Saturday, April 19, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 19: Blurred lines

For Easter, we turn to Gerard Manley Hopkins,

Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows | flaunt forth, then chevy on an air-
Built thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs | they throng; they glitter in marches.
Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, | wherever an elm arches,
Shivelights and shadowtackle ín long | lashes lace, lance, and pair.
Delightfully the bright wind boisterous | ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare
Of yestertempest's creases; | in pool and rut peel parches
Squandering ooze to squeezed | dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches
Squadroned masks and manmarks | treadmire toil there
Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, | nature's bonfire burns on.
But quench her bonniest, dearest | to her, her clearest-selvèd spark
Man, how fast his firedint, | his mark on mind, is gone!
Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark
Drowned. O pity and indig | nation! Manshape, that shone
Sheer off, disseveral, a star, | death blots black out; nor mark
                            Is any of him at all so stark
But vastness blurs and time | beats level. Enough! the Resurrection,
A heart's-clarion! Away grief's gasping, | joyless days, dejection.
                            Across my foundering deck shone
A beacon, an eternal beam. | Flesh fade, and mortal trash
Fall to the residuary worm; | world's wildfire, leave but ash:
                            In a flash, at a trumpet crash,
I am all at once what Christ is, | since he was what I am, and
This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, | patch, matchwood, immortal diamond,
                            Is immortal diamond.

And over at the Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge:
... pick a color, make the color the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. You can make your poem black, white, red, purple, turquoise, puce, or whatever your heart desires. And the subject of your poem can cover any topic–as long as you’ve plugged a color into the title. Let’s do this!
'Color' is a mighty broad assignment and worst of all, all I could think of was Garcia Lorca, 'Green, how I desire you, green. / Green wind. Green branches. / The ship upon the sea / and the horse in the mountains....' It's a great thing to have in one's head and dear God it sounds even better in Spanish but holy cow. How do you beat it? You don't. You take something old and make it better and say, what the hell.


tonight we dreamed Monet to fly
across the senescent twilight
smudge the sliver silver moon
with paint and purple impasto
a dim smear of light
broad brush the clouds
a mosaic with sunset palette
throw the stars, carelessly,
across the new night sky

We began strong with Gerard Manley Hopkins, segued beautifully into Garcia Lorca, but need to recover from the descent into indigo. George can do it:

National Poetry Month, Day 18: Anchors aweigh

Pont des Arts, a Batobus, the Seine. Paris.
I just finished watching 'Two Days in Paris,' so how about a short one from Ezra Pound, also set in the City of LIght?
The apparition of these faces in the crowd :
Petals on a wet, black bough 

Over at Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge for National Poetry Month, we must have used one too many shitty words in our bad poems; every time we post it gets put in the moderation queue. Our bad.

Anyway, our task today:
... write a weather poem. A weather poem can be a poem about a hurricane or tornado; it can be a poem about the weatherperson; it can be a poem about forgetting an umbrella on a rainy day; it can be big; it can be small; etc.
So we told a little story.

Small Craft Warning

Let’s take the boat out,
he said. Storm’s over,
we’ll be okay.

The dock was still wet,
though the rain had stopped.
He opened the cover,
peeled off the tarps and
stashed them away.
The whitecaps blinked
beyond the marina.
It’s calming down,
he said -- even though
the breeze was stiff
and the lake choppy --
we’ll be fine.
Out in the open water
he cut the engine and
floated, the waves
hitting the hull
with staccato splashes.
Above the small craft
the clouds moved on,
the storm fading east,
the thin glowing line of clearing
defining a malleable boundary
between the slate water
and mirrored sky.
When the sun slide
between the lake and
and the thinning clouds,
he steered south, to home,
and tied up.

On the beach
all that was left of the storm
was a curving line of dead fish
and detritus.

She waited in the day’s
last oblique and crimson light.
I guess you were right,
she said. You’re okay.
You’re wrong,
he said.
Storm’s not over.

This poem is at writing stage 1.5 -- it's like, one revision of a first draft. But when you're writing a poem a day it's the kind of thing that happens. What I'm trying to do with it is more than a one-day task. For a change.

Storm’s not over?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 17: Thank God we have Louise Gluck to save us from Taylor Swift. Assist to Patsy Cline.

Patsy Cline. Her biography
is really good -- and sad. Bad ending. 
For our National Poetry Month real poem of the day: I've wanted to use this one since the night it snowed. Because snow in April pisses me off so badly I could never write a poem about it, even a bad one, myself.

This one is by former poet laureate Louise Gluck, and called 'Spring Snow':

... Yesterday
the moon rose over moist earth in the lower garden,
Now the earth glitters like the moon,
like dead matter crusted with light....

Read more about Ms. Gluck here.
And read the complete 'Spring Snow' here (you'll have to search inside the book) (didn't want to break any copyright laws by sharing the entire poem).

And in today's poetry prompt from Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge;
... write a pop culture poem. I guess I broke out the Bon Jovi a day early, eh? But hey, write a poem about Bon Jovi or Van Halen; write a poem about the Kardashians (or don’t–and say you did); write a poem about a popular SNL skit; write a poem about Dr. Who or Downton Abbey; write a poem about any kind of popular culture thing-a-ma-bob you wish. In fact, write three! (Just kidding; you only need to write one poem–but seriously, write three and be sure to add a little more cowbell.)
This seemed to be something to have fun with and rip off other people's ideas; you know, the essence of pop culture!

Always something there to remind me

Baby, I’m so over you. And no,
if you’re wondering,
Say Something doesn’t make me cry –
although I may sing along, softly,
when no one is around –
Shut up.
But you know, what goes around comes around
and that’s a small indulgence;
for that matter, I’ve never liked
Fatal Attraction, so you can quit worrying.
I didn’t love the way you lied,
I hated it; you weren’t irreplaceable,
and I don’t, and won’t, remember you.
Foolish heart, you stupid idiot,
what was the use in falling?
Once we were stone in love
and maybe we just should have been
That was a game we couldn’t win
and a bridge that needed burned;
some waters are too troubled
to sail on by.
But, baby, you know, I’ll be alright without you;
what we had was sad, beautiful, tragic –
but I knew you were trouble when you walked in,
and now we are never, ever,
getting back together.
Willie might have written it, but
Patsy sang it best: Crazy.
I’m crazy for feeling so lonely,
crazy for feeling so blue;
crazy for tryin’, crazy for cryin’
crazy –
And I’m giving up on you.

P.S. Apologies to Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Journey, Justin Timberlake, Simon and Garfunkel, Rhianna, Burt Bacharach, Eminem, Beyonce, A Great Big World, and anyone I may have left out.

Steve, sing us out:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 16: Shipwrecked [UPDATED]

Due to social obligations and drinking, we missed yesterday's poem for National Poetry Month. I know you were all wondering where it was.

Here's one of my very favorite poets ever -- Jared Carter. He's an Indiana poet, the winner of the Walt Whitman Award for his book, 'Work, for the Night Is Coming,' and I've been very honored to correspond with him. You can visit his website at Here's a few lines from my #1 fav Carter poem, 'Geodes':

.. I take each one up like a safecracker listening

For the lapse within, the moment crystal turns
On crystal. It is all waiting there in darkness.

I want to know only that things gather themselves
With great patience, that they do this forever.

Read it in its entirety here.

Today's prompt from the Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge:
... write an elegy. An elegy doesn’t have specific formal rules. Rather, it’s a poem for someone who has died. In fact, elegies are defined as “love poems for the dead” in John Drury’s The Poetry Dictionary. Of course, we’re all poets here, which means everything can be bent. So yes, it’s perfectly fine if you take this another direction–for instance, I once wrote an elegy for card catalogs. Have at it!
Elegy for Your Blue Eyes

I miss you in the shallow water
where we walked in the late afternoons
and the reflection of the pale sky
swirled and settled and swirled and

I miss you in the dark and deep
beyond the place the waves break
where we swam and floated and
wondered what lay beneath and

I miss you on the berm at night
where the phosphorescence frothed
to the shore and the water caught
the moonlight and wouldn’t let go and

I miss you for it’s here we found
every shade of blue in sky and sea
that shines and tides without surcease;
where still I mourn for your lost

and shipwrecked eyes.

Oh this was just too easy:

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 15: Illuminated

Quick work tonight, for tasks and gatherings await.

From John Donne, for Holy Week. I love the violence and the sensuality of this, so unexpected:

Batter my heart, three-person'd God

Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov'd fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

And from the Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge:
... Write a love poem. Love, it’s such a big 4-letter word that can mean so much to so many for a variety of interpretations. Friendly love, sexual love, dorky love, all-encompassing love, jealous love, anxious love, love beaten with a baseball bat, hot love, big love, blues love, greeting card love, forgiving love, greedy love, love in a music video, and so on and so forth.
Luckily, we have a small item to repurpose. Long-time readers reader will not be surprised to hear this was actually inspired by Harry Potter -- remember the fire that Hermione could conjure when needed? And the little birds?


That night we sipped sweet dark wine
and ate warm brie, and bread,
and apples that carried
the essence of winter inside them.
He laughed when I shivered,
took my face in his hands,
and breathed the last warm breeze of summer
with his kiss, then pulled away, smiling --
Here, he whispered, This is for you.
He reached toward the candle,
scooped the flame into his hand --
laughing at my surprise --
And leaned towards me, saying,
Take it, it's yours.
Slowly I cupped my palms,
and he slipped the little flame
onto my fingers. As I watched it flicker,
he brought his hands together above it --
as if to applaud -- and crack!
The flame shattered,
and a thousand tiny sparks
clustered around us,
illuminating us,
electrifying us.
As an errant star
floated before me,
I said, For you --
then gently blew it away.

Let's go for the easy one:

Monday, April 14, 2014

National Poetry Month, Day 14: Late to the party

It's a cold and drizzly night, so here's something short, sweet, and anonymous, an old favorite from the 16th century, so you're getting poetry AND history today:

'Westron wynde, when wilt thou blow,
The small raine down can raine.
Cryst, if my love were in my armes
And I in my bedde again!'


O Western wind, when wilt thou blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!

Our prompt from the Writer's Digest Poem a Day challenge:
... take the phrase “If I Were (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write the poem. Possible titles might include: “If I Were President,” “If I Were Smarter,” “If I Were a Little More Sensitive,” or “If I Were Born on April 14.” If I were you, I’d get poeming about now.
It being Holy Week, there's lots to do at work, and I guess it's understandable something like this would happen:

If I were to carry your cross
[For the Triduum]

Christ, certainly I’d hoped to
have been invited to the meal,
though it seems the victuals
were slim, even with the wine.
The company was also dicey —
that tax collector, all those
fishermen, and where were
the women? I have difficulty
being relegated to the kitchen;
but then you mentioned about
the servants becoming
friends; that’s reassuring, anyway.

And the next day: Jesus, I
really would have skipped the
trial, thanks anyway — it just
seems unfair, what had you
done besides preached a few
sermons? Well, the incident
with the moneylenders was
slightly vandalous, but you
explained it later, right? I don’t
get why everyone at the parade –
Remember? You rode the donkey,
people waved the palms, there
was cheering? Where were those
people later, on Friday? Those
spectators switched sides fast.

So I’m thinking, God, after
the unfair treatment and the
verbal abuse, the familial questioning –
really, whose business is it? I
thought you were pretty
circumspect about who you
might or might not have been –
And then the audacity of that
judge to open it to audience
voting! I mean, let’s follow the
rules, if we’re talking sentencing.
Because you’d lost that crowd
to the home team early in the

And, oh Lord, I’m not good with blood,
really, I’m not, what could a
woman have done to stop it?
They had whips and clubs and
they beat you at least twice and then
that crown — have mercy! — on your head;
Well, crying got us nowhere, all
the support staff had run away,
those cowards, we were left
to follow, somebody managed to
wipe your face, you were a mess,
and all the shouting, the road
seemed too hard to go –

Seriously, at that point, I couldn’t
have carried your cross if they’d
let me. You know, the guards,
the screaming people, and that crossbar
was tied to your back — it was just
out of my control. I wanted to,
you know that, right? I could
barely keep pace, that
walk up the hill seemed to
take forever, and you know I have
the best intentions. Always.
And hey, you weren’t the only one
being punished that day. Those other
two guys, they were guilty for sure,
but at least you weren’t alone --

Were you?

Heavy. Better lighten it up.