All entries for February 2008
February 18, 2008
Okay, so I haven't posted any of my poems this term because I have been lazy. Very lazy. And now here they ALL are:
Week 2:Her caucasian hair’s bleached blonde on top, and
She’s soaked the bottom in silk cold coffee.She puts gloss on with the car mirrors like
She’s going out tonight. Combat boots andHer shortest skirt – rocker dress rehearsal.
She plays groupie, a “love destiny” mind,He plays bass, feels entitled to the goods —
He’s a demigod star in the mirror.He looks down through the bright blowfish colors
She looks up, embraces her destiny.She’s beyond the backstage doors, another
Socal Susan for the demigod.
The Diamante Form was created by mestizos in Latin America sometime between 1639 and 1652. It is said to have been the favorite form of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz. It is intended to take the shape of a diamond when completed, but only great proficients and ancient wise-people have been able to create a perfect diamond on the page. The poem must start out with no more than 8 letters. For the first half of the poem, each new line must be one letter longer than the previous line and one letter shorter than the following line, until exactly halfway between the beginning and the end, at which point the proceeding and succeeding lines are both one letter shorter than the middle line. Following this point, each line then becomes increasingly smaller, letter by letter, until it matches the length of the first line of the poem. The letter limit does not include punctuation, but the letter “h” cannot begin any word in the poem. Diamante poems are usually one stanza in length, although there can be any amount of stanzas so long as they each follow the overall rules of the poem.
are yougoing my
O pearl ‘mongflora, flower
divine! Whence‘ave you arrived
and whither yourway? Tell me, flower,
or you risk quickdecay. For I will
pluck you, takeyou away. Will
you still bepretty and
new? No, youshall be
Here are a few "different" versions of poem 1 from Week 2, none of which are really all that different:
1.Her hair’s bleached blonde on top
And she’s soaked the tips in silk cold coffee.She tilts her head, piles gloss on over last night’s lipstick
Looks like she’s going out tonight.Slinky black boots and a skin-tight skirt
The regular rock groupie uniform.She’s got destiny on her mind like its got to be love
The natural outcome, no other conclusion.He plays bass and girls and basketball,
Accepts the complimentary sacrifices,While he checks the mirror every six seconds,
Makin sure he’s still there, still sexy.
He dedicates the next song to himselfShe sings along, smiles as she’s beaten down
Doesn’t notice pain, pierced by images of himBright colors blind her, bind her to the truth
And she’s guided backstage,Offered up, compliments of the region
Another sacrifice for the demigod.
2.Her hair’s bleached blonde
The tips, silk cold coffee.She piles gloss on over last night’s lipstick
She’s going out tonight.Slinky black boots, a skin-tight skirt
The regular rock groupie.It’s got to be love
No other conclusion.He plays bass and girls
The complimentary sacrifices.He checks the mirror
To make sure he’s still sexy.
He dedicates the next song to himselfShe sings along, smiles
Doesn’t notice pain.Bright colors blind her, bind her
She’s guided backstage,Compliments of the region.
Another sacrifice for the demigod.
Hair’s blonde on top,Electrified.
The bottom, silk cold coffee;Coffee from the border.
She puts gloss on likeIt was made for her.
Combat boots, a low neck line.Just add her shortest skirt.
She’s dressed up for the kill,A “love destiny” mindset,
Fixated with fate.He feels entitled to the goods —
They throw themselves on his altar.The mirror says he’s
Without a true reflection.He looks down through
The dark haze;She looks up, begins to fray.
Neon bracelets lift her upAnd she’s crossed the river,
Another innocentGiven to the demigod.
Heir’s bound, unstop’d,Interjectified.
He bought them, and Wilkes told Cathy;Copied from an order,
Shepherd’s blogs online —It was maid fur.
Come by boats, alone recline.Just had her du jour Kurt,
The rest is up to Bill.Hello, just tiny, mines hit,
Rebated with weight.He goes and tattles to the guilds —
They thrill stem cells on a salter.The mere cess ease
A thatch roof infection.Elixir Dan threw
The arcades;Sheila locks up, big ends to pray.
Yawn braces live, erupt.Banshees crops deliver,
Another in her sinGin to the dumber guy.
Okay, and here are two Sestinas and two Word Poems, because I am wishy-washy:Charlie made the sweetest candy
Honey drops the color of earwaxSeb would come in and check his pocket-watch
Eye the sweets laid out like polka-dotsOr a fiery array of party tea-lights
And, of course, the streaks on her apron.
Then Charlie would take off her apronAnd stand by Seb to survey the candy
And think about taking out some old tea-lightsRemembering when she’d tried to light a thimble of earwax
The smoke of which left her skin with angry red polka-dotsAnd ruined Granddad’s pocket watch.
Granddad loved that pocket-watch
So she’d hidden it in Grandma’s lacy old apronWhich Cousin Tawny had covered in crayon polka-dots
After eating an inordinate amount of candyAnd using 53 Q-tips to scrape out her earwax
Before burning up all Grandma’s favorite tea-lights.
Grandma found the burnt up tea-lightsJust as she found the broken pocket watch
And the 53 Q-tips with bits of earwax.She kept the ratty old apron
And wore it to make candyAnd died in that old thing, covered in polka-dots.
At the funeral her dress, too, had black polka-dots,
And surrounding her coffin were candelabra tea-lights.Charlie put in a tin of homemade candy
While Granddad stood fiddling with his pocket-watchAs perplexed as when he’d seen Grandma in that ugly apron.
And Tawny talked to Uncle Mort about earwax.
I’ve eaten Charlie’s candy the color of earwaxAnd seen Grandma in the apron covered in polka-dots,
If you can still call it an apron.I think of it when I light tea-lights
Or when, in a repair shop, I spy a pocket-watchAnd I feel the want of a cozy kitchen and homemade candy.
I’ve tried; I’ve made candy the consistency of soggy earwax,
Timed it with a pocket-watch, laid them out like polka-dots,But they looked like melted tea-lights and my hands stuck to my apron.
Outside my window there was a tree
The perfect picture for a postcardWith at the bottom a bed of thyme.
We used to pick and put it in the pantryDry it for some evening to, on the terrace,
Burn it and divine our futures in the smoky plume.
When I was sad I would see in the plumeSome handsome prince climb to my window by the tree
And waltz me out on that same terraceAnd take me on a Continental Tour, sending postcards
Back to my mother to hang on the door to the pantryNear the springs of drying thyme.
And when I was happy the thyme
Would tell, though a similar plumeOf disasters so devastating that I’d hide in the pantry
Or climb up in my window-treeAnd think of those Continental postcards
And avoid for a time the terrace.
Eventually I’d be drawn back to the terraceWith my brother and a sprig of last summer’s thyme
Prodded, perhaps, by the real postcardsSent by aunts and uncles, not seen in some plume
Drawn in tacks on Tim’s map, spread like branches of a treeWith all the postcards on the door to the pantry.
I played a lot in that pantry
More so than on the too-big terraceThough my favorite place of all was the tree
And the yet uncut, fresh growing bed of thymeAt twilight turned prophetic, blurred to a plume
Like on the helmet in one of Aunt Barb’s postcards.
I used to sit and stare at the postcardsOn the same stool I used when I hid in the pantry
Before we caught it on fire and tried to read its smoky plumeWhen no one was around out on the terrace.
It burned so much better than the thymeThat we also threw on branches from a tree.
The tree branches burned like a bonfire postcard
Much better than all the sprigs of thyme in the pantry
Until the fire left the terrace and the smoke became more than a plume.
The word Tingle. Tingle. I can’t say it without feeling the result spread across my skin. That first bit, the “tee,” the prickle of excitement, anticipation, height! The flying “teeeeeeee!” And then the “gle,” drawing it out, bringing it down, finishing it off with a soft polish. Vibrating, yes, but fading too. A tingle would still feel like a tingle if it was called a klaburt. That’s a fact. You see, anthropologists living with bushman tribes in Africa have found that of all the words they’ve read the tribesmen from the OED (as is the wont of English anthropologists), tingle is one of the few the tribes-people have understood without any need for description or of hand motions (along with blue, jingle, and arachnophobia).The word itself dates back to 1189, the year King Richard I ascended the throne. And it was Richard I, in fact, who revolutionized the word. Before, the sensation of prickling and light stinging across the skin was called after the French word “tintement.” However, when King Richard, after various attempts to steal the throne from his father and brothers, finally managed to attain the crown, he allegedly told a friend at the coronation after party, “What I’m feeling isn’t tintement at all… it’s a… tinglen!” That’s the legend that surrounds this word, anyway. And, of course, over time “tinglen” has wisely lost the n on the end and become the word nations, from England to Cape Agulhas, know and love as “tingle!”
Alrededor… that word, which, from the first Spanish lesson has been as fun to say as it has been elusive to memorize. Alrededor. Say it. Roll your erres in an over-the-top, almost obscene manner. Alrrrrededorrrr. How could the Spanish language novice, that neophyte of the Romancitc tongue not succumb to the siren call of that word. Alrededor. In fact, the word so calls to the souls of the students of that language that each of you stops caring about the meaning all together. As the high school teacher reads off words from the vocabulary section:“Ábaco – abacus, abandonado – abandoned, adaptación – adaptation, alba – another word for dawn, alrededor –”
you stop. You don’t hear the rest of the vocab, much less the meaning of the word because in your mind you are saying “Alrededor… alrededor… alrededor!” each time with more and more passion and excitement. When you try to study your vocabulary for the quiz coming up you don’t even notice the meaning of alrededor because you are so caught up with the sound of it. You fail that vocab quiz, five years go by, and so it is that you are a great proficient in Spanish, but still don’t know the meaning of alrededor. You’ve looked it up many times in the past, but always you get distracted. Alrededor. You could guess around at what it meant, alrededor, but you never know for sure. The meaning escapes you. This is the power, the beauty, the danger, of Alrededor. I’d tell you what it means, but that doesn’t matter. The beauty is in the sound, and, anyway, by tomorrow you’ll have forgotten the meaning all over again, and all that you’ll have is that word. Alrededor.
Week 5:Triolet: Barley’s boot(s)
When everything was a kind of live quiet,I heard the thump of Barley’s boot
Which looks a little like pirate loot,When everything was a kind of live quiet.
If I had the money I’d surely buy it,But since its Barley’s my desire’s moot.
When everything was a kind of live quiet,I heard the thump of Barley’s boot.
Villanelle: Erased faces
None of the victims have full facesEven in pictures their outlines dim
Nameless as water and time erases
A litany of unsolved casesThe finding of a severed limb
None of the victims have full faces
Bodies of women found in different placesMost seem to have gone for a swim
Nameless as water and time erases
The killer has only left small tracesBody pieces that stood out to him
None of the victims have full faces
The girls’ absences leave unseen spacesLike that relevant, unsung hymn
Nameless as water and time erases
A new victim the old replacesWith some foreign patronym
None of the victims have full facesNameless as water and time erases
Pantoum: Morbid Thoughts
We all walked slowly to the Mead Gallery that dayOr perhaps quickly, but not quickly enough
And when we got there, we were afraid to talkAlthough eventually we began to speak among ourselves,
Or perhaps quickly, but not quickly enough
To stop my morbid thoughts and imaginingsAlthough eventually we began to speak among ourselves
And I found I was not the only morbid one
To stop my morbid thoughts and imaginingsI went over to a group in the corner
And I found I was not the only morbid oneBecause they were discussing Chinese water torture
I went over to a group in the corner
To keep my mind off mutilated corpsesBecause they were discussing Chinese water torture
I didn’t find much help there
I wanted to keep my mind off mutilated corpsesBut when we got there, we were afraid to talk
I didn’t find much help there, sinceWe all walked slowly to the Mead Gallery that day
Okay, and here are my translation poem, my word poem, and my name poem, in that order:If you’re tired of following fog tracks,
Tired of catching sins like common colds,Tired of spinning yourself a cocoon of ominous verdicts,
Then come to our moon commune.
There are no secrets here on the moonWhere six suns shine down continually
Like six omens that bleach sins clean,Or at least bleach them invisible.
The spaghetti tastes like hand rags,
So don’t come for the food, served in a roomHung with Tusken Raider skulls.
But don’t worry, don’t worry; they’re long dead.
Here you’ll find yourself tied to the tracks,Like that popular scene from Old West cartoons.
You won’t escape, but don’t worry, don’t worry.You’ll be reborn.
Yes, the train will run you over,
Make a mess of you, you can’t escape.But then maybe you’ll find
That it didn’t matter anyway.
So bring your sins, your cocoon, your elusive searchesand your SPF 500 (it won’t help, but habits…)
to our friendly commune on the moonWhere the six suns burn up all the fog.
You’ll probably find there wasn’t anything there to begin with.
"Hang Out"Picture this: you are a girl. You might have to dig deep for this, but trust me, it is there. Got it now? Okay, you are a girl and you’ve spent the last four years positively sequestered at an all-girls school. There were a couple of male teachers with bushy beards and ‘Nam stories, but you have been more or less completely surrounded by girls day and night, night and day. You’ve graduated (not top of your class, but not too bad) and moved to a university, far enough from family that you have the blessing and curse of not being able to go home on the weekends. At this university there are dorms and study rooms and, so they say, boys. In fact, there you happen to meet one of these hither-to elusive specimens. He introduces himself as “Exhibit A.” Exhibit A is “nice” and “friendly” and after a suitable amount of chat about the “nice” weather he mentions that he has a car and offers to take you (yes, YOU!) to the mall to “hang out” sometime. Ah, now there it is. That fakest of fake phrases, that Beelzebub among the other, more straightforward invitations. Remember now, you’ve just come from four years of fun “hang out” time with all your friends back at the all-girls school. All your all-girl friends. Warning lights are not worsening the migraine that is not forming at the front of your mind from the thought you aren’t having. Your own private set of police sirens, for better or for worse (read: worse) are switched off. No, no, instead you are thinking “Oh, wow! My first guy friend. That wasn’t as hard as I was expecting.” You enthusiastically agree (it’s the all-girl’s school way, after all), and the following Friday you go. Now, let’s just fast-forward here, because the things he said, the things you said, the awkward silences, the things he shouted and the tears you cried aren’t important. In fact, at this point, if you happen to be finding the whole you-as-a-girl thing distracting, you can stop imagining that you are anything-but-you. If you find you kind of like it, go right on ahead. Right now you need to focus, though, on that prince of deceivers, that dirty little phrase which just caused so much imaginary damage.
What a disgusting word! It is triply disgusting because for the first part of your life, your childhood, it meant something innocent and fun, and when it changed, when it went from “let’s all hang out and play football and have happy platonic fun” to “let’s hang out, just you and me, and I will make suggestions to you that may or may not catch your interest,” no one told you. It’s like Anakin Skywalker joining the dark side without first sending an inter-office memo to people like Padme and Obi-Won saying “Sorry guys, I’ve decided to pursue other career opportunities.” No, they had to figure it out on their own. When did “hang out” make that “dark side switch?” I guess that’s what I want to leave you with. That image of “hang out” personified and wearing a chunky black breathing apparatus. I mean, I don’t have the answers. I’m as baffled as Obi-Won, reviewing all my teaching lessons trying to figure out how I could have skipped the “Don’t Kill Younglings” lecture or the “The Dark Side Doesn’t Have Casual Dress Fridays” lesson.
That’s my name.Kind of simple.
Okay, really simple, actually.
None of that extra a-h “nonsense” (I say nonsense ‘cause I’ve got a friend named Meaghan whose gonna flip her lid when she reads that). Actually, I think of the whole Megan Meghan Meaghan thing as a kind of friendly rivalry amongst a group of clearly superior girls.A very LARGE group of clearly superior girls.
And then we have to go and add “Harrison.”
Do you know how many Megan Harrisons there are out there???
Okay, I don’t either, but there are at least three in
And then there’s Jane.
Plain Jane. As in “John and Jane.” “Jane Doe.” “What a pain, Jane.”
So that’s me. Average name.Everything else is pretty average too.
Average like beans.
When I was little — I don’t mean just one year, or something, but all the little years — I used to dream I had a pretty, English name.
I watched Errol Flynn movies obsessively, so I knew names likeMary
and Elizabethwere the British names to have.
I couldn’t have them.
My name was (and still is, actually) Megan.Like beans, remember?
And you can’t change beans.If you did, to something like Hicklebingerportencedes, they’d still taste, smell, and congeal the same, they just wouldn’t be able to fit the name on the can as well. They’d have to use .5 font size.
And substitute teachers will always mispronounce Hicklebingerportencedes.
Anyway, I couldn’t ever be Mary or Elizabeth, so I invited them over to afternoon tea. They were just names, so they didn’t have faces or anything, but they could faint just like the women in the movies.
I used to spend a lot of my after-school afternoons imagining.
I imagined I was a Governor’s daughter, like Olivia d’Haviland.I imagined I was the Scarlet Pimpernell’s neglected wife.
I imagined I’d married Blue Beard by mistake.I imagined I’d been transported back in time, and met stunningly handsome Indian guy who would help me escape ritual sacrifice.
Okay, so pretty much everything I imagined was stuff I’d read in books or seen in movies.
But just like Anne and her hair, I couldn’t imagine my name away. For my French roles I managed to squeeze into Marguerite, but everyone still called me Meg.
And I’m pretty sure Blue Beard never married anyone named Megan.
I went to a far-away summer camp once
Where they gave out sour gummy worms at the entranceAnd I didn’t know anyone.
Someone had put Mom up to this idea. This “hyphenated name” idea.
She signed me up as Megan-Jane.
She introduced me as Megan-Jane.
I didn’t mind. There are Mary-Janes, but not as many Megan-Janes.
I met my cabin leader: her name was Squeegee.“Hi! You must be Megan-Jane. That’s a bit of a mouthful. Mind if I just call you Megan?”
“Everyone does.”Mom wasn’t even five minutes down the road.
I didn’t tell her, though. She was so excited about that hyphen idea, you know.
In high school nicknames were all the rage.
We gave them to all our friends.
No one gave me one.
I gave myself a few, over a period of time, you understand, not all at once… but they didn’t stick.I was always Megan.
“Hey Panda! Hey Pip! Hey Zebra! Hey Char!
Usually I can’t escape my name.
Open the door — Megan.Wash my hands — Megan.
Travel to exotic countries full of strange spices and ancient traditions — still Megan.
There is one way, though.Its called Deadline.
“That 10 page research paper due in two days, with no research done and a questionable thesis? No, I don’t think I’ll start that till tomorrow.”
Oh yes! As I feverishly read about the way to make crepes more crunchy (add more eggs) and wonder if I can make it last an entire paragraph I slowly lose all forms of identification.
I am an intrepid adventurer searching for clues —.I am a prison inmate trapped forever in a small, sunless cell —.
I am a sleep-deprived, slightly crazed student adding dubious secondary sources to back an already flimsy argument — no time for a name!Not until I hand in my paper and stumble into the light do I start to feel human again.
Bronze. Sterling silver. Wood. Grass. Dogs. Underwear. Brown. Sticks. Tissues. Trashcans. Cardboard. Pavement. Curtains. Mud. Rope. Chairs. Bacon. Buses. Windows. Samuel L. Jackson. Frozen pizza. Apples. Rotting bananas. Hairballs. Black umbrellas.
Ha! That is really long, and I certainly hope no one read all the way down to here. Or do I?