Night Flight among the Pleiades

Antigone’s Vow – (c) Terry S. Amstutz

Sheet sails for rusted dreams:
Known dead walk among
cars submerged in muddy streams.
We’re lost in an unknown town;

sign clocks stopped on the banks
where old checks lie uncashed.
Vizored skulls rest in cages;
lead lined safes, their locks bashed,

stand open, boxes now empty.
Courthouse, its Greek pillars
overgrown with grey ivy–
gavels dropped, silent forever,

rooted lost causes remain.
Full moving truck sways,
cardboard boxes pave
long abandoned roadways.

Purses in the gutters
lipsticks clatter on tin cans
characters chucked in clutter;
pickups drip tears in oil pans.

Steam trains whistle fears
that haunt traveling children
bound for a land of no years,
a place called Apollonian.

As they careen the rails
they hear outlandish tales
of an outrageous place where
bears and dogs wear no fur,

cats go about on stilts.
All the window panes are cracked;
fences sunk in sand drifts
obscure any trace of tracks.

Then the earth seems draped
in tinted pastel clouds,
obscuring all hard shapes.
As faces emerge from fog,

familiar masks rearranged,
now answer to older names.
Whispers blown on an empty range
ask if things will ever be the same.

The answer’s sung in chorus
as the children harmonize:
“we’re changing places
in fearful changing times”.

I arrive in now and you’re
distant, vague, a memory.
That place, I’m almost sure
resides a blinking star away.

Title from this quote by the Greek poet Hesiod:

“And if longing seizes you for sailing the stormy seas,
when the Pleiades flee mighty Orion
and plunge into the misty deep

and all the gusty winds are raging,
then do not keep your ship on the wine-dark sea.”

© Gay Reiser Cannon * November 26, 2012* All Rights Reserved
Meant to have been written for Claudia’s Poetics on 11/17/2012
Posted for #openlinknight on 11/27/2012 “better late, etc.”

26 thoughts on “Night Flight among the Pleiades

  1. oh heck gay…this gave me shivers…esp. the children on the train, not really knowing what expects them… a rather surreal feel to this, yet had to think of some events in history as well..

  2. Purses in the gutters
    lipsticks clatter on tin cans…its these little details that really bring this to life….feeling post apocalyptic as i read it….so desolate….familiar masks rearranged,
    now answer to older names…great lines…surreal…and i wonder if it is closer than that distant star.

  3. There’s such an atmosphere here…not of gloom per se, but of a waiting, a consciousness almost alien, lacking in humanity until the children come in later, but even still,, it’s eerie. Thoughtful images here, Gay.

  4. It does feel like we’re changing places in fearful changing times… This really resonated with me as a testament to the state of our country…. Our world. Love the Orion quote….my favorite constellation! Really well done!

  5. Gay, this is unsettling, especially the part about the children. Excellently written piece. I had two horrible nightmares last night, and I wonder where they came from, because everything is quite normal in my life.


  6. Very dreamlike, a trance-y sort of feel to the progression, the logic of illogic that the dream world endows us with, where everything makes sense simply because it is. I love the language, which crackles and whispers, sings and slings–and a wonderful quote to embrace with it.

  7. Eerie but beautiful, mythical and haunting …a transition from past history to some unknown destination making more history…the children giving it strange I read it…will they take advantage of the window opening..knowing it wil close on…what…more stilted cats? Memorable write, Gay!

  8. I very much like the ending phrase ‘ that place, I’m almost sure resides a blinking star away’…for who knows how much time really between events of the stars?

  9. In this dream I was on a journey with my deceased husband but the dream held only images – ghost town images and the dream morphed into a moving dream – we were in a truck, feeling pleasant being together, but sad that we were moving through emptiness and loss, destruction and ruin. When I awoke I felt I’d lost him again. I hurriedly made notes because the images were vivid; I remembered the photo from Claudia’s prompt the night before and knew I would use it with this. One of the images in the dream was dust covered sheets hung on lines. Although when I looked at this photo, I realized they actually looked more like sails. Still looking for a title, sails led me to think about the Pleiades whose name derives from sails. I found this quote and thought it was apt – as these beautiful women, the children of Atlas, were lifted out of life and placed in the sky (which he was holding up) so he could know they were all right. They had been constantly pursued by Orion. Their loss created heartbreak and loss for their loved ones; making a tie to the children on the railroad part of the poem. Their children would be sent on journeys for others to care for them; so the title seemed (at the time) to make all the images work. Now I’m not so sure – it is a bit obscure.

  10. Vizored skulls rest in cages; for this line alone, i am glad i called in (late as i am).
    the modern mystic hung on a classic frame: bears and dogs wear no fur: something very
    striking in this line too gay . . . i really feel like you tapped into the zeitgeist and channelled
    something chilling – by connecting the obscure or the uncanny to the objective
    you have produced something ‘real’ in a poetic sense (imho).

    thanks gay 🙂

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