Bad poetry = better prose?

I’ve been doing a lot of writing since the kidlets started school. Of course, not all of it is good (or even passable) writing.

If you’re a writer, you have probably heard the oft-repeated idea of getting your “shitty first draft” committed to paper (or tablet or phone or whatever means you use to write). There’s a lot of merit to that, as writing well, for most of us, requires quite a bit of mucking through the mental swamp-fog and pasting up more than a few cruddy turns of phrase, mixed metaphors, or inane plots.

So, in addition to being involved in the GreatWashington_Crossing_the_Delaware_by_Emanuel_Leutze,_MMA-NYC,_1851 SinusInfluColdergy of September 2015—a personal battle, to be sure—I have been producing some bad poetry and reading some much more interesting stuff. There again, I am hoping that mucky, funky poetry is the gateway to better (badder?) prose.

Although I am way behind in reading blogs, and I miss them “somethin tur’ble” as some of my relatives are ‘like’ to say, I also have had the great pleasure to beta-read a friend’s fantasy novel. I will be excited to unveil that, I’m hoping, in the next few months.

What about you? Would you like to share what you’ve been reading (or writing, for that matter)?

Lastly, in my readings whilst slumped in bed with a ton of tissues, I’ve also been dipping into literary short stories, in a collection called Contemporary West Coast [of the United States] Stories. I have to say, several are “razors pain you” good; in my estimation, those are at the forefront of the book, by Richard Ford, Joyce Carol Oates, Tobias Wolff, and Amy Tan. (You know, the usual suspects!) I’ve not read all the stories in this collection, but several of the others left me underwhelmed with their tepid endings.

Speaking of the opposite of winning, let’s round this out with some amateur poetry (#amwriting). After all, it’s a Tuesday. (And it’s five o’clock somewhere!)

Living in borrowed bones

Begrudge the birds

their unmarrowed bones,

unmoored, not holding onto

words—that way you insert ‘n’ in smattering

or songs—“Reveries of a Girl”—

all that “in”-ness.

Lost to light, loft.

Moments grounded

then gone.

Perhaps we are not

so different.

Each in borrowed

body

Mortality ribbed

with tines:

Here is the church

Here is the steeple

Open up the doors

Here’re all the people.

Each heart, a hand:

a wing

unfolding.

Push through the bars

sealed by goodbyes,

slough off lacings

of regret and love.

Buoyed by light threads

lifting.

Love in Ten Lines

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-Logo

April is celebrated as NPM by the Academy of American Poets, among other groups. Use #npm15 to connect w/like-minded folks.

Well, cruelly or not, here it is April already. Happy National Poetry Month (more details on this in a later post)!

As for a poetics of the personal, I was asked almost a fortnight ago by fellow writer and friend Sarah Potter to wax poetic on the subject of love, following certain parameters and with strictures that I still managed to both tangle and mangle, for the “Love in Ten Lines Challenge.” You’ll have to forgive me on several fronts. I’m steadily pedaling back up to speed on blogging—both writing and reading/commenting—after a bout with spring sinusitis that decided to invite my eye in for the party. I’ll spare you further allergological details (in any case, they happened after I’d written these two poems anyway).

Briefly, here are the rules of the 10-line love challenge:

  • 10 lines only, on love.
  • “Love” must appear in each line.
  • Each line must be exactly 4 words.
  • Include a quote about love (it can be your own quote).
  • Use any language you choose.

As grateful as I was to be invited, no obligations attached, by Sarah to take part in this challenge, I’m a little rowdy with the rules, I guess. I’m supposed to formally invite other bloggers to take part, but I feel as if I’d be imposing on y’all if I call out specific people, even though I do have several of you in mind. But everyone is so busy. That said, if you’d like to take part in this challenging premise, I informally welcome you. Then we can probably just call it a free-verse free-for-all.

Finally, who doesn’t like a good word brawl with one’s language every now and again? (Even if you get a bit of a black eye, as I feel I have here . . .)

A Museum of Moments

Love, my heart’s Braille,

written for unseen loves,

suitors untailored for love,

in love with veils,

of ragged things unloved.

gagged love, silken bonds

fixed fast. Everyone loves.

We covet coursing love-

blood. Strange museum, love:

where we all sight-see.

Beloved Dust

My little loves, fay

folk, loved beyond mortal

measure. Love carves us

out of softwood. Love

chips love away, shapes

each love in fashion.

Shavings, sharp edges; love

leaves behind even love

itself sometimes. Love sears

into each beloved grain.


Oh, a final finally. The quotes!

“Love is not love/
which alters when it alteration finds.” (Shakespeare, Sonnet 116)

and, for more on fissile or weathered love, we have the Peter Gabriel lyric:

“. . . In lovetown,
I can’t settle down.
And do those teeth still match the wound?
Take a good look around
In lovetown.” (from “Lovetown,” available on the 2-CD release “Hit” [disc two of which is called “Miss”])

Haiku High Jinks: On Word-Building and LEGOs

CandLego--Daily Imagination Haiku_2

Imagination power! Kid 2 thinks of the Bard (WS LEGO not seen above) as “Shakesbeard” and “Shakesbeer.” Which do you think he would like better?

 

Poet Ludens*

e.e.’s axiom:

which-y words flaying, zinging

out like darts in flesh

*Inspired by “what if a much of a which of a wind.” Text here at poem 75.

 

The Play-bow

The play-bow. RIP, big guy.

Ode to An Absent Friend

The red slide of your

back. An arc, bowing willow,

bark tethered to moon.

 

 

 

 

 

Daily Imaginations

Three-headed robot.

’Sooth, “Shakesbeard” shall slay them all!

Words flare, sabrepoints.

 

Wall Light Haiku_2.1

The Art-Light Game

Light leapfrogs our wall.

Chiaroscuro hop-scotches,

Pollock play-splotches.

 

 

Written for the weekly (25 January 2015) Haiku Horizons, keyword “play.”

Handling the Human Heart: Haiku

Reuters--butchery photo

Reuters photograph.

Youth, flayed

Whistle at one life’s work.

That snug abbatoir, childhood,

skips to your lax blade.

 

Her heart

She forgot to know

words more powerful than belts.

Lacerating tears.

 

His heart

Wet vigils kept you

over pallid self-esteem,

sluicing away flesh.

Crane-Desert poem graphic

Because it is your heart

Seagram’s, your Grail, spears

raggedy id. Pinking shears

sawtooth kith — and kin.

 

 

Fear’s edge

You saw its savage

edge through pocket of apron.

A grin slits your lips.


Haiku for this week’s Haiku Horizons, on “cut,” which lent itself to sanguine verses (for me, anyway; be sure to read the other contributors!).

And now for some comic relief (note: this is the “Barbershop/Lumberjack sketch,” the first part of which might gross out the squeamish).

 

 

Speculative Poetry: The Mirror-Ship

Janus 1: The Mirror-Ship

GENRE: Speculative Poetry

556px-Janus.xcf

A fascinating image from Bernard de Montfaucon’s L’antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures, which is in the public domain. Janus (Latin: Ianus) stands as the Roman god-figure of changes and beginnings, and thus of doorways, passages, gates, and endings; that is why he is represented as looking both back in time and forward.

 

Twinkling from stem to stern, the slim ship

parted the black tide of space, a drip

into the washbasin of infinity.

The jeweled hull reflects not divinity

but instead a cascade of faceted realities.

Unconcerned with its own folded dualities,

the mirror mother-craft plaits, tucks, turns

with, in, and through time forced-flat.

It meanders emotionless and does not yearn

as years yawn into centuries, ion one with eon.

Light welded to night, as collar with frill.

And all that was within your own orbit pulsars still.


I hope that your week so far has been productive and peaceful. In line-of-sight with the speculative poetry theme of today’s post (for which I always gratefully receive input), I’d like to offer up a few markets and resources for you to explore. Best wishes, writers!

  • Strange Horizons is a paying market—imagine that! Thirty-per-poem is offered by this editorial triumvirate, who seek “modern, exciting poems that explore the possible and impossible: stories about human and nonhuman experiences, dreams and reality, past and future, the here-and-now and otherwhere-and-elsewhen. We want poems from imaginative and unconventional writers; we want voices from diverse perspectives and backgrounds.” If you’ve got some stellar horror, science fiction, fantasy, or slipstream poetry, do consider SH, but be sure, at a minimum, to read their definitions and manifesto article first.
  • The annual speculative poetry contest from the Science Fiction Poetry Association (SFPA) is ready for takeoff! With an Aug. 15 deadline and a $1-or $2-per-poem submission fee, now might be the time to dust off that speculative poetry for one or more of their three categories: dwarf, short, and long. Among other perks, there’s a $100 first-place prize in each category and “publication on Poetry Planet (StarShipSofa.com) podcast magazine and on the SFPA website for first through third places.” SFPA is also a great overall resource if you write speculative poetry; do consider membership therein.
  • Not speculative fiction, but perhaps of interest to those of you who enjoy memoir and/or essays, personal or otherwise. If you’ve ever experienced a “eureka!” moment—it need not have been while in the bathtub—and can pen a compelling “Life Lessons” essay of no more than 1,500 words, Real Simple magazine just might want to publish your writing and pay you for it (the best combination, I might add). As always, be sure to read all the rules, especially regarding rights protection of your story, and make your submission, if you so choose, by Sept. 18 (e-mail or snail-mail). Good luck!

Haiku: Examined Lives

We Night Birds

We hollow-boned preen

by day, ’til Night feathers nests

and opens pent souls.

Open and Read, If You Dare

Here lie life’s pages

not flitt’ry on the gurney

but splint’ring the eye.

Image from the "As Eye See It" photography blog by Herb Paynter

Image from the “The Way Eye Sees It” photography blog by Herb Paynter.

 

Mama Maelstrom

Dreams pelt swift these days,

open holes in mind-windows,

gouge out doughy hopes.

 

 

Life’s Sentences

I once knew a man

so open-minded, the book

submerged, and tabloid rose.

 With Nothing But Writing to Guide Me

Carry me across

divided worlds, burned bridges

minds, eyes, hearts — o, pen.


Haiku crafted especially for Week 17 of Haiku Horizons, with the prompt this time being “open.”

 

 

All Our Horrific Realities: A Dirge

“All Our Horrific Realities: A Dirge”

Leigh Ward-Smith, ©2014

_______________________________________________________________________________

“The family drew cupcakes . . . on her tiny white casket.”

Setting: Here, now.

All our horrific realities

are all horrifically ours.

Sublime in the glint of the scythe,

six-and-twenty sorrows stream into our consciousness.

Salt upon the pane.

I rage against the sloping reality

of the dying twenty-six lights.

Soon enough, the grief heaps up, pushing up mountains in the mind:

Belted welts upon the already bruised back of the world.

Somewhere, suffused cirrus,

susurring,

pregnant with hopes flung out

up,

in devastation,

confusion,

and the iciest of cyclic horrors.

And now, cracked-lip murmurings yet shunt, quick to the chest,

our hell-shocked fare-thee-wells.

I write so I can live

with the reality of our human race, this place:

We are damned, dirty apes–with angers dangerously ablaze.

Can saved Graces now retrieve the six-and-twenty,

plucked pennies from air-strings of aether,

lifted like priceless veils to reveal

the twinned treasures–survival secrets–

the weighted, waiting heart of love and its golden companion, forgiveness?

Never forget The 26.

***

Dedicated to Charlotte Bacon, Daniel Barden, Rachel D’Avino, Olivia Engel, Josephine Gay, Dylan Hockley, Dawn Lafferty Hochsprung, Madeleine F. Hsu, Catherine V. Hubbard, Chase Kowalski, Jesse Lewis, Ana Marquez-Greene, James Mattioli, Grace McDonnell, Anne Marie Murphy, Emilie Parker, Jack Pinto, Noah Pozner, Caroline Previdi, Jessica Rekos, Avielle Richman, Lauren Rousseau, Mary Sherlach, Victoria Soto, Benjamin Wheeler, Allison N. Wyatt, and all who were touched by these lives. — “Life always matters, very much”

This poem was respectfully written as a response to The Daily Post’s daily writing prompt of 26 January 2014.