Sea craving – villanelle III for dVerse

Some of us live knowing we may drown,
yet something in us cannot keep away:
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

We walk a tightrope. Risk is all around,
we know fear, but we cannot feel afraid –
some of us live knowing we may drown

at the world’s edge, where the dark waves pound.
As the last light fades into soft grey,
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

Days when the sand is sugar brown,
and the lace-edged wavelets sweetly play,
some of us live, knowing we may drown

and when the storm is raging all around
and waves crash in and roll and roar away,
we’re still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

You’ll know us. We are restless in the town.
We itch to leave, take the sea-road away –
some of us live knowing we may drown,
yet still in thrall to the sea’s wild sound.

Oh, but I love a villanelle. This is my third for dVerse, where it’s our “form for all” this month.

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The wildness of the heart – villanelle for dVerse II

Let’s seek some comfort, you and I:
here the bright flames dance in the grate;
there the white stars are cold and high,

small thing pause at the fox’s cry,
they shiver, and they hesitate;
let’s seek some comfort, you and I.

The barn owl now swoops silent by
the lane end, and the sagging gate,
there the white stars are cold and high,

but here is wine, dark as a sigh,
and a warm place to contemplate –
let’s seek some comfort, you and I.

We are sheltered from the wild
by the walls that we create –
there the white stars are cold and high,

and the moon calls from the night sky,
and out there, adventures wait,
so let’s seek comfort, you and I,
where the white stars are cold and high.

One of the advantages of hosting for dVerse is that you know what prompt you’re doing, and have a chance to get a head start on everyone else. Here’s a villanelle for this month’s form exploration.

My Art – villanelle for dVerse. I

At 21 I thought I’d learned that art –
of losing. God, I was a fool.
What had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

I had the knack of holding just apart,
raising an eyebrow, looking pretty cool:
at 21, I thought I’d learned that art –

sometimes I thought that things would never start –
that life, and men, and love, were simply cruel.
What had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

“The art of losing” seemed to be a part
of my life – I lost keys and lovers, too –
at 21, I thought I’d learned that art –

but things that slipped and slid and fell apart
were nothingmuch. A moment’s pang, or two:
what had I lost? A sliver of my heart?

I learned that gaining sits at losing’s heart –
we grow through losing things, it’s true –
at 21 I thought I’d learned that art:
what had I lost? A sliver of my heart.

I’m hosting the “Form for all ” prompt at dVerse this month. We are working on our villanelles – such a beautiful form. This is my tribute to Elizabeth Bishop’s famous “One Art”.

My technique for writing a villanelle is fairly simple. I find a killer couplet, and then jot down a list of rhyming words for that. Then I write the first verse, and jot down a list of rhyming words for my middle line. Then I let the rhymes lead me – it’s almost a meditative process. You have to be careful about your key words though. Don’t choose something like “scissors” as one of your key rhyming words.

Please join us, and share your villanelling this month.

The geographer – poem for dVerse

I scrawl my words on every blade of grass,
scribble them in the sand, twig scratch them
on the winter clouds,

and the line the plough makes
is the line of my words
is the line the plough makes,

and birdsong creeps in, and the sound
the wind makes

and the curve of the deep lane

and the rhythm of the sea
as it sweeps in and out, and the
skittering of pebbles

and the line the waves make
is the line of my words
is the line the waves make

and each verse is a green field,
and each verse is a tree
and each verse is a sea-smoothed stone

and I write an orchard,
a daisy, a pool formed
in the ruts in the lane,
mud holding water:
water holding the sky.

Anmol is hosting at dVerse tonight, and asks us to think about geography. I am deeply influenced by my surroundings – the geography seeps in everywhere, and I think my poetry is infused with a sense of place. It was interesting to focus on that feeling and try to put it into words.

The troll – quadrille – poem for dVerse

We told each other about the troll
under that wooden bridge,
so that we ran over laughing
and breathless – scared, not scared –
believing, not believing –
as if our trip-trap feet
were enough to waken
the cold stone heart
of the old stone troll.

Frank is hosting at dVerse tonight, and it’s a quadrille night. Our word is troll – I generally have far too much to say about trolls to fit into 44 words, but that’s what you have to do.

Me and the stories- poem for dVerse

The thing is to tell my story, not yours, not steal your pain to pass off as my own,
not take your truth to be turned into lies, and yet to be touched by your words,
as they become part of me, a softening under the skin of my heart.
I am the things that I hear, I am the low hum of traffic, the rattle of trailers
I am the sound of the stream that runs by the door of the house,
I am the echo of birdsong, the harsh, croaking cry of the rooks.
I am the sum of your words, and my words, and the words that I read,
and the buzz f the screen, the machine that connects me to you and
the stories of others, words gathered and tumbled, piled high up and teetering
and I am the child who runs up the passage, and the mother
turning the story over and over, inspecting it with me and looking for clues,
and the father who leans in, expectant, and sharing his fears, and I
am the hiss of hot water that’s filling the cup, and the crunch of the biscuit,
and a sudden dark rumble of thunder, and rain on the window,
and wind in the trees, and I go forth, I go forth, and I listen,
and the thing is to tell my story, not yours.
I am the girl at the checkout, the man with the trolley,
and the dog at the door, and the cat that slinks under the hedge,
I’m the deep throb of the lorry, the shrill of the phone,
and the words and the words and the words and the words.

I wrote this for tonight’s dVerse prompt. Gina is prompting tonight, and she asks us to think about what sits underneath our poems, or alongside them – the hum of our lives. How does our non-writing self influence our writing self? I hear a lot of difficult, painful stories in my line of work. I make a conscious effort not to appropriate them – they are not mine to tell – but I’m sure they seep in at the edges. Thinking about that got a bit jumbled up with a Walt Whitman poem I read last night: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/there-was-child-went-forth-every-day and I tried to bring an echo of that – but I can’t do those immensely long lines. This is a very wide poem for me. My poems tend to be tall and thin.

May fair – poem for dVerse

I’ve seen her shimmer in the face
of the May Queen, just before she’s crowned,
and glimmer in the eyes of the guy
with the tattoos tracing up his arm,
and a pint to finish outside the Black Horse,
and tears in his eyes as he remembers
lost love, lost days.

I’ve seen her tangle the dancers’ ribbons,
and smooth them out with a smile,

and I’ve seen her hips sway in tatty denim,
in tight skirt, in a rustle of sugared petticoat,
in floral cotton, in checks and stripes,
and the curve of her moving
to the sound of the silver band,

and her scent is wild gorse – coconut ice –
and candy floss, and the sweat
of the working man,

and she’s the first kiss,
and the skirt up behind the waltzers,
and the splash of vodka
in a plastic cup
and a waft of weed
and the laughter of children
and the tinny sound of
the merry-go-round

and I’ve seen her marching
in knee high boots,
tossing her hair and
twirling her baton,
and I’ve seen her waving
from a carnival float,
and I’ve seen her dressed in white,
in pink, in blue, in yellow,
in white again

and I’ve seen her laughter rise
like a silver balloon
into the darkening sky.

Amaya’s hosting at dVerse tonight, and we’re thinking about Carnival – or at least the carnival spirit. We don’t have carnival here, but in my local town we have the May Fair. It’s a massive thing, the whole town shuts down, the schools are closed, and everybody comes out to party. It is mayhem, and there are always lots of stories to be whispered afterwards.

Spring is coming – quadrille for dVerse

Old crone blackthorn
has veiled her spikes
in living lace,
crowned herself
with virgin blossom,
and black cat winter
has sheathed her claws.

Gorse is a yellow cry
on the hillside,
primrose
is a whisper

and there’s a bird singing
in every tree.

De is hosting at dVerse tonight – spiking poems, not drinks! We’re quadrilling – 44 words, including the word “spike” tonight.

The ocean joins us – pantoum by Sarah and Gina

The ocean here is cold, and fierce, and grey,
The waves create an imprint on the sand.
The shore you walk is many miles away,
Ripples connecting our earth end to end.

The waves create an imprint in the sand,
My footprints mark the way that I have come –
Ripples connecting our earth end to end,
One ocean glimmering beneath one sun.

My footprints mark the way that I have come,
The path ahead is long and yet unknown,
One ocean glimmering beneath one sun,
I see other footprints, I know am not alone.

The path ahead is long and yet unknown –
I wait for stars to shine and as I wait
I see other footprints. I know I’m not alone,
Yet I’m afraid to follow, I hesitate –

I wait for stars to shine, and as I wait
The shore you walk is many miles away
Yet I’m afraid to follow, I hesitate
The ocean here is cold, and fierce, and grey

Gina at https://alifelesslivedblog.wordpress.com/ is our host for this month’s dVerse form – the pantoum. In her excellent introduction to the form, she mentioned the Malaysian tradition of creating shared pantoums at weddings. I was intrigued, and invited her to join me in creating a shared pantoum – and here is the finished piece. We provided alternate rhyming couplets. I’m really pleased with how it worked out, and I think I learned a lot about the writing technique for pantoums while doing it. Thank you for sharing this with me, Gina – it was a great experience! I recommend it.

I got to choose the subject (and the title!). Gina’s blog has a picture of a beach, and I live near the ocean too. I guess the same water has rolled up on my shore in Devon, England, and Gina’s shore in Malaysia.