Some Juvenalia, and a sweater.

I am searching my house up and down for a poem I wrote last year on same random sheets of paper.    Just to be safe, I pulled out my poetry folder from the writing drawer and check to make sure I hadn’t out it away – I hadn’t.      It was interesting though to look back at some of my writing that dates from the late eighties and early nineties, when I was a child.

Very little of this material is dated,  but two of these pieces (Circles, and It Couldn’t Last)  are typewritten,  which means I most probably wrote them the summer I was 13, while staying with my grandparents in Wyoming while the rest of the family moved from Wyoming to Illinois.    The untitled tanka is from a school project on poetry – a little volume demonstrating different forms.   Other poems in the handwritten volume reference the Horned One and the Lady of Sea,  placing the writing somewhere between the summer ’84  when I first encountered goddess spirituality while searching for books by Andre Norton, and ’89,  when I got my first typewriter.

It Couldn’t Last

Laughing in love,

saying words we neither meant.

If time in love is wasted,

it was wasted time well spent.

 

Circles

Circles circumscribe the world.

Red slashed for no, green lit for go,

and foiled latex assuring save sex.

Coffee mugs, and water jugs,

the throat the killer throttles.

The needle, pill, the cigarette,  and of course the bottles.

Sugar cookies, ice cream cones,

smiley faces, aerodomes.

With each life take, each baseball hurled

another circle round the world.

 

Untitled

Blue sky high above.

Quite bright sun glowing high up.

Birds’ shadows darting

across the ground.   Dark, smooth like

stones skipping across the water.

 

And the sweater:

0111161555a  Some assembly required.   5 skeins of golden brown, two of white,  100% wool, and so old that the labels are just ‘ounces of worsted’, with no yardage.    Roughly estimating 150 yards per skein,  that gives me just over a thousand yards,   enough for a small sweater.   I’m thinking colorwork in the yoke, maybe at the cuffs.

 

My Favorite Christmas Poem…

…  is the glorious middle english masterpiece, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and rather too long to share here.    I am listening to the lovely Simon Armitage translation,   which includes along with the alliterative poetic translation a full reading of the poem in the original middle english.

One may read the original text of here, courtesy of the University of Toronto libraries.     The goodly and honest readers at Librivox.com  offer a fine reading of W.A. Neilson’s prose translation,  the text of which  can be found here, courtesy of the York University, also in Toronto.

May you one and all have a wonderful holiday season, blessed with friends, family, frivolity and cheer!

Some thoughts on poetry.

To me, poetry is a very intimate endeavor.  I write to capture images of moments real and imagined, or to exorcise overwhelming emotion.   Very often my inspiration is visual, a happening scene that evokes concepts and ideas which demand utterance.
A poem, thus, is a way of capturing and communicating something, and evoking the emotional character of that something.    The use of language in a poem is evocation,  a summoning of the final place the poet wishes to leave the reader.    Prose, by contrast, is intended to be communicative, to give the reader a clear view and path to the intended destination.   Prose demands an agreement on the nature of meaning, on words meaning what they say, on orderly progression through the writing.     Poetry, by contrast, uses the meanings of words and the progression of lines as a kind of backlighting, a way of illuminating rather than describing.

A poem currently on my mind.

I encountered a quote from this recently – a few lines of the last stanza,  and was so star struck that I had to find the whole work.   It’s a fine read,  and worth memorizing.   I’ve taken a great deal of comfort and insight from reflecting on it.

The Old Astronomer to his Pupil –  Sarah Williams, 1868

Reach me down my Tycho Brahe, I would know him when we meet,
When I share my later science, sitting humbly at his feet;
He may know the law of all things, yet be ignorant of how
We are working to completion, working on from then to now.

Pray remember that I leave you all my theory complete,
Lacking only certain data for your adding, as is meet,
And remember men will scorn it, ’tis original and true,
And the obloquy of newness may fall bitterly on you.

But, my pupil, as my pupil you have learned the worth of scorn,
You have laughed with me at pity, we have joyed to be forlorn,
What for us are all distractions of men’s fellowship and smiles;
What for us the Goddess Pleasure with her meretricious smiles!

You may tell that German College that their honor comes too late,
But they must not waste repentance on the grizzly savant’s fate.
Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.

A Tale of Two Wheels

I saw in the old antique mall two histories

Two old spinning wheels, the same in birth and form.

So differently polished by time that the light of each

illuminated the other.

I haven’t been able to identify a specific model,  but I’m fairly certain it’s an old Kromski  –  they looked like a cross between the Polonaise and the Symphony,  and had that distinctive sliding mother of all that Kromski’s do.  They also had direct drive setups – the flyer and bobbin all in one solid piece,  which I’ve never seen before.

It was really fascinating to be able to see both of these wheels at once, and compare the different conditions they were in.     One was very little used,  but damaged in some pretty serious ‘no more spinning for you’ ways – most notable a broken off flyer arm.   The kinds of damages that come of not being used and being carelessly stored.

The other was extremely worn,  and had a number of obvious repairs,  but was still in excellent working order –  it just needed a new drive band.   I turned the wheel by hand, and it spun as smoothly as if freshly oiled.

 

A poem written on the back of a checkbook register in a moment of despair.

I got my reading done young.

a mind filled with the corpses of books
I read as a child.
Edward Abbey, who am I now?
Robert Pirsig speeds away, Cosette’s hair streaming behind the bike.
Ayn Rand buildings shimmer in the distance
and I learn of lust and idealism
among mingled dreams of cave bears and architects.

I don’t remember Raskolnikov,
but I still drink lapsang souchong tea
echoes of the summer I read Michener because I’d never seen a book
about a place I’d been before.

All these old ghosts rattle their chains at me tonight.
Who am I now, Edward Abbey?