Ringing of the Bards XVI – call for submissions!

October 2, 2006

It’s time again!  Time for another Ringing of the Bards.  And I certainly hope you will stand up and be counted.

To keep things interesting (and I do like to keep things interesting…) I will be adding a theme to this week’s ringing:  what I like to call “serial poetry.”

Here’s how this will work.  If you are at work on a series of poetic pieces (like the Tarot series I am working on), choose one of the pieces (your first, your last, your most current?) and send me the link.  Also send me the link for the entire series (if there is one) and I will highlight that as well.

If you are not currently working on a series, or want to try something else, trying writing a poem which itself features a “series” — perhaps a series of vowels or images or colors or rhymes.  Anything “serial” works for me.  Along those lines, you may want to take a look at the serial poetry of William Gillespie.

Of course, you could also send a poem on any theme, from breakfast cereal to “sear”ing attack on “eel”s (Get it?  Sear-eel?)

Anyway, have fun, and send your submissions to dbarkowitz(at)rcn(dot)com by Saturday at midnight to be featured in the Ringing.


Tarot Nine – The Hermit

September 22, 2006

Alone, but not lonely
the Hermit, the Wild One
advances the knowledge
he gains through strange means. He

alone, and he only,
the wizened ascetic
withdraws from the world with
the power he owns. So

imagine, if only,
this Merlin / Morgana
inspired us all to this
same inner search, then

what wisdom, what holy
and mystical power could
solitude, quiet
inspire within us. So

take from this only
the need to withdraw and to
ponder the options you
have at your hand. Be

alone, but don’t only
remain in that solitude
take the time needed,
return, then return…

Another in the Tarot series, this one began with the phrase in my mind of “Alone, but not lonely” as the perfect way to describe the character of the Hermit. I also “heard” the beat of “da-DUM da-da-da-da da-DUM” repeating in my ear, so thought I would try to get the rhythmic beat as another part of the piece.

Much of this was written this morning waiting in line to purchase round challah for Rosh Hashanah. The holiday also has me thinking introspectively. This is that time of year where Jews are supposed to look within and examine themselves. In many ways, this is the essential paradox: tomorrow I will sit in a synagogue with over 1200 people and try to create an intimate space where I can come face to face with myself and my God. I need the power of the Hermit at this time more than ever!


Tarot Eight – Strength

September 20, 2006

The lion opens wide, its tempered jaws
like sentinels stand ready to acclaim
her majesty. Within her pregnant pause
a reservoir of strength and pow’r remain.
Self-confidence and certainty her mane,
though subject still to the Eternal Law,
she holds her force in readiness, remains
with calm and smooth exterior, because
she knows were she to free this lion’s maw
the Kingdoms of the world, her fire can tame.

This poem is written in Iambic Pentameter (as long as you allow for the one-syllable reading of “power” in line four). Each line has ten syllables, and the poem itself is in ten lines. The result, I hope, is a strong beat and a matching solidity of function and form to correspond with the meaning of the card itself.


Tarot Seven – The Chariot

September 18, 2006

We race, our wheels so fast they touch sky
obstinate, confident, triumphant
our laurels are richly earned, conquest

of those who would seek to bar our
salvation: disciplined creation.
This triumph shows ego as power.

Its dark side: to win, and at all cost,
Subjugate, dominate, overwhelms
those without strength enough to resist

the Chariot.

Back to the Tarot theme. This poem speaks about the seventh major arcana (or trump card), The Chariot. The poem is written as a nine-square: the first line has nine monosyllables, the second has three words with three syllables each, and the last line in each stanza has a one-two, one-two, one-two rhythm. Thanks to Jo for the idea!


Ringing of the Bards XIII – The In-Between Time

September 18, 2006

Fall is in the air. Despite the brief resurgence of Summer (marked today by highs near the 80 degree mark), the onward march of the seasons has come again, and as the warm, relaxing (or steamy and sultifying) days of summer move on to the cool and crisp (or bitter and frozen) nights of winter, we arrive at last at the in-between time.

I love Fall, for its vibrant harvest hues as much as for its tangy flavor. Fall is the time when the world breathes in, and holding … holding … holding, waits for the chance to exhale. I revel in Fall as the space between, symbolized by harvest holidays which presage the coming “death” of the old, before the birth of the new.

Just as the fabric between summer and winter stretches thin in Fall, so too does the one between this world and all others. Mysterious things emerge, and Fall is their time as well. Fall is a time for superstitions, for thirteen, for the beginning of the end of all things.

Superstitions, though, have to have their origins somewhere, as we hear in Russell’s submission to the Ringing entitled “Superstition“:

Turn to the horror of himself, look at deep within
He knows there is a growing burden, He is guilty
If he hadn’t done what he shouldn’t do, no problem,
But he had to; no one takes care of you but yourself….

Superstitions also led Jo Janoski to write in her entry “Thirteen” (subtitled “(Evil One and Three)”):

Wake to bleak day while storm clouds spit fear
Encircling overhead restlessly
In warning to avoid all thirteens.

Black smack you down one and three death spree
Evilness traversing neighborhood
Comes knocking while watching for weakness….

The number thirteen itself seems laced with magic meaning. Whether the number comes from the participants in the last supper, as Ozymandiaz reminds us in “The Thirteenth“:

About the circle sat the twelve discussing thirteen
(As, on a Friday, the Knights Templar were befallen)
And the one who completed this baker’s dozen sat
Like Judas to contemplate his fate just there outside….

or if it really is just a reflection of “A Dirty Dozen“, as we are reminded by Billy:

13 miles,
13 men;
13 years they lived in sin.
13 sins each would commit….

we know that thirteen itself represents a magical age of transformation as we are reminded by Renee in “Thirteen“:

Thirteen is too young to be mature; you disagree.
The fabric of time, once so vast, now is restraining.
Live glows in fiery colors, producing awe, pain and
indelible dreams, shouted out in forced syllables.

and as Abhay also shows us in “A teen of thirteen“:

There was a time
When I was a teen of thirteen
Full of dreams and fantasies
Just waiting to win the world

This place of transition can be any place in the real world (as we are reminded by Katy in her piece entitled “triv“):

something just like
a tumultuous love affair
on the ring of moral

or they met
in a cheap coffee parlor
doubled by….

or maybe just in the microscopic world (as Bob, the Average Poet, reminds us in “Linked“):

Can electrons bear emotions through the ethernet?
I’m not sure if they do, but am confident to bet
that surges of compassion can transcend having met
creating connectivity no wire could beget.

or even in the world of the sublime and ridiculous (as Mad Kane shares with us in “Ode to the Segway Scooter“):

The maker of scooters called Segway
Has recalled them from road, walk, and hedgeway.
Their software’s quite galling.
It’s prone to cause falling.
Now lawyers have fresh “we allege” prey.

Whatever you do, don’t trust your senses in the in-between time, since, as Shirley of HouseMouse points out in “Hearts & Flowers“, you cannot trust them:

it’s not what it seems
the fortress of dreams
is cracking
and coming apart at the seams….

And, once again, we return to the topic of superstitions, where I remind you in “Black Cat, Drat” that:

….For when it comes to superstitions, I just don’t believe ‘em
(though watch me as I hold my breath when I pass a mausoleum).
Nothing ever beats a little bit of self-protection,
just as long as I don’t indulge in any serious self-reflection.

And, just as suddenly as it began, the in-between time ends.  For that is the nature of thin places where time stretches and then contracts.  They move quickly by, trapping you in their eddies and whorls for a brief visit before their transitory path leads you onward…  

Hope you enjoyed the visit to space between… 


And the in-between time doesn’t end! Pearl offers this late addition to round out the 13th Ringing of the Bards:

im mute able
There must be some unifying theory
of psyche that ties the consensus paradox tight
explains how cooperative non-violence drives
boxing match sales, movies with blood capsules for actors
to spew on director’s command, gratification
rubbernecked, observing battles vicariously,
precariously tip, not towards bloodbath fury
but to tranquil, post-orgasmic calm.


Black Cat, Drat!

September 14, 2006

Black cat, drat
Walking under ladders; does it really matter?
Step on a crack, how’s your mother’s back?
These recipes for superstition often come to some fruition…

When you sneeze, please hold your nose, and whisper “Labruid”.
A mirror breaks, for seven years your luck will be no good.
Careful in a building if it has a floor thirteen
chances are its occupants are really rather mean.

Roswell in New Mexico’s the place you must attend
if, by chance, your interests run to greenish little men.
While we’re on that color green, another one that’s thorny:
watch out for green M & Ms since they will make you . . .

Corny cobs in snowmen’s mouths will make them come alive,
Elvis is still living; he alone invented jive,
just like Al Gore with the Internet, and Bush, Saddam Hussein
(As a side note, aren’t all politicians just a pain!).

Well, I guess in these last lines I’ve gone quite far afield (Ed.
From classic superstitions to the modern ones I’ve yielded),
I must be moving on, but yet I have one final note:
Don’t make me out to be your sacrificial lamb, er, goat.

For when it comes to superstitions, I just don’t believe ’em
(though watch me as I hold my breath when I pass a mausoleum).
Nothing ever beats a little bit of self-protection,
just as long as I don’t indulge in any serious self-reflection.


Ringing of the Bards XIII

September 12, 2006

So, it is my turn to welcome the ringing of the bards.

In honor of the triskadekaphobes out there, I would like to invite submission on the theme of thirteen.

For entries on the subject, please either write a thirteen line poem, or a poem with lines of thirteen syllables, or poems having to do with superstitions. I will feature all of them in my carnival post coming (probably) on Sunday!  Of course, if you want to submit a poem on any other topic, that would be welcome as well.

As usual, look to Ringing of the Bards for the basic rules, and submit your emails to me at dbarkowitz(at)rcn(dot)com, or link to the post on your blog as a comment on this post!

Looking forward to your great submissions!


Winter is Gone

September 12, 2006


Winter is gone
and life has not returned
replacing empty forests.

Memory is gone,
and emotions have run dry
leaving empty streams.

And empty streams and empty forests
give the world a pause for breath
before the sudden birth of spring.


When Last It Was I Looked Upon Your Face

August 21, 2006

When last it was I looked upon your face
your pregnant eyes were full of certain grace
your gentle touch, with all its soft carress
your spirit free, your soul by angels blessed.
Your dappled smile gave hints of summer dew
and joyous mirth. These images of you
are all that’s left to me now. Winter’s here
and what was newly born is old and sere.
Your memory, a portrait in my head
is drained of hue. My recollection dead
as passing time, the enemy of years
has drowned my childhood fantasy in tears.



August 20, 2006


Opinions have a way
of hurting those they touch
for never is a true
opinion kind, with love

For I may say, “I like it,”
but deep inside you know
that what I really mean
is that “It doesn’t go”.

Another busy week getting ready for the school year to start again, and so no time to sit and write. I miss it!!! I hope to get back to writing this week, but in the meantime here is a little ditty about the position none of us love to be in: “So tell me, how does this look on me? Do you like it?”