poem

Black and White Bridge

#9 of 86: A Bref Double for My Friend

Feeling introspective and thinking about a friend of mine. The Bref Double is odd because the rules are not limiting, but I did break one of them by not making the lines a consistent length. It’s sort of a weird sonnet with no meter. Maybe it sounds better in French (bref doo-blay?). I followed AXBC | XAXC | BXXC | AB for this one, but it sounds like there are a few variations.

 

A Bref Double for My Friend

You are lost. Just a little lost.
I know how that can feel.
That it hurts, but you can’t explain how.
No anchor, no sails, no sunshine. 

Brief joy in a hearty laugh or a found high,
and you buy those moments at any cost
because you know, once it’s gone,
you just have to wait until next time. 

But I’m happy to tell you that you can get out.
The truth is that those moments are not real joy.
They are distractions from what life is really about.
And it’s your own head that’s telling you that you are not fine. 

This shift in your mindset is a bridge you must cross,
from the person you will be Then to the You you are Now.

Fork in the Road

#8 of 86: A Purpose-Driven Bop

Onward to The Bop, a 3-stanza form that, in context, presents and attempts to solve a problem. No rhyme required for this one, but because I love rhyme I had to go for it. I just finished Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, which is on several must-read lists, particularly for readers looking for inspirational and motivational options. If you haven’t read it, the first part documents Frankl’s experiences in four different Nazi concentration camps. Although the subject matter is delicate and could easily veer on gruesome, the tone is more matter-of-fact than graphic. It is hard to comprehend that the Holocaust happened in my grandparents’ lifetime… The second part discusses Frankl’s idea of Logotherapy, a psychiatric theory that places the quest for meaning ahead of pleasure, power, or any other construct. Overall the book spoke to me, but on my search for meaning, it gave me more theory and food for thought than advice. Still, it was nice to get out of my head and I realized just how rare it is that my thoughts don’t dwell on me and my existence.

 

I Just Need to Choose My Path… 

My parents never said “Ash, you can do ANYTHING!”
My teachers never thought “Wow, she’s going places!”
I might have looked in the mirror and felt the sting
of not being special – another face among faces.
But wait, I thought, I’ve got ideas… I’ll make big plans!
I’ll prove them all wrong with my fate in my hands!

I’m not afraid to live! But I’m a little scared to choose my path…

I had always loved to bake, so that’s it – I’d be a chef!
But I lost faith before I learned to boil water…
No, not a chef. But I’m an artist – what else is left?
Oh, film! I love film! That’s a much better offer!
A student in the city and the next Stanley Kubrick!
This is… really stupid. Why is everyone so pretentious?
Do I give up again? They’ll all call my bullshit…
I just need a little break to come to my senses.

I’m not afraid to live, I’m just scared to choose my path!

Fresh start starts NOW! I never wanted to make movies anyway!
It was never the photography, it was the stories that I loved.
I’ll write great stories, Oscar-winning screenplays!
Or, a novel! Best-seller! A Great American one, sort of…
Or, epic poetry! Gripping verse and masterful craft!
Or… Infrequently blogging poems reflective of my past???

I’m not afraid to live, but I’m still finding my path.

come by day

#7 of 86: Busy Blitz

Have to say I loved The Blitz, a 50-line, super-fast, meant-to-be-read-aloud form created by Robert Keim. There is no punctuation and no required rhyme. I could explain the rules, but it’s better to just glean the form by reading an example. Try to read this without moving your lips, or bobbing your head, or getting into some kind of rhythm. It has an inherent lyrical beat that’s hard to ignore.

Come by Day

Here we go
Here we come
Come and go
Come to know
Know your self
Know your name
Name the price
Name the game
Game is won
Game is lost
Lost in love
Lost in space
Space and time
Space and place
Place to stay
Place to be
Be on track
Be on time
Time is mine
Time is money
Money hungry
Money watch
Watch your self
Watch your step
Step to the front
Step to the back
Back of the line
Back of your mind
Mind your surroundings
Mind your manners
Manners matter
Manners and respect
Respect your self
Respect your neighbors
Neighbors are noisy
Neighbors will think
Think about the future
Think about your family
Family affairs
Family forever
Forever in debt
Forever young
Young and beautiful
Young and broke
Broke as a joke
Broke up the day
Day and night
Day by day
Day…
Night…

40s Diner Black and White

86 Day Poetry Challenge

I haven’t been doing much writing for the past year other than to-do lists and emails, which has left me feeling dull and uninspired. What better way to encourage a little literary discipline than a writing challenge? I hope to reinvigorate my creativity with this challenge.

Robert Lee Brewer has a lovely list of 86 poetic forms on the Writer’s Digest website. The forms may dictate meter, rhyme, length, style, or any other poetic element. I will do my best to write one a day, but I’m a realist—I haven’t written in a while, and the point is just to get writing!

The list is ordered alphabetically, so I thought I’d start there, but I may choose to jump around. So here we go, beginning with Abstract Poetry, also known as Sound Poetry. The text itself is quite stupid, but it makes me laugh.

 

Saturday Morning at the Diner

Be Early… Be Early… Burble the brew… Bring near boil… Buy Brian a bran bar…

Run! Run rolls then ready rooms then rub royal-red-raspberry-rhubarb-rye!

Egg bake. Get egg bake. Get egg bake back to Pegleg Meg to take.

Apply the apron to the patron to pay the matron for her bacon.

Kill the will to fill the bill with spills but keep it neat and sweet and cheap.

Feast on exotic foods of Luxembourg expertly paired with expensive flax.

Away the day with a nice Earl Grey, gourmet whey, and lunch buffet.

Sardine sammies with sesame seed and soy sauce satisfy salty savory tastes.

Too much to do to and get into to continue my rendezvous AT THE DINER.

crowded sidewalk

In Plain Sight

A Curtal Sonnet–I wrote this for a poetry competition with Writer’s Digest.

In Plain Sight

He wakes and works and does all in plain sight,
a simple man in unassuming scenes:
Father, brother, partner, player and friend.
But consider this man who seems alright…
Beyond the smile and amid the routines
lies a great, confusing, complex loose end.
I only know this because he told me.
In plain sight, everything is as it seems.
To a select few we wouldn’t condescend
and act as who we think we ought to be.
Pretend.

wide rimmed glasses

Having Intellect Versus Being an Intellectual

Anyone who interacts with the creative world surely comes in contact with their fair share of Intellectuals. According to Merriam-Webster, an intellectual is a smart person who enjoys serious study and thought. For me, however, an Intellectual is a snob, a name-dropper, a smug and pretentious child who lives in an alternate reality. I’ve had a handful of Intellectual classmates, encountered a few Intellectuals in social settings, and have read a few books featuring Intellectual characters. It makes me crazy. Probably because I was raised Lutheran in the Midwest, but also because I can’t see the merit of intellect-by-association. These are people who appear to treat every day as a performance. Must be exhausting!

Sonnet for Intellectuals Everywhere: You Know Who You Are

He softly sips his Starbucks Fair Trade blend
swiping slowly across The Atlantic.
Pleased he can call the barista a friend:
His order memorized, his tips gigantic.
Tonight, he cooks. Not “cooking,” too domestic…
He curates flavors to challenge the palette.
A Veal Demi Glace that’s purely majestic!
Coltrane and vintage red strike the balance.
A little Safran Foer just before bed,
then it’s back to the grind at 10 a.m.
Theater professor or federal grant head,
something Necessary, but not layman…
He’s unshaken by a provincial like me,
and the words of a sonnet he’ll never read.

Triolet for Robert Plant

Happy birthday to Robert Plant, who is 68 today. Robert Plant is (should I say was?) the singer and primary lyricist for my favorite band of all time, Led Zeppelin. I was easily sucked into the history of the band and haven’t yet read about Mr. Plant’s life before it, but he is an exceptional writer and singer and I can’t imagine any other voice in his place. It’s hard to read Zeppelin lyrics without the context of the music because they’re so recognizable, but to me his writing is accessible–a next-level understanding of things situated in reality. In that spirit I wrote this poem.

Triolet for Robert Plant

First find your gift; then exhaust its full extent.
These are the ones who live beyond their years.
You can never be too late, too old, too spent—
First, find your gift. Then exhaust its full extent.
Accepting less than best breeds spite and discontent,
and a mediocre life is not a life revered.
First find your gift; then exhaust its full extent.
These are the ones who live beyond their years.

This verse is a triolet, an 8-line repetitive stanza following an ABaAabAB pattern. Most examples I noted were also in iambic pentameter so I went for it, but I deviated quite a bit. I prefer to work with a syllable count and let the meter come naturally. It was a neat little exercise, anyways!

From Russia, With Love

“I don’t like people who have never fallen or stumbled. Their virtue is lifeless and it isn’t of much value. Life hasn’t revealed its beauty to them.”
-Boris Pasternak

I can’t pinpoint the reason, but there are some historical cultures I’ve just always been fascinated by, like Ancient Egypt or 20th century Germany. At any point in it’s timeline, I have a feeling surpassing curiosity about Russia. Though I’m no expert in Russian history, it’s difficult to ignore the impact of the country’s past on it’s artists. While I love the whimzy of The Nutcracker, I’m drawn to the dramatic minor chords of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff. I read Atlas, Shrugged by the great Ayn Rand last year, and developed a major girl-crush on assertive Dagny Taggart. I’m recording the War and Peace TV miniseries adapted from Tolstoy’s popular novel, and I’m currently working on Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky, which I’m finding to be a pleasantly surprising page-turner even though I’m a slow reader.

With all of this Russian through my head (!), I thought a lame pun could be excused (?). Really, though, when I found out it was Boris Pasternak’s birthday today (1890-1960), it seemed fitting to pay it forward, and not in rubles.

Pasternak penned the novel that became one of my favorite films, Doctor Zhivago. In the story, Zhivago is both an upper crust doctor and love-torn poet at the mercy of the Russian Civil War. Wrongly labeling Pasternak a novelist, I learned that he only wrote the one, and is well-known in Russia for his poetry. I found the below poem at PoetryFoundation.org and thought first of a woman, then of the White army:

Fresh Paint
I should have seen the sign: “Fresh Paint,”
But useless to advise
The careless soul, and memory’s stained
With cheeks, calves, hands, lips, eyes.

More than all failure, all success,
I loved you, for your skill
In whitening the yellowed world
As white cosmetics will.

Listen, my dark, my friend: by God,
All will grow white somehow,
Whiter than madness or lamp shades
Or bandage on a brow.

Ill-anelle, or, The Hypochondriac

Do I feel warm? Put your hand on my head,
I’m burning up, but my hands are cold.
I think I’m coming down with something bad…

My neck is stiff and my eyes are red,
And look—-I never noticed this weird mole.
What do you think? Put your hand on my head.

I could have forgotten to take my meds,
and I ate some chicken that was getting old.
I may have caught something seriously bad!

Maybe pox? Or measles? Something that spreads?
You could have it, too, something out of our control.
Hold still; let me put my hand on your head…

Honestly, you seem fine… But I feel half-dead!
I read about this in Diseases, Foretold
You should always assume it’s something bad.

Don’t I seem woozy? I should be in bed…
And that incessant humming; it’s taking its toll!
I’ve got to get an ice pack on my head,
I’m in real pain here, and it’s worse than bad!

Sonnet for Someday

Sonnet for Someday

Someday, my sore foot won’t even matter.
Someday, I’ll take an inventory on
my life and barely recall this chapter.
Am I unhappy? No… But the day’s gone
so fast, and I can’t remember what I
ate for breakfast let alone what memor-
able thing happened. People tell me “try
to live in the moment!” I can’t afford
that, though. I can’t play Ferris Bueller and
seize the day. Who will pay my rent, or do
my homework, or write lame sonnets? I can’t
take a break without my plan falling through.

Eventually, The Grind will abate,
Just like today is yesterday’s Someday.

For You

Just for you
not anyone else
    because I sat at work alone
    and laughed
    when I remembered your Papa John impression.
Just for you
    because I can’t go all day
    without thinking
    about what you’re thinking
    or what you’ll eat for dinner.
Not anyone else
    because I never
    want to kiss anyone
    the way I kiss you.
Just for you
    because you gave me
    my favorite place to be:
    tucked under your arm
    with my head on your chest.
Not anyone else
    because you’re the only one
    who can make the switch
    and be safe
    and, go ahead, laugh. It’s funny.
Just for you
    because I’ll never love anyone else
    as much as I love you.

A Woman Is Never Just One

Somewhere in between a hero and a
villain, between life and death, is woman.
She is praying in China and she is
studying law in Montreal. Never
once has she been singular. Never just
a woman, but a collection of one.

Between honey and vinegar, someone
in 1591 experienced a
side of one woman. Just one side of just
one woman. One facet of one lady.
She’s always on because she is never
off. Her identity throughout time is

evolving yet constant. From birth she is
innocent, each moment she grows by one.
One moment in one mosaic you’ll never
see because it burned to ashes in a
forest fire. Each child has had a mother
who surrendered part of her body just

to keep life going, whether it was just-
ified or not; and every mother is
an intricate machine called a female.
Every cell must sing with another one
to nurture a heartbeat to become a
fresh person. And she can cry when ever

she must without judgment, but she never
cries for the wrong reason. And tears are just
a tiny salty waterway down a
cheek in a grayscale photograph that is
aging in a damp basement of someone
you know. Somewhere in between a school girl

and a matron is one side of one her,
one face of one diamond that will never
be extracted from one chip of one stone
buried five hundred feet deep. Each side just
a glimpse of the whole, just as each whole is
a glimpse of what is woman. She is a

book that misses its title, because just
one title never captures all she is,
someone in between zeta and alpha.

As published in Arches – Fall 2014, the Mount Mary University student periodical