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.
People like me belong to the rain— soaking in joy breathing out sorrow, tending to the dark roots and pain— a slow broadening of mossy green spreading wide after the summer storm.
I stay alive in muddy waters when the verdant swaddle of meadow is drowned in brown. It’s there I sought her to teach me the wisdom of the rain and to not be afraid of the dark.
It is with her I learned where I belong and how to navigate in a world reeking with sunshine and sappy song. Bring on the rain, for how else do I stay alive when dusk darkens the light?
—By Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
I read a story this morning about the death of a lovely young Australian woman who was a farmer, ecologist, and inspiration to many on her TikTok.
Her family didn’t give details about her death, but her father said “every day should be ‘R U OK? Day,” a reference to an Australian holiday when people are encouraged to have conversations about mental health and suicide prevention with one another.
I absolutely agree.
Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are Ok. Don’t be afraid to push a little to encourage them to reach out to a professional.
There is no shame in needing help. Or asking someone if they need help.
It’s ok to not be ok.
How else can we stay alive when the rain comes and dusk darkens the light?
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.
I’ve been taking some time to regroup after a grueling year and a half-is of teaching. I didn’t think relaxing would be as hard as it has been. I don’t think I realized just how taxing a year of virtual work and life was until I started to slow down.
Given that Trace needed her spinal fusion immediately, her recovery has been our primary concern this summer. We had already booked plans to head down south and camp in Laurel, Mississippi, navigating our way down to Folly Beach and maybe even New Orleans, but we had to cancel all those plans to concentrate on things closer to home.
We found out in the early spring that our beautiful big red maple was causing foundation damage to our home, so out it had to come. This meant tearing up our beautiful wood deck out back. But we had to do what we had to do, so I decided if the deck was getting ripped out anyway that we would replace it with concrete. We would enjoy our summer vacation from the luxury of our own new patio. Win-win!
With the hope that all construction work would be done by the beginning of June, we ripped out the deck and threw tarps down so the dogs could still use the backyard. Well, those of you near us know the massive amounts of torrential rain coupled with brutal heat we have had this summer. Now the back yard is one muddy lake and the dogs have to be walked on leash out in the front in order for them to take care of their business.
And the construction work has yet to begin.
Except now we have an excavator taller than our house in the backyard and the contractor is heading off to vacation next week.
My poem today is in honor of the tiny gold finch bathing in the mud lake that is now our backyard, the late great Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and staycations.
Summer came on steamy winds of spring
the torrid heat belied the month of June;
summer storms raged like May shower
bombs of heat detonating in waves.
All that remained come muggy morning
was the mucky mess of mud called garden
and one tiny goldfinch preening in a puddle
making me wish I had been born a bird instead.
--Carla Jeanne Picklo Jordan
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 world is beginning to dream again and so are we. I see strength returning to Tracy’s spirit, and it does my heart good. She was able to use her walker to walk to the sink, sit down and wash up her face and arms in the sink today. A milestone!
She said it felt so good. She changed into a personal nightgown and felt like a whole new person.
We are hoping to get her into in patient rehab on Monday but it is pending insurance approval. You know how it is…
It is not good enough that doctors, nurses, and Physical and Occupational therapists recommend it. No, the insurance company, not her personal medical team, must approve it first. Please pray with us she can go.
Two things happened today. First , I think I came across one too many platitudes on social media. I think I’ve grown tired of the same old being labeled as new. I’m just tired of it.
Second, we drove by a church on the way home from school today, and Evan made the unsolicited observation, “So many churches say things about how they ‘love people’, but they don’t really mean it, Mom. What they mean is that they love people who look like them.”
Painful truth out of the mouth of a 12 year old.
I think that this poem came out of my brain processing all these things. I used a long line poetry form—13 syllables in each line and an “aabb” rhyme scheme within each quatrain.
Wind In My Sails
I used to believe in the power of platitude a well turned phrase spoken with just the right attitude— a spirit of humility mixed with compassion, a spark of light with the ability to cash in
despair for hope. But there came a time when I required more than empty words and broken promises acquired from someone else’s wisdom. I needed to live in my own truth, and I needed to refuse to give in—
needed to refuse the bill of goods sold off as truth, sold off as positive conformity to the youth. So when I finally stood and shook off the shackles, I found myself straight-backed, fearless, and without hackles.
Just to be clear, I do still believe in the power of gratitude, the gift of grace, rest in each hour; I believe in the unflappable human spirit, the inner voice of God whether or not I hear it.
I have to live my life and to see things as they are to walk my own road and fly low under the radar. Platitudes should go the way of frogs and fairy tales— when I release them, I feel the full tilt of my sails.