Category Archives: free verse

Wood matters

Smoke arises from the chimney stack

in billows

from an untended burn.

It smolders and flashes, then flames.

More provocation

and maybe some oak, dense among woods,

for fuel;

it brings back the smoke

to choke away the cleansing flame

and obscure the fire,

producing words like bitterness and char.

 

Cento: For prayers

Threading a long night through the rules and channels
in my memories I thought of trust.

When you get new things
you treat them like glass for a while.

Now the stars appear and the Night dreams
a life, the dazzler, the dark.
We will lose the sun
and surely take everything off your hands.

I don’t know the word for because,
How do I tell my mouth to speak?
It’s quiet again and now the sky is a tangled
mess of rags seeking out the bored and unwilling,
the heavens melted, dropping water down.

Long nights for simple words
Shy words tiptoeing from mouth to ear.

At different times,
a feeling comes, not woven by innocent hands.
And how could any of us get by
with one in the way?

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This Cento is composed of lines from the following poets:
Robert Pinsky, Alex Dimitrov, John Lee Clark, Jericho Brown, Deborah Landau, Mark Tardi, Brenda Hillman, Jenny Xie, Melissa Stein, Ari Banias, Melvin Dixon, Donika Kelly, James J. Ryan, Lucy Ives,Pauli Murray, Adam Clay

Wurst

It seemed lovely, oh mavourneen –
You won and you preened.
Yet, when such is your bailiwick –
Spreading the hate and reeling the sick –
you’re a wandering nudnik
taking in bathos and spreading disease.

My galimatias notwithstanding,
your governed approach to this whole dismantling
contains a truth you have never once known
amongst your whole opuscule – blustered, overblown.

Your stemwinders reveal all your foibles and flaws.
You actually blow all the wind in your cause,
And the ignominy you will sooner feel among laws.
Words capture and stall e’en the worst of us all.

And this apotheosis I leave in verse, the paroxysm-
I’m leaving it all uncoerced and letting them burn
in their own mixed up wurst.

For poetry gives me a hope to instill
and words are a means for spreading good will.

*******************

I wrote this in response to a challenge by Cricketmuse.

The challenge was to use a specific set of ten words in a written piece.  I’m a sucker for a good sounding word.  And these are probably the most unusual (real) words I’ve tried to incorporate in , as per my normal approach, a poem.  I kind of like it.  I hope you do too.

 

 

arise and sing

Of leaves,
liven up their dance
a rustling disturbance,

The wind, entr’acte, passing by,
does prick and ply their motions.
Embrace them, turn and whirl,
and love-struck, fails to die.

A wind swirling with its bustle
causing them to rustle
(as leaves are sessile).
Their time and captivation ending
with hues of autumn shifting.

Rending.

The wind, incitement with a sound included;
leaves breaking free
then flight from tree, soon denuded.
This joy in purpose released towards the heaven.

Of lives, they leaven.

********
The reworking of an old poem from ca. 2005-6. I think I like this better.

wood would knot

It’s a reminder of dead branches in a tree trunk.
A natural thing. When processed and managed, it is a would-be imperfection that could be nice to look at, causing a waving grain, adjusted in directions exploited by purpose. It is decorative and agile in its language, but still a defect.

A flaw to the strength of wood, it leads to weakness for tensile and compression, especially when under perpendicular forces or being pulled in opposition. This would be structurally unsound to build upon. The knot can lead to cracks and would not be of benefit in building because of the warp, the check and the shakes.

Some who construct would know the impact.
In a dissonant chord, it is the note that sings loudest and rings a disjointed sound.
In a poem, it is the missing iamb of a sonnet, tripped and stumbled upon. In a house, it is in the failing wall or a cracking joist, unable to stand the weight of heavy burden.
In speaking-it is missing a word and rushing over – leaving a hole. Such work is helpless and unsound.

What remains would not be usable.

Maybe

There is a secret around the corner
that the roses will be red instead of pink;

the sunset and sunrise will both illuminate
the dark moments – far more eloquently than any word.

There are remnants of language,
The laughter of loved ones and strangers
are beauty in a spattered world –
and strung-together notes of the discordant are melodious when unfurled.

There is a depth in every eyeful gathered from a window
and a coolness in the soil grasped by each hand.

You feel the heat that summer’s afternoon conceives,
and I hear the whiskers of October’s morning in the leaves.

There are shadows that crawl in the day
and charming smiles that ornament a night.

And this is truth’s impassioned plea to our humanity,
and affirms the secrets we sometimes cannot see –
perhaps, life is our communal way to share
and maybe, each one of us is rare.

******
The events of this past week have weighed heavily on me – the loss of two very successful, highly creative individuals to suicide, and the realization that this type of hopelessness impacts far more people than we know/understand. There is such beauty and importance in life, and each one of every one of us has a rare gift to share with others. Remember this.
Wishing you all a wonderful week.

Lament (a Cento)

Our one forever,

when it stole through the red gates of sunset
left over from autumn, and the dead brown grass
is yet vibrant with the cadence of the song you might have been.

No longer mired in waiting to begin.

They tell us the night means nothing,
and the candles their light the light.

Nothing is hid that once was clear,

then gone and then to come:
all the time, except the split
second, except—

What is there to say except to lament.

You live in the wrong place.

There’s no flowering time to come.

The hands fell off my watch in the night

and you counted the time
from this instant.

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This Cento contains lines from the following poets: 

Kenneth Rexroth, John Koethe, Lola Ridge, Brenda Hillman, Martha Collins,  Melissa Kwasny, Katharine Tynan, Esther Louise Ruble, David Yezzi, Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Jonathan Galassi, Michael Goldman, Robert Francis, and Lucille Clifton.