Lost at Sea: Yeats Challenge, Day 28


For Day 28 of Jane’s A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge.  Today’s quotation:

“I would that the Boar without bristles had come from the West

And had rooted the sun and moon and stars out of the sky”—W.B. Yeats


 On storm-tossed seas with blackened skies

he traveled lost, and so afraid

longing for the siren’s call

to forget he was now ostracized.

Once at the top, a renegade

who chose to obliterate with his cabal,

brought war, destruction, the children’s cries

and wakened monsters from the shade,

all vaporized, and so, the ashes fall

on ruined lands, on Earth’s demise


Ivan Aivazovsky [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons







Berenice’s Hair: Yeats Challenge, Days 23 and Day 24

This is for Jane’s Yeats Challenge, Day 23 and Day 24.

“…your hair was bound and wound

About the stars and moon and sun::—W.B. Yeats


“We know their dream; enough

To know they dreamed and are dead;” —W.B. Yeats 


He was away at war, another one

it seemed to happen again and again.

Was it glory, she wondered, or was it fun?

Would he return from battle, if so, when?

And what would happen when it was all done?

Though common worries, this time she’d had a dream

that he was wounded, or no, that he was killed

she woke with a scream, so true it seemed

for all their hopes dashed, left now unfulfilled.

She begged the goddess to spare his life,

and swore in return she’d cut her hair–

for her husband, as his wife,

she’d shear the strands that shone golden in the sunlit air

that flowed like waves of honeyed wheat

a glory recalled by all who saw it there

tumbling to her feet.

Then when her husband returned unharmed and well,

she kept her vow and left her hair at Aphrodite’s altar,

her husband pondered the story she had to tell

and that she never had faltered

and both were first bewildered, then enthralled

to find up in the sky

installed in a constellation

(though unsure why)

her hair swirled and flowed, unbound and wound

in glittering strands of riotous celebration

there far above the smiling moon, a shining crown

a tribute to her sacrifice, done without any hesitation–

though that was not the end of course

of war or force, nor of remorse

for pain and dying

yet still the stars keep flying,

and we, marvel at their beauty, keep sighing.




By ESO [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons. “The galaxy pictured here is NGC 4565, which for obvious reasons is also called the Needle Galaxy. First spotted in 1785 by Uranus’ discoverer, Sir William Herschel (1738-1822), this is one of the most famous example of an edge-on spiral galaxy and is located some 30 million light-years away in the constellation Coma Berenices (Berenice’s Hair). It displays a bright yellowish central bulge that juts out above most impressive dust lanes.”



Love and Glory: Yeats Challenge, Day Fourteen

This is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats Challenge. Today’s quotation is:

“That you, in the dim coming times,
May know how my heart went with them
After the red-rose-bordered hem.” —W.B. Yeats


As a boy he saw them there,

she in white, with flowers in her hair,

he a soldier, a handsome young man,

he saw them thus, and so it began.


He held this image through his life,

he’d go to war, and have a wife,

who’d say farewell in sunlight gold

and they’d continue, till they were old.


He never saw the bloodstained shirt,

the man lying wounded in the dirt,

the woman who traded her white for black,

on lifelong dreams she turned her back.


The boy envisioned a life of glory,

King and country, the same old story,

but finally there with gun in hand,

at last he came to understand.



Camille Clère (1825-1918) (Düsseldorfer Auktionshaus) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons



From the Ashes: A Month with Yeats, Day Nine

 This is for Jane Dougherty’s November Month with Yeats, Day Nine. The quotation is: 

“Troy passed away in one high funeral gleam,

And Usna’s children died.”

—W.B. Yeats

I was also inspired, or perhaps haunted, by this article that I saw last night about a girl’s pendant found at Sobihor.


Once she played and laughed upon a hill,

once there were families, hope, delight

before darkness came and all was still

in a nightmare world of constant night

monster-filled with hate and fear

and all that once was cherished and held dear

lost forever, or perhaps entombed

within the ruins, amidst the gloom.


Years passed in revolutions round the sun,

and grass sprouted in ashes cooled of fired hate

buried there, searchers found that she was one

in rubble raked beyond the gate

found there, a victim of the slaughter,

someone’s child, once a daughter,

found her broach, inscribed, a sign, a trace

that she existed once, now not entirely erased.


But does this finding some closure bring

to those who are left or suffering?

The ashes of the dead once rained like sordid snow

fertilizing now the ground where flowers grow

light’s restored, but mutable

and darkness still falls, indisputable,

hope the feather that softly flies

from wings of knowledge and wistful sighs.






To the Victors: Yeats Challenge, Day 8

This is for Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day 8. The quotation called for blood and violence, though I much prefer singing stars.

‘The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;’


They marched and fought

sought gold and wrought

a hellish place from what was paradise.

Sliced bodies through and through

because god was on their side, they knew,

so stopping their ravage only to ravish,

to stake their claims and to establish

there as blood fell upon the land

their claims, as it flowed red upon the sand

in an extensive eternal tide–thus dispensed,

forever drowning innocence



The Mocking of the Mockingbird

 “Just like that tune,

Simple and clear,

I’ve come to hear

New music—

Breaking my heart,

Op’ning a door,

Changing the world!

New music!


Hear it forevermore!”

“New Music,” Ragtime

Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens


Was the mockingbird mocking me

as he sang so urgently in the tree?

I awakened from a dream

he seemed haunted,

or was it me?


taunted by a world in change

everything upside down and rearranged

hearing new music in the air

wondering why it’s everywhere–


the sound of marching feet,

syncopated beats, ragged rhythm of the street,

the sound of hate and guns and bombs

oh, merely percussive runs, my darling ones


new music, forevermore

the constant hum of waves, their roar

as islands sink beneath the sea

perhaps the mockingbird sings a ragtime rhythm of nevermore

and the world weeps for what’s now in store–


yet, as I turn from song back to sleep

and wonder what the day will reap–

both dawn and dusk share radiant color and diffused light

but we must determine which we want, and what is right

if the sun will rise or set hereafter

on the sound of birds and bees and laughter


Embed from Getty Images



Another much-needed poetry break. I was awakened by a mockingbird last night and listened to it sing. Then I read the news and listened to a bit of Ragtime in the car this morning (gym break!). So, this is what happened.




Echoes from the Before Time: Haibun


I wait in the garden watching the bees flit among the roses. Their somnolent buzzing is soothing, the music of the universe echoed. Once this sun-glimmered garden, this gold-gilded life, seemed alluring. But now I realize it’s an artificial oasis. Outside the Perimeter, life is harsh and chaotic. Children and dogs scuffle over scraps. I think back over the past few years and to what brought me here. I thought it a refuge. I was attracted to his power, mistaking it for strength of character. But there is no strength, only cunning; he will do their bidding, do whatever he needs to do to survive. I am the plucked flower tossed as tribute. He has given me to Them, a bribe for his safety. I hear them now, hear their fists pounding on the door. The bees have stopped buzzing; the sun hides behind a cloud, but I hear a robin sing.


Before time and wars

the sun sang and the moon hummed

songs still echoing


in buzz, chirp, and ocean waves

hear music of the cosmos


By Sir Edward Burne-Jones (died 1898) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


This is a Haibun for Colleen’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were power and allure.




The Letter

I open the letter, read the words again and again. But they don’t change. They recount the battle and your acts of bravery. They describe the sudden storm, a tempest that battered your ship against the rocks, as you were journeying home to me. I had warned you not to go. I told you of my dream, where the storm clouds gathered and flew like demons, covering the moon, and you appeared beside me, cold and still, dripping, smelling of the sea, smelling of decay. I felt the pain then, clean and sharp in my breast. You laughed at my fears, called me Cassandra. Perhaps I am, for you did not believe me. I look at the ring on my finger and think of this other love-pledge you have given me, feel him flutter-kick in my womb. A son. He’ll be born in the spring. I will tell him about you.


ghosts drift in moonlight

clouds obscure the pale glowing

drops like silver tears


Johannes Vermeer, “Woman in Blue Reading a Letter,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly poetry challenge. The prompt words were clean and sharp. I’ve also used  this week’s Secret Keeper’s  prompt.  The words: | OPEN| ROCK| RING | ACT | LETTER |

Jane Dougherty used the Vermeer image above for a post this week, also using Secret Keeper’s Words.  I like it so much, that I decided to steal use it, too. The painting is carefully constructed and illuminated, of course, but I also like the literacy of the woman that is portrayed as unexceptional. Also, though it is most likely the fashion, the woman in the painting does look pregnant.






Ghost in a City of Ruins: NaPoWriMo

I go through the motions of living, looking for food. We’ve been at war for—I don’t know how long. I don’t remember how The War started. I don’t remember why. I go through the motions, pretend I’m still alive, but I’m hollow and crumbling like the buildings around me. Once I was young and pretty; I loved and was loved. But it does no good to remember. There is only The War now. The bombing starts again, and I run for shelter. The instinct to live is strong. The barrage goes on all night. Boom, thud, crash. Boom, thud, crash, scream. As the sun peeks over the horizon, shyly as if wondering if it should stay, I crawl from my shelter. The bright glow illuminates the destruction of my world. I am a ghost in a city of ruins.


In the peace of dawn

rivulets flow, salty tears,

a sea of sorrow

coursing through ruins, blood-red

flowers float amidst rubble


I wake. A woman is treating my wounds. She takes my hand and leads me to others. There is food. There is water. I hear a sound, wonder what it is. A child’s giggle. Slowly—I’ve almost forgotten how—slowly, I smile.


Hope watered with tears

a seed nurtured with kindness

a hardened heart smiles

Embed from Getty Images


This is Day 27, NaPoWriMo.   This haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were “peace” and “tear.”

I didn’t want this poem to be of any particular time and place, but yesterday, I heard a story on NPR about a woman who is one of the “White Helmets” in Syria.  I also thought of Fred Roger’s oft-repeated line “to look for the helpers.”