Transcience–A Sestina

images

How nature’s wonders haunt my daytime dreams,
ensnare my thoughts in utter timelessness.
They weave a web that captivates my soul,
a harsh reminder of life’s transience.
Our days are few, earth’s beauty delicate.
Creation holds the promise of demise.

A hawk swoops in, ensuring swift demise,
awakens morning from her sultry dreams.
soon feathers fly, then cries so delicate,
the world stands still, enwrapped in timelessness.
A fledgling dies—once more its transience,
a piecing wound emerging in my soul.

I look to nature to caress my soul,
to find an answer in the bird’s demise,
to understand this brutal transience,
her need to shatter hopes born of my dreams.
A full moon whispers silent timelessness,
breezes sifting sand-thoughts, delicate.

A meadow boasting colors, delicate;
her flowers wave their greetings to my soul.
Year after year they speak of timelessness,
return to face, once more, a quick demise.
Within earth’s womb, do seedlings dare to dream,
accept their fate, their fragile transience?

All life is brief, a cruel transience,
the thread that holds me here, so delicate
almost as though I am, myself, a dream,
a mere illusion that contains a soul.
I can’t ignore my soon-to-be demise,
would I could float in blissful timelessness.

The truth imparts ecstatic timelessness,
enduring words that trump mere transience
and thus outweigh the harshness of demise,
imparting strength to spirits delicate.
Though understanding little of the soul,
I dare to touch eternity, to dream.

My nighttime dreams give way to timelessness,
delivering my soul from transience.
This beauty, delicate, knows no demise.

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Photo credit: Wikipedia Commons

Linking to dVerse Open Link Night. I encourage you to stop by and bring a poem of your own, and take some time to read and comment on your fellow poets.

Addiction

English: Beyond Coma and Despair

Image via Wikipedia

I wrote this poem for Open Link Night and decided to use it as a kickstart for Write2Day as well.

Addiction
A Sestina

Alone, I settle in to nurse the night,
to venerate these saints I should despise.
Bow down before these gods who leach my spirit,
accept the chalice filled with certain death.
I hide the truth from those concerned I’m lost;
prevarication’s now my way of life.

Within my room, I hide, consuming life.
A shaft of light breaks through and rapes the night.
I tape the curtains shut, so sunshine’s lost,
for brightness violates all I despise.
My thoughts attend to naught but this pure death,
her promise tears apart my fragile spirit.

A new god I adore, not born of spirit,
who brings ecstatic joy now to my life.
No sacrament—communion with this death.
It promises to guide me into night,
to teach to me all others to despise,
to mingle now my life with all those lost.

I grasp the cup, hold tight to all I’ve lost,
deny all those who speak to me of spirit,
and wallow like the swine, to be despised,
embrace illusions that erase my life,
hold fast unto the wine I drink at night,
content to find my joy imbibing death.

Within my hands I hold the key to death,
I wander on this path, knowing I’m lost.
Each day becomes another endless night,
Each night consumes me like an evil spirit.
Without a hope of saving wretched life—
anomalous creation I despise.

Swallow the night—this moment I despise.
Let go of spirit, hugging hopes of death.
Are you, too, lost? Or will you cherish life?

At last, I’ve satisfied my poetry addiction. I’ve been experiencing withdrawal as different challenges have absorbed my time.

Poets and writers of all genres turn to angst-filled topics for inspiration. I would venture a guess that many of us have experienced addiction, either personally or second-hand, through the lives of those we’ve loved. As you most likely know, there are many types of addiction besides those like alcohol or drugs, the ones that immediately come to mind.  There are two types of addiction: substance and process. Examples of process-addiction include such things as shopping, work, sex, gambling and exercise. Drugs, alcohol, food, caffeine and smoking are samples of Substance addiction.

For today’ prompt, dip into an addiction or a few of your choice, or enter the mind of an addict, and see what happens. Don’t forget; we welcome prose as well as poetry.

If you are able to participate, here’s how:

  • Write your poem, short fiction or essay and post it on your personal blog.
  • Access Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post.
  • Add your name and the direct URL to your post.
  • Come back and pay a visit to other addicts poets and comment on their work.
  • Have fun and enjoy the process.

I hope to see you back here, and above all at dVerse Poets’ Pub for Open Link Night where the company’s great, the drinks are abundant and the poetry, without equal.

Photo: License unknown (from Wikipedia)

Wordsmith Wednesday: Guest Post by Vivienne Blake

I’m delighted to invite fellow poet/blogger, Vivienne Blake, as hostess for this week’s Wordsmith Wednesday. Originally from the UK, Viv blogs for us from France at http://vivinfrance.wordpress.com/  I’ve been impressed with Viv’s creative spirit, her avid response to various prompts and the fact that her poetry is well-crafted. In addition to poetry, Vivienne shares her beautifully crafted quilts.

Vivienne Blake

Today Vivienne discusses the role of poetic form and its usefulness is tickling your creative muse:

Thank you, Victoria, for allowing me the space to sound off on a subject close to my heart, poetic form, despite it being a bête noir for many poets. I’m hoping to persuade them at least to try.

During my final course of degree studies, in 2009, we were introduced to formal poetry. The straightjacket of poetic form was not my scene, I thought, but resolved to try. As Bill Greenwell says, struggle is essential to writing poetry.

A revelation awaited me. The liberating effect of obeying the rules of strict poetic form went to my head. I had enormous fun with the Villanelle. Having written and discarded several villainous examples, I came across the words Duality Dichotomy, Debate quoted in The Ode Less Travelled (Stephen Fry p227): This inspired me to write about the rebellious mood induced by trying to write such formal poetry.

‘Duality, dichotomy, debate’
wrote Jason of the Villanelle,
confusion we must deprecate.
Do I hear you say to wait
and see what’s what? It’s just as well
duality, dichotomy, debate
are such a part of life, too late
their unseen influence dispel
confusion that we deprecate.
Now is the time to get this straight.
This vicious form’s a prison cell.
Duality, dichotomy: debate.
Subdue the power to create,
cause wilful poets to rebel
against confusion; deprecate.

Into your poem re-instate
the dreaded words that work so well:
duality, dichotomy, debate.
Confusion no more deprecate

That excitement was the epiphany which led me to a passionate period of experiment with poetic forms provoking me to search for examples, leading me to play with other forms such as ballade and rondeau. I found a site which has stood me in good stead: A guide to poetic form http://www.volecentral.co.uk/vf/index.htm . I resolved to work my way through them all – a long way from achievement, but many forms have been tried and from each I have learned something, and exercised the thought muscles.

Last Post, a villanelle in iambics with alternating tetrameter and trimeter in each tercet was written from a prompt, I heard a footstep at my gate. A story clamoured to be told, despite accepted opinion that villanelles are not suited to story-telling. We are also advised when using narrative in poetry to keep it sparse, leaving something for the reader to work out.

This poem fell naturally into two halves: yesterday, irritation; today sadness. Most of the lines are end-stopped, reinforcing the story-telling aspect of the poem. With hindsight, I should have preferred more subtle rhyming, as in my first example, and I have since learned to use enjambment more effectively.

Last Post

I heard footsteps at the gate
and raised my eyes to see
the postman was, as ever, late.

I stepped outside to remonstrate
and take the letter brought to me
by shaking hands across my gate;

a symbol of the world awaits,
a letter from across the sea.
The postman was, as ever, late.

Today a stranger at the gate
knocked twice and asked for me,
with sorry news of someone’s fate;

so sad, you will appreciate,
he’s gone too soon, you see,
that postman, now forever late.

I turn away, disconsolate
then back again to see,
a woman mourning for her mate,
the widow of the postman, late.

I then tried a pantoum, but the result was a trite piece of doggerel – another of those going-round-in-circles forms. My difficulties seem to be a hazard of the prescribed form: I found Wendy Cope’s Your Mother Knows, (1995) from her collection Two Cures for Love, Faber. Her Pantoum is similarly circular doggerel with simple rhymes.

Political Pantoum

I am repulsed by politics
hypocrisy, cant, and worse, lies.
we should all believe in kindness
as such we keep the truth.

 
Hypocrisy, cant and worse, lies
prevent us reaching happiness,
by the antithesis of truth,
all partners to aggressiveness.

We never will reach happiness
if we pursue with selfishness
those partners of aggressiveness
hypocrisy, politics, and lies.

We must be done with selfishness
and live our lives in kindliness
care, honesty and goodliness
and be repulsed by politics.

The sestina – a spiral mathematical form, invented by French Troubadour Arnaud Daniel in the twelfth century – holds an idea captive, unable to break out from the rules. Six words, chosen empirically, fail to develop the idea. They remain static, handcuffed to a specified order, immutable. Arnaut Daniel wrote I am Arnaut who gathers up the wind,/ And chases the hare with the ox,/ And swims against the torrent.

I gleefully took up the challenge to experiment with variants of the chosen words, but without swimming upstream. I made a template with the key words inserted in the correct order, and this has proved a useful and repeatable tool. For a more comprehensive article on the sestina, see the dVerse Poet’s Pub at http://dversepoets.com/2011/08/25/formforall-sestina/ It is a good idea when writing a sestina to choose words which have homonyms, and can be adapted to form noun, adjective or verb. Breaking the strict rules in this way is part of the fun.

My sestina, again about poetry is in unrhymed iambic pentameter. I played with the core words, and avoided too many end-stopped lines, in an effort to disguise the repetition. The sestina is a meditative, spiritual form and with that in mind, this sestina reflects on my progress as a poet, and my commitment to poetry.

Sestina – A Love Story

I started reading poetry to learn,
re-awaken my old interest in words,
and found a subject I have grown to love.
The distillation of mere words into a poem
has aroused in me a passion which will shine
for ever in my life: a treasured gift.

This unexpected blessing, this small gift
is something that in future I will learn
to handle like a lamp, somehow to shine
its brightness on my wilful way with words,
illuminate them to create a poem
that by chance someone will come to love.

Greeting each new verse like a lover,
playing with it. Thank God for this gift,
this unrhymed effusion of a poem,
far from perfect yet. But I am learning
to choose, to blend, to manage all the words
until the form that suits them starts to shine

through the dross. The meaning has to shine,
brought to life with skill and care and love.
Meaning is a tool that hones the words,
a talented, sharpened chisel; it is a gift –
essential as a means of shaping. Learn
to use it prudently to make a poem.

My ambition is to write a poem,
shrewdly polish words to make them shine.
Metaphor, form and rhythm must be learned;
strict rules used with skill and love
until the infant poem is a gift
to move you, calm your fears with words.

Gratefully offered, sublime recompense, words
must be melded, moulded and teased for a poem
to emerge. Poems call for many kinds of gifts –
assonance, metaphor, images, synonyms – shining
brightly, all to be mixed in the cauldron of love.
To emulate this pleasure I will learn.

With these words I pray that light will shine
on poems shaped for you with love –
my gift to you is all that I have learned.

For today’s discussion, I’d like to suggest that you share your own experience with form poetry…perhaps a form that had you stymied but then resulted in a break-through of sorts. I am including a Mr. Linky for you to share your work, or, if you prefer, use the comments section of this post.

Thank you, Vivienne, for your enlightened post!

Song of Songs–a Sestina for dVerse

Photo: David Slotto

Song of Songs
a Sestina

All the world’s a stage set to music.
You stroke my life like strings of Your guitar.
We’re born to fly so Your touch of gentleness
sounds a chord in my core that thrills.
Round and round You lead me in a dance—
the whirling rhythm swirls in my heart.

Rejoice, oh world; you hold grief in your heart.
Defy those who claim silence lacks all music.
Refute the clowns who refuse to dance—
Who, though called to joy, strum a dirge on their guitars.
Avoid the fool who rejects life’s thrill,
who sinks into the void with gentleness.

At dawn, mockingbird chants a song of gentleness
awakens the earth, enlivens her heart.
You stir in my Spirit-womb, Your Presence thrills.
Your promised love resounds of music,
Your hands play me as You would play Your guitar.
Our beings entwine and we enter the dance.

The earth and stars conspire to join the dance.
Ocean waves lick the sands with gentleness,
winds pluck the strings of willow tree guitars
while rain plants seeds in Earth—the Mother’s heart.
By day, the sun sings bliss—at night moon-music
plays arpeggios You designed to thrill.

I hear the door You open with a thrill,
arise to greet Your entry with a dance,
breath in the air You fill with sounds of music,
surrender to the call of gentleness,
responding to the rhythm of Your heart—
the wild beat of a classical guitar.

Submit my soul to music, the stroke of Your guitar,
Your voice, Your gentleness, never fail to thrill.
I yield to the tempo of your dance, lay down my heart.

Thanks to Gay (Hollyheir) and Matt Quinn who posted this challenging prompt over at dVerse’s Form for All.  http://dversepoets.com  I hope to see many joining us at the Pub.

The Castle Within

Castle in Papowo Biskupie-interior

Image via Wikipedia

In the 1500’s, Spanish mystics Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross, spur-headed reforms in Catholic religious orders. Their works endure to this day. To us, it may seem that they quest for union with the Creator is complicated, but reduced to its simplest terms, they invite the soul to prepare a place for oneness with its Source. Both saints were poets and prolific writers. Teresa chose the metaphor of a castle to describe the journey of contemplation. I have written a dialogue between The Soul and Satan (the Self, the Ego) in which Satan encourages the Soul to abandon her journey to the within.

In response to Poetry Potluck’s prompt of Castles, Fortresses, and Palaces  http://jinglepoetry.blogspot.com/ I chose to write a Sestina–a form that’s about as complicated as Teresa and John. This needs work and I welcome your critique..

The Castle Within
A Sestina

The Soul
I journey to a place that’s sacred,
travel above, below, within.
I walk a path of emptiness
knowing not who it is I seek.
Clouds catch colors that fill the sky
casting reflections on water.

Satan
Naked, submerged in fresh waters,
you utter words, evoke the sacred,
brandish ideas across the sky,
soak in lies that stir within
not knowing what it is you seek
embracing only emptiness.

Not understanding emptiness,
your thirst is not quenched by water
you do not know the source you seek
cathedrals, temples though sacred
cannot answer questions within
though spires stretch, try to reach sky.

Drowned in mystery—above, the sky.
Below—a trough of emptiness
that murkiness within your soul.
Troubled tempest of primal waters
envelopes all you hold sacred,
eludes the meaning that you seek.

What is it, soul, that you seek?
To know who lies beyond the sky?
To touch the silk of sacredness?
To fill the void of emptiness?
Blissful, to float in limpid water?
To satisfy yearning within?

The Soul
Satan, begone, for here within
the castle of my soul, I seek
not to probe the depth of water,
nor soar to crystal heights of sky.
You tempt, betray my emptiness,
eschew the gifts that I hold sacred.

Love Speaks
Enter the sacred room within, beloved
your emptiness filled because you seek.
Be bathed in water, clothed in sky.

Live Today–A Sestina

Fireworks Finale

Image via Wikipedia

Submitted to Riika Infinity’s 2011 Wish List Challenge: http://riikainfinityy.com/2010/12/28/wishylissy-for-2011/ in which we were challenged to think about what we want to have, do and wish for this upcoming new year.
 

I chose to do a sestina, choosing as the end words those that represent my deepest wishes:

Truth–to live without illusion, to understand and speak my truth;
Words–to express these truth’s in my writing and speech;
Presence–to be aware of the Divine in creation;
Bliss–to live in joy;
Now–to live in the present moment;
Earth–to enjoy the gifts of creation
 

Live Today
A Sestina

I ask for strength that I may live in truth,
that clarity may seal my every word.
My life unfolds within the silent Presence
of the Divine—it’s here that I find bliss.
Awake, I feast in the eternal Now
yet revel in the offerings of earth.

I taste and touch and breathe the joys of earth,
partake of what I see of beauty’s truth:
the flight of birds, the frosty tendrils now
that etch the glass and hold my every word
displaying beauty on the face of bliss.
I bow before the Godhead’s sacred Presence,

surrender to the very hope of present
pledges offered to the waiting earth,
dance with abandon to the sounds of bliss—
chords that echo in harmonic truth.
Succumbing to the utterance of Your Word
that in my own, another may find Now.

And can it be that only in the Now
I may be welcomed in the blessed Presence,
attend in faith the murmur of the Word?
My sure companion of this walk on earth
will cloth me in a garment spun of truth
that I may wear the wedding garb of bliss.

Because it is God’s will we drink of bliss,
I choose to stride along the path of Now,
relish the textures, colors true—
the vivid palettes painted by the presence
of rainbow’s arc bending towards the earth,
soaking rain that nourishes the word.

You strip away illusions with your words,
comfort my exposure to the truth.
Into deep sleep I fall, await Your presence,
awaken to the touch of brilliant bliss.
At last, You come, I rise unto the Now
and bending, touch my lips upon the earth.

You speak Your truth within a whispered word.
Today Your presence seizes me in bliss
enjoying in the Now my moment on this earth.

 

Song of Songs–One Shot Wednesday

Photo: David Slotto

Submitted to One Shot Wednesday: http://oneshotpoetry.blogspot.com/

This is a form poem written as a Sestina which consists of 39 lines: 6 stanza of 6 lines each. You choose 6 words as the “end-words” and they recur in a pre-designed sequence:
ABCDEF
FAEBDC
CFDABE
ECBFAD
DEACFB
BDFECA
AB CD EF

Song of Songs
a Sestina

All the world’s a stage set to music.
You stroke my life like strings of Your guitar.
We’re born to fly so Your touch of gentleness
sounds a chord in my core that thrills.
Round and round You lead me in a dance—
the whirling rhythm swirls in my heart.

Rejoice, oh world; you hold grief in your heart.
Defy those who claim silence lacks all music.
Refute the clowns who refuse to dance—
Who, though called to joy, strum a dirge on their guitars.
Avoid the fool who rejects life’s thrill,
who sinks into the void with gentleness.

At dawn, mockingbird chants a song of gentleness
awakens the earth, enlivens her heart.
You stir in my Spirit-womb, Your Presence thrills.
Your promised love resounds of music,
Your hands play me as You would play Your guitar.
Our beings entwine and we enter the dance.

The earth and stars conspire to join the dance.
Ocean waves lick the sands with gentleness,
winds pluck the strings of willow tree guitars
while rain plants seeds in Earth—the Mother’s heart.
By day, the sun sings bliss—at night moon-music
plays arpeggios You designed to thrill.

I hear the door You open with a thrill,
arise to greet Your entry with a dance,
breath in the air You fill with sounds of music,
surrender to the call of gentleness,
responding to the rhythm of Your heart—
the wild beat of a classical guitar.

Submit my soul to music, the stroke of Your guitar,
Your voice, Your gentleness, never fail to thrill.
I yield to the tempo of your dance, lay down my heart.