November with Yeats #15

‘You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.’ —W.B. Yeats

Must we define ourselves by war?
The space between us always battle ground?
There is no glory in a merchant’s booth, you say,
And though I try to hold your hand
You stride down, through the fields,
golden with harvest, and the orchards,
heavy with fruit, not seeing them,
to where the dark sea laps the shore
and the boat waits.

I watch your face and know that you believe
that you have won this little battle,
but my merchant heart sought only
bargaining, haggling, an exchange of goods,
my golden kindness for your fierce desire,
my burning lips for your soft gaze.
We are both poorer now.

Half way! Jane continues her Yeats fest with this quote, that took me off in an interesting direction. 

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A poem about remembrance

Victims

“All men in war are victims”,
A wise man once said,
He neglected to add that surviving
Can be worse than being dead.

“Run! Run!” yells a man,
Diving, darting, plunging towards death,
Blood spills, men scream,
Last words flutter with a last breath.

“Shells! Shells!” yells a man,
They fall, hooting eerily.
Sinew splatters, men weep,
But we plunge on wearily.

“All men in war are victims”
No truer words could be said.
I’m alone with my thoughts and my memories,
And I’m envious of the dead.

F. Connor 2017.

I like to post a poem for Armistice Day. I usually go to the War Poets, but this is by my 13 year old, who has been doing Power and Conflict at school.

Vernal flutter – response

Awake my soul into a dream
A dream of robins’ poetry
Whereon tickly fluff of dandelions rhymes
And in silken crepuscular rays the verses stream
I hear a heartbeat
Dripping warm dewdrops of mead
Into the wind
Into her melodies of angelic sweet

And how will my soul sleep again
While the sky throbs eggshell blue
And each cloud is a wish, a whisper of time
And my heart’s song is a sunset of crimson rain?
I sing my heartbeat
Waiting for nightfall to soothe
Me into rest,
A twilight lullaby, achingly sweet.

 

 

Lots and lots of links. The first stanza comes from Colin the Pescetarian Poet who has posted it for Jilly’s September Casting Bricks challenge. The challenge is to take a posted poem and create a response that forms a complete poem. Colin says he wrote Vernal Flutter when he was much younger, and has translated it from the original Chinese. I wanted to respect that youthful, lyrical feel, and have tried to recreate his rhyme scheme. I read elsewhere that he was trying to capture the butterfly feeling of excitement without mentioning butterflies, so I’ve tried to make a poem about coming down from that feeling of excitement. I didn’t read the original as an anxious poem, so what I’ve written is more about those heightened feelings you get when you are in love for the first (or second, or…) time. 

The Boy, the Zany, and the Heart

The Boy and his Father got off the grey train, onto the grey platform. As they left the grey station, a Zany whirred past them on a unicycle, scattering his feelings behind him as he went. He wore a crazy multi-coloured suit, and whistled as he passed them by.

The Father frowned, and adjusted the sleeves on his grey jacket.

“You don’t want to show your feelings off like that”, he said. “It’s far too dangerous. Anything could happen”.

And he led the Boy home

On his next birthday, the boy was given a grey metal box.

“It’s for your heart”, his Father told him. “Pop it in here, and I’ll lock it up safely for you. I’ll take care of the key for you. You can have it any time you want”.

From time to time, the Boy would pick up the box. He could feel the warmth of his heart through the metal, and if he put the box to his ear he culd hear a steady “lub-dub, lub-dub” of heartbeat.

But somehow, he never asked for the key, and as the weeks and months passed he picked up th box less and less often, and in the end it stayed on its shelf, gathering dust.

Years passed, and the Boy became a man. He had a grey suit, like his Father’s, and he went off to live in the Big City. He worked hard, and reaped the rewards. He was wealthy and successful.

At first he visited his home town often, but gradually these visits became less frequent, until one morning he woke up and realised it had been 3 years since he visited. He was a decisive man. He immediately booked a train ticket home.

When he left the grey station in the small grey town, he was amazed to see a Zany whirring toward him on a unicycle. He closed his eyes for a moment, remembering being a little boy again.

When he opened them, he realised with shock that the Zany pedalling madly towards him was his father – laughing and crying at the same tine, scattering his feelings around him like confetti.

His Father shouted something to him as he passed, but the Boy didn’t catch what he said. He did catch the ball of paper his Father threw to him, though.

For a few seconds he watched his Father cycling away, and then turned his attention to the paper in his hands. He opened it out, and smoothed it down, and looked at what it contained.

In his hands he held a picture of a heart, floating free, and a small, grey key.

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Image by Caras Ionut.

Challenge by Mindlovemisery’s menagerie.

 

 

 

 

What counts as publishing?

I’ve been writing poems on here for a bit now, and it seems to be going OK. I’ve always thought of this as an online open mic session, rather than a digital chapbook. It’s been a great space for me to build up a bit of confidence in my work.

However, I’m now thinking about taking things a little further…dabbling in the world of competitions…maybe submitting poems to magazines…pushing myself a little. I’ve been inspired by a friend telling me that she was advised to aim for 100 rejections a year.

Obviously(!), the only way I get a feel for whether my work is OK or not is by putting it on here and hoping for feedback, so the first place for me to look for poems to use in this new enterprise is here. As I said, this is my online microphone. Am I right? Or does this count as publishing? And if it is publishing, am I allowed to revise stuff from here and treat it as new, or is that it?

 

Nanowrimo

I did Nanowrimo. And I “won” – which seems like a funny way of describing it, but there you go. It was an interesting experience, and I think I learnt quite a few interesting things from it.

First of all, I can write. I don’t know if I can write well, but I can write a lot of words. That was a surprise to me, actually, and was the reason why I took on the challenge. I wanted to test myself. Now I’ve got 50,000 words – or just over, and I’m wondering what to do with them. There’s a lot of work to do before that lot looks like a book.

I also found out that to keep up that level of wordcount is hard, especially if you’re working, and trying to keep on top of the washing and feeding people. I cut out a lot of my usual self maintenance, and I need to pick that up again. So I don’t think that I could do it on a long term basis.

It was an amazing creative activity, though. Along the way a fairly minor character stepped forward and took over the whole plot. My original story shrank. A whole lot of new people I’d never thought of appeared and started doing stuff. And it was fun. More fun than real life, some of the time – potentially addictive, I think.

I’m glad I did it. I don’t think I’ll do it again – November’s a busy month for me. Mind you, all months are busy. However, I have discovered things about my own creativity, and what works for me that I probably wouldn’t have discovered without taking this on. From that point of view it was well worth doing. Now I’m caught up in Christmas, but next year (when the world gets too much…) I think I might have a go at polishing up this tangle of words and seeing what it looks like.

Wish me luck!

 

 

Moon Haibun for dVerse

We were much younger than we are now, and out in the far West of Ireland, where the sea hits the land so powerfully that foam rises off the waves like snow. We’d spent the evening in a pub, wrapped in the warmth of hot whiskies and the sweet scent of turf smoke. We talked to some strangers, and laughed with them and there was music, and somehow we found ourselves walking with them up a green lane to a cottage where a party was in full swing. There was more music there, and a wild mix of people – a man in a yacht club blazer, a group of West Cork hippies, some younger kids, all talking, some singing, all drinking, and a haze of smoke over it all. At some point we all spilled out into the night, where the grass was wet, to watch the lunar eclipse. That was the point of the party, after all, and we’d half forgotten about it. We watched the moon go red, and then disappear, bite by bite – eaten by some great sky serpent, out of myth. We walked home, hand in hand. That was our first eclipse together.

Not wine, nor roses,
Nor hearts scrawled on midnight leaves,
But a blood red moon.

 

Toni is back! She’s offered us a choice of prompts – moons or birthdays. I’ve gone with the moon, on a lunatic jaunt, even though the supermoon was hidden by thick low cloud tonight for us. If you go over to dVerse, Toni explains the haibun, and you can read some great poetry, too. 

Spark Quadrille for dVerse

That small spark
That battles in me
Is not dulled, though it swings
Into the far dark, empty, cold
Comet orbit spiraling, scrawls
Dragon tail, phoenix feather, angel sword
All the great fires
Bursting, blossoming
Out of myth,
Stars flowering in
The smallest crevices.

 

44 words make up a quadrille. This time it’s for De at dVerse, who wants to spark our creativity and encourage sparkling poems, with sparks flying and sparklers whirling.

15 reasons to celebrate my daughter

1. Your marvellous smile, like a spotlight, like sunshine,
That lights up the room, and my heart, and the world.
2. The look on your face when you first tasted chocolate
Your eyes opened wide, like you’d fallen in love.
3. The times when we laugh like we’re both 10 years old,
and the way that you get me when I’m being daft
4. All of the times that you spotted things first,
You use your eyes well, you’ve learned how to look
5. The times that you laugh at yourself
Knowing you’re crazy and doing it anyway.
6. The way you use words, those poems you write,
the fact that I don’t think you know quite
how brilliant they are
7. The times when you suddenly make up your mind,
and the glint that you get in your eye when you wind
yourself up to it.
8. The moments of quiet, when you lean up against me,
There’s no-one as comfy and cosy as you
9. The way that you look at the world, and you want to know more.
10. The fact that you see the injustice I’ve learned to ignore
And you want to know why.
11. The sigh that you heave when I ask you to tidy your room,
and I know that I’m cruel, but I also remember
12. The sigh that you heave when you’ve finished
and know you’ve done well.
13. The times when you’re terribly sensible, holding
The world in your practical hands
14. The times when you’re clowning around, when you dance round
The room, or blow bubbles, or double up laughing.
15. And the fact that I know I can trust you to always be you.
.

Walt asks to celebrate at dVerse. In the middle of all the celebrations he describes, my daughter had her birthday, so this is for her. I’m concentrating on the delightful, wonderful, amazing, life-affirming side of teenagers here.