{may poetry 7: pantoum}

View from Barry's House 99

Okay, I’m somewhat of a bird …freak. I just know what my retirement holds, someday I’m going to turn into one of those ardent, crazed birders (looking at you, Ursula Vernon and Charlotte’s Mama) who travel to distant lands on the bare hope of seeing a bird for their life list. I just like taking pictures of them for now, but this is how it starts, I’m sure. Photography is a gateway drug to birding… But, it was unavoidable, this time, going through my bird pictures. Because the form of the month for the “Twelve Forms, Twelve Poems” 2015 Challenge the Poetry Seven did this month had an extra challenge to our pantoums, since we’ve proved already that we can do them most of the time – we were all meant to write a poem and use one of two words “certain” and “flight.” The words just seemed to go together, and be something about birds, to me.

Of course, I then went and wrote a pantoum I just LOVED, unrhymed for one, which is actually more of a challenge for me – but using NONE OF THOSE WORDS. *sigh*

I’ll save that one for later, but after reading and working through my Sisters’ poems on the Google Docs form we use (and never was there such a document full of crossed out, highlighted, margin-note-jotted poetry) I felt like I should make another effort – as some of them have been doing. Surely, if I could do one poem I was happy with, I could at least make the effort to play by the rules we all agreed on, use “certain” and “flight,” and make another creditable attempt.

Remember what I was quoting the other day about poetry helping the poet argue with herself, and what the fantabulous Mr. Rosen said about form being the ring in which young(ish) poets wrestle? The form just pinned me into something that. just. worked.

(as)certain flight

birds line their nests against hard truths we know —
stockpiling soft and insulating white —
and fragile souls protect, against life’s blows:
this evolution ends in fall or flight

stockpiled with softness. insulating, white —
a downy landing, real life in disguise
then evolution ends. With fall or flight,
they flail into this world, and then they rise.

A downy landing, real life? In disguise
(they, trying to find wisdom as they fledge)
will flail into this world and then will rise,
but first, life’s lessons push them from the edge.

while trying to find wisdom as you fledge,
recall the ones who caught you as you flailed –
as lifelong lessons push you to the edge,
think what you owe to gain the heights you scaled.

recall the ones who caught you as you flailed;
now fragile, they protected you from blows
think. what is owed to gain the heights you scale
who lined your nest? Hold true the ones you owe.

Helensburgh 13

The other sisters pantoum-ing around the blogosphere. Here’s Dr. Tricia Not-A-Farm-Wife @ The Miss Rumphius Effect, Laura’s two for teachers @ Writing the World for Kids, Andi’s poem on Star Wars and true flight @ A Wrung Sponge, Sara’s seductive tidal moon, @ Read, Write, Believe, and Kelly published one yesterday, and one today @ Writing and Ruminating, and Liz Garton Scanlon all at sea, and seeking identity.

The Space City Scribes (I love it – Space City = Houston) are hosting Poetry Friday today, so do pop on over. Meanwhile, I’ll share my other pantoum …soon, but for now, I think I’ve earned a little break…!

10 Replies to “{may poetry 7: pantoum}”

  1. I know you’re not a cell phone fan, but there is this app with bird calls that birder can use… hee, hee…more gateway drugs!

    My favorite part of your poem is how soft the entry to it is—you invite us in to that nest, and then ask us challenging questions. The images are exquisite, too.

    By the way, I envision a whole book of bird pictures paired with question-posing, flight-launching poems. Whatcha say?

    1. You keep thinking I can come up with a whole book of poems. I don’t know where you keep getting these thoughts, Sara… I dunno. It sounds reasonable on the surface… but I keep digging past that, is the problem…!

  2. Bam! Pow! Nerd-superheroes rock!

    I have such a hard time letting loose in a poem. Some of the POetry Sisters just fling those words around, change things up, and meanwhile, I’m carefully duplicating each line, punctuation and all. I’ve really been trying to learn and to change things up so far this year. It *totally* goes against my instinct, though.

  3. Photography being the gateway drug to birding made me cackle here in the library. People are looking askance:>)

    I love the stockpiling, and I’m thinking about how our monthly poems are also feathering my nest, giving me nudges and comfort in equal measure when I need them:>) That’s my favorite line here: stockpiling soft and insulating white —

    And I’m so impressed that you went and wrote a second one. If I had written one I loved, I’d have said, “Too late. Y’all should’ve come up with theme or words earlier!” You’re even more of a rule follower than I am!

    1. True Nerddom at Work. I am SUCH a rule-follower.
      I was trying really hard to work SCIENCE into a poem like you and Tricia always do. I threw down with “evolution!” And feathers! So, there!

      United in word nerdery…

  4. I FINALLY found my password to comment on your site! *Does a victory lap*

    Love how you played with rhyme in here. And especially love the first line: “birds line their nests against hard truths we know”. If only all that lining could actually protect us . . .

  5. Beautiful photos! You are right, photography can be the gateway to birding… or the other way around! Good bird photos require a really good camera. I am reading a book now called An Exhilaration of Wings; The Literature of Birdwatching by Jen Hill. It is a series of excerpts from essays and writings of American and British birders over the past 3oo years or so. Fascinating!!

    My favorite line in your poems is the phrase “who lined your nest?” I can’t get it out of my head. I love how the repetition rings through this poem – like the beating of wings in the air.

  6. I love this poem and all it says about those who nurture and care for us. And now we care for them … These are my favorite lines:
    recall the ones who caught you as you flailed;
    now fragile, they protected you from blows

    Funny how three of us went directly to birds when we thought of flight.

    I hope that you will share Classic, as I love that too. It brought back many fond memories for me.

    1. So many of my friends are “sandwich generation,” dealing with their small children and having concerns for their adult children… because my parents were so young when we were young, that hasn’t been a concern, but I’m still working through these types of thoughts, as the older generation ages.

      Classic is coming up!

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