This poem by Pat Ingoldsby popped up in my Facebook feed today. Familiar conversation?
What to do with November… join the birds and fly south, or hibernate and wait for spring? Write dark? Write light? Write deep? Can’t decide. For now, I just make myself another cup of coffee.
I could write a Christmas story.
By Tomas Tranströmer
There’s so much we must be witness to.
Reality wears us so thin
but here is summer at last:
a large airport — the controller brings
down planeload after planeload of frozen
people from outer space.
The grass and the flowers — here’s where we land.
The grass has a green supervisor
I report to him.
WordPress Daily Prompts: Thin
The bicycle knelt forward
because its front wheel
(Pat Ingoldsby, from the poem “Fancy Flying All Over the Place,” published in “If You Don’t Tell Anybody I Won’t”)
This is a typical example of Pat Ingoldsby’s word-pictures. Called Dublin’s own street poet, he writes poems that span from the slightly surreal to the rough reality of street life. I love his style.
WordPress Daily Prompt: Skewed
I want to write a poem, but my imagination thwarts me. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Maybe my imagination is inspired by the late winter / early spring, with the yellow spring colors against the wintery white backdrop, and wants to express it but finds me unfocused. You cannot always tell the thwarter from the thwartee.
I think I’ll blame it on my imagination and just sit down with a cup of coffee and watch the hatching spring. Maybe look up the word “thwart” to double-check the meaning. Not the first time, WordPress, that I have to look up your suggested daily word. I try not to let it uh… thwart me.
WordPress Daily Prompt: Thwart
When you are a penniless and lovesick poet with nothing but your dreams to offer your beloved, yank down the heaven and put it under her feet. Poets can do that. “Tread softly,” the poet says in this beautiful poem by William Butler Yeats.
HE WISHES FOR THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN
Had I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
(William Butler Yeats, 1899)
Anthony Hopkins recites this poem in 84 Charing Cross Road, a little gem of a film based on the letters between American author Helene Hanff and Frank Doel at the antiquarian bookshop Marks & Co, 84 Charing Cross Road, London. Over the course of 20 years, starting in 1949, they exchanged letters but never met. The film is on my list of 25 favorite movies about writing. Starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.
With spring coming up in 1950, Helene asked Frank to send her a book of love poems, small enough to stick in a slacks pocket and take to Central Park. “No Keats or Shelley, send me poets who can make love without slobbering,” she wrote. Mission accomplished with Yeats.
WordPress Daily Prompt: Fabric
Birds don’t sow or reap, the Gospels tell us, but they are still fed. I think the city doves congregating on the piazza outside the cathedral are fine with that.
THE DOVES AT THE CATHEDRAL SQUARE
“Consider the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:26)
From the coffee bar
opposite the city’s Cathedral,
I watch the doves put on
their occasional flight show
in appreciation of the bird people who
turn bread into crumbs for them.
Then they take a well-earned rest
among the statues of the Apostles
on the upper facade of the church.
One is brushing its feathers
on St. John’s head
while another naps
on the shoulder of St. Peter.
I go home to my toiling
and sowing and reaping.
(Zol H, 2016)
WordPress Daily Prompt: Congregate
“Starry-eyed poet gazing heavenwards for inspiration.”
Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: — you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.
— E.E. Cummings
WordPress Daily Prompt: Astral
“Well conservant conversant with the English language.”
One NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) prompt was to write a poem that contained at least five words in another language. I wrote this one, about linguistic blunders in a cross-cultural world. Been there, done that?
Day 1 in the U.S. of A
How do you take your coffee?
she asked, and I said
In a cup, s’il vous plaît,
a big one,
I’m so jet-legged.
Later we found out
that we both knew Pierre,
and I said Oh mon Dieu
and she said OMG
and Get outta here,
so I left.
(Zol H, 2013)
WordPress Daily Prompt: Conversant
In one of their daily prompts, NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month: write one poem a day in April) asked us to write a “book spine” poem based on titles in our bookshelves.
One of the titles in my bookshelf is Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890). It describes the painful birth of a writer, an unnamed young man who wanders the streets of Kristiania (former name of Oslo), trying to keep his dignity and sanity. His hunger is both physical and mental, and at one point he almost eats his pencil. Occasionally, he earns a little money by selling an article to a newspaper, but he is unwilling to take other jobs (he deems it unfit for someone of his abilities). In the book, he relates his experiences from his walks and from his encounters with people. He ends up signing on a ship and leaving the city. I think any aspiring writer can relate to the constant drive inside that anonymous writer.
There are seven book titles hidden in the poem. Find them if you like. 🙂
I am an undernourished author,
hungry to create
I walk the city streets
in a ceaseless chase for words
and, in all honesty, recognition,
to become a king on writing
I can hear the bells toll ten, eleven, twelve times,
as if to put a number on my
failed, once great, expectations
Just after sunset,
I stumble through the door
at the inn where I lodge
Another long day’s journey into night
comes to an end
Hurt feet, hurt pride,
but not willing to settle for
the God of small things
(c) Zol H, 2016
WordPress Daily Prompt: Constant
Photo: Mag Pole/Unsplash