Sneak Paths

Wikipedia has let me down again, nothing I can link to about electrical sneak paths, which inspired a fairly decent lyric rough draft just now. It just needs an ending, one more solid.


My future
does not cut cross-grain,
up-river, or against the wind:
I flood the die and solder self
to self.

New Each Night

Perhaps if I were clever I would have revised last night’s tattoos but I have decided I could get nearly 10 new things drafted if I made myself keep looking forward. That’s a lot of Laieikawai retelling. So, first draft of “The Octopus Miracle”. No darlings to share yet, but I have learned that these poems may be alliteration-heavy and alternate first and third person. So. That’s two for two.

Rewrite until Urgent

I have Imbolc as my excuse: time of the year I traditionally try to emphasize my creativity. I have Job 2 travel to awaken the sleeper, as Paul’s father would say.

In the end, it is Robert Fisk that ignites the spark: (page 174) “At least 40 of them were told to prepare themselves for execution by firing squad by writing their names on their right hands and left legs with felt-tip markers; the guards wanted to identify them afterwards and this was difficult when ‘finishing shots’ to the head would make their faces unrecognizable.”

It isn’t done, it isn’t nearly urgent enough and I can’t (yet) get the meter at the ending to work out. But the beginning haunts me.

I'm out of skin.
The black felt marker
from the torturer
is wet with words

Poetry Friday: Night Light

Because today ripened and bloom autumnal chill, and because it is September 11th and I cannot help but think of war, although I do not wish to, I turn to Nancy Willard‘s poem “Night Light”.

This poem appeared in her book Household Tales of Moon and Water. When I was privileged to hear Willard read at the West Chester Poetry Conference a few years ago I forgot to bring along my copy. Instead, I brought her (then) new book up and explained that I had intended to have her sign Household Tales; she generously inscribed her new book thus:

This poem is in quatrains, except for the exceptional ending; I return to it for the repetition and for the thoughts, not the least of which is “its one trick: / it turns into a banana.”

Night Light

The moon is not green cheese.
It is china and stands in this room.
It has a ten-watt bulb and a motto:
Made in Japan.

Whey-faced, doll-faced,
it’s closed as a tooth
and cold as the dead are cold
till I touch the switch.

Then the moon performs
its one trick:
it turns into a banana.
It warms to its subjects,

it draws us into its light,
just as I knew it would
when I gave ten dollars
to the pale clerk

in the store that sold
She asked, did I have a car?
She shrouded the moon in tissue

and laid it to rest in a box.
The box did not say Moon.
It said This side up.
I tucked my moon into my basket

and bicycled into the world.
By the light of the sun
I could not see the
moon under my sack of apples,

moon under slab of salmon,
moon under clean laundry,
under milk its sister
and bread its brother,

moon under meat.
Now supper is eaten.
Now laundry is folded away.
I shake out the old comforters.

My nine cats find their places
and go on dreaming where they left off.
My son snuggles under the heap.
His father loses his way in a book.

It is time to turn on the moon.
It is time to live by a different light.

Full Moon Tonight

I am in a mood for Judith Wright poetry, to rail against the world and still find beauty. And the full moon tonight stops me turning pages at:

Old Woman’s Song

The moon drained white by day
lifts from the hill
where the old pear-tree, fallen in storm,
puts out some blossom still.

Women believe in the moon.
This branch I hold
is not more white and still than she
whose flower is ages old;

and so I carry home
this branch of pear
that makes such obstinate tokens still
of fruit it cannot bear.

Wright’s poem is in quatrains (four-line stanzas) with a rhyme scheme of ABCB, meaning that the second and fourth lines rhyme and the first and third have no relation to each other or to the even-numbered lines. I’d identify this piece as “heterometrical” because I think the lines are mostly iambic but rarely do they contain the same number of iambic feet. I like this “form” because it allows the reader to experience the rhythm of the poem and allowes the writer to use the visual effect of line breaks.

To me this poem speaks of the futility of beauty, and more: the persistence of beauty in spite of said futility.

The first line of the second stanza shocks me with its end-stopped-ness and its implications: men don’t? What is there to believe? What does that belief gain you or subtract from you? Lots of moonlit paths to pursue.

And what does the title tell me? That this is not the epiphany of a young woman, although the poem, by its existence, lends this epiphany to those of any age or identity. But it is the voice of a woman who feels she is past her prime and may be looking for a reason to keep going.

It’s a beaut.

Poetry Friday is hosted today by Crossover.

the net is lowest in the middle

Over at the New York Times tennis blog, Thomas Lin (no relation to me) posted this afternoon on Poetry in Motion. He quotes Robert Pinsky at length, embeds a YouTube video of Federer and Nadal reciting Kipling’s “If” (apparently arranged by the BBC circa during last year’s Wimbledon), and invites readers to post their own lyric commentary if so moved: “Got a French Open storyline you’re itching to put to verse? Send us your tennis poetry in the comment form below, be it a sonnet in iambic pentameter, haiku, free verse or a simple couplet. One request: keep it short and sweet.”

(As I note at my fandom journal, I actually do have some tennis poems starting to make a racket in my head, but they are unlikely to be either short or sweet by the time I get around to serving them up — which won’t be tonight in any case. It also just now occurred to me that once I upload my snapshots from a Paris “poetry garden” to their online album, I should tell all y’all more about it — it certainly helped rescue a somewhat-futile afternoon (short version: rode Metro across Paris (three transfers!) and waited in queue for Roland Garros evening pass; didn’t get it; consoled self with roses and people-watching).

Stumbled upon the Marais Mona Lisait this afternoon. It’s the Paris equivalent of a remainders bookshop (e.g., Afterwords or Daedalus), which is the Peg equivalent of a crack den, especially given that the second floor has a stash of bilingual poetry editions for 1.5 EUR each, though I managed to limit myself to three volumes: miscellaneous poems by Dante (Italian/French), Louis Macneice (English/French), and Robert Herrick (English/French).