Cinder-Clod Neverwhere

Haughtiest is a rather nasty word;
scornful pride that poisons the soul.

Little by little,
self-importance drives sense frantic,
places it over breathing volcanoes,
locks it in a garret that reaches for the clouds
and sits on a rotting parquet deck.

The latter falls apart over pressure;
plunging the high and mighty
into transmuting magma that leaves the heart scolded,
and reduces it to a Cinder-clod,
a wretched thing.

Garbs with rich ruffles will matter not;
cloaks, even if red and mysterious,
won’t fly to a place of eternal glee.
No one will think
a thing is amiss.

Whiskers will twitch.
Sharp eyes will glow in the night,
rapt in events most cannot scrutinize;
for the gift of sense was bestowed upon all
neverwhere.

Wondering what this is all about? Well, I read Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane for my Artful Readers Club November entry. In my review, which you can find HERE, I explained that the book was about memories, childhood monsters, growth... The bit of digital art above shows the face of the monster of my teenage years. The poem is the epitaph on its gravestone.  

You see, my Wicked Luvs, when I started reading in English, I highlighted words and phrases whose meanings I didn’t know. Yep, when I was a teen I had no idea what the word “whiskers” meant. Ha! It’s hilarious now. Back then… not so much; there were many tears, curses and dictionaries.

Funny, isn’t it? Our monsters, once vanquished, turn into things we can laugh about and be proud of.

***
Shared with Imaginary Garden with Real Toads (July 7, 2014)

30 comments:

  1. For someone whose first language is not English, you have a remarkable command of it. It takes a lot to impress me when it comes to words and phrases, so consider me impressed, as I am every month. I was glad you explained the gist of the art, because it all made sense after that.

    The old man in your story has me intrigued. Now I want to know more about him and the woman/child/crone who was so influential in the tale. Beautiful review and super art, too.

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    1. Well, thank you, my lady. I love words in all languages--I'm in love with stories. I think the fact that I read so much, in my native language while growing up, helped the transition to another. It was like falling in love all over again and it wasn't only okay to do so, but celebrated ;-D

      The Neil Gaiman story is wonderful. The man is not truly old, just in his 40s. But his memories take him to a place far back in his childhood that the difference in age, perhaps, makes him sound ancient.

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  2. I responded to your review so here I will respond to your art. I really like it especially because I know the story and thoughts behind it. What a great way to learn another language!

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    1. Everything is easier to learn when we make the process an enjoyable thing, methinks ;-)

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  3. That is a pretty awesome thing to do with notes (I am going to consider highlights of words you don't know to be notes...notes about what you intend to learn) from when you were a teen. I mostly just skip over words I don't know when I read, which happens more than I'd maybe like to admit since I have a habit of reading authors whose vocabs seem to be bigger than mine.

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    1. I've gone from highlighting words to highlighting philosophical views, plot trends, story line inconsistencies and things of the sort when I read. It makes the process interesting.

      I think the vocabulary of most people have things that are foreign to us. And I'm not just talking about language itself, but word usage, you know? There are always things to learn from someone else's storytelling...

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  4. Your book review has left me wanting to find out more! A book for me, I think. Your artwork is so honest and pulls no punches. You have come a long way and most certainly can be proud of your achievements.

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    1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a wonderful novel. I love the way it takes world myth and the beliefs of a child and turns them into something fantastically believable.

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  5. "Pagan Culture" has been included in the Sites To See for this week. Be assured that I hope this helps point many new visitors in your direction.

    http://asthecrackerheadcrumbles.blogspot.com/2013/11/sites-to-see_29.html

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  6. It shows our maturity when we can laugh at what we once were afraid or ignorant of.

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    1. Then I shall cackle... I'm getting a few silver hairs, you know ;-D

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  7. You're clever to turn those childhood worry-words into poetry. It proves your point about knowledge allowing you to take charge and best the words that once bested you. Great post! :-)

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    1. "worry-words," I like that ;-) The biggest issue was not being able to communicate in English as well as I could in Spanish. It was infuriating. Having to limit one's answers because one doesn't know the shape of the words is quite horrible, particularly for she who loves words.

      Yep, I'm pretty sure I just talked about myself in the third person LOL

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  8. You put many of us to shame, for whom English is our first (and for many ONLY) language,
    I love your enthusiasm fo words and for learning. If only we could capture that and introduce it to our children before they begin school!

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    1. I'm sure your babes will find their way to books and to a healthy appetite for learning. With a mom like you, they will be more than inspired to do so.

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  9. You speak better English than me! LOL! Maybe I should buy a dictionary ;o) It shows how much you wanted to learn!!!

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    1. Old dictionaries are sexy. Trust me ;-)

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  10. You are an amazing human being, Ms Magaly. Your vocabulary is so vast and your prose so intoxicating that until you mention it, I completely forget that English is not your first language. I bow to you, my inspiration. Mina

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    1. Today (or was it yesterday?), I was using the words "amazing" and "inspiration" while thinking of you. My shoulder and hip have been naughty lately, so I reminded them of my amazing Mina who is an inspiration. If you can do, so can I ;-)

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  11. I enjoyed your poem, Magaly. It is very open-ended and invites several possible interpretations.

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    1. I'm very glad. For I, too, enjoy works that allow for different ways of thinking.

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  12. This is wonderful to read and I really enjoyed the digital art and your comments after. I love the word "neverwhere".

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    1. Neil Gaiman does some wonderful things with words... His work always inspire me.

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  13. Funny how 'whiskers' jumped out at me, then I read your endnotes. And yes, monsters turned into amusements is a good transformation ~

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  14. Experience does change the faces (and the emotions evoked by) our monsters. And it's sweet. ;-)

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  15. I believe our wounds are the wombs of what we make of them; striving to attain a second language must be like molting new wings, a difficult faltering process fraught with all manner of errors. Happy to read the brilliant moth you're becoming in your writes. I do think we keep going back to our childhood memories, pouring them anew, coming up with new translations of self. Vulnerability can be over-remedied with self-importance; humility comes I think when we realize that no one's really getting this right.

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    1. I love that first line, "our wounds are the wombs of what we make of them." I believe that with all my heart!

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  16. My son is a Neil Gaiman fan and I have a few books by my bedside to read. Brava on mastering English and this poem was extra enjoyable reading it a second time after your explanation. :)

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    1. I hope you enjoy the readings. Neil Gaiman's mind is such a treasure chest!

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