{p7: chaos, edna, and an ekphrastic on a ceiling mural}

Skyway Drive 355

There’s a sunflower growing between the slats in my upstairs deck.

There’s… I guess dirt there. Decayed pine needles, surely. Mulch made up of all sorts of things. And, with the rain, there’s been enough water for germination.

It’s a particularly stupid place to grow, actually. I told this to the plant when it started sprouting. There’s really not actual, you know, soil of sufficient depth there. And, once it gets really warm – probably in a few weeks – the whole plant is going to fall over and shrivel. It won’t be pretty. And yet: there it goes. There it grows.

That’s the kind of chaos Springtime engenders. Sheer madness, really; no stopping it. There’s a sort of …relief in that. A bit of freedom in that resignation. “Meh. Spring. What can you do.”

Today’s artwork for our poems is a bit mad as well. According to Laura, who selected it, “These are two parts of a 7-part ceiling fresco at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. I spoke at a children’s literature conference there a couple of weeks ago and loved huge, colorful ceiling in Terrence Murphy Hall. The art is by Mark Balma and is called The Seven Virtues (it’s a Catholic university). I loved the colors, the surrealness of the images, and the fairy tale oddness of them.” Saturated in color, by turns literal and bizarre, these murals are amazing, and go right along with our theme of quiet chaos. I appreciate Laura taking a snap or two before her talk.

fresco2*Click to embiggen*

Spring, by poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, begins with a question. My friend L. and I asked each other this one frequently in college – because the theme of chaos and madness by April was pretty well the story of our lives. Edna asks, To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Honestly, that’s a darned good question. Spring is a many-splendored thing and all, but I haven’t always had much use for it. Recently, I noticed I’m generally depressed by April. We’re well out of the clutches of winter by then in California; I’m no longer a beleaguered student, longing for June – but for some reason, my mental cycle puts me on the outs with the world by the end of March. Reading back over my National Poetry Month selections brings to light scores of moody, introspective poetry in varying forms. This is probably in part because I never grew out of the immature high school association of the mopey poet in a garret, but I’m beginning to suspect this is chemical and cyclic. (Surprise! Not.) With that in mind, as I sat down to scratch out various attempts at a poem, I found myself getting stuck on my usual minutiae and over-focusing on isolated details… I asked myself why, in a picture so saturated with life and color and creativity (Who is the baby? Is that broccoli or what? And why is the monkey blindfolded? Is he WITH the friar, or just…there?), why I was doing that. This month, I made a deliberate, conscious choice… not to. Viva la chaos! Viva la irrepressible spirit! I chose the first of these two intriguing images for…


Phenomenal, a yearly feast
Resplendence drawn from basest clay.
Impossible – yet still repeats,
Munificence, in wild display.
Annual chaos! Celebrate!
Vernal joys invigorate;
Ebullient, this life from death, cycling with every breath
Raucous cause for life sustained:
April’s purpose, come again.

Yes… I also chose the most “elementary school” poetic form that I could find – an acrostic. Well, I admit I cheated a little and gave it a little meter and rhyme – but I went for a lighter touch this month, and I really like this poem. I worked hard for my happy, so I’m ready to celebrate with more poetry! The Seven Sisters didn’t let us down this month. Even as we all sort of shrieked in unison, “Where did March go!” we all delivered in a creative fashion. Laura kicks it off (see what I did there) with (sur)reality TV, while Andi gives us another bug-eyed view. Kelly joins in the silliness of it all, while Tricia shows us a more serious side. Liz welcomes us all with an inclusive and beautiful villanelle, while Sara muses on birds and art.

Want even more poetry? Join Poetry Friday hostess, Amy, @The Poem Farm.

Today kicks off National Poetry Month as well. I… don’t know what I’m doing yet, but I guess we’ll all find out tomorrow…!

10 Replies to “{p7: chaos, edna, and an ekphrastic on a ceiling mural}”

  1. YES!! I love this post and your poem! You did work hard for your happy, and it’s beautifully raucous. You always find the best words, and match with the best images. I’m so glad to be part of this with you, where a little of your munificence can rub off on me.

  2. You answered Edna’s question in the best way possible, plus, you totally captured the chaos of life known as April!

    I have the greatest admiration for poets who can take acrostics to the next level and beyond. You are now on a pedestal beside Avis Harley.

  3. Raucous Ms. T!! Love the acrostic. I’m impressed by anyone who can use “munificence” in a poem and pull it off so well . . . and resplendent and ebullient . . . clearly I need to get a new dictionary with more grown-up words in it. 🙂

    I think you answered Ms. Millay very well, though with all this wild abandon and vernalizing, I wonder what you will do when May rolls around (pictures Ms. T frolicking in meadows in a diaphanous gown). :mrgreen:

  4. I love your post almost as much as your poem–“It won’t be pretty. And yet: there it goes. There it grows.” And I love your choice to not go there. And to write in acrostics, one of my favorite forms. They can rhyme. They can have meter. They can be very thoughtful and beautiful. It all depends on the poet who’s huddled in that cage of form–and you made the most of it. Since our spring here is indeed chaotic, I’m doing my best to follow your command: Annual chaos! Celebrate!

  5. “I worked hard for my happy” I think we all need a T-shirt with that on it in LARGE letters. That sunflower is working hard for its happy, too—and I refuse to think of it, wilting in a few weeks. As you say:

    “Resplendence drawn from basest clay.
    Impossible – yet still repeats,
    Munificence, in wild display.”

    Man, how I love that you used rhyme here. And filled an “elementary” form with deep thoughts. Go, you! Go, Spring! Be raucous!

    1. I think the sunflower is actually going to be fine when its time comes – it bloomed yesterday, so I need to take a new picture. It’s WILDLY yellow, and I think I’m… just going to give in and water it a bit, so it’ll stay around awhile. It did work hard for its happy, so I may as well help out. ☺

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