The Tarnished Mirror

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I obliquely glimpsed you
On the other side
Of the tarnished mirror.

You lay coiled
Unmoving, focused
On something unseen.

Your glaciated skin
Gleamed in the half-light
I was seized by longings
Both supple and violent
To make your flesh
Flower with bruises
And to reach the nexus
Where all sensations
Are interchangeable
Until I could finally
Assuage all the terrors
Of fulfilled desires

I obliquely glimpsed you
On the other side
Of the tarnished mirror.

You lay coiled
Unmoving, focused
On something unseen.

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67 thoughts on “The Tarnished Mirror

  1. “The Tarnished Mirror” is quite a complex poem, as the condition of the “you” is rather questionable, creating an eerie and surreal atmosphere,

    “You lay coiled
    Unmoving, focused
    On something unseen.”

    The narrator describes the longings and desires in both a stunning and unsettling fashion. This is because we don’t truly know the full extent of the relationship between the two, or if indeed there is a relationship. My hope is that you don’t cringe when I say, I feel this work has some tones of Browning. My compliments to you, this is a very impressive poem. The photo by Ubac is perfect. Wishing you well. ~ Mia

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like it. “Longings both supple and violent.” You’ve nailed that masculine (not that only men have these desires) passion that rages with as much ferocity as it does care. Well done, my friend. I like the repeated stanzas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Vic glad you enjoyed. This is an early poem, a bit more controlled and clinical compared to recent efforts, with a greater economy. Hopefully both my early poems and more recent ones are both good in different ways, I worry a lot about this question.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. They are both good- you are right about that. Don’t worry so much, Mr. Cake. 🙂 Your poems say something and make me feel something and those are both good things.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. a cosmic unit of time…i need to brush up on them…the best source is a brilliant Strindbergian short story by the danish writer Peter Hoeg (he has done lots of books that have turned into movies) . I will look at it and give you the lowdown.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Not stop them just keep them in line and serving a purpose, otherwise it will be like Swift’s A Tale of the tub and the section called a digression on a digression on the subject of digression. See I am doing again, now I am thinking of Swift.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Jonathon Swift… Anglo Irish writer, he wrote Gullivers Travels…and A Modest Proposal. Swift was Surrealist in malice. I love Swift, he was a misanthrope and misogynist who strangely enough actually loved people and women. He charitably gave money to fund a mental hospital in Dublin which when he went mad he lived in towards the end of his life. His A Modest Proposal is the greatest piece of sustained irony in all of literature. You are not stupid Vic, I have just read too much.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Did you do a post about that? A Modest Proposal? Ok, I know Gullivers Travels but not because I read it. I know I’m not stupid, but I don’t read a ton. I’m ok with being book stupid. I don’t think I need to know everything. ☺️

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Love this. I’m left with an enjoyable ambiguity around the ‘tarnished mirror’. A tangible literal mirror reflecting glimpses of a troubled relationship between two people (or even just one) in an unsettling setting? Or a metaphor for the shifting perspectives we have of others in our lives when something triggers darker feelings towards them? Or neither or both? Great stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much. It is quite a chilly poem, I like that this provokes feeling of ambiguity in yourself as I don’t think a writer can ask for more. Personally I subscribe to the theory that readers are king, writers aren’t all that sure as to what their outpourings mean anymore than the reader, so I am honoured that you have many conflicting theories. Sorry for the long winded reply, thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No more long-winded than my comment! 😀 It’s definitely a chilly poem, quite unsettling- in a good way. I definitely agree that readers give poems a life of their own, I have had friends read my stuff and get something out of them that I didn’t know I even intended!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Not as long winded as my original comment! 😀 it’s a very unsettling poem-in a good way. I agree readers bring new life to poems, friends have found things in mine I wasn’t aware I intended. But I think good poets start out with an intention to convey complexity in a piece.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you C M. You know I have a thing for mirrors, partly narcissistic and partly mystical (and Alice related). I love the line in St Paul about through a glass darkly. As to your previous question (you know which one), I will send you a link that will clarify.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Henry Green-Cecil Beaton
      Henry Green remains the most elusive and neglected of modernist writers, even though he was among the top rank of prose …
      Party Going with Henry: Part One
      terry southern,trains,living,party going,blindness,franz kafka,samuel beckett,christopher isherwood,henry green,modernism,train stations
      https://cakeordeathsite.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/party-going-with-henry-part-one/
      In fairness though i do resemblance Henry Green

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “To make your flesh
    flower with bruises”

    {Fans face} Phew. So much I love about this…the theme, the structure, the desire, the multiple layers. For one…you glimpsed the other side of the mirror. One could argue the narrator is seeing themselves, or maybe the person they want to be, or someone else perhaps, of course. And then the cold truth that that person is coiled and unresponsive to the viewer. Very complex, Cake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Em, you know how much I love mirrors. I think the truth can only ever be glimpsed in a mirror, and it is usually a cold, hard truth. Of course nobody likes their illusions shattered so the reaction is usually cold and hard. Like a mirror. This doesn’t make sense.

      Like

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