A significant factor in the origin of bees and my relationship with them is the nonstop hum of fear immured within me by the bonnie buzzing of their wee wings. Mama always said Grandma made me afraid because she was afraid, and so I learned to be afraid. She and Daddy said I was overreacting, repeating what I saw. Just stop, they said, as if fear was a faucet I could control with strength of will. But when I found myself grown and at last alone with the bees, instead of running, all I could do was stop and wonder at the nonstop hum of life itself.
Hello again! I can’t believe that there are only two more days of this year’s NaPoWriMo. I’m sad to say the least. Today’s prompt was to write a concrete poem. Like acrostic poems, concrete poems are a favorite for grade-school writing assignments, so this may not be a first time at the concrete-poem rodeo.
In brief, a concrete poem is one in which the lines are shaped in a way that mimics the topic of the poem. For example, May Swenson’s poem “Women” mimics curves, reinforcing the poem’s references to motion, rocking horses, and even the shape of a woman’s body. George Starbuck’s “Sonnet in the Shape of a Potted Christmas Tree” is – you guessed it – a sonnet in the shape of a potted Christmas tree.
So, my concrete poem proved difficult to post without the shape shifting when previewed via mobile phone or desktop. What you will find is that I have posted an image of my poem for those reading from mobile apps and a regular copy for those reading from a laptop or desktop. Either way you are reading it, I hope you will be able to detect my “tree” form.
are full of
trees like the
in the middle
of the little grove
of trees hidden
behind the new
It was there that
I dreamed of spending
my adult life
clacking the keys of
my old typewriter
as I cranked out
my next best-selling
novel. Then there was
the colossal oak on the
playground--the one whose
ground roots held me like a
comforting mother as I watched
the other children run and play
together from a disassociated
distance. The oak was my friend—
my best friend—and I loved her.
In later years, there was the young
sapling who gave its life to save mine.
It happened when the canoe tipped over,
I slipped quietly into the swirling river, and
I thought I was dead at sixteen--until I spotted
my father uprooting a small sapling from the bank.
He held the tree across the river and told me to grab on;
It was then I knew I was safe in the strength of the tree and
my father. Safe in my childhood memories safe in the arms of trees.
Today’s prompt was the challenge to write a “duplex.” A “duplex” is a variation on the sonnet, developed by the poet Jericho Brown. Here’s one of his first “Duplex” poems, and here is a duplex written by the poet I.S. Jones.
Like a typical sonnet, a duplex has fourteen lines. It’s organized into seven, two-line stanzas. The second line of the first stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the second stanza, the second line of the second stanza is echoed by (but not identical to) the first line of the third stanza, and so on. The last line (or two) of the poem is the same as the first.
This is based on a true story. One day, if the mood seems right, over coffee and croissants, I will share the rest of the story with you.
Come on by and let’s make a date for coffee.
What I remember most is the ocean releasing— crisp, cool breezes and a bevy of blues.
You left me there by the stony beach—blues and greens assault my senses, I cannot look away
A way off in the distance your boat lurches But not as much as my heart when she slips
Slips slowly under the water, eyes wide open Open arms floating just beneath the surface
The surface of the water explodes With my crazed frenzy. Panic rising
Rising until bile is all I taste, but somehow, somehow… My memory is blurred but I remember—
crisp, cool breezes and a bevy of blues; what I remember most is the ocean.
Today’s prompt was based on the aisling, a poetic form that developed in Ireland. An aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.
Today’s challenge was to write a poem that recounts a dream or vision, and in which a woman appears who represents or reflects the area in which I live.
We shall see how this goes today. We shall see what form my dream-visitor takes.
Our Lady of the Garden
In the garden a tiny, perfect bird landed on my shoulder.
Jewel-toned and stunning, the bird morphed into a beautiful woman right before my eyes.
The trumpet vines flashing brilliant orange flowers shone in the sun like a halo around her head.
My angel with her flaming crown, and delicate hands, she felt born of spirit, born of dream.
Sing, she told me Sing of the Universe. Sing of the beauty of the earth.
In my dream-state I sing her song.
I see in her the land and sky; she connects me to water and earth. The waves roll in her laughter; the plants flourish under her hands.
From my heart I sing of us.
We become a tapestry, woven together— garden and bird, woman and earth.
When I wake, it is daylight. I look out my window and see a hummingbird— wings whirling without resting— sipping nectar from flaming goblets shaped like trumpet flowers.
The prompt for today was in honor of today being the 22nd day of Na/GloPoWriMo 2022, and they challenged me to write a poem that used repetition. I was invited to repeat a sound, a word, a phrase, or an image, or any combination of things.
So, here you go fellow poetry loving friends. Not as repetitious as some poems I’ve written, but there is that element throughout.
Happy Weekend to you!
The Owl Sees
Where the mind ends, the owl sees— through Ominous golden eyes It breathes in stealth and exhales darkness gliding through blue-black skies. Underneath the fern unfurls, shivers in the windy wake.
Where the mind ends, the owl sees— with certainty of vision and a clarity of mind; she free falls into the darkness, her mournful cry resounding into the boundless cosmos.
Where the mind ends, the owl sees— the wilderness unconstrained, the weeping child whose wailing seeps into the warping twilight. Inside echos of sadness the owl and child grieve as one.
Whew! Today’s prompt was a doozy and just what I needed to recharge my brain.
Today we were challenged to write a curtal sonnet. A curtal sonnet is a variation on the classic 14-line sonnet. The curtal sonnet form was developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and he used it for what is probably his most famous poem, “Pied Beauty.”
A curtal sonnet has eleven lines, instead of the usual fourteen, and the last line is shorter than the ten that precede it. The rhyme scheme is 11 lines rhyming abcabc dcbdc or abcabc dbcdc with the last line a tail, or half a line.
There is some mathematical formula Hopkins used to precisely curtail the typical sonnet, but the real cog in the works is the sprung rhythm that breaks away from the traditional iambic pentameter of Shakespeare or Dr. Seuss.
To be completely honest, I have no idea at all what I am doing. I researched and read a number of examples, but each one was different from the other in some critical form/stylistic way.
So, I’m not sure if this is really a curtal sonnet or not, but it is my poem for the day. I chose to use 12 syllable lines and the abcabc dcbdc rhyme scheme.
Over all, under and through, the mystery lasts. Look how I trust and hope even after I rolled Down the hill with darkness closing in on all sides. I realize now the truth of how light contrasts With hope invisible and her friend harrow bold. Oh the tragedy of how disaster divides!
Loneliness overstays; isolation befriends— And I am left wondering how the earth provides For everything missing or lost at the threshold. Look with wonder at how simplicity amends
Today’s challenge was an interesting one. I was to write a poem that takes the form of the opening scene of a movie depicting my life.
This year the prompts have all been similar in some ways. There’s not much focus on form. Instead, the focus is just on using words to paint pictures. It’s been a challenge and has tightened my connection with words (or the lack thereof).
I don’t always know where the ideas come from. As I fall asleep, I prick my fingertips and they bleed onto the page. When I wake, the words have formed a poem.
When folks say things like “it’s all about the journey”, believe them. Every word is true.
Here is what I have learned halfway through this month. It is nothing new or even particularly profound, but it is the story of my journey: embrace the past (you can’t escape it), face the future (it’s coming so you might as well face it), and live in the now.
I turn off Main Street and head south— top down, breeze blowing.
I push my hair back, and suddenly I can see.
Behind me lemon groves bear fruit; my trunk full of lemons as proof.
With the heat of midday, I smell delicate decisions— citrus songs, fermenting fruit.
Intersections define direction; not all roads lead back home.
I suppose home lives in the trunk with the lemons, fermenting into luscious limoncello.