Monday, March 01, 2010

Begin at the Beginning

Thanks to Erin for suggesting a poetry prompt where we start with a title and see what evolves. And in honour of St. David's Day (Patron Saint of Wales), today 1st March, here are some titles from poems written by Welsh poets during the last 510 years : )

Choose one, and run with it. Or choose several and do some relays. And share your final draft with us, please.

The Angry Summer
Blood Donor
Day Trip
Every Single Night
Foal
Getting It Wrong Again
Interlude
Let's Hear It for Goliath
My Grandfather and His Apple Tree (perhaps change apple-tree to something else?)
Sliding
Thoughts on Happiness
X-Ray

Write well.
L x

34 comments:

Erin Lee Ware said...

I was so hoping to read YOUR title-poem, too! Your examples are always so beautiful, so helpful.

Erin Lee Ware said...

Thoughts on Happiness

“Keep it simple.
A line.
So that when you get divorced,
you can change it to a vine.”
(The needle didn’t sting quite like that.)
“No names.
Never names.”
(Candid comments.)
You on my finger—
bearded face, blue eyes,
the heat of your body,
your lips moving, tongue talking,
hair covering your ears,
your smell sweet, deep,
heavy on your skin—
a black ring.

Lynne Rees said...

Hi Erin - here's my early draft for a poem:

Getting It Wrong Again

Some days are like that.
I just say the wrong thing, and,
you tell me, at the wrong time.
Or, I tell you, there’s no need
to be so impatient, why can’t you
hold back on the sarcasm. Some days
we are all sharp corners, dead-ends,
as if we have lost sight of the landscape
we have lived for twenty five years
which, of course, has not always been
meadows of cornflowers, and definitely
not a clear, straight road with low hedges.
I have always loved the air around mountains
and sea. Last year you realised why
you liked staying on Hillsboro Beach
so much: the expanse of Atlantic ocean,
the sky arcing over you from east to west,
how you felt you could lose yourself
in the stretch of both. Some days
it’s best to look ahead to the next,
resist swearing at the bumpy terrain
which appears in the rear-view mirror
sooner than we ever think it will.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Blood Donor

Give it up
in pints and puddles,
spurting around the nails
piercing your open palms,
or the thick spikes in your feet,
or the femoral artery
in the groin of the many-faced soldier
who stepped on a roadside bomb
in a muddy ditch in Kandahar,
or the severed thumb that lost
its conflict with the Skil-Saw blade,
or the Collie’s severed ear
after he jumped without hesitation
into a pack of California coyotes
devouring his master’s tabby,
or the Hispanic gang member
lying in an ER in Chino
with three Glock caps in his butt,
or the 18 year old blonde cheerleader
who stuck her face through the windshield
of her boyfriend’s ’70 Camero,
or the firefighter giving liquid-life for
his fallen and burned comrade,
or Joe Citizen who annually makes his trek
to the Red Cross to give up hot hemoglobin,
or the nose bleed that will not clot;
our wounded economy,
our fractured freedom,
our lacerated liberty,
our precious privacy;
all impaled on the sharp stilettos
of hooded fascist politicos—
even our rights of expression, even
our poetry.

No, goddamn it, no.
You don’t have to take out poetry—
we give it freely.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Lu said...

(I love reading the poems posted here as they write about ordinary life in poetry.)

The Angry Summer

Don’t be rhetorical, my dear, don’t be rhetorical
when you want to leave but say "the fate I suppose".
Don’t roll ephemeral "ever forever" off your tongue
for who'd tune an ear to a solemnly flippant oath.

Don’t hide behind an email with heart wrenching
words like a woman wearing a veil, wets her handkerchief.
It’s the time when water subsides, the rocks emerge
I’ll laugh off this angry summer without grief.

The moon’s never been this huge this round this orange
as I drive up the top hillside, seeing its full visage.

Erin Lee Ware said...

Thank you, Lynne, for posting your poem! Landscape as metaphor for life events=visually and emotionally charging. Makes me wonder what my current life's terrain might be. Perhaps a "meadow of cornflowers," haha. Beautiful thought. As always, I so appreciate reading YOUR poems just as much as I appreciate you reading MINE :)

Martin Cordrey said...

Angry summer

Karaoke at the Ivy Bush with the natives
of Newport, funny where work takes you.
I drove straight past Cardiff. Poverty kid
does Tom’s ‘Delilah’ perfectly, next week,
same as, his one hour a week of respite.
I picture a blond barmaid in the Red Lion,
Caerleon, ‘covering my ass’ when I climbed
through the bathroom window well beyond
the landlady’s curfew. Don’t recall her name
yet I gave her my Eagles CD which means
something. You were in Newcastle by then
with ‘your’ Lancelot. In the cold light of day
i’m ankle deep in a Sewage treatment works
home to detritus from the city in the shadow
of a Roman fort – I picture myself in a kilt
fighting my way over those white mountains,
the vineyards of Gaul, the forests of Britannia
to the home of the true Britain’s, dreaming
of my lost love in our beloved, faraway Rome.

Lynne Rees said...

Just a brief note: don't worry if your lines don't appear as you'd like them to be in the comments box (there's a prescribed width so long lines get 'chopped'). They're fine in the notifications I get.

Keith Wallis said...

Interlude

Wave upon wave they came -
raging armies, banners rampant,
clamorous footfall marching
marching, marching.
the tossed turmoil
behind tired eyes,
tsunami of invading thoughts.

‘Hush !’
Be-stilling the storm,
a sanctified word
from a lake long ago
stretches into this moment.
The injection of peace
in strident days;
set-apart holiness
of quiet.

The battlefield, strewn
with decay and wrath,
groans
and loses its grip.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Guess my second poem got lost in the filter. Here is my second submission:

Every Single Night

Every single night
I wait for them to come again,
to appear out of the deepest shadows
at the oak foot of my bed;
the two blue dwarfs and the taller Gray,
easily entering my room
without using the door,
standing still in the silence, azure
in the moonlight, waiting
until I notice them, and then moving
beside me on both sides, just as
ruby molecules, tiny insane red dust mites
shimmering, push the moonlight aside
allowing a beastly beam to explode
through my ceiling
bathing me in blood light,
leaving me shaking,
conscious, angry, and frightened—yes,
every time fear carves up my guts cold
like an icicle scalpel opening up my chest—
leaving me breathless and stiff
as matter separates and I pass through
my bed covers, rising slowly
like a party balloon,
rising, rising toward the ceiling
and then traveling past it
as if it were made of smoke—
suddenly outside suspended
in the chill night air,
the sky bristling with brilliance, rising
more quickly up to embrace the black belly
of the silver craft hovering unseen
fifty yards above my house,
and then total darkness
along with that terrible and familiar hum;
only to awaken moments later
sitting up in my sweat-drenched blankets
cursing the reoccurring dream,
or perhaps the actual violation
of my carnate husk
by beings from beyond;
with reality bending
like a mirage snake tying itself
into a savage valentine,
my posterior hurting like I had been
the unwilling participant
in a prison gang bang,
and my sad soul reattaching
its wings.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Martin Cordrey said...

thoughts on happiness

i'm convinced
should she ever find
happiness
she'll worry herself silly
over its duration.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Sliding


For
the briefest
of moments my

face
in the
steamy mirror looked

to
be someone
else, a doppelganger,

a
lost twin,
an unknown cousin.

***
Are
we powerful
entities coexisting in

several
dimensions simultaneously,
sliding between them

at
the scathing
speed of thought,

like
a spiritual
traffic cop, a

cosmic
juggler, or
just sentient slabs

of
meat churning
out our individual

tale,
perched precariously
on the slippery

shoulders
of one
solitary lifetime? Well,

this
morning I
feel connected to

everything,
able to
positively lay claim

to
my participation
in genesis, my

co-creation
of this
blue dream, this

plane
of existence,
this planet in

peril;
yes, I
am even willing

to
accept ownership
all the boneheaded

red-herring
forays I labored
to fuse into

the
spectral spine
of my Bardoian

plan—
am able
to grasp a

large
digit of
the metaphysical notion

that
time does
not exist beyond

the
veil, that
my mother, ravaged

by
cancer and
dead at 39,

there
in the life
between lives, young

enough
to be
my daughter, will

still
know who
she is, or

was,
during that
brief maternal chapter

of
my Book,
and will clutch

me
to her
breasts, that paradise

lost
but ever
sought these many

years
spent without
her, rediscovered in

the
loving arms
of other mothers.


* * *

Soon
enough will
arrive the morrow

with
its clouds,
forgetfulness, chores, projects

and
problems. On
a day like

that
it is
much harder to

see
the sun
behind the shoulders

of
a storm;
but it’s there.



Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Glenn Buttkus said...

Thoughts On Happiness


My grandfather used to say,
“Happiness is just those brief moments
in life when you’re not in pain.”

I loved my Pop, but
I must report he was a
hypocrite about happiness.

There was never a man
who loved life more,
or who could embrace calamity
with more grace.

He was an artist,
a Western landscape painter;
a master of clouds, mysterious valleys,
jagged peaks, and solitary protagonists.

As he aged, he struggled
with arthritis in order to hold his brushes.
I once told him, “You are an artist for the ages.
Never give up on your art, just paint your pain,
create color with your last breath”—
and he did, but pain emerged on the canvas
as beauty, as genius, as metaphor.

He stroked his joy into his oils, daubing it
onto dew bubbles, the gnarled dwarf trunks
of sagebrush, sunlight on a fencepost, moss
on a rock, the detail of bark on every tree,
the glint off Winchesters, smudges on leather
chaps, the rusty twists of barb wire, the big
veins on the hands of riders, farmers, and
mountain men.

Earl Melbourne Carpenter left us in 1986,
leaving his paintings hanging silently
in quiet rooms across five states;
but I still hear his Zorba laugh,
at midnight twice a week,
when he visits me. I can always
smell the rose oil in his hair
as I follow him back
into my dreams.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Cameron D. Mathews said...

Sliding

The grandfather clock
slides its way past 6 a.m.
Outside, garage doors open
and shut.
Front porch lights
make their way to bed
while the rest of us stretch
and move our sleepy bones.
School children bumble along sidewalks.
The sun casts shapes
of backpacks and bodies
onto the corners of every street.
A swell of geese above our roofs
creates a clever chatter that bounces
from house to house.
Every morning,
It is as if Earth wakes up with us
to this magical parade of life and light.
As the sunlight fingers
its way through the wooden blinds,
I thumb the sleep from my eyes,
smile, and let the light
slide in.

Jannie Funster said...

Let's Hear It For Goliath

He may not have worn Armani
Or had the cleanest nails
But he always went in swinging,
And slumbered late while the
Scholars and velvet makers
Worried their dreams away.

:)

Glenn Buttkus said...

Interlude


False spring is illusionary yet it remains spring-like and
the damned sprouts, blossoms, and pesky hatches of insects
don’t really know the difference, or care, rising fearless from
the soil, from eggs, from branches, all the while Mother
Nature gets her jollies [as a man I have often pondered on
why so many things in this world are referred to as “she”—
you know like boats, mountains, storms, cars, whims, urges,
trucks, machines, and even trains. Maybe it has something to do
with how it’s been a man’s world for countless eons, and still is
in too many backward societies, fraternal organizations, and
Catholic/Islamic countries where women are still chattel,
furniture, and sex toys; even the dullest of men should notice
that the Day of the Fem is upon us, big time, even in combat,
the ER, the courtroom, the bedroom and the internet chat-rooms,
but if God is large black woman and it is actually true that
Jesus was a very dark Jew with coarse nappy hair and the
brownest eyes possible, maybe the Romans had it right,
or was it the Greeks, no, the Aztecs, and it has always been
necessary to split up the sexes of our gods, and how long will
it be now that we have a black President, before we get a female Pope,
or Popette; yeah, I could dig it, for I would have voted for Hilary
Clinton if Barack had not kicked her butt in the primaries—
but then again “Father Nature” conjures up fairy dust and
garlands of begonias twisted into prissy crowns and baby’s
breath for a bow tie, and an image of a sequined Dame
Elton “Alice” John, so let’s stick with the Earth Mother
iconostasis, with mountains for breasts and ivy necklaces and
slender long fingers holding a sack of seeds tenderly]
as She swirls a mini-ice age onto the Florida peninsula and
gives the far reaches of the Northwest a winter pass—
probably by all rights, by universal law, if I weren’t such
a surly curmudgeon, I would feel an ersatz twinge of guilt
thinking about Haiti and Chile and those dusty middle-
eastern opium-smeared villages where Bush’s New Millennium
Crusades still rage through those brass-rimmed made-in-
America bullets and bombs that forge our actual foreign
policy, slay for petroleum, and mow down turbaned Infidels
like fields of winter wheat with a behemoth John Deere
combine—but I am, and I don’t, because for chrissake even
I have enough sense to realize that weather is fickle, temporal,
tentative, unfaithful as a harlot, just a lusty, or bothersome,
or halcyon, or treacherous interlude in each of my days.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Lynne Rees said...

What a brilliant response! I'm away for a long weekend from tomorrow morning, but here are a few feedback comments on the first few poems posted. I'll respond to the others next week.

@ Erin (Thoughts on Happiness)- this is intriguing. The quotation marks suggest another voice, a different voice to the bracketed comments, and the poem teases with eliptical comments, not giving itself up easily. But difficulty isn't something that should put us off a poem.

I sense a bitterness in the opening lines: the throw away comment of 'Keep it simple'. I don't get the 'vine' reference, and maybe the rhyme with 'line' is a little too heavy?

The black ring at the end feels ominous, it's not a celebratory gold ring, or diamond ring. So, for me, the poem is about the a relationship that's over, and one that the narrator is still hurt by.

@ Glen (Blood Donor): I like poems that begin in once place and end up somewhere totally different. I like the suprise of them. The list of characters who are 'blood donors', in one way or another, is vivid, and I think the poem is stronger when it focuses on specific individuals rather than generalisations (e.g. the opening few lines). For me, the transition from the 'nosebleed' to the next directly stated comments isn't convincing enough. Perhaps it's too abrupt? Perhaps I can't tie in the grammatical sense of the opening exhortation 'Give it up' to these lines? And once again, the shift to the idea of poetry is rather abrupt, and I'm struggling to draw connections between the outpouring of poetry and, e.g. the death of a the soldier, or some of the other images in that section.

But this is a strong draft, and the poem is here. I just think it needs to be more focused and edited to let a primary theme emerge.

@ Lu (The Angry Summer): Form is so good for controlling emotion. And that's true of this poem - the rhyme scheme and rhythm controls the narrator's anger though I can still sense it simmering there between the lines. Except, perhaps, in the last couplet, where the imagery communicates ideas of change/potential and seeing things clearly.

Great rhymes, Lu... (suppose/oath is excellent) except perhaps the last couplet. 'Orange' is notoriously difficult to rhyme with : ) and, for me, the rhyme with 'visage' feels forced, so attention is drawn to that, rather than what you're saying.

@ Martin (The Angry Summer) - strong sense of a particular life here, a particular person. Place names and proper nouns anchor a poem firmly for a reader - I like that. I also like the two parts of the poem - the picaresque stories in the first half contrast effectively with the lost love in the second half, and the longing the narrator still has.

Given the precision of the details I find myself trying to work out the geography, and progression, of white mountains, vineyards of Gaul, forests of Brittania, and I can't quite see it all clearly. Perhaps it's just a case of ordering? Though similarly, Rome pops up rather abruptly at the end, and I wonder it that's a little bit of a red herring?

Okay - that's all I have time for this evening. Have a good weekend everyone and I'll be back online next week.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Interlude: II

False
spring is
illusionary yet it

remains
spring-like
and the damned sprouts,

blossoms,
and pesky
hatches of insects

don’t
really know
the difference, or

care,
rising fearless
from the soil,

from
eggs, from
branches, all the

while
Mother Nature
gets her jollies

[as
a man
I have often

pondered
on why
so many things

in
this world
are referred to

as
“she”—you
know like boats,

mountains,
storms, cars,
whims, urges, trucks,

machines,
and even
trains. Maybe it

has
something to
do with how

it’s
been a
man’s world for

countless
eons, and
still is in

too
many backward
societies, fraternal organizations,

and
Catholic/Islamic
countries where women

are
still chattel,
furniture, and sex

toys;
even the
dullest of men

should
notice that
the Day of

the
Fem is
upon us, big

time,
even in
combat, the ER,

the
courtroom, the
bedroom and the

internet
chat-rooms,
but if God

is
a large
black woman and

it
is actually
true that Jesus

was
a very
dark Jew with

coarse
nappy hair
and the brownest

eyes
possible, maybe
the Romans had

it
right, or
was it the

Greeks,
no, the
Aztecs, and it

has
always been
necessary to split

up
the sexes
of our gods,

and
how long
will it be

now
that we
have a black President,

before
we get
a female Pope,

or
Popette; yeah,
I could dig

it,
for I
would have voted

for
Hilary Clinton
if Barack had

not
kicked her
butt in the

primaries—
but then
again “Father Nature”

conjures
up fairy
dust and garlands

of
begonias twisted
into prissy crowns

and
baby’s breath
for a bow

tie,
and an
image of a

sequined
Dame Elton
“Alice” John, so

let’s
stick with
the Earth Mother

iconostasis,
with mountains
for breasts and

ivy
necklaces and
slender long fingers

holding
a sack
of seeds tenderly]

as
She swirls
a mini-ice

age
onto the
Florida peninsula and

gives
the far
reaches of the

Northwest
a winter
pass—probably by

all
rights, by
universal law, if

I
weren’t such
a surly curmudgeon,

I
would feel
an ersatz twinge

of
guilt thinking
about Haiti and

Chile
and those
dusty middle-eastern

opium-
smeared villages
where Bush’s New

Millennium
Crusades still
rage through those

brass-
rimmed made-
in-America bullets

and
bombs that
forge our actual

foreign
policy, slay
for petroleum, and

mow
down turbaned
Infidels like fields

of
winter wheat
with a behemoth

John
Deere combine—
but I am,

and
I don’t,
because for chrissake

even
I have
enough sense to

realize
that weather
is fickle, temporal,

tentative,
unfaithful as
a harlot, just

a
lusty, or
bothersome,or halcyon,

or
treacherous interlude
in each of

my days.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Glenn Buttkus said...

Let’s Hear It For Goliath

An Existential Epic Essay & Revision of
Biblical Dogma:
The Classic’s Comic Version

David, as a callow youth,
a couple of Hebrew years before
he became King in Isreal
and was brought
to his naked regal knees
by the impressive wiles of Bathsheba,
was probably about 5 feet tall,
like picturing Woody Allen
in a shepherd’s toga.

He might have been
a shield bearer for King Saul,
or he might have been just
delivering sandwiches to his
several conscripted brothers,
depending on whether you read
the Masoretic, Septuagent,
or the Dead Sea Scrolls
version of “1 Samuel 17”.

The same could be said
for the exact height
of the Gigantus Goliatus,
reported to have ranged
from 6’6” to 9’6” tall.
I remember watching
KING DAVID (1985), directed by
Bruce Beresford,
in Bakersfield, California,
during a hellish sand storm,
and I recall that the actor
who portrayed Goliath,
Luigi Montefiori (George Eastman)
was 6’9” tall.
So I put it to you,
where is the truth,
the data, the real deal regarding
the actual Philistine champion’s
height in kilos & cubits?

We have been told that that there
they were, two vast opposing armies
faced off in the verdant naval
of the Valley of Elah,
and that for 40 days, twice a day
during the morning and evening
Jewish prayers,
gruff Goliath would stroll out
into the no man’s land,
and offer his bellicose challenge,
“Send out your champion,
you Israelite dog-humpers!”

He would curse them for an hour
until he became hoarse,
calling them every breed
of coward and sexual deviate,
bragging that yes, it was he
who had captured the Ark of the Covenant,
and that now it resided in the
Philistine Temple of Dagon.
Now please do not confuse
this oft told tale
of David & Goliath
to the earlier story
included in the Iliad
where the young Nestor
fought and slew the giant Ereuthalion,
for there is nothing new
under the holy land's sun;
and these kind of struggles,
where some kid defeats
huge adversaries in the desert,
were common as rebellions,
and a lot of religious spin
has been attached to them.

End of Part I

Glenn Buttkus said...

Let's Hear It For Goliath:
Part II

So,
you are cool with the drill, right?
Young David, with willowy arms,
and skinny bird-like legs,
on the 41st day of this event,
stepped forward, or was pushed
into the fray, and promptly he
declined the use of any armor,
locked and loaded as he was
with his trusty sling
and 5-7 polished rocks
he inched forward into legend.

Goliath,
aka Golyat, aka Jalut, aka Julyat
berated and scorned him, cursed him
in several dialects, and said
several mean things about his Mama,
growling, spitting, and howling
like a monster from Hades,
which is located
about 12 miles SE of Gath,
Goliath’s hood.

But the diminutive sheep-loving
shepherd stood his ground,
his tiny shadow dwarfed
by the dark girth of Goliath’s,
like standing next to
a two story building,
and in a high adolescent’s falsetto
David declared that the great God
Jehovah was standing beside him,
that he had warrior angels
on each shoulder,
that his river stones were magical
and that he would indeed slay him,
saying “Afterward I will give your
dead body to the birds of the air
and the wild beasts of the earth!”

and badda-bing, wham, pow,
and zowey-zing, David’s very first stone
whistled as it left the leather
of his sling and struck the big guy
in the third eye, crushing the front
of his thick skull, ramming that rock
an inch deep into Goliath’s brain.
I doubt that David said,
“Dude, I told you so!”
but he should have.
What he did was pick up
Goliath’s great sword, and cut off
the giant’s head with it.
Later he kept the sword,
displayed Goliath’s armor
in his woolen tent, and hand-carried
the twenty-two pound head all the
way to Jurusalem.

Man, I tell you what,
that tale is a downer.
I prefer a more romanticized version
where maybe Goliath has a slick
nickname, like Big Goli, has a homeless
sheep dog and a cute orphaned kid for
companions as he roams the Holyland
to the strains of Queen or Led Zepplin,
searching every week for injustices
to right, and villains to beat up.

I vividly recall back in 1957 when
Steve Reeves Italian muscleman movies
were way popular, and you know that I
thought Goliath was cool, only second
to Hercules for popularity and star power,
where stalwart Goliath was a greased-up
tanned terrific hero who always got
the princess by the final credits—
certainly you remember GOLIATH AGAINST
THE GIANTS (1960)with Brad Harris,
or GOLIATH AND THE REBEL SLAVES,
aka SON OF HERCULES(1963)
with Gordon Scott,
or GOLIATH AND THE MASKED RIDER (1964)
with Peter Lupus.

Hell, for decades comic book writers,
inkers, and graphic artists have been
flattering and kind regarding the
public’s image of Goliath, letting him
score with the chicks, be conflicted,
heal miraculously, and emerge
consistently as a winner. So hey,
how about it, you bible-thumping,
old testament-spouting,
Koran-quoting zealots out there.
Just chill.
Let’s hear it for Goliath.

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

Lane Savant said...

To all the gun fighters out there
To all the bad drivers.
To the clumsy.
To the stupid.
To the irresponsible-
and those who don't cover their

coughs

Have a pint on me.

Glenn Buttkus said...

Foal

Proud and statuesque he stood,
this ebon foal
on a rocky hilltop
in northern Nevada,
all Mustang male dreaming
of becoming first yearling
and then later,
after outrunning puma,
wolves, and Winchesters—
a strong black stallion.

Horses remember everything,
every kindness, every cruelty,
every danger, every passion,
and this frisky colt was
plugged into prehistoric visions
of his North American ancestors,
fox-sized, tapir-like,
forest dwelling;
the first equine, 20,000 years
before America was America;
genetically recalling the glaciers
and the coming of the Ice,
pushing the ponies
further and further
until nothing was left to them
but the land bridge, the entrance
to the lush green steppes of Asia;
loving especially those memories
of his short legs growing longer,
and his speed increasing with
his new height
and stronger shoulders,
how one day he became
Equus Prime.

His Iberian predecessors arrived back
in the Americas, strapped into stalls,
on galleons, with the Conquistadors;
first with Columbus in the West Indies
in 1493, and a few years later
with explorers--
Cortez, Coronado, and De Soto.
Their beautiful steeds were
of Andalusian, Arabian, and Barb blood,
with long manes and tails
and huge black eyes.
Some Native Americans stole them—
eating these strange “deer”
long before they learned to ride them.
Others bolted after hearing
coyotes or wolves,
ran off, or were abandoned.
The Spanish called them “mestengo”,
the lost ones.


These feral horses came to be
called Mustangs and their herds
swelled throughout the Southwest,
running free for hundreds of years.
They became the mutts of Equus,
part every breed that strayed
into their midst;
but in the past century
there were ignorant ranchers
who shot them to make more forage
for their cattle, and Mustangers
who trapped them for dog food.
Like the bison, their herds dwindled
until 1971
when the Federal Government
decided to protect them.

Yes, of course, when his parents,
Fury & Flicka,
made the Foal memorize
the Colt’s Catachism,
the Congressional Equine Litany,
he did.
He could recite every word of it:

“Mustangs are living symbols of the
historic and pioneer spirit of the West,
which continue to contribute to the
diversity of life forms within
the Nation and enrich the lives of
the American people.”

“Damn rights, Senator,”
thought the Foal,
“Now—watch me gallop
with my head and tail held high—
and eat my dust.”

Glenn Buttkus March 2010

rnga said...

This is a fun run, OK......


Thoughts on Happiness (and 'It')


By the way, what really happened?
Far back in time to that fruit tree,
a quince most probably,
that one, our great, grand, father grew,
plum central to the garden;
perhaps the last of its kind,
in what must have seemed an endless
and fabulous summer.
But one where his anger eventually boiled
over, when happiness - even in thought -
entered an interlude.
A suspension that has continued,
but for the rare glimpses in individuals.
And in which everyone and nature
became disposed to suffer;
that all should become givers
of blood; to surrender it,
spill it, share it, one way or another;
from the unsteady sweet foal
freshly born and vulnerable,
to the thunderous stride of Goliath.
Let's hear it for the man
whose fate, has been his only fame,
that of collapse from the thwack,
of David's devastatingly slung-stone.
And since those earlier beginnings,
with every single night
sliding through to every single day,
we've tripped into getting 'it' wrong;
because somehow a snake
happened to have slithered in,
unnoticed and unstopped.

Lu said...

Thank you very much, Lynne for your comments. I'll rethink "visage" in my revision.

Lu

martin cordrey said...

Foal

in my haste
too write a poem

i go fishing
without a hook


(L would you rather we do one poem only per excersice m?

Lynne Rees said...

Hello - I'm back from my trip to Wales and some responses to poems follow. I'll try and respond to every poem posted but if I have already commented in detail on one then any subsequent poems might only get a few words... it all depends on the time I have.

@ Keith: 'Interlude' - What I like a lot about this is the shift from the title to the first stanza, how the title sets up one thing/mood and the opening lines take me somewhere else. It's a suprise, and hooks me. I like too the consistency of imagery - wave/tsunami/storm/lake. And perhaps that could be returned to at the end of the poem, with a light touch?

I felt less sure about:

The injection of peace
in strident days;
set-apart holiness
of quiet.

These lines feel very general and I struggle with seeing/feeling anything in particular, i.e. I don't respond with my senses so the lines feel less experiential.

But a creative way of approaching this particular title.

@ Glen: 'Every Single Night' - The opeing is great, pulls me in to wanting to know who 'them' are. But I do feel that the poem is waiting to be carved out of this block, and would emerge more economic and stronger for cutting back on over statement. E.g. 'shaking, conscious, angry, and frightened' piles on the adjectives,and mentioning 'the chill night air' surely makes 'outside' redundant?

@ Martin: 'i'm convinced' - nice tanka shape to this, but it reads a little like an aphorism. Perhaps some kind of juxtaposition would help to shift it more towards poetry?

@ Glen: 'Sliding' - not sure the form is serving the content of this. The thoughts are expansive, yet the form is fragmented. And keeping poetry within a contemporary voice is quite important I feel, so:

Soon
enough will
arrive the morrow

might be better expressed without the inverted syntax and the archaic 'morrow'.

But I like a lot of this, particularly:
the sun behind the shoulders of a storm

@ Glen: 'Thoughts on Happiness' - lovely elegy for your grandad. Perhaps there's a stronger way to close the poem, stay with the images of his paintings perhaps?

Back in a while with some more comments.

Lynne Rees said...

And more comments:

@ Cameron: 'Sliding' - lovely exploration of the title word and the images are really engaging - precise and sensory. You might want to think about varying the syntax slightly. There's a tendency to use subject/verb to open sentences almost exclusively. And while that kind of repetition can be effective there's also the risk that it's an unconscious choice. So the structures - the clock/slides, garage doors/open, school children/bumble etc etc, begin to be noticed and that might undercut what you want to say. It could be enough to vary the opening of a sentence, e.g. 'Above our roofs, a swell of geese...'

I'm not making any hard and fast rule about syntax structures though, just suggesting that we become aware of unconscious patterns that sometimes slip into our work.

The poem has lovely rhythms in places. And perhaps you could afford to prune a little here and there. E.g. you might not need to directly say 'this magical parade of life and light' because you show it to us so beautifully through your imagery?

@ Jannie: 'Let's Hear it for Goliath' - this is quirky : ) It gives the biblical character another lease of life, makes him very real with his 'dirty nails'. Not sure I understand the last two lines? I suppose I'm trying to link them to what I know about the myth, and can't quite do that. But I love the phrase 'scholars and velvet-makers' - lovely jux.

Lynne Rees said...

And a few more:

@ Lane: 'To all the gunfighters out there...' - not sure which title this is in response to... but it could be Interlude, or even Getting It Wrong Again : ) I quite like the directness of this, although it's also elliptical in that it doesn't reveal the narrator's own interest in being 'clumsy' or 'stupid'... I have a bit of a problem in tying up gunfighters to the rest of the poem though.

@ rnga: well it might be a fun run (do you REALLY have EVERY suggested title in there??!!) but I like how this draft begins and ends. The 'plum' pun is probably a step too far : )) for a final poem, and the David and Goliath section might be hard to weave in subtley enough. It's great when having fun leads us to discoveries... I mean when we start out not intending to say anything in particular but the writing takes over and delivers us to some ideas and thoughts that are worth pursuing. Thanks for 'playing' : )

Lane Savant said...

Ah, yes, I should have mentioned the title, "Blood donor".
The pint is a red one made of iron.
I can see how not mentioning this might lead to confusion.

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather and his Apple Tree

I never had a conversation with my grandfather or
at least I don’t recall it. I have a photograph
of him outside my Aunt’s house, Aunt Margaret
and her sister (my mum) with their father dressed up
for an occasion, all together smiling, I’m glad
they are smiling. He wasn’t tall my grandfather,
he was thin, wiry looking in his best suit, perhaps
it was a Sunday, they’d been to mass or a christening,
mine perhaps, or maybe it was the day of the annual
fete, when prizes were given out for the best of- best
jam, best scones, best carrots, best potatoes and best
apples. I bet my grandfather would have won that- best apples
because in the back garden of the house where the picture was taken
was the most beautiful tree with the perfect blossoms and I
grew up calling it grandpa’s apple tree.

Eileen Carney Hulme

Lynne Rees said...

Hello Eileen - I like photograph poems. I like to read how the past is conjured up by precise details, and wonderings. This could be more economic, perhaps? And I also believe there's no reason why we can't 'presume' to know some things that we can't actually remember. Not that uncertainty can't work well in a poem too, but here there are a few - (not recalling, perhaps a Sunday, perhaps a mass or christening, or a fete) that build on one another and, for me, dilute the poem's energy, it's ability to imprint itself on the reader's mind? But a lovely draft poem, nonetheless. Grandad (and Grandmother) poems are precious.

y said...

blood donor
.
no matter how many
times i give away my
blood, it does not
drain the melancholy
numb the heart
dilute the distance between
us, blood of your blood,
bone of your bone –

they are pinching
the tube, extracting
the needle, icing
the collection bag –

you are already
so cold, long buried
in dreams, i place
a hand over my
right arm, apply
pressure to the
wound, our hearts are
orchestrating beats
.
20100320:2242
y

Albert said...

Sorry I'm over a month and a half late for this posting but this website has just come to my notice. Here is my attempt at "Begin at the Beginning"

Every Single Night

Mr Kafka lives in shadows
And shuffles through a silent world
With no sense of touch
Or sound
Or smell
Or anything.
Nightly in dreams he fights
the War of the Universe
On and on
And on
And on
Ad infinitum
Ad nausea.
And every night
Every loss
Every hurt
Every slight
Every oversight
Is revisited
Reanalysed
Dissected
Bisected
Triangulated
Splayed open
And experienced in all its glorious details
Again and again
And again
And again.
Until morning and then
Mr Kafka lives in shadows
And shuffles through a silent world
With no sense of touch
Or sound
Or smell
Or anything.

Lynne Rees said...

Hello, Albert. Thank you for following AppleHouse and posting your poem.

I like the form you've chosen, the sense of travelling deeper into something, which suits the night scene you've set up. Your repetitions are effective too in conjunction with the form. I think I'd prefer to have some more concrete/sensory detail to create more of a balance with the general statements and abstractions. But... that of course would contradict your lines:

With no sense of touch
Or sound
Or smell
Or anything.

But we do need to anchor a reader somehow... and sensory detail is one of the principal ways of doing that...and as you're using a narrator I think you could show
Every loss
Every hurt
Every slight
Every oversight
in more concrete ways.

Hope that's off some use.
L