{#npm: 30 – innocence • p7 & pf}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of May! Here’s the plan: We’re going to write an ekphrastic poem using a photograph taken in a museum. We’re sharing a few amongst ourselves, but we’re sure you have some of your own – and it’s a great way to get us revved up about going back to museums! Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on May 28th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Andi challenged us with Linda Hogan’s poem, “Innocence“ this week, a fitting finish to the entire National Poetry Month celebration. We wanted to go out with a boom and boy was it a doozy. Here’s what Sara did with it. Kelly and Laura are taking a breather this week, but Tricia’s poem is here, Kelly’s is here, Liz’s is here. Andi’s is here. Check in throughout the day to find out what other Poetry Peeps have done. If you’d like more Poetry Friday content, Matt Forrest Esenwine is graciously hosting the roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme this week. Thanks, Matt!


“Innocence” is beautiful, deep and… utterly inimitable. It falls outside the usual topical sphere for my poetry, so I approached writing “in the style of” from a number of different angles. My Poetry Sisters all threw out their own recommendations, and I tried using haiku, then sijo, then mimicking Hogan’s topics – nature, growth – and her pattern of lines and syllables – 10-6-4. None of that really worked for me, so I set my attempts aside to really think about the title.

Contrary to all appearances, innocence is conceptually complicated, often a loaded concept for some growing up an ethnic minority, female, and/or religious. Some people are never embraced as innocent, witnessed by the number of girls sent home for dress code violations, as if they are only their bodies and are threat and distraction instead of children, or viewed askance because of early maturation, or even early pregnancies. Because there was so much – too much – swirling around a single word, I grounded innocence as far back as I could – to an image from childhood. This poem is based on one of my earliest memories, of watching my older sister at church, who was probably no more than five at the time, wearing what my envious sister eyes determined to be a fabulous yellow dress, standing up to recite with her class. (And yes: this is my sister, nearly five, in The Dress. Some fortymumble years later, I figure she won’t mind if I show her off. She looks the closest thing to a baby, yet I remember thinking she was oh, so grown-up then.)

How much of what we held in childhood do we keep? How do we navigate the passage between childhood certainties and adulthood’s intricacies? What does it mean to be young at heart, or have a child’s optimism and faith? I don’t know. I’m not entirely convinced I was able to go where I wanted to in this poem (you don’t want to know how many times I rearranged lines and fiddled), but as I wrestled with at the eleventh hour, I reminded myself – and you, too: the challenge isn’t perfection, but persistence. So, here we try again:

             

Be thou faithful unto death &

Is there anything more innocent
than an unformed soul clutching tight her crayoned crown,
as, words a wavering childish treble,
she recites revelation? ablaze with
purity, knowing neither faithfulness
nor death she
stands; stray sunbeam whitening a dress already luminous
proclaiming borrowed words, she is, personified,
a mother’s pride, transformed larger than life
in these two wondering eyes

We grew, wholesome as wheat, but I backward looking, linger to
wonder: who decodes such concepts as
faithfulness and faith? whose hand, holding keys to childhood certainties
points toward one door, while locking tight another? Perhaps
pushing past crowns and covenants, we all return at last
to merely human

a child, I watched, awaiting my turn, lips shaping
each confident consonant. Child-hearted now,
in uncertain innocence, I
claim my chance to choose my crown

                

…I will give thee a crown of life.

{pf: poetry peeps do the dizain}

Greetings! Welcome to another Poetry Peeps adventure on Poetry Friday!

You’re invited to try our challenge in the month of April! Here’s the plan: We’re going to write an “in the style of” poem after Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan’s “Innocence.” Does “in the style of” mean a line-by-line imitation, including the idea of innocence in the theme, or using the word within your poem? Only YOU know for sure! Interested? Good! You’ve got a month to craft your creation(s), then share your offering (or someone else’s) with the rest of us on April 30th in a post and/or on social media with the tag #PoetryPals.


Did you grow up with a family who did Spring Cleaning? I didn’t, not really – we just cleaned house like it was Spring, every Sunday. Somehow though, no matter how I didn’t grow up, we still end up doing a version of Spring Cleaning at my house. It rarely coincides with the actual start-date of Spring, but it starts out with “we should really get the windows cleaned” and devolves into a flurry of vacuuming and organizing shelves. This past Sunday, I got a burst of energy – a rarity lately with this autoimmune disorder – and tackled the dust under the futon which had been leering at me. We washed duvet covers and pillows, scoured vinegar and baking soda on the shower floor (it’s supposed to be good for granite), organized the fridge and freezer, sanded and oiled the porch rocking chair, re-potted a couple of plants, and even raked up the last of the little spiky tree balls on the lawn. I felt pretty good about all of the work we got through, until I saw the texts from my poetry group. Are you coming? Are you joining us today?

Oops. Darn it!

Sadly, as my writing group can attest, housework occasionally gets the better of me. I fully intend to be where I’m meant to, but a dusty shelf or a streaky mirror distracts me. It’s not as if I even prefer to clean than to write – not even a little tiny bit – but I had my father’s preferred activity for me pretty well braided as an extra strand into my DNA through childhood. Though it’s nice to have vacuum lines on the living room rug, I missed talking words, hearing what everyone’s reading, and discussing what we’re doing next month. So, my dizain today is slightly narrative (but since I write fiction, it’s emotionally true rather than factual).

Appointment With Art

“Appointment with the Arts” my notebook read,
but I skipped reading for a messy chore,
letting my planning for the week ahead
drain from the weekend’s restful reservoir
the freshness, verve, and life it held before.
I chose a solid thing – hard-edged, *brick shaped,
and fed my soul on duty, scrubbed and scraped –
exchanged the weekend vibe for day-to-day,
set my own snare, and foiled my own escape!
Dull Jackie chose to work when she should play.


Dizains always involve some finessing for me – I forever think I have the pattern cold, and then when I read back, realize I’ve gotten something (usually several somethings) out of order. And then I do that deep breath/eye roll thing and start over. It’s all about patience with the process! I loved the idea of work/duty/responsibility as something pedestrian and brick-shaped, so borrowed that phrase from Barbara Kingsolver’s “How to Drink Water When There Is Wine,” a poem which Tricia shared with the poetry group last week.

My Poetry Peeps have doubtless produced less dispiriting dizains than mine! Please do check out Tricia’s here. This one is Laura’s, and Kelly’s is here. Here’s Liz’s and you’ll find Sara’s poem here, and Michelle Kogan’s is here. More Poetry Peeps will check in throughout the day, so stay tuned.


Art by Marc Johns.

More poetry? Yep: Poetry Friday is gloriously blooming today at Susan Bruck’s Soul Blossom Living, where she’s doing a round-up of who is doing what next month for National Poetry Month. I’m going to try for a poem-a-day, but we’ll see where that lands. For now, here’s to sitting down with a book, or grabbing a jacket and finding some tadpole puddles, and ignoring those cobwebs for one more day. Happy Weekend.

{poetry peeps will spin you right round, baby}

Never heard of a dizain? Not sure why you’ll be stumbling and spun with its dizzy delights? The short version is: it’s a French form from 15th-16th c., with a 10-line stanza · 10 syllables per line · And an ababbccdcd rhyme scheme. A bit longer of an explanation can be found at Writer’s Digest, with a few helpful tips and an example. Interested? Good! Hope you give it a shot!

{embrace the weirdness: poetry friday…}

…even if you’ve got your head in the clouds, you won’t want to miss the fun. The metaphor generator, Perchance is full of… weird and wonderful phrases, and after having sister poet Laura Salas throw hers for me, I’ve discovered that metaphor dice are possibly even weirder! So, look forward to some thoughtful, random, and possibly offbeat poetry – see you Friday!

{#winterlight: country of freedom}

I’ve run out of words.

Fortunately, there’s poetry.

Poetry Friday today is hosted by Sylvia Vardell at Poetry for Children. Thank you, Sylvia.

Country of Freedom

Country of freedom, be free in thy heart:
Free from the shackles of poisoning pride,
Free from the liar’s contemptible art,
Free from allurements that tempt thee aside,
Free from the crafty and treacherous guide,
Free from the ravening greed of the mart,
Free from the snares that in opulence hide, —
Country of freedom be free in thy heart.

— Amos Russel Wells (1863-1933)

{#winterlight: poetry friday, early in the year}

This is going to be a year absolutely packed with literature.

It’s going to be a year of taking risks with writing, including no longer dipping a toe into fantasy and fairy tales, but diving in, and also… taking my poetry writing seriously. I’m not fond of calling myself a writer, much less a poet… somehow the idea of A Poet seems much more deep and knowledgeable and serious than my iamb-counting, form-conforming, rule-bound, doggerel scribbling self. How do people become poets, anyway? In the same way that we become writers – by doing the thing, I’m told. So, I will be doing the thing, taking serious study with a textbook and instructors and all, and with scheduled practice time.

It’s… a little terrifying, honestly. But, it’s also very hopeful and anticipatory – much like the 365 neat, blank squares marching importantly through our calendars. So many things cluster close to our imaginations, tugging on our fine hairs, breathing into our ears, “Maybe this year! Maybe this year!”

Well? Maybe it is all going to happen this year. But, how will we find out if we don’t start?

Poetry Friday is hosted by Ruth, all the way from Haiti, at There Is No Such Thing As A God-Forsaken Town. Have a lovely, restful weekend – because Monday’s the day we jump in and make it all happen!