Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"It’s a good round for a knockdown. It’s the right time of the night to throw the fight and leave the pieces where they fall... "

I guess I have some catching up to do.

The other week I actually found some old poems in an otherwise unused notebook. I vaguely remember writing them, but apparently they haven't seen the light of day in over a year. So I figured I'd air them out here...

This is the first, chronologically, of the two. It's a true Spenserian sonnet, which is nice when you can pull it off. I'm not sure what else I can say about it, seeing as I've already admitted that I only vaguely remember even being it's author. I can tell that it was probably during that period where I started to realize that my sentence structure followed rhymescheme much too rigidly (i.e. each quatrain was a separate thought). You can tell because how how desperately I made the theme of the second quatrain bleed over into the first line of the sextet.

"... the terror of the darkness in my face." -2/13/08

Without a mirror, I am many things;
I find no noble task I cannot do
And everything I want to be is true
Without the honest face reflection brings.
In stagnant pools there are no moving rings
To trouble or disturb the placid blue.
The surface shows the face I show to you
Until disturbed by force of living springs,
Confusion like a pond that's marred by rain.
And thus it is I find I clearly sense
The shadow on my heart when you are near.
My guarded, gilded icon seems profane,
The tapers I have lit, a great offense.
To see my face in darkness is my fear...


Friday, May 8, 2009

"If I had my way, if I had my way, if I had my way..."

First post in a while, I realize.
Standard Spenserian with my signature 15th line-title.
Only notable trivia is that this one went through two complete sextet/title combos.  I'm posting the final version first, with the unsatisfactory version second. Which do you prefer?

"... May this sad koan to my bread be yeast." -5/09/09

Now come, Delilah, lay your shears aside;
I tire of losing strength and losing hope,
Just tie the hair you've cut into a rope.
Although the separation means it's died,
In that is found the downfall of my pride
And narrowing of my potential scope:
The end of my ability to cope
And all salvation that was there implied.

So, from this state, can one who once began
From this bald place restart, though now the less;
And if I start the climb, perhaps the beast
May one day find himself where once a man
Had bravely dared to stand and to confess
That he was not his maker in the least...

(Unsatisfactory version)
"... Restore me to the race which once I ran" -5/9/09

Now come, Delilah, lay your shears aside;
I tire of losing strength and losing hope,
Just tie the hair you've cut into a rope.
Although the separation means it's died,
In that is found the downfall of my pride
And narrowing of my potential scope:
The end of my ability to cope
And all salvation that was there implied.

Perhaps a worm might crawl into that mess
and tangle, till he reach the topmost knot
And find himself a beast, where once a man
Had bravely dared to stand and to confess
That he was not his maker, though he sought
The one who did, and most of all who can...


Saturday, April 18, 2009

"Earth below us, drifting falling, floating weightless..."

My first entry in some time, I realize.  Lent was, in some ways, more a time of incompletion than completion.  Exemplified, perhaps, by this piece.  The first octet was written during Lent.  When I came to the end, however, I wasn't sure how I wanted to finish it.  The final two lines that I had were: "At times it seems too hard to run the race / When all the laurelled ones are watching you."  bit I wasn't sure how to arrive there, so I ended up abandoning it.  Plus, having written so many self-pitying poems already that Lent, I was unsatisfied with the final sentiment.

So then yesterday morning (or two days ago, very late at night), I got a sextet.  Upon searching for a piece of paper to write it down, I wrote it upon the same sheet as the aforementioned octet.  I then realized that the sextet actually completed the previous octet in a way that was currently satisfying to me.  It's strange because I don't usually leave things unwritten.  Or at least, I don't usually go back to fragments.  I don't usually find them meaningful except on the night that they are created and subsequently abandoned (My inability to revise or revisit works being the core of my failure to produce any work of length).  So this is a little bit of a novelty, and the two pieces may hang a little tenuously.  

As it stands, however, I am simply glad to have completed it.  Unfortunately, I didn't date the paper for the first segment, and I feel that the date for the second segment doesn't really convey when the entire piece was written, or the fact that it took shape over time.  Perhaps the length of time between the segments, or its significance, are lost on the casual reader.  Oh well.  In form, it is an entirely typical sonnet for me.

"... And run this race as if I ran to you." -4/18/09 & Previous

Of all the rose, Saint Francis loved the thorns
But shower me with petals all the day.
When Moses spoke with God, he left with horns
But, though I speak, unchanged I walk away.
And Peter was instructed by his Lord
That Romans would direct him what to wear
Then lead him to the wages of his Word,
A prophecy which I could never bear.

I live in such an ordinary day-
to-day, and run at such a staggered pace
that, soon as I commence, collapse, am through.
I know I need to find a diff'rent way,
This stop-and-go's no way to run a race,
I need to set my eyes on something true...


Monday, March 30, 2009

"You got a fast car, but is it fast enough so we can fly away?"

Updates have been lacking due to this past and current week being finals week/s.  However, this morning I was looking for an old poem to read again and, searching for it on the blog, I realized that I never uploaded it.  It must have been written during one of my long non-posting periods.  In any case, it is a poem that I am currently feeling so I'll post it up now.  Sometimes it is comforting to read something old that documents a place that can otherwise be hard to remember.

This one was written during the week in Israel.  We were staying in a kibbutz named Nof Ginosar (not rhyming with Dinosaur, sorry Claire), translating roughly (if memory serves) to "The Prince's Garden", which I guess was an old name for the region.  It was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and the scene described below happened pretty much as transcribed.  The guide had been telling us about Tiberius' history that day, but I have to credit Reez for the image of Tiberius at night as a rack of votive candles.

It has a sincerely strange rhyme-scheme, though it was quite a late hour so perhaps I wasn't trying for one.  I should definitely try to write something in this or a similar scheme again though... for funzies.  The scheme is: abbc abbc deeffg
It is also written roughly in dactylic trimeter (ending regularly with an extra stressed syllable), with a few lines starting with an extra unstressed syllable.

"The Window of Nof Ginosar" -3/12/07

The Lord woke me up at a quarter-to-five,
Calling from outside the window to me,
Speaking of faith and of storms on the sea,
And Christ in the sailboat, appearing to sleep.

Then I, for an hour, proceeded to strive,
Struggling to learn of this great mystery,
Thinking of faith like the storms on the sea:
A faith that’s unmoved as the Galilee Deep.

Oh distant Tiberius, built on the dead,
Can branches still grow from the root that you hide?
Burning like candles across the far side
And drawing my eyes to the twinkling span:
A lake bearing footprints of God and of Man.
Oh votive Tiberius, pray for us.

"We gotta make a decision: we leave tonight or live and die this way."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"In our darkest hours we have all asked for some angel to come sprinkle his dust all around..."

A perhaps little-known fact: Freshman year I had General Psych with... I no longer remember his name but he was Polish.  In any case, every class he presented us with his typed notes, usually a 20-30 page bundle. For each class.  So, even though most of the information was so basic that I didn't need the notes, I saved them for use as scrap paper rather than throwing them out.  I put them in the back of my archive folder so, with the exception of the Metaphysics poetry, most of what I've written since has been on the back of these notes. It sometimes yields an interesting subtext and, this past time, inspired a little introspection.

The previous poem (see post below) was written on the last page of a study guide, and the title of this current poem is the last question from that guide. I realize that it's long, and a somewhat pretentious thing to name a fourteen-line poem, but I wanted to include the full context of what spawned my subsequent meditation.

This one has two Shakespearean quatrains and an Italian sextet.  I like the first quatrain a lot. I have been trying to break my habit of ending sentences or phrases with linebreaks because I think that it, overall, makes for a more interesting, less stilted sound.  I only really managed that in the first one though.  The quatrains flowed without much difficulty, but the sextet was harder.  In part because I wasn't sure how well it fit with the quatrains thematically (although it followed fairly directly in my mind) and in part because it was simply something that was hard for me to write.  But you all know what to expect from me by now.

"72. Define similarity, closure, continuation and nearness as they pertain to perception." -3/11/09

I came at You with eyes flung open wide.
With elbows locked, I felt around for such
a thing as curled fingers may abide,
but I found nothing dead enough to touch.

I came at You as if You were a thought.
I tried to box You in with ev'ry tool
but, when I looked inside the cage I'd wrought,
found nothing dead enough to heed my rule.

I'm told that You are close to me in kind:
that I, from clay, was in Your image set.
But You're a spirit that I cannot see,
a word that will not fit inside my mind
and, worst of all I have not uttered yet,
a Father who so scarce resembles me.

"Cause this is nothing like we'd ever dreamt, tell Sir Thomas More we've got another failed attempt..."

Monday, March 9, 2009

"Fight to the death, I'll see you in the next life..."

Welcome to Insomnia Theatre.

I have, as usual, had a final line floating in my head for the past several days, just waiting for some idea of how to reach it.  Often my poems start from the end like that. The self discovery found in the process of writing is not what conclusion I'll arrive at but rather the realization of how I arrived there.

In any case, after about 40 minutes of lying wide awake last night (was it the time-change? Who knows...) I got an inkling of a first line.  After rolling over a few times and trying not to think about it, I got up and scribbled it in the dark before jumping back into my bed. Which I exited not many minutes later, trapped by the fact that a first line begets a second.  So that's the story behind this one.  Luckily, it didn't take long and I was in bed again within about twenty minutes, able to fall asleep.  I wonder if perhaps the fact that I don't allow myself much interior time during the day results in this racing brain syndrome after I turn out the lights and everything is finally quiet. I swore that I was going to force myself to reflect more this Lent. So far, I haven't done much.

This is a somewhat irregluar sonnet. The octet is in Shakespearian format (abab, etc) except that I reversed the order on the second quatrain to attempt to duplicate the beatiful 4th-5th line transition in an Italian/Petrarchan quatrain (abbaabba). I'm not sure if this moment strikes you like it does me, but it seems like there is always this moment of transcendance when, finished with a quatrain, you hear that "a" rhyme again right after. It's like a second volta. It's like the moment that you reach the top of the hill and, after going up for a while, first feel gravity begin to pull you down.  So, in any case, that's the effect that I was going for.  The sextet is in a typical Italian form (cdecde), and even has a proper volta! I was so proud of myself. Okay. I realize that few of you read this paragraph, because it was fairly dense. But hopefully the Lit majors at least appreciated it. My point was that, in an attempt to duplicate the effect of the center of an "abbaabba", I made a "ababbaba" and I think it worked out pretty well.  The title is, as ever, my spectral fifteenth line.

"... Then find myself a craven thing, a snail." -3/09/09

So ready to betray, the fearful heart,
Which finds itself unable e'er to bend.
And so, although it once was coaxed to start,
So ready finds itself to make an end.
It finds no bond to hold it in a friend,
For self-protection is its given art.
And so, when challenged, rather than defend,
At soonest sign of danger it will part.

This story, told in third, tells not as well
As that which, told in first, would sure excite
Emotions suiting truth within a tale.
The truth is: though You braved the Scorn of Hell,
I fear that I myself would lack the might;
I flee when "in this sign" I think I'll fail...

All in all, I think that this is the first thing that I've written in over a year that just flowed without feeling forced and, in fact, without respect for my sleep schedule. I think that's why I've been writing so much about the process of writing it. It just feels so good to get a dash of inspiration again, whatever the merits of the product.

"With a dull blade, could take all night."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

"There's no place on Earth I can hide from the wrong I've done..."

I am not entirely sure how this one turned out... Any of those reading it: I need your opinion regarding the final sextet. When I started, all I had were the final two lines, which were in iambic quadrameter, so I decided to do a quint-quad-quad (x2) format for the sextet.  What I need to know is: when you read it aloud to yourself, does it sound good? Or stilted?
EDIT: Based on my judgement, I changed the sextet to petrameter and have therefore changed the poem in this post.

In any case: this is Lenten. I sat down and made myself write it so, by nature, I am somewhat unsatisfied with it. It seems like, thematically, the first quatrain doesn't entirely mesh with the second. But in any case, I may change it later, but here it is.

"... but as I give the order, shed a tear." -3/02/09

Your eyes, like Circe, change a man to beast.
I've stared in, long and deep, and every time
The sacrifice I make may seem the least,
Forgetting: ev'ry compromise is crime.

I heard a voice today from wilderness;
I heard today the voice of locusts talk,
With honey on his tongue bade me redress:
He bade me to the Jordan River walk.

So I must weigh the things that I hold dear.
Although before I'd lose you I'd be dead,
Because of this I know I'll ne'er be free.
I know myself, and this is what I fear:
I'd freely give you John the Baptist's head
If ever you should deign to dance for me.

"... All or what little pleasure exists, seductively sold and uselessly mine."