Sunday, August 12, 2012

Magpie Tales: The shell of life

image by Francesca Woodman (via Magpie Tales)

on the deck, boards
worn smooth by footfalls, ants
clean a beetle of it's meat,
leaving only a shell

bees buzz flowers, by the driveway
    the hum of their wings a lullaby
    the hum of their wings an aria,
    a dirge

a squirrel scampers up a tree,
chik, chik, chik---stops
& turns its head to look

birds flash their colors, gypsy
moth, inch worm, spider silk,
fly-i in barefeet, i in bAREfeet

my cat licks itself

the shell is empty, life
remains, life
remains

inspired by the image by Francesca Woodman @ Magpie Tales

84 comments:

Mary said...

One

Mary said...

I love the details if natural life that you included to bring this poem to life......images that the reader can see and hear. The ending is somewhat downbeat with the shell being empty but life still remaining. This is true for more than a few.

Leovi said...

Intelligent and interesting poem, yes, life itself.

Marie Nicole said...

Yes. The beauty of life is how it reamins. Will always remain no matter how empty the shells become.

Cat or Dog said...

best so far for me, this series

Brian Miller said...

mary, i think like many i found the image disturbing---which is not a bad thing...and then in reading her life to find out she was a social worker for years, makes me wonder at the statement the repeated shells and then the nude, another shell...and our concern with that...and is that where life really is?

Jinksy said...

But we are all merely shells, wouldn't you say? I like your encapsulated moment in time, which also had a kind of shell of its own...

She Writes said...

Hah! Does life remain when the shell is empty? It the question begging to be answered when death is full.

Daydreamertoo said...

Life remains...life... And on it always goes (we hope)
Some lovely lines all through this and, even when the shell may be empty, it can still be held to someone as a thing of beauty then, in its own right.

flipside records said...

This is awesome, Brian. Love the "ARE" ("OUR") inside "barefeet."

My favorite part is "birds flash their colors, gypsy moth, inch worm, spider silk" ... but from that spot on to the end is especially good.

Susan said...

I am so impressed with the absence of this total image in your poem! Instead we have ants, bees, squirrels, birds, moths, spider, fly, cat--a backyard full of life that goes on, just goes on. If there was a crime, there are no witnesses, not even the barefoot "I".

Claudia said...

somehow i read this more the way that the shell is just a shell and life doesn't really have something to do with it..more like breaking free.. love all the touches of nature..the cat licking itself and being barefoot made me think of how my dog always licked my feet..and i miss this..ha..smiles

Tess Kincaid said...

Beautiful song of life...I like this a lot...I think Whitman would too...

Laurie Kolp said...

Clever interpretation of the image, Brian... such vivid images of nature. I love it.

rel said...

We all have a roll to fill; and we do it by design not against.
Nice break down Brian.
rel

Adura Ojo said...

Love the images of nature, Brian. And yes, life remains:)

Kay said...

love the imagery here...and the beating wings as an aria....i hear it everyday....brilliant...x

Monkey Man said...

Miller, your words come alive, making me wish I was the squirel stopping to look, for just a moment :)

Linda said...

The sounds and images of a quiet morning? in the summer... every nuance is noticed..... you know you are at rest.... peaceful pondering. Thank you for sharing, Brian. =D

Gail said...

Beautifully descriptive...you made the picture go away. I saw the life, the death, the wonder in your words.

Lyn said...

You came up with an aria, I had an opera...hmmm...
What a lovely, lazy afternoon..so many beings involved....

christopher said...

A journey to the edge of things. Early morning on the back porch but actually I think of a dock leading into a lake and you(me) with a cat companion pretending self absorption all the while knowing precisely where everything is.

Daniel said...

Cool how the photo matches up with this one! Neat.

LadyCat said...

So much life in nature pictured here. And there is still life in the empty shell. I can hear the ocean...full of life.

lifeisaroadtrip said...

I'm starting to like the porch on which you sit!

izzy said...

Of course shells get cleaned to the
bare walls- ants and beetles very vivid- being encased. Good image thanks.

Who Is Afraid Of Miss Lovett? No, Mrs.Lovett... said...

Hi! Brian...
Tks, for sharing the image by Francesca Woodman (via Magpie Tales)
...and your [very] descriptive, poetic words leading to...
"the shell is empty, life
remains, life
remains..."

deedee :)

DJan said...

That is some image. I like the imagery in the poem, which must have been inspired by that strange image.

manicddaily said...

'Well, you've done a very good job with this. I thought of something kind of funny, which I may do, but I don't really like the image so much--a bit posed - but you've taken it to a much more interesting place for me. (As you always do.) Thanks. Hope all is going well. k.

hedgewitch said...

Totally creeped out image--glad you wrote something equally arid and creepy, yet somehow managed to tie it all into life...ugh. I also like the eerily busy and somehow, life-giving as well as consuming, bug bits.

Eva Gallant said...

Hmmm---never thought about the fact that cats do everything barefooted!

Liza said...

In just skimming the comments, a few things popped out at me. I find the image non-provoking. The nude is simply stripping us down to the most basic and primal state, as the shell she is holding. The spirit is the life the enters and exits each shell, as are the insects, the cat, the bees are the life that continues as one shell is emptied. Great writing as always! Bravo!

robkistner said...

True transcendence is the shedding of the shell -- but seldom attained...

enjoyed this Brian...

Pat Hatt said...

haha nice little addition
With your admission
That your cat licks itself
Some can be a shell on ones self
The layers run deep
And sometimes out they creep

Lord Thomas of Wellington said...

Nice well written and thought out poem Brian. You are always so faithful to come to my blog and give an encouraging word.

Kathy's Klothesline said...

The picture you paint in words is a little melancholy .... or maybe it is just me today feeling empty. Like a shell.

Quotes,Photos and a little Poetry said...

bees buzz flowers, by the driveway
the hum of their wings a lullaby
the hum of their wings an aria,
a dirge" I like this bit and the last part can be so true at times. Like the nature of your poem today. Hope all is well:)

Heaven said...

I like the details of the animals, the shell empty, yet life hums and buzz all around ~

awakenedwords said...

yes, it is going to remain, there all around us. we can choose to be empty, or take that around us to fill us up

Mark

Heather said...

yes, life continues even for those with empty shells....
hope you had a great weekend, too! all good here, just had the girls to myself for the long weekend, so just getting some down time, now!

Gloria said...

When I saw the image.I find curious and when I see the shell Really I dont think is empty; is curious I think in life and the shell like a baby. Is crazy??
I dont know but love you write!

sonny said...

au contraire ....this is the marrow of life brian....what makes it full...almost bursting at seams....

i adore the detailing....

adan said...

i can really see how the poem fits the image, and am glad you found the thread that, at least for me, left me with a positive feel for both the words and the picture

thank you much brian ;-)

Helen said...

In every empty shell lurks a speck of DNA (I hope.) Nice work, Brian.

sheila said...

what a photo! Woodman was something else - a bit frightening to me...to think of what inspired her photography (do a google image search on her work.)

The poem, however, is lovely...I think we all feel a bit naked, vulnerable in life at times...unlike the other animals in nature. damn ego! (smiles)

Mama Zen said...

I can't imagine a better take on that seriously creepy picture!

Annmarie Pipa said...

can't discern if this is a pro life poem or not.

Dana Dampier said...

I like the description of life... the animals and how they are going about their day doing what they know best.

Fred Rutherford said...

very cool. Really like the circle of life type notion, reminds me of some nature videos, where they show the insects going to work on something, picking that beetle clean, very strong image, the kind that sinks in and sticks with you. The transition from fly-I vey nice touch. Excellent write. Thanks

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

Well done. Perfect companion poem to that image.

kaykuala said...

A shell of a time
They know what they're doing
Animals all prime
Just keep on looking
Nice write, Brian

Hank

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

like a song.

the walking man said...

It is an interesting chrysalis image and different take on it with the days emerging life.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

Interesting spin on that odd photo!

California Girl said...

One thing is for sure, YOUR shell is not empty! :)

Kutamun said...

"nature, red in tooth and claw" , thanks Brian

Ravem said...

Young man ... how are you doing? I saw a pice back bait that made me believe that you had gotten a job. Then another that let me know that you are still looking. You are in my prayers and thoughts. I hope that your spirits are up. This is a good and pertinent write. Blessings, Liz

Raven said...

That was meant to be a piece a back bit ... I forget that Apple likes to correct my spelling and make it wrong. It is early yet. ;)

Lorraine said...

my cat, thismorning in my exhaustion that' s all i got I'll read it later

Magpie said...

If only on my parting, I will be able to leave something as beautiful as this shell behind.

Friko said...

yes, life remains.

Karen S. said...

Deliciously alive, the ants know, the beetle felt it, as we slide into the harbor of everyday, I am thankful that life does remain, as your words say it does! A jubilant message here!

flaubert said...

Brian, a beautiful journey with nature. I really enjoyed this.

Pamela

Sue said...

I could almost hear the crickets!

=)

ladyfi said...

So true and so lovely!

Helena said...

I sometimes get the feeling of an empty shell. Bet she easily hears the sea with that one!

This is a nice little walk through nature.÷

cloudia charters said...

and may life remain. . . remain. . .




Aloha from Honolulu
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Ginny Brannan said...

Great visuals and nice example of onomatopoeia with the squirrel sounds. I love the death giving way to life comparison, between the shell of a beetle and all the rest that surrounds you. Thanks!! This brightened my day! *smiles*

Susan Lindquist said...

I, too, like the images of life coming and going all around the poet ... we are but one bit of the total energy that chits, squirms, buzzes, and nibbles ... and it's the most basic of miracles.

ayala said...

Life remains..and life goes on. Good write, Brian .

Irish Gumbo said...

Great details in this, Brian. Very earthy. The line that killed me was "my cat licks itself." What a break! Loved it!

Fragrant Liar said...

I'm not sure I heard the ocean in that shell, but I did hear a paper bag ripping. And somehow boobs were revealed. But your words gave the image an interesting new life!

ed pilolla said...

i love that life is roaring and the cat finds time to lick itself. that line hanging like that makes the tone so funny. hope your summer is going great, brian.

Paige + Shauna said...

weel-written, cats - always have time to primp.

Alice Audrey said...

Life in general, but I'm thinking the meat might mind.

william said...

everyone views life differently, and you have a wide view man, very cool poem as always..

Kathe W. said...

you described my days here in the forested mountains right down to the cat!
and congrats on the job offer!

Little Nell said...

What a fantastic word picture you've painted. The details, sights, sounds and imagery, so powerful.

Margaret said...

the hum of their wings an aria,

The shell is empty.... life has left it. (like our bodies someday) ... and activity and life and time goes on.

susan m hinckley said...

I thought this was beautiful imagery and complemented the image perfectly...lovely. As always, actually.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful,I guess you saw all this in the image (and what a stunning image that is;), but also must have gotten inspired when standing outside on your deck in bare feet and looking at nature.;))
xoxo

Syd said...

I want to be more than just a shell. Life is pretty bad if one is a shell, unless you are a hermit crab or mollusk.

poeticlicensee said...

Yes, we are alive to appreciate these moments in nature. You describe them with great expertise. I continue to read your blog but not always commenting, just so you know. Blogger.com doesn't provide a "Like" button, as you know. Tee!Hee!...

Sue said...

On a more serious note, and after briefly attempting to write a mag myself this week (then giving up because this artwork was so unsettling that I could only seem to go to a darker place with it than I wanted to visit just now), I read your poem again and appreciated your take on the image on a whole new level, as it sort of manages to bring things back for me.

It's interesting to learn that she was a social worker; her piece makes more sense to me now. And troubles me considerably less.

=)

=)