EXERCISE IN POETIC THOUGHT #2

In early April (as National Poetry Month began), we started this exercise. EXERCISE IN POETIC THOUGHT #1 offered ten words for you to consider. Then you were charged with writing ten disconnected lines with poetic potential; not a poem, just ten lines. The skill we are trying to hone is the ability to see something poetic in everything. To refresh your collective memories, the link to Part One is HERE. If you began this journey with us, you can find your written lines there in the comments section. If you wish to catch up in the process, complete part one, add your comment there and then you will be ready for this next instruction.

The ability to see something poetic or find the beauty of something is a learned skill. We will be working towards that end. My personal belief is that “Inspiration is found everywhere you look!” Be it in a scenic setting, a personal issue, a magazine article, a photo or in this case, a single word. We’ve found some beauty in the ten words offered and put them in a pleasant “setting”, your individual sentences. We had all written different ideas from those single words. All inspired in our individual thoughts. We’ve found our own beauty.

Okay, so on to phase two of our exercise. Logically, you may be thinking “Pick one of your sentences and use it in your poem.” But I say, not so fast. We’re in the construction business. We’re building poems. The foundation has been poured in our ten sentences. If you are unhappy with any of yours, now would be a good time to rewrite that “brick”. When you’re fully invested in your efforts, we’ll continue.

In those lines there are little snippets of ideas that express what the poem where these sentences will reside, will be about. These are the true inspirations. These will serve as the titles for your future poems. If nothing jumps out at you in a line, give it your own direction or impetus that will drive your words home. That’s it. That’s today’s foray into this Exercise In Poetic Thought!

Below are my titles followed by my original sentences (in parenthesis).

WALT’S ATTEMPT:

1. EVER SEARCHING (They would walk through the years, ever searching for their heart’s desire.)

2. TOUCHED IN VIBRANCY (The spray of Autumn touched in vibrancy all in its path.)

3. WITHIN REACH (Their offer came as a carrot dangled on a short string.)

4. JOINED, NOT DIVIDED (The lake between them would join them, not divide them.)

5. LIFE’S MARATHON (Life’s race became more of a marathon than a sprint.)

6. GONE TOMORROW (She held his embrace for as long as she could, for tomorrow morning he’d be gone!)

7. SONG IN HER VOICE (There was song in her voice, a melody loving and lilting.)

8. TRAMPLED (Each time he threw his heart out there, it got trampled underfoot.)

9. MOURNING CELEBRATED (It became an annual event, where he mourned her loss and she celebrated his departure.)

10. DUELING EGOS (Ego would not allow his apology and she required neither.)

POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM #43

Alfred Lord Tennyson was the Poet Laureate of Great Britain and Ireland during much of Queen Victoria’s reign and is one of the most popular British poets to this day. Much of his verse was inspired by classic mythology. A large and bearded man, Tennyson regularly wore a cloak and a broad brimmed hat which enhanced his notoriety. He possessed a loud booming voice, which gave his poetry readings a powerful presence. One of his most famous lyric poems, this is “The Charge of the Light Brigade”.

 

THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE

by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Some one had blundered:
Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.

Flashed all their sabres bare,
Flashed as they turned in air
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wondered:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right through the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reeled from the sabre-stroke
Shattered and sundered.
Then they rode back, but not,
Not the six hundred.

Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volleyed and thundered;
Stormed at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came through the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.

When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honour the charge they made!
Honour the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred!

 

PROMPT #249 – PLAYING FAVORITES #5

We head back to visit an old stand-by. Yes, we are playing favorites. Again. You may remember the drill. Choose a line from a favorite poem, or poet and use that as the title, a line or the inspiration for your poem. It could be a classic poet or one of our compatriots on the many poetry blogs with which we associate. As always, identify the poem and poet from which you cull your snippet and give credit where it is due.

MARIE’S CULLED LINE:

WHEN THE PURPOSE OF KNEES WAS TO BE SKINNED

Splinters were the worst.
Tweezers first;
Needles if needed
While I screamed and squirmed
And wormed my way
Back out to play.

Skipping, flipping
Chipping my tooth
(Now it’th loothe)
Palms muddied
Bloodied nose drips
Split lips
Both knees shredded
Splinter still embedded.

© Marie Elena Good, 2019

Inspired by the line “when the purpose of knees was to be skinned,” from John Tobias’ Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle Received from a Friend Called Felicity
(Thanks to my friend Lydia, who gifted me the book that contains John’s poem!)

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WALT’S REVERED REPLY:

SHOULD WE?

“Should we kiss?” you said.
I’m not sure why I chose to ponder.
You had left me to wonder what bliss
you could bestow on me should we kiss.
Should we?
Shall we?
You said it shyly,
your wiley smile said
what your words could’ve instead.
Should we kiss?
yes.
Should hearts express such bliss?
Yes.
Shall we?
YES!
I dipped to your lips
a tender kiss
and this is what brought us
to the place in which we now dwell.
And I can always tell,
you started it.
“Should we kiss?” you said.
Yes we should, I said.

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

 

Taken heartfully from SO WE DECIDED (by Andrea Heiberg) found in Andrea’s interview with Marie Elena

 

 

INFORM POET – TANKA

As we know, the Tanka is a Japanese poem of five lines. The first and third are composed of five syllables, and the other lines are written in seven. In Japanese, tanka is often written in one straight line, but in English and other languages, we usually divide the lines into the five syllabic units: 5-7-5-7-7. Write TWO different poems: one Japanese style (one straight line), and in the second divide the lines.

WALT’S WOJ-TANKA:

 

A GOOD SHEPARD

I walk with my sheep, it’s always just me and ewe. It is my firm belief, as I get to know my sheep, all my sheep will know me too!

 

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

 

INDECISION STREET

I stand in the road.
Up and down the street I peer.
Do I move forward
or return to where I’ve been?
Standing still would be a sin!

 

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

 

POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM #42

Born Asa Bundy Sheffey, Robert Hayden lived a traumatic childhood. During his parent’s contentious marriage, Robert witnessed fights and suffered beatings, the chronic anger would stay with him throughout his life. Also against him were his severe visual problems which prevented him from participating in sports as an escape. Because of these traumas, he suffered debilitating periods of depression that he would call “my dark nights of the soul”. Robert Hayden served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 1976–78, (which today is known as US Poet Laureate.) He became the first African-American writer to hold that office. Here in his most famous poem, “Those Winter Sundays” he deals with the memory of fatherly love and loneliness.

Robert Hayden.jpg

Those Winter Sundays

by Robert Hayden

Sundays too my father got up early
And put his clothes on in the blueback cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

PROMPT #248 – THE RESULT OF APRIL SHOWERS

You’ve all heard the old children’s rhyme, “April showers bring May Flowers.” And around these parts (Western New York) we’ve had our saturation of rain through April and extending into the merry month of May. So, logic says we should be abounding with flowers. I’ve spotted a few sprouts, but not much about which to write home. We’ll change that!

Here in the “Best Garden For Poetry” we began with a simple seed. We’ve continued to nurture and see the progression from that simple zygote to a full bloom. So we will further explore this phenomenon. So, write a “flower” poem. It could be a particular flower, a favored bloom. It could be a flowering of a sort, not necessarily plant related. Make the flower your title and water and nurture your poem with your vision in words. In my case, I’ll spread a little manure to get things growing! So, go forth and blossom!

 

MARIE’S EXTRAORDINARY ROSE:

MY SOPHIA ROSE

At the age of seven, Sophie built a hand bouquet for me, a few items at a time. When it was complete, I told her how beautiful it was. The short conversation that ensued may not exactly be a poem, but it is sheer poetry to me, and will reside in my heart forever:

It’s complete? It’s beautiful, Sophie. Thank you!

         It’s your personality, Nonna.

This bouquet is my personality? What do you mean? What would you say is my personality?

        Eternal happiness and love for everyone.

Oh, Sophie … that is so sweet. Thank you! And what would you say is YOUR personality?

        I’m love, too. And care for everyone, everywhere.

Light emanating
from an unsullied child’s heart
sparks a better us.

© Marie Elena Good, 2019

WALT’S WEEDS:

WHERE HAVE ALL THE FLOWERS GONE?

Where have all the flowers gone?
Trampled under foot; dying
slowly the fragrance lingers.
Beauty of blooms past.
 
** A Dodoitsu 
© Walter J Wojtanik, 2019 

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GRANDPA’S FLOWER SOON TO BLOOM

She will spread her cheer every year.

She will be alive with joy and a heavenly dimpled smile.

Another of the sun-shines of my life, soon to be,

the sunflower of same. Her name will be Brooklyn,

and her bloom will brighten every garden she sees fit to visit.

© Walter J Wojtanik, 2019

INFORM POET – VERS BEAUCOUP

The Vers Beaucoup (which is French for “many rhymes”) is a poetic form created by Curt Mongold.

Each stanza consists of four lines with a rhyming word scheme of:

a-a-a-
a-b-b-
b-c-c-
c-d-d

Each rhyme can only use a MAXIMUM of three words.

The fourth “a” rhyme carried over to the second line causes enjambment and creates a strong internal rhyming structure.

The poem can be any number of stanzas.

The examples of the form are below with the rhyming words capitalized and colorized for clarity:

 

WALT’S ORIGINAL EXAMPLE:

MIXED PRECIPITATION

I KNOW by the GLOW of the SNOW

a SHOW was SET to begin. But if we GET

WET then the RAIN is what will STAIN

and REMAIN to be FOUND on the GROUND all day!

© Walter J. Wojtanik, 2014

 

WALT’S NEW EXAMPLE:

A BABY CHANGES THINGS

The day YOU DO the VOODOO

that YOU DO, it’ll be STRANGE how life will CHANGE,

REARRANGE. We will be GLAD that you HAD

a Mom and DAD that would DARE to CARE to have you!

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

POETIC BLOOMINGS READING ROOM #41

Ted Kooser is an American poet who had served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress (2004 to 2006). Kooser was one of the first poet laureates from the Great Plains. His style of poetry could be considered conversational. He had earned the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his book “Delights and Shadows.” Ted Kooser writes on the recurring themes that include love, family, place, and time. He writes of the Midwestern life, yet does not take claim to being a “regional” poet. Kooser teaches as a Presidential Professor in the English department of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Please enjoy Ted Kooser’s “A Birthday Poem.”

Photo Credit: Kathleen Rutledge

A Birthday Poem

by Ted Kooser

Just past dawn, the sun stands
with its heavy red head
in a black stanchion of trees,
waiting for someone to come
with his bucket
for the foamy white light,
and then a long day in the pasture.
I too spend my days grazing,
feasting on every green moment
till darkness calls,
and with the others
I walk away into the night,
swinging the little tin bell
of my name.

PROMPT #247 – TAKE ME BACK TO CHICAGO

Those who know me somewhat well, know I am a huge fan of The Beatles and Sinatra. Neil Diamond and Billy Joel. These are the artists that stir me. They keep my heart pumping. But, if there was any music I could consider the soundtrack of my life, it would be the music of Chicago. When they first came onto the scene, they billed themselves as a “Rock band with horns.” They were a different sound (an acquired taste). They were off the beaten path and they were not afraid to re-invent themselves on many occasions. (The source of my affinity to them!) Though their line-up has changed over the course of over fifty years, they are as vibrant as ever, as they are still performing. I had the good fortune to see them live 15 times in my life.

From “Color My World” to “Beginnings”, “24 or 6 to 4” to “You’re the Inspiration” (a great piece for a poet to love!), they have been able to make memories with their sound. Two of their other works are “Old Days” and “Take Me Back to Chicago.” These both reminisce about times that were simpler and when values were more… valued. Look at what they sang about. Drive-In movies, comic books, blue jeans, Howdy Doody… memories. Simpler times – street corners and Tastee Freeze… life was free and easy. Childhood moments, respect for one another, courtesy, empathy all seem to not matter much anymore. I guess you can tell I’m a misplaced soul born a bit too late. The animus that rules these days makes us long for the old days, of simpler times.

What do you miss from those times that you would bring back if you could? Deceased family members and friends notwithstanding, what are these days missing in that regard? Something that gave you pleasure. Something you wished you had again. Something that would make you “sing” and give you some peace of mind in this troubled world (no political diatribes, please! We’re not THAT place.) Take Me Back To Chicago or wherever that place was and write your poem. We’ll all hum along!

***

BONUS PROMPT: Being today is Mother’s Day, any poetic tribute to Mom is welcome and will be much appreciated.

 

MARIE’S WISTFUL AFFECTION:

nos·tal·gia  /näˈstaljə,nəˈstaljə/   – noun.
A
sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.

I’d say that everyone looks back on their childhood fondly.
But the unfortunate truth is that is unfortunately untrue,
and that unfortunate truth means I was truly fortunate.
In spite of that wording being almost comically convoluted,
it is written through tears of genuine gratitude.

My parents were simple and loving.
They infused me with a love for simple things. 
Perhaps it was the times.  Just the way life was.

But I don’t think so.
I think if they were to start over,

this time would be no different. 
Family would still be priority.
There would still be no such thing as coming home
to an empty house.

Music would still fill the soul.
All my love, and love me always would still grace every note
in every house we call home.
I love you.  You know that.
Yes Mom.  I do know that.  You lived it every day,
even when Alzheimer’s threatened to erase us
like chalk on a board,
leaving only ghostly swipes.

Longing to return to childhood
for one more day. One more hug.
One more chance to watch Mighty Mouse
T-boned on the floor with Dad,
my head using his tummy as a pillow.
One more turn to curl up in Mom’s lap,
rocked in the very chair that now sits across from me
as I write this poem, longing to hear her voice.
“I love you.  You know that.” 

© Marie Elena, 2019

 

WALT’S LONGING:

RESPECT: GIVEN AND EARNED

A generous heart with the capacity to love unconditionally;
despite our flaws and our foibles, everything left on the table
came from a deep seated respect for life and my place in it.
Disagreements were never fights, and rights were something
that were never followed by lefts, or any combination thereof.
He gave me my space; room to grow and learn from mistakes
made with regularity early on; less frequent when he needed
a competent aid and caretaker. The inheritance came as an intangible,
a right of passage that gave every woman and man their due
in lieu of their station in life or place of origin. Giving me all
that he knew I could handle because he believed you earned
everything you wanted and were given everything you needed.
Respect always came at equal value. You only got what you gave.
I’ve saved it all these years, treasured and heart bound,
found in a generous heart with the capacity to love. Life’s lesson.

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

INFORM POET – CATENA RONDO

Earlier in the year, Robert Lee Brewer introduced us to a new (to me) poetic form over at Poetic Asides. Robert had found the Catena Rondo, an addicting form, in Robin Skelton’s The Shapes of Our Singing. Created by Skelton, the form’s name came from these derivative meanings (Catena means chain; rondo means circle.) An apt description, as these poems chain together the circuitous lines that are repeated throughout the stanzas, and invariably the complete poem.

These are the particulars of a catena rondo:

  • The poem has an unlimited number of quatrains
  • Each quatrain possess a rhyme pattern of AbbA
  • The first line of each quatrain is also the final line of the quatrain
  • The second line of each quatrain is the first line of the next quatrain
  • The final quatrain should repeat the first quatrain word for word

Meter, syllable count, and subject matter are up to the poet’s discretion. It is just a fun poetic form that has a lot of rhyming refrains in it.

WALT’S CATENA RONDO:

AWAITING HER ARRIVAL

When Baby Brooklyn comes, my heart will smile.
It has been a long-time hoped for,
the announcement had touched me to the core.
When Baby Brooklyn comes, my heart will smile.

It has been a long-time hoped for,
I was a better man when my daughters came to be,
and I have stepped up my game, it appears to me.
It has been a long-time hoped for.

I was a better man when my daughters came to be,
I had found a gentler side to me than I knew I had.
And I embraced my new job as a doting dad,
I was a better man when my daughters came to be.

I had found a gentler side to me than I knew I had.
I discovered skills I had hidden within. I just know it!
It’s when I stepped up my expression as a poet.
I had found a gentler side to me than I knew I had.

I discovered skills I had hidden within. I just know it
was a matter of time that these latent skills
would be dusted off and I would revive them to thrill.
I discovered skills I had hidden within. I just know it

was a matter of time that these latent skills
once wielded by a dad could be a carpenter Grandpa’s new tool.
I may be getting old, but I am no fool.
(It) was a matter of time that these latent skills

once wielded by a dad would be a carpenter Grandpa’s new tool.
When Baby Brooklyn comes, my heart will smile
for this brand-new bundle of love is more my style.
Once wielded by a dad (it) will be a carpenter Grandpa’s new tool.

When Baby Brooklyn comes, my heart will smile.
It has been a long-time hoped for,
the announcement had touched me to the core.
When Baby Brooklyn comes, my heart will smile.

 

© Walter J Wojtanik – 2019

** In about a month from today, my oldest daughter and my son-in-law are expecting (her presumed due date, June 12) their first bundle of love (my first Grand!), Brooklyn Ariel . This is written in anticipation of her arrival! It’s getting exciting around here!