“Now you’re on your own
Only me beside you
Still, you’re not alone
No one is alone
No one is alone …
You move just a finger,
Say the slightest word,
Something’s bound to linger
No one acts alone.”
―Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods
A foretaste of Autumn arrived this past Monday night, as we had thunder and lightning, and a mad cloudburst that had us scurrying to close windows and pile towels against the insult to the wood floor. That morning’s sunrise had been spectacular pink spread across a multilayered cloud bank of white and blue and golds, and we’d expected the sunset to be just as bright. It was, in slices and sections – but the rain rolled in.
I’m a fan of sunsets, though – and as the chamber group I’m auditioning for (over a long period of three weeks, yikes) is preparing for a winter concert called “Silent Night/Glorious Day,” I’m currently learning a great many new pieces to do with sky, light, night, and darkness. This week’s favorite is Stephen Chatman’s Sunset from his choral suite, “Due West.”
And the words, the words… what a perfectly lovely, dreamy, Poetry Friday feast to share.
When the sun sets West
Feathered shift of sky
Satin clouds undress
Heaven’s kiss bids the flat light goodbye.
Endless calm, red mist,
Glistening golden beams –
Gently they are kissed, by night’s dark melting blaze…
When the sun sets West, sets West,
And the clouds undress, undress… When the sun sets West.
More poetry at Today’s Little Ditty
“And for adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, we have excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words which adults no longer use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism.
These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence, and the words are: Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.”
―Jane Yolen, TOUCH MAGIC: FANTASY, FAERIE & FOLKLORE IN THE LITERATURE OF CHILDHOOD
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone; it’s spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hope of its children.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, April 16, 1953
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Because “mistakes flower/every hour,” this anthology of middle grade poetry will look at mistakes from as many angles as possible, including (but not limited to) mistakes that result in discoveries/inventions, grammar and etiquette mishaps, historical and fictional blunders, funny/silly/embarrassing missteps, ways to make things right, and forgiveness.
Visit the link for details. Submission deadline November 1, 2017. Send poems to mistakesanthologyATgmailDOTcom.
It’s the first Friday of September, and the countdown to autumn begins in earnest. All hail, the gathering of the Poetry Sisters, as they come in from balmy, sticky summer days, too-short vacations, garden grubbing, housekeeping, art-making, school year preps, and conferences.
All hail, the gathering up of the brain cells.
I will now skip my usual song and dance about “Already!” and “Good grief!” and any number of other folksy expressions of shock, and just admit that 2017 feels, each month, as if we’ve lived a full year in the past thirty days… and yet, time keeps on shoving us onward, into the future. Hurrah.
(I mean, it’s not like I would like time to stop or anything, but the shoving just seems rude. I would like the days to pass without a cattle prod, thank you.)
Ah, well. The world is full of short, sharp shocks, is it not? Fortunately, there’s always poetry.
This month, we’re back to the ekphrastic, which means that the form was up to us, and the prompt was the rather lovely picture above, taken by Sara, along a path at the Highlight Foundation retreat center near lovely semi-rural Honesdale, Pennsylvania. I and several other sisters were taken by how the stone etched with the word ‘wish’ was snapped in half – rather like a wishbone – through the pressure of cold and weathering. We also noted how some of the words are obscured. Can wishes be broken? Are the things we wish for, or that make us individual, hidden, even from ourselves?
Snap)(ped like cold stone
two paths. one wish.
No way, except my own
I choose. I walk alone.
Two paths. One wish.
Fated, to Rule of Three
I ch(o)se (to) walk alone,
faithless. [Set free.]
Fated to rule. Of three
wishes, I wasted two –
Faith, let set free
Wishes, I wasted. Two
snap ped like cold stone.
No (one’s), except my own.
I love how a pantoum can be… about any number of things at all.
In the spirit of the Poetry Sisters trying to think through and talk more about our process, I’ll admit that my brain has to flush itself with a sing-songy, drivelicious piece of nonsense first before I can come to grips with poetry of any kind of Serious Form. True to form, I messed about for quite a bit with this and that, then ran out of time on a sonnet I felt was suitably difficult enough To Appear Serious. The truth is? No matter how much I whine, these are just fun, and I’m grateful to have the outlet for this kind of fun, to let my brain run along paths other than flash floods and garbage fires, war wounds, weeping, and wailing. Wordplay is the best play, right now, anyway.
Once Was Is Past
once was is past: snapped clean and cleaved in twain
time’s pulse a timpani that marches on,
relentless, in this lifetime marathon;
all paths converge and seek out this refrain.
with restless adaptation, time’s campaign
seeks but to better life’s phenomenon:
streams seep, then oceanward surge thereupon
meek molehills strive – to steeper heights retrained.
as all things change, yet changing, keep the time
and dance to day’s distinctive martial tune
what changes least, you’ll find, still dies too soon.
that’s paradox, in living’s paradigm.
the past, a path wayfarer’s quests elude,
ahead, horizon’s trackless latitude.
And, OKAY, since Liz doesn’t think it’s actually drivel – here’s the first thing that fell out of my brain for this project:
WARNING, or DO NOT WISH UPON A STAR
with no apologies to Disney whatsoever
When you’ve wished upon a ROCK
You’ve wished, at least, on sturdy stock,
& tethered it to solid ground –
(not vague celestial hopes unsound).
Wishes on stars are ill-advised;
A heavenly-body’s VAST, in size
You wish might land… or, go astray,
Become some wind-tossed castaway…
But plant your heels on cobblestone,
‘Wish’ turns to ‘deed’ with your backbone.
Persist, and dreams you’ll undertake,
That starlight’s whimsies cannot make.
(Full disclosure; this is the Poetry Sister polished version of this poem; first out of the gate had a much bootstrappier final stanza, and with a mighty vengeance I detest and loathe hoisted-upon-yon-bootstraps poetry – #sorrynotsorry Rudyard Kipling/Robert Service. This ending has both stars and stones to root it, and thank-you, Sara.)
There’s more poetry all over: first, check out Laura, Sara, Tricia, & Liz, and see what they’re doing with this particular ekphrastic challenge this month. Be sure to wave to Andi, and welcome her back!
And now, a little plug for the Cybils Awards: Since 2007, the Cybils have long been a place for those who care about children’s literature to get involved. Especially this year, when it may feel that nothing we do changes anything (cattle prod notwithstanding), highlighting good books for children, tweens & teens is a hopeful imperative. If you read and write about children’s literature, between now and September 11th, there’s an open call for judges in all categories. Better to open a good book – which is, its own way, lighting a candle – than to curse the darkness.