Archive for December, 2004

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Poetry

December 26, 2004

(nd)


Tripping
Stumbling
Leapfrogging over my vocabulary
Fumbling
Searching, searching for the perfect word
Tumbling
Falling through a myriad of memories
Bumbling
I cannot find a simile to save me
Mumbling
Dickinson could write one without effort
Grumbling
Learning now how poetry is
Humbling




So the real question is, is anyone reading this?  My comments have been rather sparse (well, it has only been three or so days so far that this blog has even been in existence), but I do notice by the counter that someone is logging in…


I am craving feedback, so do tell.  What do you see here you like? Don’t like?  What poetry stirs your soul?  Do you write?  Read poetry? 


Always feel free to comment directly on a poem you see here on which you want to offer feedback.  Feedback is the reason I am keeping this blog.  I am anxious to know if the stuff I am writing works, so please let me know…

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I Lived my Life a Thousand Times

December 26, 2004

I lived my Life a thousand times
Before You passed my Door,
The Certainties I took for mine,
Were really only Yours.

You touched my soul, awakened me,
And now I cannot rest.
The stirring You’ve inspired in me
Has put me to the test.

And so I search and look for You,
With all my heart and mind
You’ve given me the answers, it’s the
Questions I must find…


The Prayer Poem has a long history, going back in the written record as far as the Biblical Psalms. This piece was my attempt to write a prayer poem, but one that spoke to religious reawakening without specifying a particular polemic. Many people use the power of religious thought to divide, I am inspired by those who view religious expression as the great unifier, allowing that we all see some true piece of Divinity.

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Dragonslayer

December 25, 2004

4/1982 (extensively revised 12/2004)


The trumpets blew,
their sound acclaimed
the Coming King
enrobed that day.


I heard the sound
like falling rain,
the horses’ hoofs
an age away.


We both arose,
acknowledged pain –
the agony,
the dragon slain.


I was given,
my just reward.
He had earned
a dragon’s hoard.


For mine was human,
his was not.
My time, the present –
his, forgot.


Yet we both were happy
my friend and me.
We both slew our dragons,
Although he went free.




This is one of my poems that underwent some rewrites as a result of feedback I received from other poets in the Yahoo Groups “the_poetry_corner“.  I think it is a much stronger poem now thanks to their efforts, and it serves to me as an example of how poetry can be enhanced when readers share their opinions with authors.  The first stanza here originally read as follows (italics used to mark changes in the final):


The trumpets blew,
their sound acclaimed
the Coming King
enrobed in mist.


I heard the sound
like falling rain,
the horses’ hoofs
an age betwixt.


I also received some ideas and encouragement to reshuffle stanzas 4 and 5 which originally read:


For mine was human,
his was not.
My time, the present –
his, forgot.


I went to prison,
He got
 reward.
I had no wealth,
He, a
hoard.


One place I did not take some advice offered was in the last line.  I kind of like the interruption of “Although he went free.”  I like the fact that it takes you out of rhythm and makes you stop and tumble over it.  Some suggestions I received were to change the word “Although” to “But”, “Though” or “Still”.  Do you think I made the right choice?

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Shakespearean?

December 25, 2004

1/25/1986


I appear in violet,
Emulating life.
On the stage, magnificent,
I play fear and strife.


Never get the parts I want,
Always cast as maids,
Mother-types, an English aunt
(Not dramatic aids).


Can’t they see I’d better play
Cute, romantic leads?
Stealing all the men away,
Satisfying needs?


I would play the part sublime,
Sweet romantic bliss.
But they tell me, “Not this time;”
Then they blow a kiss.


Sweetheart, I’m mature but spry!
(I have to act my age?)
Can’t you see the real lie
Is falseness on the stage?




I was thinking today of Elsa Raven.  Elsa Raven is one of those actors whose name you probably don’t know, but she has been on everything.  I mean, how many actors do you know who were in The Amityville Horror, Back to the Future, and The Titanic?  She’s also been on television shows from General Hospital to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air to Seinfeld.  Pretty impressive for a woman nobody knows.  Except, I know her.  Or rather my family does.  The reason we know her is because my mother went to school with her.  All through elementary and high school, Elsa Raven (then Elsa Rabinowitz) and my mother did drama together.  My mother was always cast in starring roles, Elsa in the supporting parts (an English aunt, mother types).  My mother graduated from high school, met my father during her first year in college, married, and never pursued acting.  Elsa made a career out of playing the parts that no one else could.  I always imagined what she must have secretly desired, to play the lead.  So, Shakespearean was written with her in mind.  Now let me be clear, we have never spoken, she and I.  I know her only by story and reputation.  But I could imagine a conversation something like this…

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I Took a Trip to Saturn

December 25, 2004

12/25/04


I took a trip to Saturn
The other day at noon.
And on my way I found
A realistic man.


He said “You should abandon;
It’s much too far to walk.
You’ve got no wings to fly;
And gravity’s too strong.”


I sat and thought and pondered
On all that he had said
My back turned toward the path
When suddenly I found –


A lone idealist who
Encouraged me to try
“For failure hurts far less
Than pain of the unknown.”


I made my trip to Saturn
The other day at noon
The planet welcomed me
With her Maternal arms.

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Death, The Final Arbiter

December 24, 2004

1/8/2002


With death, the final arbiter is near
No question need remain beyond the grave
The answers — free, the question’s cost too dear.


Before the death, the death is what you fear,
A soul tries all the good it can to save,
With death, the final arbiter is clear.


And no one can escape, the end is near,
And at that final hour, payment’s waived,
For answers to your questions cost so dear.


With a demonic form, He may appear
And in that moment try hard to be brave
With Death, the final arbiter, comes fear.


And when at last the body’s old and sere,
When others come to ask, to learn, to pray
Your answers may be free, the questions dear.


So in the final moments, keep this clear,
There is no need to rant, to chant, to rave
When Death, the final arbiter is here
His answers free, His questions cost too dear.




This poem is a villanelle, a style of poetry that has exactly 19 lines with a particular rhyming scheme and lines that must repeat (although they can have subtle variations, and I did take a few liberties with strict rhyming and complete repeats).  A description of the form can be found here.  Perhaps my favorite villanelle is Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.”  Mine was an attempt to explore the answers that death brings with it when it comes and whether the price of knowing is worth the cost of admission.

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I Am Alive

December 24, 2004

12/16/2001


I am alive
I soar with the spirits of a new generation
My voice rises from the ashes of my former self
And I sing a new song.


I am not the man I once was.
Then — I hid behind the insecurities of my former self
Now — my spine is broken and I see clearly.


I have lost much
Some may say that in losing I have gained,
Yet I know that the gain comes, not in having survived the loss, but in spite of it.


I am cleaner, purer,
I am burned beyond all recognition, charred, smoldering,
Yet all who see me call me beautiful.


I still struggle for meaning,
Every day I journey through all of the hidden piles of rubble and call out names.
And wonder why.




“I Am Alive” is my poem in tribute to those who perished on September 11, 2001.  It was my attempt to set a somewhat hopeful tone to our new beginning as a country, to encourage a new phoenix to arise from the ashes of our former selves.  If I wrote this poem today, I think it would be much more pessimistic about the possibility of change – the last three years haven’t shown us heading in a positive direction.