PROMPT #356 – LEFT OF CENTER, RIGHT?

Write one. A left poem, a center or middle poem or a right poem. Left Out to Dry. Stuck in the middle. Right Kind of Wrong. You know where to take it and make it sing.

MARIE’S POEM:

ALL I HAVE LEFT

To say I’m right-dominant’s right.
My left side is nowhere in sight.
It’s like it went missing.
I’m left reminiscing. 
I have nothing left.  It’s my plight.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S POEM:

PICKLED IN THE MIDDLE

Drinking to excess
is not considered a success
if you can still stand,
or still stand still.
The difference between
falling and staying erect,
is just failing at being erect.
In the middle you're suspended
until you're upended.
Then the drink's on you!

(C) Walter J Wojtanik 
Marie will be in the middle of nowhere this week as she and hubby Keith embark on their annual trek to their personal Mecca, the cabin in Hocking Hills. She may join us, internet connection permitting. Her escape is well deserved.

PROMPT #355 – HAVE CARD, WILL TRAVEL

Well, I will have hit the road to head up to the North country to spend Thanksgiving with my daughter and son-in-law and his family. Haven’t been up in over a year and a half. So the car will be loaded up and I’ll be traveling.

Think of a mode of transportation and write it into a poem. Planes, trains and automobiles. Snow shoes, roller blades. Covered wagon (if you’ve got one). Head to your destination and tell us about it poetically. Even a garden cart to the back yard is going somewhere. Give us a view!

MARIE’S MODE:

Remotely Interested in Travel

With suitcase in hand as she leaves,
the thought of it drives her to heaves.
Oh what joy it might bring
but it isn’t her thing,
so she now leaves it up to Rick Steves.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S MOVE:

NORTH TO OTTAWA
Four-wheeling across the state,
the slate is clear. I am here
steering this starship, hip 
to the restrictions in place
to keep the world safe
from miniscule bacterium,
people staving I'm
with a smile hidden behind a mask.
The task not taken in 18 months.
Up to the Great White North
to spend Thanksgiving with
my daughter and her family.
Giving thanks for this gift!

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2021

Published? Do tell, Barbara E. Young!

How I Built A Book (insert laugh track)

If you can create a poem, you can create a book of poems. Period.

I was looking for someone to republish a chapbook whose publisher had decided to retire right after putting my chap out. The first place I queried (they had published books for two people I know) replied [more or less] that yes they did republish, and they would be willing to read the chapbook, but did I have enough material for a book-length collection? They’d really prefer that.

I had done any number of gift booklets, samplers, and mock chapbooks, as well as two published chapbooks; and I certainly had poems. So: Sure.

Having a publisher willing to look at a manuscript—without paying some contest entry fee—was a massive piece of good luck, but the tradeoff was time. I did not have the luxury of months or even weeks to assemble, refine, and rewrite a target minimum of seventy-five poems. The chap had eighteen.

I tried to turn that into a single, unified “poem” of a book, and that was NOT working, when I noticed (duh) how many books of poems (research) were broken into sections, like chapters. Like chapbooks. hmmm. I had two chapbooks, both with extra, associated poems that hadn’t fit for space. That was the beginning.

It is easier to work with several smaller units than with one large one.

So I set aside the poems for those two sections and started in on a third, new one. And this is essentially my process for putting together a chapbook. Even if my memory were as good as it once was, I would have printed out almost everything resembling a usable poem. Waste paper. I have no guilt. Everything gets to be read again and again. Spelling, punctuation, lame words, better phrasing, etc.



First piles. (at this point there is no theme, no nothing)

Short poems and fragments (Enough for a section of their own? Punctuation?)
“Finished” poems
“Needs work.”
Potentially useful (a fuzzy category, but I can’t function without it)
No way, José (“Why did I print out a Christmas poem?”)

No Way—into a box
Shorts and Potentials—into open boxes


Second (and third, etc.) piles

Poems that MUST be in the collection
Other good poems
Favorites
This is interesting
Probably not
I don’t think so
No

The four “best” I laid out to begin and end the section, and I started looking for similarities. Tone, theme, sound, look. Don’t want any that are too similar—set one of them aside. Nothing jarringly different.

Eventually, every poem is like a line for a larger poem, and it is a matter of arranging them so that a reader can go from one poem to the next, not seamlessly, with a sense of rightness. Maybe a little surprise, because there are surprises within poems. I had to do some rewriting to make some poems fit.

And plenty of changing my mind about what constituted a good beginning/ending/middle. But the time came when I couldn’t take anything away or add even my favoritest favorite without damaging the integrity of the whole. Can’t explain that: it just happens.

Then back to the other two sets, repeat the above—adding some, taking some out, tinkering.

And finally back to the computer, and revised the individual poems’ files. Set up the compiled book both as .doc and pdf. Sent it to a couple of people, hoping they would catch any embarrassing mistakes. Tinkered some more.

Sent it to the publisher. From there, the pride-swallowing, comma-eating process.

If I were advising someone without that existing chapbook structure that simplified building Heirloom Language, I would suggest creating sections that serve the same function. Choose three or four, or five (if you have enough material) of the strongest pieces. Strong, because they will collect similar poems to them—magnets for light poems, or father poems, or poems with lots of trees, maybe something subtle like water flowing downhill in one poem and cars in another and in a third changing jobs. Let those be your anchors.

Barbara

Heirloom Language

Madville Publishing

Published? Do tell!

Good morning, everyone!

Have you published a book of poems? If so, may we pick your brain? If you are willing to share your process, we’d love to hear all about it. Here are some questions to get you rolling, but feel free to simply tell us anything you feel would be helpful for those who have never dipped a toe in the waters.

– What steps did you take to determine the length and style?

– How did you wade through your possibly thousands of poems?

– What route did you take? Traditional? Indie? Self?

If you would like to share your experience(s)/advice with us, please e-mail your submission to poeticbloomings@yahoo.com . We will gladly post your sage advice. If you wish to include the names of your published works and links to follow for purchases, you are welcome to do so.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

PROMPT #354 – EDWARD HOPPER

It seems the paintings and works of artist Edward Hopper are great fodder to inspire other artists in their endeavors. We as poets have come across this from time to time. Many an Ekphrastic poem has sprung from these offerings. Some show the desolation of the human condition, or the interaction of the same.

Today I offer three such works for your poetic interpretation:

“Room in New York”
by Edward Hopper
“Hotel By a Railroad”
by Edward Hopper
“Sunday”
by Edward Hopper

Each painting expresses something and it’s your job to relate what it says to you. Choose one and tell us what you see!

MARIE’S VISION:

Room in New York (An American Sentence)

Here she has a house, but longs to be there, even if in one small room. 

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

#seventeensyllables

WALT’S VIEW:

ANY GIVEN SUNDAY
The man had many hang ups,
and this one will have him hung over
all day. Another Sunday with nary 
a prayer on his lips, but plenty of
Jack Daniel’s on his breath.
He curses God for his lack of strength
in battling his demons, for they’ve
cost him his job and his family.
Responsibility was never his, 
and he wasn’t laying claim to this.
On any given Sunday you’ll find him
pissing his life away; he thinks
he’s keeping his demons at bay.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik – 2021

PROMPT #353 – TAKE COMFORT WHERE YOU CAN GET IT

Autumn is upon us and as the season takes hold we take comfort wherever we find it. It could be from a bowl of hot soup, it might be a warm blanket or a seat next to a warm fire. What is your comfort? We’re writing a comfort poem!


MARIE’S COMFORT:

Fall


There’s a chill in the air. Just enough to grab a sweater
and cute boots.
Enough to birth sweet, crisp apples.
The kind of perfect chill that calls my dad to mind -
the pride I felt watching him direct the Star-Spangled Banner
for the football pregame on a perfect autumn afternoon 
that smelled of popcorn and stadium dogs. 
The kind of chill that warms my heart and feeds my joy.

Fall:  The season of my heart.
Fall:  Collapse.

As I drink in the season, life collapses at the feet of a friend.
She writes of the woeful loss of her husband
with words that both singe and chill.

I know her only from afar, 
but I know her. 
How often have her stirring words
and soothing photos of the beauty surrounding her
touched my heart, and lifted my spirits?
How often has she bravely shared the slow slide of Alzheimer’s
as it stole her sweetheart far too soon?
When the news came to me,
I spent much time vainly stringing words
and counting syllables -
only to realize there’s a chill in the air,
and no words warm enough.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

Dearest Janet:  May you feel the strength of our Father’s love, and the warmth of your Poetic Bloomings family.  Gentle hugs …

WALT’S EASE:

ALLA FREDDA TUA CAPANNA

To Your Cold Hut (Translated)

In my travels, I have seen great opulence,
I have seen great want, just a scant spec of existence.
But even such a life will spark a persistence to survive.
The key is to keep alive. As the seasons transform
from the warm climates to a chilled alternative,
it is imperative we care for those sisters or brothers.

I will come to your cold hut
bringing a meal to feed you,
a warmth to fill you and seed you
with the spark of life meant for all.
I will call on you to bring you sustenance.

I will come to your cold hut
bringing clothes more substantial
than the tatters you cling to in modesty.
I honestly care to share with you
to fill your chests with my excess.

I will come to your cold hut
bearing logs for your fire,
meant to stoke the desire within you.
It is within you to lift yourself up
in the glowing warmth of love’s flow.

I will come to your cold hut
to comfort you in your time of sadness,
hoping to fill you with the gladness
which your life truly deserves.
It preserves your sanity, your humanity.

I will come to your cold hut
to share the joy of Christmas,
bearing gifts of life
meant to lift your strife
and bring you its blessings through love.

I have a purpose to help where I can
and be the kind of man I was meant to be,
to see the suffering of others,
buffering my sisters and brothers
from its pain, again and again.
And I will come to your hut in love.

In that, I take pause.
I am (everybody’s) Santa Claus.

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

PROMPT #352 – MANY FROM ONE

On Wednesday, during our exploration of Wallace Stevens’ work through his “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, I instructed you to be mindful of this piece of poetics. Stevens observed his subject from many different angles, yet staying true to his subject, blackbirds.

I ask that you choose a subject, be it something in your travels or something in your realm of influence, and write your observations in as many parts as you see fit. The point of view is all yours. There is more than one way to skin a cat, so they say. There are many views of your chosen subject. Write them!

MARIE’S OBSERVATION:

GOLDEN DOOR

1.  Statue of Liberty

Mother of Exiles:
the unofficial greeter
who lights the entry.

2.  E pluribus unum (from many, one)

Though it may sing, the
human voice can’t, on its own,
create harmony.

3.  Breathe Free

Asphyxiated,
come! Inhale liberty, and
exhale oppression.

4.  Golden Door

Inexpensively
opening up a child’s world:
Little Golden Books.

5.  Rings True

You opened my heart
and sealed life-long allegiance
with just a gold band.

6.  Treasure Box

To the hungry child,
the dream door to open is
a fridge full of food.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021




WALT’S WIDE VIEW:

THE CHRISTMAS STAR

I

It shines in the night
To the children’s delight,
Clear and bright
It makes the world seem alright!

II 

They came from afar
At the behest of this star.
Leading them to the place
Where the Child born of grace lays.
Above Him it stays.

III

Twinkle, twinkle Christmas star
High in the sky is where you are.

IV

In the silence of night
The shepherds take comfort
By your fervent glow.
Angels call and the keepers know
That they need not be afraid.

V

Multitude of stars shine
But their combined light 
Is not as bright as the one star,
A constellation of itself.

VI

Christmas comes
Not in foil wrapped boxes,
Not with ribbons and bows.
God knows where the Son rises
And there are no surprises to find.
For where the star glows
Can salvation be far behind?

VII

Polish tradition states
That the meatless meal on your plate 
is not consumed before the star’s first light is seen.
A familial scene of togetherness.
The adults prepare their Christmas eve fare,
While the children keep watch in the skies.
Soon the starlight will come.
Star light, star bright, first star we see tonight!

VIII

My eyes don’t deceive,
For every time I leave for my flight
On that special night, the Star of Christmas 
shows its bright light. Christmas has come once again,
and I and my reindeer friends embark
into the dark night with only that star to lead.
Everywhere the starlight touches
Does as much to announce the day.
And I in my sleigh bow my head at that blessed sight,
I am Santa Claus, and all is right. 
It is Christmas!

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021


POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM # 70 – “THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD”

This week, the tables have been turned. Instead of me introducing you to new works by a previously lesser known poet, I have been taken to school on Wallace Stevens. I thank Daniel Paicopulos for steering us in Mr. Stevens direction.

More than any other modern poet, Stevens was concerned with the transformative power of the imagination. Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life.

Though now considered one of the major American poets of the century, he did not receive widespread recognition until the publication of his Collected Poems, just a year before his death.

Stevens died in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 2, 1955.

Wallace Stevens
Wallace Stevens – 1879-1955
THIRTEEN WAYS OF LOOKING AT A BLACKBIRD



I

Among twenty snowy mountains,
The only moving thing
Was the eye of the blackbird.

II

I was of three minds,
Like a tree
In which there are three blackbirds.

III

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.
It was a small part of the pantomime.

IV

A man and a woman
Are one.
A man and a woman and a blackbird
Are one.

V

I do not know which to prefer,
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

VI

Icicles filled the long window
With barbaric glass.
The shadow of the blackbird
Crossed it, to and fro.
The mood
Traced in the shadow
An indecipherable cause.

VII

O thin men of Haddam,
Why do you imagine golden birds?
Do you not see how the blackbird
Walks around the feet
Of the women about you?

VIII

I know noble accents
And lucid, inescapable rhythms;
But I know, too,
That the blackbird is involved
In what I know.

IX

When the blackbird flew out of sight,
It marked the edge
Of one of many circles.

X

At the sight of blackbirds
Flying in a green light,
Even the bawds of euphony
Would cry out sharply.

XI

He rode over Connecticut
In a glass coach.
Once, a fear pierced him,
In that he mistook
The shadow of his equipage
For blackbirds.

XII

The river is moving.
The blackbird must be flying.

XIII

It was evening all afternoon.
It was snowing
And it was going to snow.
The blackbird sat
In the cedar-limbs.

I chose this piece by Stevens for its study of a single simple subject. Keep this thought in mind as we near the next Sunday Seed! 😉 Walt.

PROMPT #351 – THE DAY AFTER

Today is September 12th. Twenty years after The Day After. We’re writing “The Day After” poems. You decide what day you are referencing and write that poem. “The Day After Tomorrow”, “The Day After I Lost My First Tooth”, “The Day After The Earth Stopped”… Let’s revisit that day. The day after.

MARIE’S EXAMPLE:

The Day After

If it comes,
the day after
holds no guarantee.
No absolute assurance.
No perpetual protection.

The day after
comes with promise.
With lessons.
With knowledge.
With newness.

It is ours 
To perceive.
To learn.
To discern.
To embrace.

The day after
is a gift.
Be thankful
if it comes.

© Marie Elena Good, 2021

WALT’S EXAMPLE:

THE DAY AFTER I’M GONE

There will come a day 
when I'll no longer be.
I'll be free of this mortal coil
and foil anything that would spoil
the world I leave behind.
The day after I'm gone
music will still play on,
filling every ear with a clear vision
of all that it conveys.
The love I feel for those that stay
behind will be kind and long lasting,
casting little doubt of what my heart was about.
My poetry would be a decree
of all my heart was able to see,
a gift from me to all who find that my words
touched their hearts deeply.
On that day, the day after I'm gone,
the sun will still rise though my eyes
will not see it. The birds will sing brightly,
the stars will shine nightly and memories
will be rightly held close to heart.
It will all start the day after I'm gone.

© Walter J Wojtanik - 2021

PROMPT #350 – NIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOR

We’re writing a night poem. The shining could be the moon and stars. The armor can be an alcove of trees. The romance is whatever stirs your emotions! Take your words and try to get medieval on us. Or better yet, make us swoon.

MARIE’S NIGHT:

Still


If time stood still, would I continue on?
Would forward movement cease then to exist?
Could sun and moon be viewed from dusk to dawn,
And deadlines not be met, yet not be missed?

Would falling stars suspend themselves in space,
Like frozen fireworks across night’s sky,
As lovers fused beneath in warm embrace
Would never need to say the word goodbye?

Would guarantees be suddenly fulfilled, 
Or would our contracts be for naught, and nixed?
Would all that’s overflowing go un-spilled?
Might what was once detaching be affixed?

If all that was foreshadowed was foregone
As time stood still, would we continue on?

© Marie Elena Good, 2021


(The first stanza was taken from a poem I wrote in 2013.  I liked that stanza at the time, but not the remainder of that poem.  I decided to use it as the first stanza of a sonnet, and use the first line as an echo at the end.)

WALT’S PEACE:

NIGHT FALLS

Evening descends like a hushed silence,
and tranquility is its marker.
Your song is a lilting lullaby
in the shadows of the night.
There’s no threat of violence
as the midnight sky grows much darker.
The constellations fill the sky
contradicting darkness, bringing light.
I see you in silhouette.
I see you in whispers.
I see you in every moonlit sky.
You are the vision this night craves.
It saves me from the pain of my wretched soul.
It takes its toll. From the moon to the stars,
from Venus to Mars, from these hearts of ours. 
When love calls, night falls.

© Walter J Wojtanik