Jagged, or: Tender

‘Edges and Fringes’ – a d’Verse poetics prompt

(best viewed on a horizontal screen)

Papa,
can you
visit us
from the unknowable beyond
to hearten us, for we miss
you
so
and grief’s jagged edges cut us
even as the edges of mortal life are
clear
to us
remaining, as we do, on this side
living; broken; aching
Boy,
hear me
in dreams
I call
you
every night, all night
tenderly, I watch over you
With love
glowing
and reaching out to inspire you
from beyond the very fringes
of life
to believe…

The prompt

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘Edges and Fringes’ prompt.

Our mission was to spark on one of these paths, and I primarily found my way along the 1st and 3rd paths:

  1. Write a poem using the word edge;
  2. Write a poem that keeps Millikin’s question in mind:
    • What is the word, the line, that cuts, that can show that edge?
  3. Write a poem using the word fringe;
  4. Write a poem from the fringe, however you define it.

I am Jerusalem, or: Nothing

‘Beyond Meaning or The Resolution of Opposites’

– a d’Verse poetics prompt

Epigraph:

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

-Wallace Stevens, ‘The Snow Man’
Harkened through the snows of New Jersey,
Heeded through the storms of Cleveland,
Purest nothing, on nothing, absorbed me,

Sheerest nothing, on nothing, I am
Upon nothing, nothing I, one/dering
About nothing, not touched much by snow,

Where nothings, together, not nothing,
Where something within ached to go,
Nothing, listened, through blustery blizzards,

Whispering, nothing, nothing, here I am
Through cold nothing, I heard, I shivered,
Something, mine, called [from] Jerusalem.

The prompt

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘Beyond Meaning or The Resolution of Opposites’ prompt.

The writing challenge: We were to focus on the theme of ‘paradox’ and select one of the following to build poems around, of which I selected #2:

1. Here are some lines from Paul Dunbar’s The Paradox:  – select ONE and build your poem around it.

  • I am thy fool in the morning, thou art my slave in the night.
  • I am the mother of sorrows; I am the ender of grief;
  • I am the bud and the blossom, I am the late-falling leaf

OR

2. Take the last lines of Wallace Stevens’ The Snow Man and write a poem that is imbued with the existential paradox implied there. [the meaning of which is the ridding of our usual human observation and viewing winter as a ‘man of snow’ not a snowman! (more HERE)]

  • For the listener, who listens in the snow, And, nothing himself, beholds nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

Still here, or: ‘Brown’

steady, solid, here
I am always here 
always here
for you here
for your arms 
for your backside 
for your back to rest
rest upon me now
rest your weary legs
rest against me; the
rest are flashy, true, still
true I am always
true inside, always
true outdoors, always
true, I am dull, but still
still, unmoving, reliable
still your beating heart
still your breath, your mind
still here, still
I am still here
I am still
I am dull
I am still

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘True Colours’ prompt.

The writing challenge: To take the perspective of a color in our poems: maybe the vibe and personality of each color is just as we have perceived it. Maybe not. So… let’s leave reality for awhile, slip out of our human bodies and become nothing but a color.

I have always had a fondness for dark, dull colors, and my poem above was written from the perspective of the color brown.

Zombie, or: Brainchild

‘Let’s have fun, guys!’ – a d’Verse poetics prompt

Think, think
Lost in thought I
Distractedly pluck
A button

From my mind
Pop it into my mouth
Chew it pensively
As more sprout

From my brain
Pushing out of
My twisting sulci
They spread

Above my gyri
King oysters proliferate
I gather them all with
Hedgehogs

Burrowing
Through my cranium
Noticing orange
Chicken

Of the woods
And shaggy lion's manes
Pushing through my ear
Canals

As puffballs
Balloon out across
My scalp and forehead
My beard

Full of black
Trumpets and wood
Blewits spreading up
My tender cheeks

My eyeballs
Bursting with huge
Portobellos extending
Over my face

Frustrated I
Sigh shiitake! Well, 
At least they are all
Edible

d’Verse

At d’Verse, we were asked to have some fun with fungi, as the starting point for our poems.

And… I can honestly say that I had fun… and I am a guy.

Härfågel, or: Hoopoe

‘War Poetry’ – a d’Verse poetics prompt

OOOP! 
  OOOP! 
    OOOP! OOOP! your haunting
  calls, dire warnings ere impending
    falls, unheeding ape-men charging
      tall, ignoring farsighted soarings

OOOP! 
  OOOP! 
    OOOP! OOOP! you've studied
  death, counted those countless muddied
    breaths, swooping, swiping with bloodied
      sneath, men's legions life-and-limbless

OOOP! 
  OOOP! 
    OOOP! OOOP! this hallowed
  Land, sought endlessly by shallow
    men, mauled bodies from green gallows
      hang, you ~flutter~ 'bove friendlessly

OOOP! 
  OOOP! 
    OOOP! OOOP! harbinging
  croon; was it crowned bird's unhinging
    tune that left this sand Land tinged in
      prune, seeped deeply dark in Cain's sin?

d’Verse

At d’Verse, we were asked to pen ourselves new war poems. No matter our personal experiences, we all fear what war can do. Maybe it’s something we’ve met in the eyes of refugees, in our nightmares, or from reading books…

The hoopoe, the national bird of the State of Israel, where I proudly reside, inspired my war poem (above). For more on that, see below.


Hoopoe: harbinger of war?

The State of Israel’s national bird is the hoopoe, which I alluded to in my d’Verse poem yesterday. In response, my poet-blogger-friend Björn just informed me that in Swedish, this creature is known as ‘härfågel’, which is loosely translated as: ‘army-bird’.

The hoopoe actually gets its English name from the sound it makes while singing. The song is a deep, haunting ‘oop oop oop’ that has led to the bird being associated with death and the Underworld in Estonian tradition. The song itself is said to forebode death. Across the majority of Europe, it was thought of as a thief and as a harbinger of war in Scandinavia…

-Lexi Menth, ‘Crown of Feathers – Hoopoe’, 2015

Hoopoe: magical, medicinal bird?

For the purposes of my “war poem” above I deliberately address the hoopoe as a harbinger of death and war, but it is only fair to note that this elegant bird is regarded very positively in most cultures, including throughout the Middle East and in Islam.

The bird known as the hoopoe… has been a common motif in the literature and folklore of eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cultures, from ancient to modern times. As a solar symbol, it was often associated with kingship, filial piety, and wisdom, and its body was believed to possess potent magical and medicinal properties…

-Timothy Schum, ‘From Egypt to Mount Qāf: The Symbolism of the Hoopoe in Muslim Literature and Folklore’, 2018

Still…

Still, Björn’s comment to me regarding the hoopoe in Swedish lore excited my imagination and reminded me of the following animated video, which puts the bloody history of the “Holy Land” to music:

Who’s Killing Who? A Viewer’s Guide: https://blog.ninapaley.com/2012/10/01/this-land-is-mine/

Sight, or: Sound

‘Beginning at the End’ – a d’Verse poetics prompt

Epigraph:

As if we could hear music inside the words.

Gail Newman
The intervals between our letters
are dependably constant.
Our friendship forged for the ages.
Our affection warm and lasting.
Our love spanning vast oceans and generations.
I write to you about the New York City blizzard
that has snowed us in this Chanukah, while my grandchildren
throw themselves upon my sticky jelly donuts. We are getting old,
dear friend; how many frayed and yellowed letters in shoeboxes?
Most days I usually stay at home in my cozy nightgown. I look 
often at your photographs. Some days we still speak. Other 
days I reread your elegant script. Your tinkling laughter
continues to ring in every syllable.

At d’Verse, we were asked to write a poem inspired by the final line of another poet’s work, among a list of several. We were allowed to use the line as an epigraph at the beginning of the poem. I chose the line from Gail Newman’s poem ‘Trust’ as my epigraph.

We were specifically instructed to: write our poems as continuations of where the poets of our choice left off, thematically, in the same mood, rather than literally, giving special thought to our own final lines.


Trust

by Gail Newman

The country between us
has no borders.
The barbed wire has been cut.
The walls decimated.
The moat drained beneath the bridge.
I cross over to you carrying a metal lunch pail
filled with bologna sandwiches, mayonnaise
spread from crust to crust.  We sit
in the grass, our skirts spread over pale legs.
Some days I wear jeans, a blouse with open collar.
I look into your face as into a mirror. Some days we speak.
Other times we remain silent. As if we could hear
music inside the words.

Looping perpetually, or: Perpetually looping

A ‘Palindrome Poem’

Death begets darkness
Dimming skies above flutter
Essence of shades
Unseen
Swirls through existence
Observes life
Emerging budding gushing
Teeming multitudes of energies
Inspiration begets
~Being~
Begets Inspiration
Energies of multitudes teeming
Gushing budding emerging
Life observes
Existence through swirls
Unseen
Shades of essence
Flutter above skies dimming
Darkness begets death

The above poem is my take on d’Verse’s ‘connections’ prompt.

d’Verse prompted us to think about connecting or connections—in any sense. It could be connecting ideas, connecting historical moments, or your own connections with people, places, nature, or art. Also, to think about how we are connecting words, phrases, lines, and ideas in our poems.

This prompt brought to my mind and inspired me to write my first ‘Palindrome Poem’.