Monday, September 19, 2011

The Last Enchanteur

  

The Snake Charmer, Henri Rousseau, 1907



Gather round and hear my tale of paper-cut leaves

and sticky tape, punch out birds and string grass dipped in glue

and painted tempura green.



Come children and listen to the whistle of the man-dog-gorilla,

on his hind legs, cloaked with skin of others and his own.



His splayed toes grip the bank and the pipe,

his chant slinks undulating to the moon, picking up wayfarers,

footless beasts with ears all belly and sound like lunar rings.



His familiar, if he has one, waits again, keeping erect,

apart, listening for the songs’ end:

the transfiguration of serpents to leaves to trees to sound

that flies and grows wings be-feathered,

tosses from limb to limb to fern and vine.



Keep close children:  do not stray: the enchantment lasts

only for now, here in this grove of tenderness

while beyond the water, where the moon lands coyly,

the serpents have no speech to respond to the call,

no souls to uplift, no laughter to charm the feathers from the trees.



Away, the leaves are not cut paper but poison and dead,

the grass nettles, the fangs bite.



The dog-man-gorilla is haunted and snared

and his song and all its lessons, dies in silence.




Thanks to Tess Kincaid for the image and the prompt.  More Magpie are here

29 comments:

lucychili said...

lovely image and expression

Friko said...

Snake charmer, that's you.
I'm not sure that I don't find this a little scary.

jabblog said...

This interpreted the prompt perfectly for me. He is a figure to fascinate and fear, to repel and to repulse. Scary . . .

izzy said...

Wow I really enjoyed this thanks!

christopher said...

Well done. I love working around the shapeshifting idea, have done a lot of it.

Coyote says he approves also.

Tess Kincaid said...

I lovelovelove "man-dog-gorilla"...

annell said...

Wow, you did a great job.

Laurie Kolp said...

Definitely alluring and persuasive...

Margaret said...

paper-cut leaves and punch out birds... but the are poisonous and dead, hiding fangs.

Yummy! This is so tempting at first, one tentatively wants to follow... but I guess that is the point.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Chilling stuff


Anna :o]

Sean Vessey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Vessey said...

What a frighting figure you painted with wonderful and terrorifying imagery. Well done.

Martin said...

Nice piece, with a fine opening stanza.

120 Socks said...

I think this could be my favourite-loved it!

thingy said...

Holy cow, the maggies are hot! This is fabulous.

Helen said...

Enchanting .......

Brian Miller said...

ha i like...a little enchanting a little dark...the man you describe stands in both worlds daring us tocome near...nicely done...

Lyn said...

You've got the shape shifting down pat...what a mystery..what to follow?? Children, beware!!

Trellissimo said...

It'll have the kiddies quaking in their boots...or beds...

Marylinn Kelly said...

Isabel, I feel you inhabited the painting and its images, its creatures, a story truly told from the inside. You pried open its secrets. What a hypnotic interpretation.

Doctor FTSE said...

This is excellent stuff. Do you really need the ambiguity of "if he has one" in the "His familiar" line?
It seems to me that the line and the image loses its force by your raising a doubt in the reader's mind.

Lolamouse said...

Definitely one of my favorites this week! I love the line "the transfiguration of serpents to leaves to trees to sound." I can hear a man with a Caribbean accent reading this for some reason!

Susie Clevenger said...

Good one...I can see this painting come to life in your words...a little scary, but I like it :)

Nicholas V. said...

Beautiful poem with a sense of mystery but also raw power, very evocative of the jungle - even though it be a paper cout-out one!
Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. The frangipanis are not out yet, but other fragrant flowers abound...

Kathy Bischoping said...

I just read your alarming bitten-by-cat story on your other blog and it is amazing to find that you can make poetry of biting fangs. Hope you're healing okay!

Reflections said...

His alluring charm and his paper cut leaves mask well the poisons left beneath, bitten and lost in other scenes.

The Cello Strings said...

very thoughtful wording.
enjoyed it.

Stafford Ray said...

Ooooo! How good was that!

Old Raven said...

I must say that your marvelous images had me going back and forth from poem to prompt picture. This really is a marvelous scene ... so very magical.