Monday, March 31, 2014
I now have a book out, an inkling hope, available in paperback and Kindle format. Drawing from poems written between mid 2001 and mid 2013, this has been a labor of love. From this period, 128 poems have been selected that meet criteria for strong visual presentation, an element of timelessness and one or more of the following: potent metaphor or allegory, intricate yet tastefully evasive abstraction, a concrete storyline—real or imagined. Nearly every form I've worked with during this period is represented, including the sonnet, the villanelle, and the ghazal. However, it will delight some readers to learn that roughly half the content space is occupied by free verse.
This book contains three appendices. First, the notes, beautifully formatted, where editorial thoughts can be found on every poem. Second, an index of first lines, which is a very useful function that most older books of poetry possess. Last is an index of forms, where information is provided about each poetic form represented along with a list of those poems written to it.
The foreword is thoughtfully written by Daniel Barth, long time poet, author, essayist, critic, teacher, and friend. Dan has authored a number of books over the years, including Fast Women Beautiful: Zen Beat Baseball Poems and The Day after Hank Williams Birthday: Prose Pieces & Poems. His foreword serves to establish within the reader an open mind for what follows and sets the tone for a walk through a landscape of imagery, perspectives and spirits.
Those of you who have known me a while will think it's about time.
Sunday, March 16, 2014
She placed my hand here and there against her rounding belly, like a stethoscope feeling for sound. Then she exclaimed, "There! There! Do you feel it?" No, not at first. But a few moments later the universe sprang open before my mind and I saw clear to the ends of creation. All at once, everything changed—forever:
She took my hand and opened up the palm,
then pressed my fingers flush against creation.
For several moments, all was warm and calm
as summer waters steeped in meditation.
Then all at once a fluttering sensation
lightly tapped and thumped against my skin.
Deep in my chest a sudden palpitation
responded to the motion of my kin
still swimming in the nascent dark within,
still coalescing from the alcheringa
and waiting for existence to begin.
And then it seemed to me what tapped my fingers
was more than life itself—but every hope
that ever strove to ascertain its scope.
This is my first attempt at a Spenserian sonnet. I've used strictly rhyme for the end-line scheme, which is ababbcbccdcdee—fairly involved and challenging. On the d lines, "alcheringa" and "fingers" rhyme, technically, since rhyme occurs between accented syllables. However, I did want to use more a conventional rhyme here since this is my first Spenserian sonnet, but there aren't many words in English that have disyllabic rhyme with "alcheringa", and this is the word—along with its extended meanings—I really wanted to use here. I plan to write at least ten Spenserian sonnets over time since I find the form to be very interesting, but I imagine that in the end very few of them will rely strictly on rhyme to complete the scheme.
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
I think it’s always been in my nature to fill in the blanks when I take notice of an unusual situation or activity. I’ll create all manner of scenarios to explain what I just saw and accept it as reality until more information proves otherwise, information that may never manifest. What inspired this poem is simple; I saw a man around 50 tossing out some nearly dead plants. Then my brain went to work and created a story around it.
I’m tired of trying to keep these plants alive.
The leaves are few; they haven’t bloomed in years.
I’m weary from watching branches pale and die
that once would greet me with vivacious cheer.
Perhaps somehow they sense that she is gone,
my fragrant rose who swayed such vibrant hues;
perhaps they’ve lost the will for living on
without her touch—a touch that fell like dew.
I’ve tried to care for them as once she did,
to keep them green and rioting in bloom,
but all my work has left them nearly dead—
instead of blossoms, growing mostly gloom.
I guess it’s time to toss them out—and mourn,
for she is lost and never will return.
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
This is very loosely inspired by Walden Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts. The place created here for reflection and as a metaphor for the "I" behind the "I", the self beneath the self, the deep, dark, fathomless, impenetrable nature of being, is purely of the imagination. Yet, it is also a place I "know" and have sometimes been able to visit.
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Two of my wife’s uncles have recently passed away. The first after suffering a series of debilitating strokes, the first of which occurred around five years ago. The second about a year after discovering stage four cancer in his throat and enduring debilitating surgeries. I plan eventually to write memorial poems for each of them.
As I reflected on what it must have been like for the families of these men, a metaphor formed in mind and I found myself writing this.
This is my 20th sonnet, 10th of the Petrarchan variety. This completes my exploration of the sonnet form for now, unless some inspiration strikes.
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Imagery and metaphor do not express ideas and emotion; they evoke ideas and emotion. What's interesting about this is that those who read rarely even realize that these thoughts and feelings have been evoked from—not transmitted to—them through this process. As a poet, I'll sometimes look for imagery and metaphor that evoke from me feelings and ideas similar enough to the original inspiration to consider it worth sharing.
But, I also recognize that what each reader will experience from my words will be unique to them. So, while the poem may be "mine" from the standpoint of having authored it, the poem is also yours from the vantage point of reading and experiencing all it evokes.
|the resting place|
Thursday, August 8, 2013
There is a women's Christian group that meets at 7pm on Tuesdays at one of the coffeehouses I hang out at. They usually gather round a large meeting table near the table I tend to favor, so I'll often find myself listening in on their discussions—Not because I'm interested or nosy so much as because I possess the unfortunate inability to tune anything out.
Six to ten women attend this meeting, bringing a thin blue book with a title something to do with living a wholesome life as a Christian woman. Each week they discuss what they've read and share stories about what's going on in their lives, often giving one another advice on how to deal with this difficulty or that personal trauma. Considering all the personality types involved, it seems like they form a great emotional support group for one another.
About two weeks ago one of the women was visibly despondent throughout the discussion, so toward the end, after each of them had shared and discussed something from her week, they gently ganged up on her and got her to open up. She broke down into shuddering sobs as she attempted to explain what was going on with her. Turns out she was feeling overwhelmed and depressed by drama and chaos created by some of her close friends. Stuff that perhaps fewer men than women would understand or relate to.
This poem builds on some thoughts that formed in my head as they urged her to draw a line and demand that her friends respect certain boundaries.
|The Rarest Gem|
Peace of mind is a rare and precious gem,
shot through with deep unblemished shades
of autumn skies that never fade,
each facet polished to a cool aplomb.
It waits within the deepest, darkest clime
to be unearthed from rock and clay
and crafted in the light of day
by empathy and wisdom till it gleams.
So we must choose our friends with utmost care,
for there are those with whom it can’t be trusted,
who treat this jewel with disdain,
who scuff it up with gall and shame
until it’s rendered void of all its luster
and every thought is muddied with despair.
This is my 19th sonnet, the 9th of the Petrarchan variety.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
This one is for a kid who is remarkably lazy and unmotivated. Some people seem to believe that "promise" means "promised". This is of course not the case. Nothing is promised, even where there exists great promise. One way or the other, an effort is involved in realizing the potential of ones promise. This particular breed of potential manifests when one applies oneself to the task of of its development and refinement over an extended period of time.
Promise waits for no-one
and refuses to be known
by those who sleep in ruin,
who refuse to learn and grow.
Promise is the angel
who will never hear the pleas
of one who hides behind the
skirts of mere velleity.
Promise stops, however,
to listen to the soul
that struggles ever forward,
ever focused on the goal.
Promise sings in shadow
and will only come to light
for those who work to find her
where she plays just out of sight.
Promise gives no refuge
to the one who has no care,
who floats through life dependent,
weak of will and unaware.
Promise stoops to succor
him who stands and bears the weight
of tragedy and sorrow,
striving hard to change his fate.
Promise is potential
that will only sprout and grow
when fertilized with effort
and well watered with regard.
Monday, July 15, 2013
My favorite metaphors are the ones that don't tell you what they are. I know what this metaphor is, but would it really help you to appreciate the poem to know it before hand? Not sure, so I'll wait until after. If you want to know, you can continue reading after the poem. If you don't, then don't read beyond the poem.
The bridge is the function of memory, the far shore and the city thereon is the past, the sea is the gap between then and now, and the fog is the effect of time and age on the process of memory. The lanes being closed have to do with the age of the bridge and the fact that traffic from the city travels only in one direction, toward the observer of the past. In my case the past—my childhood in particular—is a dark and dismal place full of anger, confusion, and thinking errors.
This is my 18th sonnet, the 8th of the Petrarchan variety.
Saturday, July 6, 2013
I'm realizing that writing free verse is an integral part of my writing structured verse. In fact, I'm noticing that when I fail to spend some time exploring free verse, my structured verse suffers miserably and my overall creative flow backs up like a plugged toilet. Not a pleasant sensation.
I stumbled across some notes in an old composition book tonight and decided to flush them out a bit.
Maybe this is what I must do
read tangible silence
let my mind work over
stories fables histories
discoveries metered lore
until at last she stands on
and is lulled to rest
in the roaring quiet of
Thursday, June 20, 2013
I once came across a poem by Robert Service titled "A Hero" that really struck me. While in that poem the subject resolves to kill himself before succumbing to the urge to act out, I thought I'd try putting a poem together that looked back over having prevailed over such a demon. And I know such people are out there.
His story lies completed on the desk,
printed up in Times New Roman font,
stuffed within the gape of small black jaws
opened up so wide it seems they’ll break.
A ream of cover letters, neatly stacked,
all set to be dispersed in search of alms,
awaits the manuscripts as they are drawn
from off the output tray to be critiqued.
He knows beyond all doubt it will be published,
that it will be awarded highest praise,
for it reveals his journey through a darkness
that nearly swept omnivorous destruction
through countless lives across his span of days
and how he slowly learned to curb his demons.
This marks my 17th sonnet, the 7th of the Petrarchan variety.
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
They won't always inspire confidence when it comes time to send them out into the community, but you have to hope for the best and wish them well in any case. At the very least, they deserve a chance. And who knows? Sometimes they'll even surprise you in the best possible way.
|it's up to you|
we came together to guide your way,
to point you toward a better path,
to pull you back from where you strayed
in darkness toward the aftermath
of choices only made to fuel a fire
that raged within your soul a deadly pyre.
we shared the wisdom of our years
and tried to help you see that life
extends beyond the nearest curve
that looms before your mental eye,
and that real gains are much more far away
than what amusements rule your thoughts today.
we tried to fill you with a sense
of motivation to transcend
the tragedy of circumstance
that spawned your urgings to offend,
to grow beyond the sum of all you’ve known
and seize a brighter future as your own.
we tried to teach you self control,
to think of more than just yourself,
to contemplate how others feel,
to cultivate a growing wealth
of tools to ply against uncertainty
and into shaping opportunities.
but after everything we’ve done
to elevate the way you think,
it seems that you must be the one
to make the choice to swim or sink;
either way, we’ll wish the best for you
and hope you’ll choose what’s right in all you do.