The Ecstasy of the Agony

It’s not something I’ve found
very often, or even stumbled upon,
like if I was rummaging for
a lost golf ball in the trees.
My swings don’t bring much bliss,
and I don’t mean golf swings.
We’re speaking in metaphors here.
Bliss, euphoria and the rest
of their cousins gathered under
Roget’s roof never searched for,
let alone found me, either.
But I think I discovered something
equating to that joyously mystical
eruption of transcendence when
I harrow out the right words to tell you
how we feel, no matter my mood.
And that, my friend, might be ecstasy.

Quick one written from Robert Lee Brewer’s request for an ecstasy poem. I think other writers might experience this same feeling, or maybe kid themselves as I probably do, that we actually feel such joy in the creative strip mining of our souls.

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Silent, These Bouquets

When first we met, I thought you were so young,
hands smooth and eyes bright as shining star jewels.
And I’m sure no old poet’s words I sung
to you since back then I lacked any tools.
Dumbstruck, I could but only nod “Hello,”
or I could not express my true feeling,
in a heart that’d whisper, not bellow.
Even today I find my head reeling.
Voicing what my heart longed to say back when
ev’ry fiber of me still wants to shout.
Nowadays I take in hand this hack’s pen,
so on paper I try digging words out.
And still I sit silently hours and hours,
yearning to grow you poems like flowers.

My brilliant poet/teacher friend Bethany Pope encouraged me to try writing a double acrostic sonnet this morning. But I thought I should crawl before I ran. So I scribbled this single acrostic sonnet, a poem of fourteen lines in iambic pentameter (I think) with a rhyming scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. The tricky part is making the first letter of each one, read top to bottom, spell out something that relates to the theme of the poem. (Again, I guess.) So here’s my very first try, with an old message. 

The Conundrum of Carin’ From the Cairn

Here on this side of the craggy wall
my voice can barely raise a hum,
the music within me stillborn,
as I try, but any new words won’t come.
Yet still I sense your presence
on the other side of these stones,
idly waiting to hear a new song.
I can feel you in my bones.
I can’t dredge up a care if you’re there
just to hear what I have to say,
or waiting to catch if thoughts of you
I’ve woven in what I might spin today.
So it’s farewell to you and the words
you loved, hated, and even cried to.
My heart, my art, my gifts to you
can’t escape this cairn if they tried to.
Perhaps one day another might unearth
what’s buried ‘neath this rocky rubble,
a jawbone perhaps, which spoke once of love, hope
and grief before they all were too much trouble.

Once Upon a Time There Was a Writer…

Still Life with Lemons on a Plate. Vincent van Gogh, 1887

“What are you doing?”

“Trying to write a new story for my kids collection.”

“What’s it about?”

“I don’t know yet because I haven’t been able to start it.”

“Why not?”

“Because I keep getting distracted.”

“I only just came into the room. You’ve been in here for over an hour.”

“I’m blocked, Jeannie, okay?” 

“What does that even mean?”

“It means I can’t find anything to write about, or can’t get started for some odd reason…like being distracted by my daughter.”

“So this is my fault again. Here, let me help you begin.”

“No, really, I’d prefer it if you’d…”

“Once upon a time, there lived a shoemaker who couldn’t make shoes anymore.”

“Seriously, would you please…”

“So this shoemaker had a daughter, who was the most beautiful and intelligent girl in the kingdom.

“Where’s this going? I’d like to get to my work.”

“One day, the shoemaker’s daughter found her father staring at his work table, where he had all kinds of leather and tools that he had acquired from all over the world.”

“Go on if you must. Just…go on.”

“Don’t sigh so. So the shoemaker’s daughter said, ‘Don’t despair, Father dear. You just need to get away from all your shoe forms and glue pots and laces and come walk with me through the lemon groves.”

“Lemon groves?”

“Don’t stop me now. While they walked, the brilliant daughter filled her apron with the sour lemons. Her father said, ‘What do you propose to do with so many of those?’ And she replied, ‘I’ll crush these, taking their sour essence, add the sweetness of my sugar and make lemon tarts and lemon curd.”

“Lemon curd?”

“Shhh, I’m trying to help here. So the shoemaker and his beautiful and brilliant daughter returned to their house, where she did as she said she would, leaving a dozen untouched lemons left there on her counter. ‘You can have these, father. Perhaps you can think of something else to do with them,’ she said. Just then, a handsome young man was riding past the shoemaker’s house and smelled the lemon tarts the shoemaker’s angelic daughter had left on the window sill to cool.”

“No. You’re not going to say…”

“The handsome young man reined in his horse and walked to the window, drawn by the aroma of the sweetened sour lemons in their flaky pastry glory. At the window, he peered inside and saw the shoemaker’s daughter and was smitten by her beauty, intelligence and extraordinary housekeeping skills.”

“That’s a real stretch.”

“Please, I’m coming to the climax. As I said, the handsome young man was smitten by the shoemaker’s daughter. Let’s call her Jeanne Rose…”

“Convenient.”

“I repeat: Jeanne Rose. And the young man asked if her if he could sample her tarts. The oh-so-sweet Jeanne Rose said he could, but that she had no suitable libation for the young man to drink with his tart. Her father, seeing the young man and daughter setting off sparks between them, and knowing you can’t get rid of a daughter fast enough back in these fairy tale times, said, ‘Handsome young man, if you would be so kind as to fetch me a bucket of water from the well, I shall provide you with libation that you might even take with you on the road if you wish.’ So the young man brought a bucket into the house. The shoemaker crushed the dozen lemons into the water, added  enough sugar to make it ALMOST as sweet as Jeanne Rose, and presented it to the smitten young man.”

“Oh…kayyy…”

“Shhh, let me finish. Suitably puckered from this king’s ransom of citric goodness, the young man revealed—through  his tightly pursed lips—that he was the Prince, scouring the kingdom for the perfect bride to one day share his throne. Then the Prince placed said pucker on the lips of the pluperfect, might-as-well-be-a-princess Jeanne Rose, kissed her with a gentle passion and asked her to be his bride. ‘Yes, oh yes, my prince,’ she said. And they lived happily ever after.”

“Wait a minute. What about that poor bastard shoemaker?”

“Oh, yeah. Ummm, the King seeing his fine handiwork, though already having his own Italian shoemaker, named now-Princess Jeanne Rose’s father Master Saddlemaker of the Royal Tack for all his fine steeds and carriages. Which reminds me, could you give me a ride to the mall? I’m supposed to meet my prince at Starbucks in about fifteen minutes. Daddy? Daddy, did you hear me?”

“You could’ve just asked for the keys, Jeannie. They’re on the kitchen counter next to the lemons. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I may have found a way to turn this pile of chicken shit into Chicken Kiev. Or at least chicken salad.”

“Thank you, Daddy. Have fun. See you later.”

“Um-hmmm. Thank you, Princess. Enjoy your tarts. Hmmm. ‘Once upon a time, there was a…shoemaker…’?”

So I just sat to writing table today, much as the writer/shoemaker in this story. And, since my daughters are far, far away, I just started writing. And here’s what I came up with. Just dialogue. And I thought, “That was fun. Now what?” Back to the groves, I guess.

Blessed Sacrament

In the ever-Summer glare and heat
I found my life’s pain and regret
sanctified into something replete
with but little Hope baptized in sweat.
So the torment, no matter how holy,
still rips around my beaten heart
as if it was something mad and solely
bent and intent to rip it apart.

Perhaps I can hallow my vessel so hollow
with the heat from a different kind of light,
as good for my soul as the heart to follow,
soothing all my pain with its godly might.
And that’s why I’m here dipping pen in ink,
the black sprung from my soul to my heart.
Drawing pictures in words so we all might drink
of this sacrament that heals me called Art.

As I like to say, completing these pieces I share does not make me feel better. But all the time spent immersed in the process of writing them does. And that, my friend, is the miracle of Art, no matter how poorly rendered. 

Sesquipedalian

This poem is supposed to be about
any word that’s, you know, somewhat alien,
one that’s little known or multisyllabic,
as clear to most as if shrouded by a smoking kalian.
See, as a poet, you’d think I could pick from
a sackful, enough to share in a madrigalian.
But I’m just an opposing-thumbed, medium-brained,
somewhat upright-walking mammalian,
barely a member of the species that gave us
daVinci and Shakespeare, though not some rhychocephalian.
But if I could choose one big old word,
I’d throw a monumental party, something saturnalian.
And for those of you who love your drink,
enough libation would flow to float a bacchanalian.
But I can’t select one, so this poem’s another failure,
mostly ’cause I’m a piss-poor writer…oh, and piss-poor
sesquipedalian.

On Day #25 of the Poem-a-Day Challenge during this National Poetry (Writing) Month I was charged with picking an intriguing and/or seldom-used word, make it the title of the poem, and then, writing one. If you know me, then you know that decision-making cannot go on top of my list of strengths. It’s more like a feat of strength. So, choosing one word among the few I know (why else would I constantly make up all these hyphenated whats-it words?) was not going to happen. Hence you get this piece of spaghetti-tossed-at-the-fridge-door doggerel. Oh, and sesquipedalian means “tending to use long words,” coming from the Latin for “foot-and-a-half in length.” Works for me.

Fallen Upon This Deaf Ear

Fine, you don’t have to talk to me.
Show me the palm of your hand
and push me away. Your message
has always been clearer that way.
If we were to sit side by side,
face to face, I would only misconstrue
whatever flimsy bond of you and me
I could dream actually existing.
But I do long to feel your words
buffeting me like winds, freezing
and teasing, scolding and caressing,
their temperature and velocity
more important than their meaning.
They bump up against me and fall away
so that I must imagine their substance
and insinuation. But to not feel them
at all has left me voiceless,
spitting senseless utterances into a gale
where they become as lost as I am
perched here waiting to sense your meaning
if only you would speak to me once more.
Yes, I am the deaf ear to your words,
and it is I who will fall without them.

I am constantly coming closer to feeling I cannot make these clusters of words have any real meaning anymore. Be they poem or story, they lack the power, beauty and emotion of what I wrote even a couple of years ago, as far as I can tell. Maybe my misery has changed, beaten down by the silence I feel between me and the ones who fueled my creative flame. I would reach out for their words, kind or otherwise, but I’d only drop them before they reached the forge where I’d form them into something solid and shining. So you get rusty ore in this poem based on metaphor, the theme on this 15th day of April upon which I should be writing something better resembling poetry.