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.

Sarah and Gina’s pantoum

The ocean here is cold, and fierce, and grey

The shore you walk is many miles away

Gina is leading us through the pantoum this month. DVerse is looking at different forms – we’ve had the sonnet, the rubaiyat, and now the pantoum. Go over to her original post for a really good description.

When I was reading Gina’s post, this caught my eye:
In Malaysia, my home country, the pantun is still very popular at weddings where the older relatives from both sides of the bridal party will exchange love “pantun” blessing the newlyweds a blissful first night together and a long happy marriage.

What an amazing idea – I would love to have had that at my wedding! Though I’m not sure what the in-laws would have come up with…

Anyhow, I wondered if we could do something similar online, so these lines are the A and C lines of the first verse of Sarah and Gina’s joint pantoum. We’ll add to it in the comments, and see how it goes!

Driving to the hospital. Pantoum for dVerse

I should know this by now, this stop and start
traffic that’s not going anywhere –
we surge and stop, just like a beating heart –
going nowhere, seeking somewhere.

Traffic that’s not going anywhere.
I’m trapped, like wasp in golden amber,
going nowhere, seeking somewhere,
wanting to get there, but not be there.

I’m trapped, like wasp in golden amber,
heading slowly, half wishing it were slower,
wanting to get there, but not be there,
wish it would start, or not start, or be over –

heading slowly, half wishing it were slower,
and the guy in the next car grins at me,
wish it would start, or not start, or be over –
I smile back. Why not? Smiles are free.

The guy in the next car grins at me,
he moves ahead, and then he falls behind.
I smile back – why not? – smiles are free –
he doesn’t know the stuff that’s on my mind.

He moves ahead, and then he falls behind.
but really, I’m not moving here at all –
he doesn’t know the stuff that’s on my mind,
the fear of stepping out, fear of freefall.

And really, I’m not moving here at all,
I surge and stop, just like a beating heart,
the fear of stepping out, fear of freefall –
I should know it by now, this stop and start.

Another pantoum – I was trying to think of things that ebb and flow the way the repetitions do in this form. Feedback very welcome on this one. It’s a bit rough and ready. For Gina at dVerse.

Pebbles – pantoum for dVerse

I’m thinking now of all the time we spent,

Heads together,with the wild gulls crying,

Carefully choosing – some stayed, and some went –

And all the while, the sea sighing.

Heads together, with the wild gulls crying,

We chose one if it gave us pleasure,

And all the while, the sea sighing,

As we amassed our glittering treasure

We chose one if it gave us pleasure

We brought it home, a fragment of our past,

As we amassed our glittering treasure:

A twisting shell, a sea-worn piece of glass.

We brought it home, a fragment of our past,

When you were young, and muddy, and ran wild

A twisting shell, a sea-worn piece of glass,

A stick, a stone, all treasure to a child

When you were young, and muddy, and ran wild

Carefully choosing – some stayed and some went –

A stick, a stone, all treasure to a child:

I’m thinking now of all the time we spent.

This is the first pantoum I ever wrote – all the way back in June 2016. I thought I’d include it for comments and feedback. WordPress has done that thing again, where it just ignores my formatting – sorry about that. This is being reposted for the dVerse form exploration. Get over there and have a look.

Eggs – Pantoum II for dVerse

I hold you up to see the eggs,
five of them, blue as April sky.
You cling on with your toddler legs,
observing them so solemnly.

Five of them, blue as April sky,
each one a fragile, freckled womb;
observing them so solemnly,
we hope that they will make it through –

each one a fragile, freckled womb,
holding an ugly, hairless thing.
we hope that they will make it through,
and in July, we’ll hear them sing.

Holding an ugly, hairless thing,
in need of food, and warmth, and love,
and in July we’ll hear them sing
of earth below, and sky above.

In need of food, and warmth, and love,
I watch you grow and learn new things
of earth below, and sky above,
and start to spread your fledgling wings.

I watch you grow and learn new things;
you cling on with your toddler legs,
and start to spread your fledgling wings:
I hold you up, to see the eggs.

My second pantoum for the dVerse form exploration, hosted this month by Gina. I have a love-hate relationship with pantoums. One day I will write the perfect pantoum, and then I WILL NEVER WRITE ONE AGAIN. It’s really hard to maintain sense and repetition, and keep it all flowing smoothly. This one comes close, I think right now, but doubtless I’ll come back to it in a couple of weeks, and shake my head over it. There are certainly a couple of continuity errors that I am hyper-aware of. However, this exploration is about growing as a poet and opening up to feedback, so I’m putting it out there. I’ve actually got less confident about it as I’ve written this explanation/justification, so I’m going to stop now.

Rooks – pantoum for dVerse

I watched a crowd of rooks fly by –
“They’re on the search for food”, I said –
black cut-outs on a paper sky,
we see them, and we think of death.

“They’re on the search for food”, I said,
a cheerful democratic crew,
we see them, and we think of death;
they make me think of people, too.

A cheerful democratic crew,
leaders and stragglers make their way –
they make me think of people, too,
out shopping on a winter’s day.

Leaders and stragglers make their way,
black cut-outs on a paper sky.
Out shopping on a winter’s day,
I watched a crowd of rooks fly by.

Gina is hosting at dVerse tonight, and we continue our exploration of forms. Gina brings us the pantoum – she’s given a really good description of it, if you want to read more. Basically it’s a series of interlocking, repeating couplets.

If you are an avid reader, you might notice that I have taken the start of this from my rubaiyat of a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be interesting to contrast the forms directly. You can read it here https://fmmewritespoems.wordpress.com/2019/02/01/winter-rooks-rubaiyat-for-dverse/

After the storm – a poem for dVerse

My head is full of the roar of the rolling waves:
The air is full of water, all hazed with mist,
And my lungs are full of salt air and I crave
The sea, all laced with foam, with pale spindrift

The air is full of water, all hazed with mist,
The storm is gentling now along the shore,
The sea is laced with foam, with pale spindrift,
And each wave curls like a grey cat’s paw

The storm is gentling now along the shore,
The sky is white, there is no sun today,
While each wave curls like a grey cat’s paw,
The sea is blank-faced, dull, somehow opaque

The sky is white, there is no sun today,
It’s hard to say just where the ocean ends,
The sea is blank-faced, dull, somehow opaque
And all the light is pale, and cloud-softened

It’s hard to say just where the ocean ends
In the wild bleakness of the empty strand,
And all the light is pale, and cloud-softened
above the sea’s wild anger and the silent sand

In the wild bleakness of the empty strand
See the sharp- winged flight of a black-headed gull
above the sea’s wild anger, and the silent sand,
the shrill cry of the petrel, wheeling, heart full

see the sharp winged flight of a black headed gull –
my lungs are full of salt air, and I crave
the shrill cry of the petrel, wheeling, heart full –
my head is full of the roar of the rolling waves

 

Jilly inspires us to use repetition in our poetry tonight. I have a slight obsession with the pantoum – it’s such a tricky form to get to flow smoothly. So that – obviously – is what we’ve ended up with tonight.

The End – for dVerse

So, in the end, there’s nothing we can do,
we cannot stop the seasons in their flow,
pull up a seat, my friend, admire the view,
the evening fading with a twilight glow

We cannot stop the seasons in their flow:
the berries ripen sweetly in the hedge,
the evening fading with a purple glow
as summer teeters on the very edge.

The berries ripen sweetly in the hedge,
and dust clouds float their way above the lane
as summer teeters on the very edge
and harvest time is with us once again.

The dust clouds float their way above the lane,
soon to be dampened down by autumn mist,
and harvest time is with us once again,
and summertime and autumn meet and kiss.

Soon to be dampened down by autumn mist
the leaves seek glory in their final flight,
and summertime and autumn meet and kiss
apples that ripen almost overnight.

The leaves seek glory in their final flight,
and will I know it when I pick my last
apples that ripen almost overnight,
and will I know that my last spring has passed?

And will I know it when I pick my last
pale snowdrop hanging down her frosty face,
and will I know that my last spring has passed,
keep fresh a memory of this time and place?

Pale snowdrop hanging down her frosty face –
she cannot feel time passing is unfair,
keep fresh a memory of this time and place
we cannot change the world with our despair

We cannot feel time passing is unfair:
Pull up a seat, my friend, admire the view,
We cannot change the world with our despair,
And in the end, there’s nothing we can do.

 

I’m having a little battle with Pantoums at the moment. There’s something I like about them, but they are tricky to get right. This is for Paul at dVerse, who prompts us to write about The End. I chose a Pantoum with a sense of irony, as they don’t really end, they kind of cycle back to the beginning – a Möbius strip of words, rolling on forever. That fitted the idea of the seasons rolling on. Anyway, here it is, for what it’s worth.