Posted tagged ‘villanelle’

9/11 (Villanelle)

September 11, 2016

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9/11

The burning buildings woke me from a sleep
of what I thought important, nothing now.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street,

praying that my child was mine to keep,
dear god oh please dear god I whispered loud;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

Some stopped to stare, all of us to weep
as eyes replayed the towers’ brutal bow.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

North sky a startling blue, the south a heap
of man-wrought cloud; I pushed against the crowd;
the burning buildings woke me from a sleep.

I’d never complain again, never treat
with trivial despair–or so I vowed.
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

I’d change, give thanks—I saw them leap—
and begged for all the grace God would allow.
The burning buildings woke me from a sleep;
I ran hard down the smoking, crumbling street.

 

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This is an old poem (approximately 15 years old in fact).  Am posting in memoriam and gratitude too, for the grace that I was allowed that day.

Pic is slightly newer, also mine, al rights reserved. 

 

Poem in my October

October 27, 2014

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Poem in my October

The apple trees, they radiate green light,
though the day itself is grey and all else brown,
and green they still will shine as day turns night

if you stand below their boughs, your own eyes bright,
if slips of smiles, like leaves, spin darkness round,
the apple trees, they’ll radiate green light.

But if, like me, you hold your head skin-tight,
a fruit that is all pit, its flesh all stone,
then green will find you still, as day turns night,

unripened, offering only bark to bite,
rind-footed through the autumn fields that ground
the apple trees they radiate.  “Green light,”

says every fear we face–if we look right
at it–for when these leaves will fall, they’ll make no sound,
even though their green now shines as day turns night

and they swim wind’s sea like fish with all their might
heedless of how they’re hooked from stem to mouth–
the apple trees, they radiate green light,
a green that steels all shine as day turns night.

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Here’s a draft villanelle for Margaret Bednar’s Play It Again Sam prompt on With Real Toads, which recycles older prompts.  The specific prompt that inspired this poem was Kerry O’Connor’s wonderful essay on Dylan Thomas (and particularly on his poem “Poem in October.” )  Thomas would be 100 years old today. 

I’m not so sure about the last line, the entire last stanza–or the others either, come to think of it–but am facing a  jammed day so wanted to get this up before I lost track of Thomas’s birthday and all other poetic enterprises.   I also would frankly prefer the title “Poem in October,” but feel strange taking Thomas’s title!  (Though it is a bit generic) 

 

Weather or Not – Villanelles (Traveler’s Wedding Side by Side A Nap)

July 7, 2012

Monsoon Skirt

I am posting the villanelle below, an older one, for dVerse Poets Pub Poetics challenge, hosted by the wonderful Stu McPherson, to write a poem influenced by the weather.   To spice up this villanelle a bit, I have made a doublespeak audio recording of it,  pairing it with another villanelle called “The Nap (Post-Fight)” (whose text may be found here.)   I personally find the mixed audio more intriguing than reading the single villanelle bel0w–there is a really odd music to two villanelles together, that, as incomprehensible as the words are, kind of transcends the texts –at least my texts!

Traveler’s Wedding/Nap (ITunes)

Travelers’ Wedding – Bangkok

The monsoon sky grew slowly thick with grey
as sweat like traffic stalled the steaming city.
It didn’t feel much like the first of May,

not even in his shirt saved for the day,
nor in the Indian skirt she’d thought so pretty.
The monsoon sky grew slowly thick with grey

as they hurried to the bureau where they’d say
“I do”, or if required, some learned Thai ditty.
It didn’t feel much like the first of May;

still was, and, as they found, a holiday.
Closed office doors made clean clothes somehow gritty;
the monsoon sky grew slowly thick with grey.

“Tomorrow then,” they sighed, feigning dismay,
and then made jokes that almost passed for witty.
But it didn’t feel much like the first of May,

stained, like his shirt, with portent and delay
as sweat, like lifetimes, stalled throughout the city.
The monsoon sky grew slowly thick with grey;
it didn’t feel much like the first of May.

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Thanks for your patience with this new technique!  I definitely have a long way to go with it.  K.

Open Link – Another Villanelle – Things Past and Present –

December 27, 2011

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The Christmas season frequently brings up the ghosts of Christmases past. (Charles Dickens really hit on something there!)  Here’s a villanelle I am posting for dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night, which concerns that focus on the past.

As a preliminary note, I’d like to say that my mother’s mind keeps its objects in a very clear array.  (Seriously, Mom, “disarray” sounds more poetic!)   Also, the painting above, very poorly cropped in my photo, was made by one of my grandmothers.

My mother’s mind

My mother’s mind’s a disarray of lives
she tries to sort like bank statements or socks,
the memories of grandfathers, farms, old wives.

Land sold, cash lost–those tales as sharp as knives
that wound the dead–bringing anger that unlocks
my mother’s mind.  A disarray of lives

whose weave she’s sure will warp without her tithes,
her tributes to hard work (also hard knocks),
the memories of grandfathers, farms, old wives.

She rallies around their wits–ambition drives
her past more than her future-as time’s tick rocks
my mother’s mind, a disarray of lives.

Can’t bring them back; no, that’s not what she tries.
Simply to make them last, pry from pine box
those memories of grandfathers, farms, old wives–

substantiating them–so she too thrives.
Throat fills with tears she seeks, with fears she blocks–
my mother’s mind, a disarray of lives,
memories of grandfathers, farms, old wives.

(If you are interested in villanelles, check out my comic “Villain-elle” with elephants.  If you are interesting in checking out, then look up NOSE DIVE, my new comic novel, illustrated with Jonathan Segal.  A lot of fun!)

Expression of Emotion in Poetry (Muted) – Burned Soldier

December 8, 2011

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Victorio Ceretto-Slotto is hosting the dVerse Poets Pub “Meet the Bar” event today, and has posted an article about infusing poetry with emotion through use of particular detail and metaphor (among other things.)   She has very kindly included my poem “Far” in her article.  (I am also, at a later date, linking this poem to the Poetry Picnic.)

Here’s another older poem, a villanelle, that doesn’t really have the kind of particular detail Victoria writes of.  Still, I’m posting it because it deals, quite literally, with the muted  expression of emotion.  (My apologies that some readers may have seen this poem, or its companion villanelle.)

Burned Soldier (A Mask For Face)

He tried to smile but found that skin would balk;
a mask for face was not what he had planned.
Right action should give rise to right result,

saving the day as it called on God to halt
all burn and bite of bomb as if by wand;
he tried to smile but found that skin would balk.

When they talked of graft, he always thought of molt,
as if his flesh held feathers that could span
right action, then give rise to right result:

cheeks that were smooth but rough, but loose but taut—
it all had been so easy as a man.
He tried to smile but found that skin would balk.

Hate helped at times; to think it was their fault.
But how could “they” be numbered? Like grains of sand,
like actions that give rise to like result,

like eyes that fit in lids not white as salt.
This lead white face was not what he had planned.
He tried to smile but found that skin would balk;
right action should give rise to right result.

On a very different (i.e. humerous) note, check out my new silly teen novel, Nose Dive, by Karin Gustafson, illustrated (terrifically) by Jonathan Segal.   (When you’re there–take a look at Going on Somewhere, or 1 Mississippi.)  Sorry–but it’s that time of year.

An Egg is Still Not a Lightbulb (Crafting Poetry)

September 29, 2011

I have lately been following a terrific poet-inspiring blog called dVerse Poets Pub;  I’m a bit new to the pub, and in anticipation or what, last week,was a day to post “works-in-progress”, I posted, this morning, a draft poem  (Dolphin Dream).  But instead dVerse Poets Pub has requested poets to think  today about the craft of poetry!

The craft of poetry!  Thinking!  I don’t know which is more difficult for me.   Both take some measure of disciplined focus and wild abandon.  I do a lot of revision when I write;  at the same time, I rely a huge amount on unconscious leaps.   Increasingly, these leaps probably arise from synaptic gaps (or gaffes), as much as from inspiration.    I try to use these gaps as starting out places, and then, ideally, I go over and over them to iron out the rough edges.  Good to leave some rough edges though.  And, of course, to add music.

A form can help as it can supply some of the discipline and focus.  (As well as the music.)

And now, here’s a poem about it.

Villanelle to Wandering Brain

Sometimes my mind feels like it’s lost its way
and must make do with words that are in reach
as pink as dusk (not dawn), the half-light of the day,

when what it craves is crimson, noon in May,
the unscathed verb or complex forms of speech.
But sometimes my mind feels like it’s lost its way

and calls the egg a lightbulb, a plan a tray,
and no matter how I search or how beseech,
is pink as dusk (not dawn), the half-light of the day.

I try to make a joke of my decay
or say that busy-ness acts as the leech
that makes my mind feel like it’s lost its way,

but whole years seem as spent as last month’s pay,
plundered in unmet dares to eat a peach
as pink as dusk (not dawn), the half-light of the day.

There is so much I think I still should say,
so press poor words like linens to heart’s breach,
but find my mind has somehow lost its way
as pink as dusk (not dawn), the half-light of the day.

(Sorry to those who have read the poem before, a reposting.  It’s also in my book, Going on Somewhere, by Karin Gustafson, available on Amazon.)

Repetition Raises A Villanelle (“Shattering”)

September 24, 2011

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This is another post inspired by dVerse Poets Pub, a really supportive website for online poets. The prompt this time concerned poems that deal in repetition. As followers of this blog know, I’m devoted to the villanelle, a poetic form that is based on repeating line sequences. This villanelle is part of a pair–its companion piece, “Burned Soldier” may be found here, as well as a discussion of how to write a villanelle. Both poems were inspired by the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Any thoughts or suggestions most welcome.

Shattering

The shattering of lives should take some time.
It shouldn’t come in flashes, clods of dirt,
no moment for altered course, for change of mind.

The actual choice ahead should be well-signed–
pre-emptive smoke, perhaps a blood-soaked shirt–
the shattering of lives should take some time.

He knew that road was risky, heard a whine,
but in the end those warnings were too curt,
no moment for altered course, for change of mind.

Hard to foresee your own true body lined
with metal plates and plastic tubes of hurt;
the shattering of lives should take some time.

So many hours after to refine
what happened in that second’s blinding lurch,
no moment for altered course or change of mind.

Or was it fate? A studied path, not whim?
His heart tried hard to measure out the worth
of shattering lives. It would take some time,
with no moment for altering course or mind.

(All rights reserved.)

P.S. – I’ve posted a lot of villanelles, which is a favorite form for many years. I love the music- and yet, the repetition. They can be found by checking out that category from home page.