The Refinery: joseph harker(??)

Tomorrow evening the vacation begins! It is much needed, and I am hoping that it will be the appropriate balance of relaxing and productive. Donna is doing a summer residency, and I thought, I wish I could do one of those too; but then I took a page from Peter Murphy‘s book and thought, I’ll do a retreat on my own time. A writing staycation, if you will. So, it’s down to the homestead for several days, and I’m committing myself to writing time each day. Then back up to NYC for the last evening of poetry workshop on Monday. I had kicked around spending next week in Canada or New England, but the logistics ran away from me, so I think I’ll stick to the Hudson Valley if I go anywhere at all. Perhaps some city exploration and finding new venues to write will do some good for the old muse as well.

But meanwhile, I’m doing the thing I’ve threatened to do for a while, and carving myself up on the Refinery altar. I do want to spend some time editing and revising some older pieces, so I ought to get in the habit of doing it. Workshop is nice because it’s an opportunity to hear feedback on the poems you know aren’t quite right yet, but can’t put your finger on what the problem is. (I don’t habitually bring poems that I know are terrible, out of embarrassment, nor the ones that I love, for fear that they are actually terrible, too.) When you have those middle-of-the-road poems, particularly the ones that grow out of prompts, I think workshop is good practice for external critique, and a lot of the strategies people use in them can be adapted for internal as well. This one that I’m going to tear apart is one that I put down a couple weeks ago with the hunch I’d use it for this purpose, so it may look familiar:

“Heart’s Thaw”

After such a long time heartsick,
to see the birds’ northward line
and the archery of homecoming–
from the bone to the flesh grown thick
moans a green sound, the rhyme
of the body with the sky hums
vowel on drowned vowel– the signs
meaning spring and rain running
will fill each part and cavity– the sun
paints bird backs as a flame the wick,
gravity claims their upward climb–
and the flock tacks right, lowly divine
with the sleepless heart caught undone
in its wake– knotted by the quick
turn, by the art of so many dimensions
and leaves who burn with becoming.

I’m going to break from usual Refinery practice and not introduce the author because it’s, you know, me. And because it’s me, I can flesh out some of the rationale and resistance a bit more thoroughly. But otherwise, what’s bothering me about this poem is:
– In workshop, we often talk about the cry of the occasion as an essential ingredient for a poem, that is, the event/thought/image that demands a poem be sculpted around it. And I tend to get Socratic when I look for that cry, continually building question on question: why did I choose to write about this? But is it really worth writing about? Is there some element I can nail down as the compelling part? Is it really compelling? Why? And so on. I know that this was done to a WWP prompt, asking for a “body-soul Zen moment”, but the danger of prompts is that it’s a forced choice. The event in question here is seeing a flock of birds returning in the spring; is it compelling? Am I looking for something deeper than what’s there? This isn’t to say that simple observational poetry, nature poems, or basic emotional poems don’t have the value of others and shouldn’t be written, but there ought to be something damn compelling to make them pop. I’m not convincing myself that this momentary event, which (to be honest) didn’t actually impact me enough to be called a body-soul Zen moment, so the poem feels a little bit fake and lacking in depth.
– But part of that good be chalked up to the prompt itself. Remember: prompts can be cages as much as they can be foundations, and it’s good to break free of them if the poem demands it. I think I did toss aside some elements of the prompt — it was part of a longer series that I haven’t been taking part in — but not enough. If you’re going to let the poem spread its wings enough to cast off whatever prompt-egg it came from, you have to flap them hard to get those little bits of eggshell off. In workshop, we also talk about the second subject of the poem, where you have the other “what is the poem about” underneath the surface interpretation. I think that I got caught up in trying to create this mood around a one-dimensional image, and though I wanted to dig a little bit deeper, I didn’t do enough work in that regard to give the poem depth. (I was also distracted by other elements, though, which I’ll get to.) Not to toot my own horn, but this is another reason I try to give multi-faceted prompts: they force the mind to do more than one level of work, and give the poems richness. It’s a skill I’m still trying to master too, though I suspect it’s easier to be effortless about it.
– I think I was too cryptic at certain points, too. The title and the poem’s events may give some context to the emotional information in the poem, but there’s not a lot of reflection, just a raw sense of feeling X, Y, Z. Again, not to say that’s not a valuable impulse to share, but it wasn’t what I set out to write, and it feels clunky in the trappings I tried to place it in. Never leave the readers confused; tantalize, mystify, and entrance them, but don’t perplex them. How many people can honestly read the poem above and say they understood every single word and the work it was doing among the others? Because I can’t, so if you can, do fill me in!

That being said, there are some things that when I look at, I’m proud of:
– This was an image I’ve tried to get down for years without success. Although it may not be as profound as I make it out to be/felt I needed to portray, and though there’s not a lot of specifics given, I’m glad I finally wrote something about it. It was a day in spring when one of the trees outside my house was just completely chock-full of birds. They all rose at once at one point, and formed this flock that dipped and turned as one, hundreds of them, sounding like thunder. And there was nothing transformative or enlightening about it beyond the simple wonder of the power of nature. The challenge with writing about that in verse is to keep the core of the idea from being so cloaked in poetry’s devices that it gets lost.
– There really are a couple of phrases I’m really proud of, which were the genesis of the poem to begin with. I think the archery of homecoming came first, and looking back, I almost feel I wasted it on this poem; though after revising it, maybe it will become a more solid piece that I’ll be more comfortable with as a box for such phrases. And the rhyme of the body with the sky was another one I liked, though I must have re-written it twenty times trying to get the mouthfeel of it just right. The idea of tangible, primal things being vowels, and then the unexpected rhyme between them, was something that occurred to me and filled me with delight. Lastly, that knotted by the quick / turn, I knew it had to enjamb. That sudden curve of the flock was what I wanted to capture, though I’m not sure it worked out. Don’t get me wrong, there are other phrases that I think fell kind of flat, but I think those three I feel happy with.
– And of course I was trying to do kooky things with sound. In workshop, they call me a sound poet because, perhaps due to my linguistics background/day-job, I love experimenting with rhyme and meter, throwing lyrical flourishes in, creating nonce forms around internal sounds, etc. But as with all things, all poetry is a balancing act between what the poem needs and what you want the poem to have. The sound got in the way, probably, of a lot of explanation — or at least suggestion to, again, entice and entrance — that would have better served the lyric. Now, there are plenty of poems (e.e. cummings, anyone?) and songs (Sigur Ros, anyone?) that play with sound and language, and don’t concern themselves with much else, all well and good. For me, though, I like to keep that intentional, structured sonic richness in poems that have a heartbeat when I can, and it’s very delicate to get right. That being said, I do like the sounds in this one, too.

And the little nitpicks that make these Refineries so much fun:
– The middle of the poem is the weakest. I feel confident saying this.
– There seems to be some ego-deletion in the poem, on another read, which is surprising but not unwelcome.
Aunt Emily, with her hyphens and penchant for deleting function words, may have made too heavy a mark.
– I do think the poem is exactly the right length. Not too long, not too short. A haiku wouldn’t have done it justice, a sestina would have been interminable (as they often are, let’s admit).
– What was I thinking with the title? I can’t tell if it helps or harms.

Well, I have generated for myself at least some food for thought. And if the fact that I’m doing one of my own poems was too subtle a hint: send me poems! Email is best (linksfreude) (gmail) (com) (fill in the blanks), but links in the Comments box are always fine, too. If you don’t feel like sending one for revision, and would rather have a prompt, try this one on for size:

Choose a memory of yours based in sound, and write a list of beautiful, bizarre phrases to describe it: then pick your favorite. Examine the rhythm and sound of that phrase. Is it iambic, dactylic, trochaic, some mix of meters? Does it repeat consonants or vowels? Try to create some specific sound and meter rules for yourself and invent a nonce form just for this poem, based off that line. Describe the memory and what you learned from it, no more, no less; use at least one body part, one color, and no verbs with more than one syllable.

Complicated enough for you? I certainly hope so. ^_^

Heart’s Thaw

Oh, what the hell, why not a random poem. We Write Poems wanted a Zen poem about body-soul connection, and while I can’t claim this is either Zen or a body-soul connection kind of poem, I guess it veers, like a wheeling bird, slightly close to both. I just wanted to have some fun with rhyme and structure, and come up with an image or two worth repeating. It was just something to do for a Monday evening, I suppose.

Heart’s Thaw

After such a long time heartsick,
to see the birds’ northward line
and the archery of homecoming–
from the bone to the flesh grown thick
moans a green sound, the rhyme
of the body with the sky hums
vowel on drowned vowel– the signs
meaning spring and rain running
will fill each part and cavity– the sun
paints bird backs as a flame the wick,
gravity claims their upward climb–
and the flock tacks right, lowly divine
with the sleepless heart caught undone
in its wake– knotted by the quick
turn, by the art of so many dimensions
and leaves who burn with becoming.

The Refinery: guy traiber

Well, first and foremost, happy fourth birthday, blog. I suppose I should start looking at blog-kindergartens and whatnot. The official day is actually, I think, tomorrow, but since I know I won’t have time to post, might as well mention it now. My blog is a Taurus-cusp-Gemini.

It’s been a pretty hectic week, but I’ve let the weekend just kind of happen as it will, which is refreshing. But as I may have mentioned before, I am worried that work has drained so much out of me already (calmness, rest, low blood pressure, relationship stability) that now it’s starting in on my creativity. The silver lining is that, for example, a bunch of us coworkers got together yesterday for a brunch that turned into a seven-hour event. If I do have occasion to plan an exit strategy, I will miss them.

It’s raining here in New York. I want to feel like this is a good day. The Refinery could use some warmth in the gears and grinders:

There is No Rain Tonight” by Guy Traiber

Guy Traiber is one of the blogger-poets I’ve known longest (why, almost four years, in fact!) online, and I am constantly envious of his travel stories, his propensity for meditative thought, and the easy simplicity he seems to cultivate. On top of that, he writes poetry in a couple different languages, which I always appreciate. He also has a book coming out (although the current byline on his blog is “this is not a poetry book — in fact I am not sure what kind of book it is”) called the Pocket Zen Book of Irrelevant Answers. Looking forward to it! But in the meantime, please see the verse below, which I think is a good representative of Guy’s writing style…

There is no rain tonight.
The meteorologist foresees rain during the weekend
but this is not a tropical land;
no rain falls to extinguish
the summer,
no rain to interrupt the sleepless
mosquitoes.
The only falling things are the piano’s
hammers: a melody in a diminished scale
with bass notes;

the right hand is left
free to scratch and there is much of that
tonight: fingers groping lonesome bodies,
children strolling grownups’ valleys,
thirsty mosquitoes fluttering in the drying puddle
under my window,
words fumbling lines
that would’ve never been written
if the rain was coming
to play Dvořák’s romantic larghetto.

It’s always good to have a poem about not-raining on a day when it is raining (and vice versa), in my opinion. Without further ado, some further opinions:
– Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading Jane Hirshfield’s Nine Gates, but I’ve been very set on this idea of how internal and personal to make a poem, and the subtle effect of an implied voice within an otherwise ego-less poem. I’m centering on a single word here: that “my” in the sixth line of the second stanza, which I want gone. I was perfectly enchanted right up until that moment, and I’m making a big deal out of such a small thing to make a point about the presence of the poet. If you’ll notice, there are no other pronouns in the entire poem: it’s a piece that brings in a constant, easy flow of new and specific images. But as in haiku and some other types of waka, there is an implied presence in the images. The piano does not play itself (and don’t say “it could be a player piano”, bear with me), someone needs to watch/interpret the meteorologist, it takes a human consciousness to assign adjectives like “lonesome” and “romantic”. That kind of subtle reflection is very powerful, and I feel that “my” disrupts it; why not just “the”, or even “a”? Conversely, if this is meant to make plain the speaker, the poem might benefit from even just a couple more hints of “I”, “my”, or “you”/”your”, but I suspect it’s not meant to be that kind of a poem (and in fact, would lose some of its power ).
– I think the poem needs to figure out where it wants to land. In workshop, we talk very often about the microscope versus the telescope, and how each poem ought to end by either zooming out from its contents to carry the reader’s thoughts outward, or by zooming in to a very specific moment which sums up the poem into a microcosm. The poem ends on its most specific image of Dvořák’s larghetto, the meaning of which we can sort of get from the poem (it’s a piano piece; it’s romantic/Romantic), but not all (the quality of Dvořák’s music, unless we’ve heard it before; what a larghetto is). Assume that your reader has no background in the details you’re tossing in (in this case, Romantic music), and can’t be bothered to find out. Mosquitoes, meteorologists, children, hands, and pianos are all pretty universal, but you take a chance when you introduce a proper noun. I do like the concept of rain coming to play the piece in the poem, which would then make the poem itself needless — it’s a complex and whimsical combination that works, I think — but the larghetto could be introduced more delicately earlier. In the grander scheme, though, the poem starts with a very general statement, and then follows with a succession of details that don’t seem to strike at something deeper. I feel as though there’s a larger point to be made, which the elements of the poem could lead to or at least demonstrate, which is not coming across as well as it should.
– And following from that, while I like the complicated images, they do take time to figure out, which might distract the careless reader. For example, the “tropical land” and extinguishing summer: doesn’t rain often extinguish summer in non-tropical lands? What is all this “scratching” that is being alluded to? What are grownups’ valleys and “words fumbling lines”? They seem to fit into the poem when I read it, and I can glean some kind of meaning by digging deep into the phrases, but they can be impenetrable (still beautiful, though!) when read quickly. The reader’s intention skips off their surface as light would from a jewel. I’d recommend making each link in this chain of events an images more defined and clearer: are the children roaming around because there’s no rain? Does the poet feel that lines are being fumbled because the absence of rain is less lyrical than rain itself? The number, type, and quality of images seem to be correct here; I’m just not convinced that they’re described in the way they need to be.

And the fineries that don’t need a re-:
– As mentioned, I love the concept and images of the poem, which stand out the more times you read the thing. “The only falling things”: gorgeous! It reminds me of Li-Young Lee’s “One Heart”, which has been one of my favorite poems since I heard Dorianne Laux read it at the Dodge Festival. I almost want to see less motion in the poem (no scratching or groping), just those hammers falling. A sweeping statement of setting and connection with nature in the first line, followed by such an amusingly specific second line, creates a great contrast and sense of space in the piece. The story as I read it, overall, is this: poet is playing piano (possibly with one hand) on a quiet, rainless summer night, with all of these small things of the world happening around him and reflecting the easy feel of the larghetto, but he is contemplating how rain would alter the world, and his poem. This is pulled off masterfully.
– In addition to the theme, and with the few exceptions I noted above, the word choice is well done, I think. Those verbs are music themselves: extinguish, interrupt, grope, flutter. And although I take some issue with bringing in Dvořak’s name, at least the position of it, the central nouns that are the cores of the imagery are well-picked: like I said, they’re universal, and straightforward, elegant things to pick. That first line rings like a meditation bell, and that second line with meteorologist and foresee and weekend is just so steeped in the chaos of daily modern life; if that wasn’t intentional, my compliments to Guy for his instinct on the structure of that opening.
– The character of rain is not quite personified here, though giving it the capacity to play a larghetto is certainly dancing around the idea. I do like how the title echoes the first line, and then the word “rain” appears over and over like a lover’s name in the first stanza; the suggestion is that even though rain is not here, it is still a presence that will make itself known. It disappears for a while in the middle of the poem, and then comes back right at the end, surprising with its return as rain often is. (Although this rain seems to just want to make some music, not necessarily refresh the mosquitoes or extinguish the summer.) The meteorological aspects of the poem were almost more attractive to me than the human ones, though I suspect both are essential to the poem. I would suggest that Guy dig deeper into why both of these halves are in the poem, and what work they are doing to create the mood he wants: then, figure out whether one or both need more or less detail/description, and do some fleshing out or stripping down.

A few more things:
– I’m nit-picking, because this is a fine poem, but the non-pianists among the readership may not get some of the piano terms at the end of the first stanza, let alone “larghetto”.
– Very fond of the enjambment going on here. No line seems too long or too short, and no line seems to say more or less than it needs to.
– Something about the punctuation is bothering me. Try playing with it.
Listening to some Dvořak as I type this, and thinking that they work very well together, the poem and the music. I believe I know just the kind of rain Guy means.

So I hope those suggestions will be helpful to Guy on further crafting the poem; I think it needs relatively little work to achieve its goal. And for those of you who want to draw some inspiration from the piece, here is a prompt for y’all:

Put on a piece of classical music from your favorite era. (Mine’s either Renaissance or Romantic, but your call.) What natural images (landscapes, biology, weather) do the piece summon up? Write a poem that combines your everyday life with those images, and consider what different elements (like music, other people, etc.) influence how you’d react to when the natural and the daily combine or collide. Then decide whether you want those elements to be present in the poem, and how much of the natural and everyday should be too. The poem should not have more than four complete sentences, and the title should be the same as the first line.

Cheers, and see you next time!

Recursion Twenty-Eight: deltas

“If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.”
~ Orson Welles, American actor, writer, and director

I’ve noticed that maybe the primary physiological effect New York has had on me is my sensitivity to morning light. At home, my bedroom has an east-facing window, skewed very slightly to the north, so I grew up as an early riser. College and my other city apartments have had windows of various sorts, but living in a basement for the last (almost) two years, I’ve noticed a distinct difference in how I deal with the sun when I’m at home. Being okay with waking up to sunlight a 7 am changed to a slight grumpiness when I lived in Philadelphia, and DC; now that I have hardly any sunlight at all in my home, this morning (and other mornings at the old homestead), I just pull the covers further over my head and start weeping. (There was this bird singing right outside the window today, I wanted to just throw the sash open and throttle it. Dammit, bird, I need my sleep!)

(But at least they are better than those city birds that sing at 1 in the morning due to light pollution.)

We’re so close to the end, everyone. I have two more specific prompts in mind for the last two days (which I know I wanted to do from the start: the first may be a tad difficult, but I have confidence in you), so today will be the last one for that “central theme” idea I’ve been touting. Of course, you can keep revolving around one thick theme, but the river is now splitting into its final distributaries and spilling onto the shore. With that metropolis of ideas floating in channeled water and people gathering around to partake sitting on the horizon, at last we begin to taste the brackish water of the sea. Think of the Nile, the Rhine, the Rhône, the Ganges, the Amazon, the Mississippi: too much thought and action to be contained by just one path, in the end.

Not to make it seem like you’re going to undo the last week’s work of gathering a theme together into one firm but flexible cylinder of riverine inspiration, but we are now going to shave down that accumulation of ideas and themes again. Take your theme and separate it into six pieces at least. You may wish to have each of the ideas behind poems you wrote over the last six days make an appearance, but also try to get more abstract, dissecting the Main Idea into several Subordinate Ideas. See which ones have enough life of their own to find their own groove and thalweg down to the bay, or which ones will be devoured by the tide. I’ll take my biological process in the world one (I promise this will be the last time I bring it up) and chop away: evolution, the food chain, humanity as animals, symbiotic relationships (like those figs + wasps), measuring time through life cycle, and the physical sensations of being alive. So, if those are my pieces, what I want to do is devote attention to each, just a little bit: it could be the phrase itself, or it could be an image, but expose it. Make it concrete.

You then want to choose what kind of a delta you’ll have. Will it be a birdfoot like the Mississippi, building new land as it rushes to sea? Will it be massive like the Amazon, with each chunk of theme getting its own stanza? Will it be holy like the Brahmaputra, holy to vacationers like the Rhône, or choked with mangroves like… I don’t know, some other river? Think about the coastline you want to cross at last, and whether it will be straight or wavy, pushing out to sea with sediment or caving in, riddled with tree roots and flamingo legs, or empty except for dunes and beachgrass. Allow your themes to interact with the landscape in the way the delta’s distributaries cross mud flats and bob with fishing boats. Maybe you want to extend a thought the way sediment extends spits of land, or obscure a thought as wetlands muddy the boundary of water and land, or make a thought marvelously clear, as when the river reaches through desert. I leave it to you to interpret how this goes, but in the end, all the delta’s fingers reach the sea. This does not necessarily mean that they are lost — currents are far deeper and stronger than we often suspect — but the ending should perhaps be surrounded on all sides by other, different, saltwater thoughts. Threaten your themes, but don’t let them be interrupted/drowned/vanished completely yet; the reward will be greater.

We still have two more days to go, though. What better way to celebrate than to come back and share?

New Jersey

Finally, the weekend! Guys: I needed this like you would not believe.

I finished (again) Lunch Poems on my way home, and some O’Hara — along with some Whitman and Sandburg, I guess — influenced the feel of this one. Miz Quickly’s prompt today was to observe Nature, while yesterday’s Poets and Writers was to write a letter to a landscape, which seemed to go hand-in-hand. And while I struggled with the themes all day, I realized that traveling New Jersey almost end to end was a pretty good source, so this is a little paean for the old home state. It’s kind of wonky and rambly, and doesn’t do a tenth of the justice that I’d like to, but then again, it’s only one poem, written to prompts, and it’s late. Be merciful, I beg you!

New Jersey

The length of you electrified, the breadth of you cast-iron,
mouth sunk deep into one city, tail rattled round another,
         what do you think about underneath?
Do you start with a man walking tunnels under the Hudson
to burst out into the Secaucus sunlight, slodging through
         marshwater pierced with telephone poles
whose wires dip parabolic underneath an egret’s wing?
Will he say, this is the arrowhead, flung forward, carved
         scrap of flint dipping its colonial point
into marine history, extending in a perfect line, industrial
revolution and immigrant tale, feathered with one eye
         pointed east into tomorrow’s Atlantic sun?
Who will smell salt air as the cars roam these counties
packed with fine gravel, listen to the mosquitoes buzz
         fear of the finchmouth under viaducts
crazyquilted with graffiti, buckling freight, hollowed like
a careful clay gorge? Are they women with moonscape hair,
         men with block-letter tattoos, children,
muddied and painted, roaming from stone checkerboards
onto your threadbare fields to execute the last crabapple,
         deer stalking the interstate’s shrug
to gnaw a bit of alder shoot? How do they weigh on you,
you who were always slight, the runt, the performer,
         the intense gaze, always warmer than
anyone thought, even with vertebrae all full of steel pins,
your limbs catalogued and the ospreys tagged, your feet
         shod wooden and dipped in Delaware Bay?
When spring comes fierce and yellow, dogwoods hang up
chandeliers in all your roofless parlors, and the cherries
         weep, do you tell them, this is no death,
show them a man walking tracks, a child splattered pink
and black, first tomato bloody in her teeth? Won’t new life
         wrought out of rust and broken glass,
wrung from reeds round empty factories, need a mother too?
What better land than one that sings them its similarity:
         small, wise, proud, wild, radio, radiant!

Tramp Song

I went to the Publishing Triangle Awards earlier this evening, to hope for the wins of three excellent authors (a memoirist, novelist, and poet, respectively) I admire; two made it, and I am dismayed about the third, but it was still nice to go and check it out. (And it was free/open to the public. Also nice.) I’ve just been in kind of a malaise all day, and wish that had snapped me out of it, but instead I just came home, made dinner, and did absolutely nothing for a while. I don’t know why. I’ve been thinking too much about the future and how much different things I love are worth it.

But Miz Quickly had a prompt that I kind of followed, to write a poem after another poet’s line. This one is from a line by Mark Doty, which is the first line of my poem, from his “At the Gym”. I walked by a bench under flowering trees earlier this evening, and thought it looked like a nice place to nap. That’s about as deep as the story goes.

Tramp Song

Here is some halo
for a carpetbag saint:
the cherry-web blown
and the magnolia browned,
this bench with chipped paint
for a carpetbag throne.
Here is a motive
to be sleeping outside:
the banish of grey
from republican sky,
nobody’s denied
to be sleeping all day.
Here is a coda
on the night-weather’s chords:
by night, blessed to find
a chapel out of wind,
some bench with its boards
on the night-weather’s mind.

Triolet and Cascade in a Hanging Garden

I had the writer/artist salon tonight, which was nice; we ended up playing with duct tape and talking this-and-that. I don’t know what I’ll do once the poetry workshop ends in six weeks (although there may be another in the fall I can hop in), but I hope the salon will keep the social side of me going. Either that or I’ll have to find some kind of group to get involved with that appeals to my sensibilities and isn’t too bitchy.

As I (just!) remarked on Facebook(!), I keep finding myself drawn to the persona of Amytis, Nebuchadnezzar’s wife for whom the Hanging Gardens were supposedly built. A quick rundown of the appealing bits: she was a Persian queen married to a Babylonian king for political reasons (and quite late in her life, apparently), she moved from a wild mountainous place to hot plains slowly becoming desert, and she struggled with that homesickness. But then, he must have loved her, to build her this massive reminder of her homeland; and then, she (and the gardens) might be totally mythological, combined with all the other mythology/history surrounding Babylon/Persia, Iraq/Iran. On top of that you have all this potential for the lush descriptions of nature and class politics of absolute religious monarchy. I don’t know if this will turn into anything substantial (like Donna‘s Pioneer Woman), but hey, I’ll roll with it for now.

Also, this is for both the NaPoWriMo and Miz Quickly prompts, both of whom asked for repeating forms. Ugh, at least I got one in before bed.

Triolet and Cascade in a Hanging Garden

The servants turning water screws
discuss me and my wedding-gift.
Who spawned this dismal woman?, muse
the servants. Turning water-screws
makes bitter work. I didn’t choose
this waste, this continental drift.
You servants turning water screws,
discuss me. I’m the wedding-gift.

The queen is softly weeping in the garden,
not from sorrow, but from that barren species of joy
full of mirage. And still she must love it:

a river is made to bleed up into the temple to water
her memory-land carried as dowry. So who knows why
the queen is softly weeping in the garden?

Persian grass and mountain pinks beard comets
down the walls. She breathes air sweet and heavy
not from sorrow, but from that barren species of joy

that knows at last the truth of things. Cities are prisons:
this beloved hill hides mechanics, its petty desert
full of mirage. And still: she must love it.