Thursday, April 28, 2011

L'homme et Le Mort

The young man waits, windows in his head.
In walks the woman wearing a yellow dress.
She smokes his mirrors and fills his veins;
she dances his floor and thrills him with danger.
She creates dark spaces within him.
Her essence marks him unique
He leaves sunshine following
her dress into the night.
When the last scrap
of her hem disappears into darkness,
all he sees are rope and shadows.
He's left to scream alone,
to claw his way back to daylight.

The old man sits in a darkened room
her face splatters his memory, pastels on mist
the memory of a yellow dress fills his mind
she dances through white columns
the day dazzles marble bright
buds burst heart green leaves
she's weaving through the glare
waving at him; he struggles to stand
to follow her once more
at last to reach the darkness.

by Gay Reiser Cannon

Published by Willow Tree Press 12-2011
In The Presence of Poets - Willow Tree Press 2011

 Reference sake: Le jeune homme et la mort


  1. The old man's memory is extremely intense, though what struck a chord with me first was "And when the last scrap / of her hem disappears into darkness, / then all he sees are rope and shadows." My goodness, such a depth of despair those lines reach. Beautiful writing!

  2. wonderful write. I love the transition of time between the two parts of this piece. The way the piece wrapped up, with old man finally reaching the darkness, was perfect.

  3. Brilliant work, Gay. Perfect the way the young man is lured into his interior depths by this figure (an anima, to me, though dark muse or La Bell Dame Sans Merci will also do), creating "dark spaces in him" that he didn't know existed til she boogied through ... He must be free of her, eventually, or be thoroughly lost to night (though I'd say it's literal adhesions which are deadly, never the literate ones). On the other end of life the intrigue works the other way, the bright conscious mind the youth built trying to be freed of the darkness become walls too fast for a dry mind, and thus walls become dark with time need to fall in order to find the brightness still dancing in darkness. Really loved this effort. - Brendan

  4. Fantastic sketch of an important part of life and relationships Gay! The chase is on and the departure from reality is so subtle and at last an old man can chase only as he:

    "sits in a darkened room
    faces splatter his memory, pastels on mist
    the memory of a yellow dress fills his mind..."

    Well, back to my darkened room now...I see a yellow dress, the hemline calling out, 'come watch me; follow me into the night...'

    So true and accurate...beautifully written Gay.

  5. I'm thrilled you guys liked it. When I write anything this fast and like it myself I am usually wrong. But I thought this was good going onto the screen. The allusions were somehow musical although I can't remember the trigger. I was listening to 70s rock and Black Velvet I think when I suddenly remembered the ballet and the piece followed from there.

  6. Wherever the imagery came from, Gay, it is an inspired piece. It flows with lyrical beauty and a subconscious truth: the beauty of these words are transcendent.

    Don't doubt yourself, Gay, when you write a piece, regardless how fast it happens. It's something usually deeper, truer and infinitely more honest than what we can produce when we are consciously cobbling words together.

    This poem satisfies something very deep and universal in this reader...and others I am sure.

    It's a mature poem in the best of sense.


    Lady Nyo

  7. I really enjoyed this poem. The imagery well laid out. I was continually drawn to the metaphors which are graciously used and well placed. Nice write.

  8. Thank you Lady Nyo. Your comments are always extremely meaningful to me. Your support and your informed view is appreciated.

    Emmett, I always enjoy your work. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I am very invested in this piece for reasons I can't well explain. Partly because it brings a lot of the things I am currently thinking about together in a really tight space.

  9. This is funny. Not the poem, but the comments. To me, this is CLEARLY about drugs, about that euphoria filling you up, carrying you along, and the paranoia and dread when it goes away. The second stanza follows up on the first, with that longing for the high that apparently, as far as I've read in biopics and interviews, never really goes away, but sits somewhere within you...

    Gay, since you asked for comments on this one, I think that you are a little bit heavy handed in terms of language here, especially when dealing with a, as it is, darker topic. I also thinks that bringing the narrative "camera" closer to the subject would have been good here, as the poem is quite distanced from the subjects I think..

  10. What a beautiful piece, and what interesting comments.

    I see a man that lost himself in his youth to a woman and then lost her. Now old and dying, he is finally going to her.

    Please, don't hesitate to tell me if I'm being too literal.

  11. sometimes i would love to get a glimpse into your head gay...excellent poem...loved the line..She smokes his mirrors and fills his veins...drug abuse..?

  12. Aw, Gay, I was indeed hoping to see a piece from you inspired by our desert images today, but regardless, returning here gave me a chance to see this piece I missed earlier in the week...a most beautiful creation, one that stokes a great deal of thought (as seen from your previous commenters!) Some see drugs, some see relationships...I am indeed curious to know what our beloved writer sees in her work? Either way, you leave us with potent images my friend...

  13. In the ballet when the girl in the yellow dress leaves, the young man puts his head in the noose she made and commits suicide. In my piece, he is haunted and does not commit suicide but can't help longing for death (the girl in the yellow dress) intermittently throughout his life and in old age, alone he again yearns for it and wants to follow it inevitably.