The Race: Yeats Challenge

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge.  Sorry for so many posts today. I’m doing them while I get a chance before I’m back to projects and before Thanksgiving.

This quote is from “The Old Age of Queen Maeve.”

“out of the dark air over her head there came
A murmur of soft words and meeting lips.”—W.B. Yeats

 

Once she was young and fair of face,

she lived life as if it were a race

where she was the brightest and fastest, and before it stopped

she would need to make it to the top.

But now she was confined to a castle tower

so far in time from her bridal bower

and instead of those who loved her well,

it was to her a sort of hell

with only servants and guards who gaped and glowered.

And so, she sat, and sometimes she’d spin,

sometimes ponder, or wonder about her sins

(of which she thought there were many

but as with her life, far from ordinary.)

Of late she had begun to tire,

become very cold, even before the fire,

she thought sometimes her husband, her lover,

was there in the night, his spirit would hover

as if to say, soon, though not today

once again, you’ll dance and sway

in my arms—we’ll be together,

it will be like yesterday

when you were young and fair of face,

but you’ll no longer be running in the race,

a few nights later he came for her,

took her hand and opened a door

the glowering servants saw a faint glimmer

that grew bright, then dimmer in the night

and she was gone, to dance in the starlight.

 

Ford_Madox_Brown_-_Convalescent_-_Portrait_of_Emma_Madox_Brown

Ford Madox Brown, “Convalescent: Portrait of Emma Madox Brown,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Night-Tide: Yeats Challenge, Day 10

For Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day 10.

Today’s quotation:

“And he saw how the reeds grew dark
At the coming of night-tide,”

—  W.B. Yeats.

 

From the cottage window

he watches the winds blow,

scurrying and hurrying

for the day to be through

to turn evening’s dusky violet hue

into the starry indigo of night.

 

How she had loved that sight,

the clouds dancing in the air

the wispy bits of angel hair

white against the darkening sky.

And still he cried

remembering how she’d died

drifting away at the coming of night-tide.

 

He’d been there, sitting at her side.

Now weary, burdened with a heavy heart,

wondering what to do or what to start

Then softly he hears her gentle sigh,

and though it waits for no reply,

as the moon hums and the reeds grow dark

he knows she’s there somehow, a spark

in every fox’s bark and singing lark

her spirit roams by house and glen

somewhere, sometime, he’ll see her again.

 

'Starry_Night'_by_Edvard_Munch,_1893,_Getty_Center

Edvard Munch, “Starry Night,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

If Only: NaPoWriMo

 

I sometimes write a letter in my head,

“Dear Dad,” I think,

have you heard, did you see, what do you think–

or perhaps a phone call,

like when I called to tell him I was pregnant,

standing in the kitchen of that apartment in Woodbury,

the first floor of a house,

shaded by oak trees,

old enough to have seen

its former glory,

before multiple pairs, young couples

who, like the seasons,

moved in and moved on,

but that day,

door and windows open

the summer

was warm with promise,

(or so I remember it),

nature—and I–bursting with life,

he tried to speak,

but couldn’t,

overcome,

his voice caught,

words tangled in salty threads of joy.

The baby is grown now,

and so is her sister,

they only got to know him for a short while,

he didn’t own a computer,

died before phones were smart,

but I amuse myself imagining him ranting on social media,

calling out the swamp monsters,

and adding heart emojis to photos of children and pets.

“Dear Dad,” I think

I’d love to talk to you again.

 

Day 16 of NaPoWriMo. The prompt was to write a letter.

 

 

 

 

Ferocious Angels Sing: NaPoWriMo

Persephone returns, laughs, and the world blooms anew,

yellow-green, pink, and white,

Corn Mother awakens, belly swollen with the seeds of life,

birds sing sweetly as the season turns

till the sky grows dark, crashes, and burns,

the world in flames and children are hungry

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

Unchanging, conflicts and battles

besiege the enemy, starve them in ghettos

enslave them, kill them all

(they are not us,

we are not them)

ancient tactics, mad men and fools with their bully cries,

rape the women, grab the prize

the rivers red with blood

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

And will it change, and do we care?

you can’t eat gold, or oil,

we can’t live on air

(they are us,

we are them,)

brothers and sisters, children of Earth

 

The song of ferocious angels lingers in the air

 

 

 

This is for NaPoWriMo: Day 11, a bop poem.

The form is described on the site this way:

“Like a Shakespearean sonnet, it introduces, discusses, and then solves (or fails to solve) a problem. Like a song, it relies on refrains and repetition. In the basic Bop poem, a six-line stanza introduces the problem, and is followed by a one-line refrain. The next, eight-line stanza discusses and develops the problem, and is again followed by the one-line refrain. Then, another six-line stanza resolves or concludes the problem, and is again followed by the refrain. Here’s an example of a Bop poem written by Weaver, and here’s another by the poet Ravi Shankar.”

Kerfe had me thinking of “ferocious angels,”   Unfortunately, the rest of the poem is ripped from history and headlines, unless you live in Sean Spicer’s fantasy world.

 

 

 

 

My Love is Coming Home: NaPoWriMo

The flowers bloom upon the hill

and saplings perch beside the rill,

the robin sings his cheery trill,

my love is coming home

 

The sunlight streams through dappled trees,

chickadee whistles his happy reprise,

baby deer frolics in the gentle breeze,

my love is coming home

 

From distant shores will come a box

carried across the sea and over rocks,

you’ll rest amid the hollyhocks,

my love is coming home

 

The drum will play a rat tat tat,

the bugle’s Last Post after that,

somber faces and mourning hats,

my love is coming home

 

We should have danced a wedding tune,

but you have left me much too soon,

someday we’ll waltz beneath the moon,

my love is coming home

'Hollyhocks_and_Sunlight'_by_Charles_Courtney_Curran,_1902

Charles Courtney Curran,” Hollyhocks and Sunlight,” 1902 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is for NaPoWriMo, Day 8. The prompt was repetition.

 

 

 

 

Painting and Poetry Folded in Time

Monday Morning Musings:

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”

–Leonardo da Vinci
 

“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”

–Vincent Van Gogh

 

My sisters and I call each other

“No one’s dead,” we quickly chirp,

a macabre affirmation of life,

a precaution for my perpetually panicked sister-niece,

(she answers the phone expecting disaster)

we laugh—because what can you do?

but then comes news of two deaths over the weekend,

my husband’s former colleague and a college friend,

we’re of a certain age now,

most of our friends have lost at least one parent,

some both,

middle-aged orphans,

I think about links to the past,

disappearing the way beads slide off string one by one

 

and I watch a miniseries about the Gay Rights Movement

see again the AIDS quilt,

memories squared and love-knotted,

blanketing the National Mall,

a memorial, a declaration

we protest with poetry and art,

against wars, against injustice,

fighting for the right to live

and to die in dignity,

(love is love is love is love)

in the epic story of our lives,

we are the heroes,

and its tragic victims

 

We dream and we create,

our lives, like intricately folded origami

unfolded in a split second,

a discovery that the crane

is now simply a wrinkled bit of paper

 

We take my mother to our daughter’s house for brunch,

my mother, once a child, now the matriarch,

a ninety-four-year-old orphan

her parents, her brother, and many of her friends are gone,

she can barely see, but still she paints

the vision must be in her mind and hands

felt, rather than seen,

poetry in paint,

tactile sensibility,

she has her first mimosa

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and we talk of this and that

old hairstyles, Dallas nightclubs,

stories my daughter has never heard before

of a world and people that no longer exist,

I imagine a mirror with endless reflections

and the world through the looking glass

img_5549.jpg

We’re through the looking glass in a mirrored room, transported to an 18th century French palace. Philadelphia Museum of Art

 

we laugh over misunderstood words

the kind of laughter that brings tears,

and we are entertained by pets,

sitting in the kitchen,

a domestic scene,

that could come from the past,

generations sitting around a table

img_5535

 

My husband and I go to an exhibition of watercolors

an amazing show, 175 paintings on display,

the show traces the history–

how watercolor became an American medium

from what was essentially work done in the home,

by women, decorative artists, as well as illustrators

becomes much more after the Civil War

and Philadelphia,

with publications and art schools

becomes a center

img_5542

 

The exhibition describes the painters’ techniques

the importance of the paper in the watercolors,

various textures and colors

watercolors are luminous, but fragile

reflecting light,

but also, fading in light,

the picture dies

the image no longer exists,

and I think of the building, landscapes, and people in the paintings

that no longer exist

except in these depictions

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where the sun still shines and wind still blows

and alligators huddle together in the mud,

lethargic beasts with deadly grins

 

at night, I dream of light and art,

I paint my dream into a poem,

a dream of misty luminosity with opaque spots

brushed by the artist

(look there closely at the strokes)

on an unusual type of paper, with texture both rough and smooth

folded over and over,

to form different creases,

like wrinkles on faces in time

endless, like reflections in a mirror

 

Information:

We watched the miniseries, When We Rise

We saw the exhibition, “American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent”

You can see a trailer on the Philadelphia Museum of Art Website.

It is a stunning exhibition, but because watercolors are fragile, it will only be seen in Philadelphia. No photography is permitted.

 

 

Freedom: Microfiction

ilya_repin-what_freedom

Ilya Repin. “What Freedom!” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Sergei took Vera’s hand and pulled her toward the sea. Vera had never before seen him looking so relaxed in his uniform. As though he was wearing a costume for fun, she thought. Similarly, she felt loose, unconfined—and free–in her elegant midnight blue traveling gown.

They stood encircled by the swirling water. Waves of blue and white crashed over and about them. Foam and mist dotted the air, but not a drop of water dampened their clothing.

“Where are we?” Vera asked in delight, and accidentally dropped the fur muff she had carried. It stopped mid-air, then began to dance to the rhythm of the waves. It jumped back into her arms. Vera laughed. She could hear the sea singing—and felt its song throughout her body.

“We’re in our place,” Sergei answered. “Where we can be together always. Don’t worry. It will all be clear soon.”

Vera woke, disoriented.  She was sitting in a chair in her parlor, holding the telegram telling her of Sergei’s death at the front. A blue fur muff lay on her lap. She stared at it and wondered. She had always trusted Sergei. Perhaps it would all become clear in time.

 

This story is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge, using the above painting by Ilya Repin as a prompt.

Song of the Stars

Shadows_looking_at_stars

Jess Mann [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

 

I watched the stars as they danced by,

They glimmered brightly in the sky.

I heard their song, mellifluous,

I heard their song, I thought of us.

 

I heard the lap of river waves,

They touch the edge of muddy graves.

I thought of war and bloody fields,

I thought of death and broken shields.

 

But still your touch remains with me,

Though different skies and stars we see,

Come back to me, before too long,

To watch the stars, to hear their song.

 

This week for her poetry challenge, the ever creative Jane Dougherty asked us to concentrate on sound and meter. I’m not certain I succeeded, but here it is.

The prompt words were: Stars, night, and water. The image is the one above by Jess Mann.

 

 

 

 

 

Microfiction: Kiss at the Window

611px-Edvard_Munch_-_Kiss_by_the_window_(1892)

Edvard Munch, Kiss By the Window, Public Domain, Wikipedia.

Inside the house, lamps and hearths glowed, banishing the darkness of the Norwegian winter. As they stood by the window, Fredrik gently placed the pearl necklace around her neck. The lustrous white spheres were cool against her skin. He kissed her, first gently, and then with more urgency. The faint scent of his pipe tobacco clung to his clothes. A knock at their bedroom door made them break apart, as her maid, Sonya, announced that their first dinner guests had arrived. Elisabeth vowed to remember everything about that December night forever. It was her twenty-fifth birthday.

Now alone in her hospital bed, body aching, she watched that memory, a movie in her mind. It had been nearly seventy years ago; twenty years since she had last heard Fredrik’s voice. She sensed—something–the air felt charged. She smelled pipe smoke. She heard a voice say, “Are you ready, my darling? I’ve missed you so.” Her heart fluttered. She noticed a window draped in blue, a fire burning in fireplace. She felt a necklace, cool against her throat. She smiled. She took Fredrik’s hand and walked with him into the glowing light.

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge. The prompt was the painting above with a two hundred word limit; mine was 191 words.