Friday, February 19, 2010

February Rain

We've had a pretty wet winter here on the Cote d'Azur. And just when I think it's over (yesterday was delivered into blue skies and sunshine and 15 degrees) it starts again. Fine rain, but so much of it that it's like pushing through a curtain.

During the first ever writing course I went on (Poetry and Rock-Climbing, I kid you not!, at Ty Newydd in North Wales) we were asked to write down all the different words and phrases we knew of to describe rain...

...drizzle, shower, flurry, patter, picking with rain (that's South Wales), deluge, driving rain, squall, monsoon, drenching rain, soaking rain, torrential rain, cloudburst, bucketing down...

I'm sure you could go on. So please do go on. And on.

Read about rain:

Google for images about rain. I love this one.

And then think about and write in response to the following:
1. What colours and emotions do you associate with rain?
2. What memories emerge when you think about rain?

I've just remembered a trip to Paris a few years ago and it started to rain when we were still 20 minutes from the hotel. Monsoon-like rain that rose in waves from the gutters as the cars passed. You can only get so wet. After that it doesn't matter.

I look forward to reading your rainy poems, celebrations, memories, complaints, elegies. All of them.

Lynne x


Rain is the sky’s way of forgetting.
Mist drags over your face. You can only see
the gaps between trees, can’t make yourself small enough
to hide from yourself and the windows
keep letting in rain.

Write ‘cunt’
in salt on the kitchen table, imagine him
slipping into the hills’ slatey folds, the earth
closing over.

Rain for days.
The river rocked with stones, the bridge carved
with someone else’s name. You walk the lanes
sit on gates and watch sheep
mist shrouding the peaks
the sky trying to forget.

from Learning How to Fall.


Glenn Buttkus said...

Jehovah’s Wet Dream

grew up
wet in the

woods, halfway
across the globe

Shrewsbury or
St. Etienne, but

a comfort
zone I’m told

those European
expatriates dwelling amongst

Rain remains
my constant companion,

the prairies,
spanking the concrete

byways and
domiciles, drooling like

demigods, spattering
all shadows, breaking
up into
shimmering pixels before

banishing and
disconnecting them from

feet and
baseline of those

solid enough
to cast one;

down in
sheets, diagonally driven

windows, windshields
and naked eyes

dare to
face the downpour.

spitting, cascading
in clumps, beading

on waxen
hoods and slippery

running off
rooftops, gushing over

passing loudly
through those rusty

pores of
manhole covers, rushing

frightened curbs,
racing headlong toward

maws of
thirsty street drains,

a hundred
rivulets dripping strong

puncheon porch
tops, weeping passionately,

from the
tender undersides of

black low
clouds, spraying like

of angels
pissing in rows;

those ghost
riders to crack

spectral whips
mocking thunder, and

the wind
wolves to howl,

the morning’s
torrential Concert of

followed by
a golden fanning,

ribald like
a geisha’s thighs

marvelous sun
break, the dervish

of a
hundred shards of

twisting erotically
into a naked
sunlight piercing
water drops, bursting

an orgasmic
swatch of juicy

arching its
lovemaking shoulders high

a brazen
display of raw

colors, the
full spectrum of

ethereal sex,
seminally staining the

sky, right
there for all

see and
share, to marvel

smile at,
to be touched

stroking hope
where only void

vibrating the
dewy lips of

mist, setting
up a throb,

Gregorian moment
when cupids purr,

the soaked
and satiated earth


Glenn Buttkus February 2010

Erin Lee Ware said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keith Wallis said...

close companion
of Autumn fairgrounds;
back cloth
for teenage stolen kisses
in the unlit porch.
Silver-grey streaks sparkling
in echoes of the waltzer's garish lights
sending shards of colour
into the echoing dischords
of 'River deep and mountain high'.
Ike and Tina full crackled volume
ushering us between the darts and hoopla.
Detroit comes to town.

misterf said...

You can only get so wet. After that it doesn't matter.
He comes in. She comes in.
Even the cat, dainty as mist on puddles, comes in.
You can only be so angry. After that it doesn't matter,
it seems. The cat offers no angles and leaves. It prefers
the rain.

martin cordrey said...

Fishing in the rain

Utter madness you’d think standing ankle deep
in fresh water during a thunderstorm, keeping
a weeping willow company. Fishing does that,
yet, as the clouds gather there’s an exodus
of humans fleeing the tyranny of rain. Why stay?
It’s the smell, fresh? No cleansed, like a rebirth.

It’s the colours, now so much more cheerful
like giggling babies. It’s the silence; life’s too noisy!
Sitting quietly in contemplation is a forgotten grail.
Its noticing moorhens nesting, laying on their eggs,
Canadian geese flapping in formation, a kingfisher!
Its looking at water voles, dragonflies, a fox.

It’s the tippy-toes of drizzle across the lake like a host
of Angels at their first barn dance, it’s the cross
words of lover swans sucking on angry teeth.
It’s the rod arching like a rainbow as line races
towards the safety of lilies, the stems of tall reeds;
to hold a Tench skywards like a golden chalice -

to look in the eyes of a wild creature is a portal to God,
those lighting bolts a warning to release his creatures
unharmed. Finally, it’s the drawing in of nets, scales
shimmering, flesh rolling, mouths gasping for freedom.
Is it the power of life over death, or the exhilaration
of seeing fins swim into the bowels of the underworld?

Erin Lee Ware said...


Watching the rain stream down the windowpane,
I feel it in me, too—
a washing away.

Beyond the gray and navy,
I see you as a little boy,
face pressed to the cool glass,
your eyes following the growing clouds.
You go to the cupboards,
load your small arms full of pots and pans,
and go outside.
Beneath the eaves and chutes of the roof
you place them—
your rain drums—
and wait for the sky to make music.

I press my lips to the window
and make a cloud with my breath.
The edges dissolve,
leaving me with the grass in the front yard
and the leaves of the trees,
both greener for the raindrops covering them—
like prisms reflecting,

Only an inch of glass between in and out,
and I don’t know where I am.
Or you.

Cameron D. Mathews said...

Memorial Downpour

As the cold sweat beaded
along my brow,
I could tell daddy was smiling.
Earthworms caved up
from the damp soil,
each exposing their slick
and naked bodies
to the precipitation coming down.
Dad, staring down at his son,
watched as I plucked the soft dirt.
Tucking himself under the dripping willow,
I laced my coffee can with bait.
Memorial Day was our tradition.
Fishing for heavy carp and slippery sunfish
is what made that tradition
a holiday to us.
Father and Son.
Hook to handshake.
As the rain beat down,
my knees would cramp
between the worn summer dock.
As my fishing line spewed
magenta-colored saliva
from the salmon eggs on my tackle below,
I think of Dad.
Each tug from below, latching
onto the rusty hook I've tangled above,
I see my father's stare above my smile.
Memorial Day rain beats down on our reflections,
as it has every year since I was seven.
While the familiar tug from some life beneath
yanked at my arms like a ghost,
I let the line run free.
I feel even now as if the rain is to blame.
If by pulling up my prize,
I might not have that again.
If I caught what we set out to catch,
would daddy be there next Memorial Day
to watch me spinning lines into the rain.
Each year,
whether He knows it or not,
I purposely cut the fish loose under the sky.
These Memorial downpours remind me of dad.
When it rains heavy onto the Bowmar lake,
I think of fishing with dad
without an umbrella and
remember fishing with Him
as if he and I
were meant to be drenched,
as if God were fishing for us.

Erin Lee Ware said...

really quick, off the topic of rain, i thought of a possible writing prompt: coming up with a title FIRST, AND THEN writing the piece. what do you think?

Lynne Rees said...

Hello Erin - yes, working from a title is a good prompt. I think I have already posted one or two like that but it's a good suggestion for the first prompt of March, next week. Thanks.

I'll be back to comment on everyone's poems by the weekend. At the moment I have the momentous task of cleaning every window in this 4 storey house... not just your usual washing and wiping, but rubbing and scraping bits of paint off too. It's the last couple of weeks of a total renovation - am I looking forward to some DIY free time : ))

Glenn Buttkus said...

Happy window washing, and am looking forward to your comments on the poetics. Just adore your
concept for this blog, and feel
honored to now being a member
of the Applehouse Gang, or maybe
just a wannabe. You might pick a Movie theme for March too, what
with the Oscars so near. Something like John Yau's GENGHIS CHAN: PRIVATE EYE. I once wrote a long poem about McCABE & MRS. MILLER.

Mary said...


Long needles stitching the earth
to the sky,
turning the day too soon into dusk,
piercing the stillness with ceaseless

An eerie yellow light supplants the grey
loading the air with mystery.
The wind loosens the first Autumn leaves
till they drift, flutter and drown
the rain stabbing them mercilessly
into the sodden ground.

martin cordrey said...

Fishing in the rain

across the lake
like a host of Angels
at their first barn dance.

Lu said...

Looking into the rain

This autumn,
why does my body ache?

I look out of the window
and count raindrops.

Under the eaves
a bucket

Lynne Rees said...

Rain was obviously inspiring : )

Okay, first response to Glen and Keith.

@ Glen: I love the energy in this, the way image builds upon image, and how the language feels very fresh. I feel as if I'm being asked to see rain for the first time. A few queries: Not sure about the title. It made me think it was going to be a persona poem,but it's not in the voice of Jehovah? Is it? I also wondered what function the 'I' plays in the poem as a whole? As, for me, the power of the poem is in the description and there's only one other return to the first person ('my constant companion') if I've read this carefully enough. I think I'd also like to see the poem in longer lines and with less 'air' (i.e. stanza breaks), just to see how it reads and feels. And finally, perhaps it could be a bit shorter? After the sexual imagery (when we reach 'compliant sky') perhaps the poem is stretching itself just a little too much? But I do still like this a lot.

@ Keith: Rain and fairgrounds. Fabulous combination - I can almost smell it... diesel generators, hot dogs, cotton candy. Lovely. It perhaps ends a little too abruptly? Perhaps the last line closes the poem down too quickly? Maybe there's more intimacy that can be explored to hold the poem in the reader's imagination?

Lynne Rees said...

2nd response to misterf and Erin:

@ misterf: there's such deceptive simplicity here. The understated, declarative sentences suggest so much. The 'he' and 'she' on the same line sets up a tension. The use of the 2nd person avoids siding with anyone in the poem. And I like the unstated parallel drawn between only getting so wet and only getting so angry. Lovely fresh images of the cat in the middle and the end ...and these, for me, relieve the tension of the human experience, help lighten the mood.

Some people might think the poem isn't saying enough but, for me, that's it's strength. It leaves room for me to move around in it.

@ Erin: I Like the movement between present and past and back to present, but perhaps the transitions could be lighter? Perhaps more economic? It's surprising how little we need to say to shift people between scenes. And I'd think about the penultimate verse and question if it's really needed? But I like the idea expressed in the final stanza, and the inch of glass that stands for the thin, transparent membrane between past and present, or at least that's how I read it.

Lynne Rees said...

3rd response for Martin:

Fishing in the Rain: lots of strong imagery but now and again I feel the poem could be more understated, less explained (e.g. 'Why stay?' 'It’s the silence; life’s too noisy!') and also that some of the imagery creates noise when it seems the poem is trying to create a sense of 'Sitting quietly in contemplation'. That could also be mirrored in the form too, perhaps? You might want to try cutting back to the images that reflect your intention and allowing more space, more 'air' to encourage the reader to feel the same emotion?

The poems ends powerfully, and perhaps 'silence' leading up to this moment would be an effective dramatic choice?

You took out five lines and posted them separately... but I'm not sure they work as a poem on their own. A striking image, but I want a poem to make me think and feel something too, not just see something in a fresh way.

Lynne Rees said...

Final response to Cameron D Mathews, Mary, and Lu.

@ Cameron: I found this poem incredibly moving. The relationship between the father and son comes across as full of love and companionship. There are some beautiful moments here:

'As the rain beat down,
my knees would cramp
between the worn summer dock.'

'I let the line run free'
'spinning lines into the rain'
both work so well on the concrete and metaphorical level.

I did feel that at times the shifts between past and present tenses were a little unclear, but I'm sure that could be easily sorted so the reader isn't held up in their reading.

Thank you for posting this. I get such a strong sense of place and of a particular relationship.

@ Mary Rose: I like your opening image. It suggests pain to me, the 'stitching', and then later the 'piercing' and the 'stabbing'. I think the poem might need a human presence to be really effective. Either the first person in this landscape, or memory, perhaps? But you definitely stay focused with a single emotional tone that gives power to the poem.

@ Lu: After reading this I thought 'haiku' and 'William Carlos Williams' : ) I think the form suggested Williams: the development between stanzas, the way the question builds upon the imagery in each of the following stanzas. I like this. I like the movement from ache to weight/effort (at least that's what counting raindrops feels like to me) to the release in the final tercet. It's very satisfying.

Stephen said...

Thanx Lynne. You encourage me, as you always have, to fashion poetry out of personal pain. u rock.

Lu said...

Thank you, Lynne, for your read and comment. It's encouraging and enlightening.

Erin Lee Ware said...

yes, thank you, thank you for your suggestions! funny how hard it is to see what's "iffy" or "hmm" about your own poetry. so thank you for showing me :)

Glenn Buttkus said...

Thank you, Lynne. I posted your response under the poem on my site. You certainly approach poetry with both passion and expertise. as a teacher and a lover of poetics. Yes, I do see some inconsistency in the POV, as you have pointed it out. My title relates to Jehovah as a generic, and as an entity. Yes, the poem could be in another form, even a prose poem. This was the first time I tried this form, and I like the way it felt and flowed. Too long, somewhat disjointed, with a shifting POV? Perhaps, but thank you for you enthusiasm for the imagery and language, and thanks for your teacher's eye that unfortunately sees all, and marks all with her red pencil and her objectivity.