Today the challenge was to write a poem in the style of Kay Ryan, whose poems tend to be short and snappy – with a lot of rhyme and soundplay. They also have a deceptive simplicity about them, like proverbs or aphorisms.
I’m not sure if I accomplished it, but here is my poem for today.
Ghosts in Late Summer
Words hung softly, but still too loud for a dead thing. All that remained of summer seemed spent, so I ran straight away into the chill of autumn nipping. Never mind the plotted hours of living where we found stolen strength to see past what was in front of our eyes. When I heard your last whisper through the wall, I wasn’t ready to face winter alone. I felt lost, for we loved deeply and without many words. Imagine then my surprise at the loud voice of your ghost.
Today’s prompt was one gleaned from the poet Betsy Sholl. This prompt asked me to write a poem in which I first recall someone I used to know closely but are no longer in touch with, then a job I used to have but no longer do, and then a piece of art that I saw once and that has stuck with you over time. Finally, I was to close the poem with an unanswerable question.
Happy writing to me! Happy reading to you!
When the sun is laid to sleep, Darkness drips in desperation The universe shifts and suddenly I become your enemy.
Wordless and wry, my will resolves into Nothing that will matter. But why then does hunger remain? Hunger is hereditary—
I read that once in a poem, At least I think I did. I can’t Seem to separate the silk sails from the flagpole standing still
But my strong knees and stiff back Can carry the weight of my will So all is well. Or is it? When the inky black beckons me
To lie down among the lilies, I resist. I draw all that is good, but the leaves still fall. Tell me why do the leaves insist on falling?
When I was growing up in the fundamentalist evangelical church, I was taught that I was too loud, too bossy, too brass and too crass. I was chubby and wore half sizes in children’s sizes which was the plus size version for kids. My best friend was skinny, flat chested, and sporty. I was chubby, developed breasts early, and quite clumsy.
I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 and then only Christian boys because the Bible said it was a sun to be “unequally yoked”. I couldn’t see PG rated movies, use playing cards, listen to rock music, or use “crass language” including “substitute” words like gosh, darn, golly, shoot, poop, or (Heavens to Betsy!) crap.
But it was the messages I heard about sex and my body that have been the toughest to overcome. Sex outside of marriage wasn’t even an option. Should I do such a thing, I would be forever ruined, someone else’s trash.
The list of rules for girls was quite long:
- Bodies should be covered up, even when swimming.
- Nakedness was something to cause shame.
- Virginity is what gave women value; it’s was her gift to her future husband.
- Sex is shameful, don’t do it… unless you’re married.
- Once married, women won’t want sex as often as men, but never refuse your husband.
- Always keep yourself looking good for your man.
- Put something pretty on just before your husband comes home.
- Women should submit to the authority of men for their own protection.
- Only men have strong sex drives.
- If women have sex before marriage they are damaged goods and no one will want them—they are like a crumpled rose.
Deconstruction is a process that I am still experiencing. It’s amazing how quickly the teaching and indoctrination of my youth comes back to bite my enlightened feminist modern soul. I find it difficult to separate the good from the bad of my upbringing. But I am determined to continue this work.
Men are visual Or so I’ve been told So many times It is woven into my DNA.
Be careful Watch what you wear; Watch how you walk don’t be forward or loud or brassy.
No one likes A brassy woman Women are responsible For the lusting found In the hearts of men.
I tell myself I have grown out I have moved on From such foolish Patriarchal nonsense.
I tell myself I have deconstructed Whatever that means I have separated The truth from the lies.
Until something happens And all of it comes Rushing back— Guilt, Anger, And Burning Shame.
At the end Of deconstruction There remains a giant Pile of rubble, one Mess of mortified me.
But I own Every last piece Of senseless shame Every tiny bit Of damning guilt
I own my story I own my future I alone own The power to rebuild my life.
There’s this girl, you see, born on the Fourth of July. She erupted on the scene at a military base and grew to love all things military precision-like—minimalistic living and spartan saving with exacting expectations of herself—yet exploding with all the vibrant color of a rainbow. She’s an out of the box thinker—MacGyver’s met his match in her.
This girl, you see, is a firecracker, whip smart, and loud about things that matter like injustice, inequality, and freedom for all. She’s the yang to my yin, the bang for my buck, my soul sister, twin flame, and best friend. Happy Birthday, Tracy Jo! 🥰🎉🎊 💥
4th of July
It is hard to say when or where Although why is not quite as hard (synchronous orbits)to declare that mysterious tidal heat where in wonder science we meet. Life whisks away what’s not needed, brings the ebb and flow, completed we move while the stars stand their guard.
Lately I have been reading through the Poetry Foundation website like a novel. Sometimes I search a theme, sometimes I just read through the site recommendations.
By doing this, I have discovered some amazing poets who were previously unknown to me, and I have also discovered some interesting forms of rhyme and meter.
I experimented today with a rather unusual rhyme scheme in an eight line stanza. It’s been so refreshing to take time each day and write. I’ll tell you, it does something good for my soul.
Never stop dreaming big dreams, friends—it’s the only way you’ll ever attain them.
On small boats, through the long canals, they came settling in the lowlands, digging ditches building dykes and drains, trying hard to tame the water running uphill. They resolved to change their thinking; new habits evolved and soon sleek dwellings began to appear great in hope and greater in scope than fear until the gleaming wheat claimed their riches.
Tell me why it is that hordes of locust love to swarm in the warm, wet month of May. Sudden rain like the mind keenly focused, calls and corrals a throng of living things. And so folks lived like paupers on shoe strings eating barley grass and growing green beans while listening to the constant humming of water flowing and tymbal thrumming. None too soon, the greedy beasts flew away.
And then more dreamers came, some in sleek boats skimming through the canals, seeking reprieve from the mundane and stale in hull-less oats; some carting a lifetime of hopes and dreams in broken barges with leaking seams. But come they did with courageous fervor, to be farmer, builder, and observer— full of faith, hope, and the power to believe.
The poetry challenge I place before you today this: I’d love for you to try writing a lune.
A lune is a sort of English-language haiku. While the haiku is a three-line poem with a 5-7-5 syllable count, the lune has two different options.
The first option for a lune is a three-line poem with a 5-3-5 syllable count. The second variant is based on word-count instead of syllable count. This means the poem still has three lines, but the first line has five words, the second line has three words, and the third line has five words again.
I chose this latter form to write my poem. Today I give you a Septet of Lunes. Try your hand at it and share it in the comments. I look forward to reading your take on the lune.
dinner on the deck
the cardinals always come-- strutting red coats, snapping seeds in a single crunch.
the dark eyed junco hops tentatively to feed, nervously glancing side to side
the chickadees flit over lightly with great decorum landing lightly on the feeder.
sparrows hide in the bushes waiting their turn, hanging out in patient packs.
the house finch dines together with the others-- sparrows, chickadee, cardinal and junco.
when the blue jay plows in to feed, the sea of birds part;
but the noisy starlings arrival clears everyone out-- iridescent bullies chasing away friends.