s spirit and style. In many ways, I’m happy to see that our research and conclusions were similar. I strongly felt a connection to Greenberg as I wrote my five charm stanzas. Your poem has the line breaks and surreal qualities from Greenberg, yet your own perceptions were never compromised; lovely and striking.

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  9. kaykuala
    they say the sputtering candle is
    solitude’s wish stellar fortunes
    angels standing-by

    Love the idea of detailing some trying moments prior to success while under constant divine protection. Great storyline Laura!

    Hank

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  10. You captured the form of Greenberg very well. Your images are wonderful…
    scuttle from undipped nibs

    In undertones physicians intone
    they say the sputtering candle is
    solitude’s wish
    stellar fortunes
    angels standing-by

    Wow! Seems that is what is said so often at the end of life

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  11. I love the way you’ve captured Greenberg’s style and made it your own: captivating!

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  12. “solitude’s wish
    stellar fortunes
    angels standing-by”–a world in those three lines. So much richness in the imagery. (K)

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  13. So good Laura 🙂 My favourite part
    “poems parch and sounds scuttle from
    undipped nibs
    tardy thought trails
    chequered lexicons”

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