“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” ~ L.M. Montgomery, from Anne of Green Gables

Arthur Dove Sunrise, Northport Harbor 1924
“Sunrise, Northport Harbor” (1924)
by Arthur Dove

“The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” ~ Neil deGrasse Tyson

Saturday evening. Wonderfully cool, 50’s. At last.

Let’s try this again, shall we?

I’ve been down for the count for more days than I care to remember. My doctor’s appointment on Thursday left me with an egg-sized lump on my neck where my pain doctor (the one I’ve been waiting for to reemerge for 7 months) gave me an occipital block in an attempt to alleviate this never-ending migraine.

It didn’t work. And one of the new medicines that he prescribed for me (migrinal) costs over $1,000. Sooo……..

Anyway, I’m feeble. Last night (this morning?) I couldn’t sleep; the last time I looked at the clock it was 6:20. Truly, can anything else go wrong at this point?

Feeble is the only way to describe it, and I feel really bad that this has happened while Corey is home, but at the same time, I’m so glad that he’s home because just feeding myself is a chore. At least he can play with the dogs and feed them while I lie in my darkened bedroom attempting to read and staying away from anything light-reflective.

I haven’t checked my e-mail or looked at my tumblr, and as for this blog? Not so much. So I thought that instead of running on about pain and agony, I’d try to post my poem, the one from September 28 that didn’t appear on several of your sites (as you’ve let me know), try to post it as a JPEG instead of as a PDF. Here’s hoping it works this time . . .

By the way, I don’t know what possessed me, but I submitted it to some journal. Honestly cannot remember which one. I guess that’s my tactic for avoiding rejection—submit and immediately forget. I made a few changes to that one, but here’s the original version:

Break

                   

Music by Fort Atlantic, “No One Will Know”

“It is with words as with sunbeams—the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn.” ~ Robert Southey

I haven’t come across a prose poem in a while that really grabbed me . . .

[I believe there is a song that is stranger than wind . . .]

By Karen Volkman

I believe there is a song that is stranger than wind, that sips the scald
from the telling, toss, toss. In the room I move in, a wrecked boy listened
to each sky’s erasing, for it was shrill winter, for it was blast and blur.
For it was farther from the native birds and the gray heath heather and
the uncaressable thighs of the one who shook in violet. Those who fly
farthest must always burn the nest. But the mind in its implacable spec-
trum dims to brown. Must you die on your back like a cheap engine, rust
and wrack? In the crevicing days, there are no words for prizing, be-
tween the lidless moon and the silver hands of the fountain. But if it is
space you must fail in, teach it din.

                   

For those of you who may not be familiar with this poetic form, the prose poem is written like prose, without the poetic line breaks, but it still contains many of the same poetic devices, such as figures of speech, alliteration, assonance, repetition, and rhyme. The length of a prose poem varies a great deal, and the subject matter is not limited in any way, with topics including love, nature, war, etc.

According to poets.org, the form “is most often traced to nineteenth-century French symbolists writers. The advent of the form in the work of Aloysius Bertrand and Charles Baudelaire marked a significant departure from the strict separation between the genres of prose and poetry at the time.”

I have written a couple of prose poems, and it’s hard to say what causes a poem to fit into this category. I can only tell you that I knew innately that what I was writing was a prose poem.

My favorite prose poem is “The story of a day in the life of a woman trying,” which I would have put here, but my copy of it is packed away in a box somewhere.

More later. Peace.

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of year, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly life can be.” ~ Rachel Carson

                   

The Coast of Philip Island (Wikimedia Commons)

This word reminds me of a poem that I wrote when Corey and I first got together. We were spending the afternoon on the Outer Banks with the boys, and I was standing in the shoreline looking at Corey in the distance. It was in that moment that I realized that he loved me. This is a good memory.

“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.” ~ Sylvia Plath

“La Belle Dame Sans Merci,” Frank Cadogan Cowper (1926)*

                   

“’You see I am fate,’ it shouted, ‘and stronger than your puny plans; and I am how-things-turn-out and I am different from your little dreams, and I am the flight of time and the end of beauty and unfulfilled desire; all the accidents and imperceptions and the little minutes that shape the crucial hours are mine. I am the exception that proves no rules, the limits of your control, the condiment in the dish of life.’” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Cut Glass Bowl and Other Stories

Wednesday afternoon. Unseasonably warm and very sunny, mid 70’s. Feels and smells more like spring than fall.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Arthur Hughes

Thought that I’d try to bang out a post today. Haven’t felt up to sitting here for more than a few minutes for the past few days. Same old thing—headaches, pain, weakness. (That phrase “bang out” reminds me of how Rebecca used to say that she could hear me typing from anywhere in the office because I hit the keys so hard, which I do, but I learned to type on a manual typewriter (yes, I’m that old), and I learned to type very quickly on an old IBM Selectric, so my touch is not acclimated towards a computer’s keyboard. Funny the things that pop into your mind at the turn of a phrase.)

I’ve finally gotten an appointment to get my botox injections at the neurologist’s office. It took talking to a different nurse and saying that I was tired of being jerked around, and voila—appointment. Funny how that works.

So in the next six weeks or so, I’m banging out another four doctors’ appointments. So excited. Cannot hardly wait for the poking and prodding to begin. Actually, I am excited about the botox as I’m really hoping that it helps with these damned headaches. I mean, if this stuff deadens nerve endings, it makes sense that it would kill pain. Too bad they haven’t approved it for back pain. Not enough studies done to show conclusively whether or not it actually helps the kind of pain that I have.

Too much to wish for at once, I suppose.

Anyway, after spending time making telephone calls to various doctor’s offices for prescriptions and/or appointments, I decided to go back to bed this morning, and part of me wishes that I hadn’t as I had more intensely bad dreams. In the past few nights, I keep dreaming about this doctor who is treating me, and he’s a sadist. I won’t go into the kinds of things that he’s trying to do to me, but suffice it to say that they are quite unpleasant. The dreams are probably coming from the subconscious part of me that is wholly fed up with doctors and treatments.

“Sixty six times have these eyes beheld
the changing scenes of autumn
I have said enough about moonlight.
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars
when no wind stirs.” ~ Ryonen, Buddhist Nun, 18th Century

The quote above appeared on my tumblr dash a few days ago, but it was only attributed to a Zen nun. That’s one of the things that I really hate about tumblr, how lax some people are about attributing quotes and images. It took me about 20 seconds to find the source of the quote and to learn that the line breaks were incorrect in what was originally posted.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," Frank Dicksee (1902)

Now line breaks might not seem like a big deal, that is unless you write poetry. Line breaks are all-important in poetry: They indicate the point at which the poet wishes to break the thought, add a pause, add a breath, indicate a new train of thought—all or none of these. But to quote a poem and not to take care to get the name of the poet correct I find really problematic.

But I’m also a stickler for the Oxford comma. So shoot me . . .

Anyway, I love tumblr because it continues to be a great source of quotes and images for my writing, but it really bothers me when people post something without quotations marks or an author, and people who may not be familiar with the phrase might not realize that it’s not original, or when people post art without listing the artist’s name or giving the attribution for a photograph. All problematic. So when I repost, I try to add the missing information, or if something has an obvious copyright on it, I don’t repost it.

I know. Not really a big problem in the grand scheme of things. Just file it under things that bug the crap out of me.

“There is among all your memories one
Which has now been lost beyond recall.
You will not be seen going down to that fountain
Neither by white sun nor by yellow moon.” ~ Jorge Luis Borges, from “Limits”

So my uncle in Florida has decided that I shouldn’t send for his Explorer as he feels that it’s not worth the money to ship it from his house to ours. I have to respect his decision, although I really wish that he’d understand that any working vehicle, no matter how old it is, is better than no working vehicle. But he doesn’t want us to waste our money, so what can I say? It’s not like we have the money to waste . . .

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," William Russell Flint (1908)

He wrote me a very nice letter explaining his decision, and he sounds so much like my father, which is always just a bit painful. This uncle is the last one of my dad’s siblings who is still alive. He’s 80, and his wife, my aunt, has breast cancer. It just breaks my heart for so many reasons: that he’s the last, that he looks so much like my dad, that they are both in poor health.

When I was a child, I didn’t really have that much of an attachment to my dad’s side of the family, mostly because I was always around my mom’s side. But as an adult, I think that I’ve spent more time trying to stay in contact with my uncles, my dad’s brothers. Both of the ones in Florida kept asking us to bring the kids down for a visit and offered their homes if we wanted to visit Disneyland, but it was never the right time, and now the kids are grown, and no one wants to go to Disneyland . . .

Perhaps I should just think of a few more things to chew on in this guilt fest . . .

“Here I sit between my brother the mountain and my sister the sea. We three are one in loneliness, and the love that binds us together is deep and strong and strange.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

Corey has a medical transport tomorrow, so he’ll be gone from early morning until around 10 tomorrow night, which means good hours but a very long day for him.

"La Belle Dame Sans Merci," John William Waterhouse (1893)

I think that we’re seeing light at the end of the tunnel as far as getting the truck fixed. We had thought that by hiring the guy across the street to fix it, we would save money, which we have, but he’s taking his sweet time in finishing, which is always the problem in not going to a shop. He knows what he’s doing, as that’s how he makes his living, by working on cars, but he has his own issues, the least of which is that his elderly mother (with whom he lives) suffers from Alzheimer’s and dementia and forgets who he is and calls the cops on him because she thinks that he’s a stranger in her house.

I do sympathize with him, and he really is a nice guy, but we just want the truck to be fixed. Once he finishes with the transmission and the transfer case, we need to get the brakes done and get it inspected. I’m hoping that we don’t have to do four new tires as that’s a big cash output, but we’ll just have to see how that goes.

I know that Corey will be glad to have his truck back, but I also know that he’s in for a rude awakening the first time that he fills the tank as he’s been spoiled by the four-cylinder engines in the rental cars and the six-cylinder in the Rodeo. His truck is a V8 and a gas hog. I don’t even want to think about how much it’s going cost to fill, and I’m not looking forward to finding out how much gas it uses to get back and forth to the peninsula where he works.

I know. I know. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. My life at the moment is a tired cliché. Sorry that I don’t have more exciting things to say, but frankly, I’m lucky to get any kind of post out of my head at the moment. Perhaps I should call it a day.

More later. Peace.

*This is my favorite version of this subject, a particular favorite of the Pre-Raphaelite painters.

Music by Blue October, “Amazing”



From Out the Cave

When you have been
at war with yourself
for so many years that
you have forgotten why,
when you have been driving
for hours and only
gradually begin to realize
that you have lost the way,
when you have cut
hastily into the fabric,
when you have signed
papers in distraction,
when it has been centuries
since you watched the sun set
or the rain fall, and the clouds,
drifting overhead, pass as flat
as anything on a postcard;
when, in the midst of these
everyday nightmares, you
understand that you could
wake up,
you could turn
and go back
to the last thing you
remember doing
with your whole heart:
that passionate kiss,
the brilliant drop of love
rolling along the tongue of a green leaf,
then you wake,
you stumble from your cave,
blinking in the sun,
naming every shadow
as it slips.

~ Joyce Sutphen

“Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary.” ~ Kahlil Gibran

                    INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE WINNER                     Definitions I Prefer                     meas·ure:                    a photographer,                    his mistress.                     touch:                    two sleeping strangers,                    a Greyhound bus.                     pre·ma·ture birth:                    a poet,                    mother’s coffin.                     time·less·ness:                     chameleons,                    a branch.                     soothe:                    aloe,                    summer home.                     hun·ger:                    swirling fork,                    empty plate.                     pres·ence:                    hurricane,                    twelve dead.                     song:                    cobbled roads,                    lover’s cart.                     ho·li·ness:                    morning fog,                    reindeer antler.                     weak·ness:                    bodybuilder,                    unshared bed.                     tone:                    wood,                    pressed ear. Poem written by www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’” Again, Congratulations and a tip of the quill goes to www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com! Details regarding our upcoming second Poetry Challenge will be posted later this week. Please check back for guidelines and deadline.

                    INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE WINNER

                    Definitions I Prefer

                    meas·ure:
                    a photographer,
                    his mistress.

                    touch:
                    two sleeping strangers,
                    a Greyhound bus.

                    pre·ma·ture birth:
                    a poet,
                    mother’s coffin.

                    time·less·ness:
                    chameleons,
                    a branch.

                    soothe:
                    aloe,
                    summer home.

                    hun·ger:
                    swirling fork,
                    empty plate.

                    pres·ence:
                    hurricane,
                    twelve dead.

                    song:
                    cobbled roads,
                    lover’s cart.

                    ho·li·ness:
                    morning fog,
                    reindeer antler.

                    weak·ness:
                    bodybuilder,
                    unshared bed.

                    tone:
                    wood,
                    pressed ear.

Poem written by www.yesorotherwise.tumblr.com

Selected by poet Allen Braden as the Inaugural Poetry Challenge Winner

Judge’s comment: “‘Definitions I Prefer’ was chosen for its innovation in taking a kind of list we are all familiar with (dictionary entries) and re-envisioning it into the form of a catalog, or list, poem. This poem also practices William Carlos Williams’ advice ‘No ideas but in things,’ what Samuel Taylor Coleridge warned against—‘the danger of thinking without images.’”

“Poetry is thoughts that breathe, and words that burn.” ~ Thomas Gray

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST ********************************************************* Of Time, In Time You dare say everything is about time, the precise ticking of interlaced hands, moving,          trembling and skipping just to conquer a space before it splits into structures, monuments, and gestures, all crumpled into ambiguous sketches from an aged comic, yellow, edges wrinkled,         the intention of knowing and not knowing. Still, I would dare speak of time as a little fixture in a wall  asking for a decoration, as the distilled calm that wraps the earth and the sky minutes before dawn, as the eternity found in the surface of a wide-eyed glance. I would tell you that a day is a word devoid of descriptions or affectations, that a moment passes and ceases with consciousness. Time, as it comes, is only the sudden, suspended motion         of lifting your head before the needles fall right into place,  to puncture you, to devour you,                              if you would give me melodies that seep through sound, music created for the sake of music alone, I would hang by its threads, humming and swinging to the sound of cradles in a night powdered with sleep, in the wake of familiar lullabies,                          would you give me words that dispel all the traces of an afterthought, talk to me across the gaps of the walls in the street, and would I listen until the silence starts to strangle my memories, until my memories starts to strangle the silence,                           if you would give me eyes that stare with a million shutters, yet another million edges that inflict these incisions, these convictions that reveal what I hide in the slant of my lips. Then would I recognize you, as the child buried in my imaginings,                 would you give me time as you would give me everything in time, although I could only offer you this acknowledgment, this detachment, would you give up a moment to wait for the inkling, the impulse, the action, if time permitted it,  you and I might understand – you and I would never be too old for anything we dare to be,         in time. Poem written by www.bluntvoidprototype.tumblr.com

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

*********************************************************

Of Time, In Time

You dare say everything is about time,
the precise ticking of interlaced hands, moving,
         trembling and skipping just to conquer a space

before it splits into structures, monuments,
and gestures, all crumpled into ambiguous sketches
from an aged comic, yellow, edges wrinkled,
         the intention of knowing and not knowing.

Still, I would dare speak of time as a little fixture in a wall
asking for a decoration, as the distilled calm that wraps
the earth and the sky minutes before dawn, as the eternity
found in the surface of a wide-eyed glance.

I would tell you that a day is a word devoid
of descriptions or affectations, that a moment
passes and ceases with consciousness. Time,
as it comes, is only the sudden, suspended motion
         of lifting your head before the needles fall

right into place,  to puncture you,
to devour you,                              if you would

give me melodies that seep through sound,
music created for the sake of music alone,
I would hang by its threads, humming and swinging

to the sound of cradles in a night powdered with sleep,
in the wake of familiar lullabies,                          would you

give me words that dispel all the traces
of an afterthought, talk to me across the gaps
of the walls in the street, and would I listen until the silence

starts to strangle my memories, until my memories
starts to strangle the silence,                           if you would

give me eyes that stare with a million shutters,
yet another million edges that inflict these incisions,
these convictions that reveal what I hide

in the slant of my lips. Then would I recognize you,
as the child buried in my imaginings,                 would you

give me time as you would give me everything
in time, although I could only offer you this acknowledgment,
this detachment, would you give up a moment to wait

for the inkling, the impulse, the action,
if time permitted it,  you and I might understand –
you and I would never be too old for anything we dare to be,
         in time.

Poem writtenby www.bluntvoidprototype.tumblr.com

“Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves.” ~ T. S. Eliot

This one is mine. Apparently, I cannot add an mp3 unless I buy the upgrade. Sorry. If you want to hear my reading, click on the link below. Thanks.

INAUGURAL POETRY CHALLENGE FINALIST

Heart’s Importunate Hunger

What you asked:

         What do you love? 

What I answered:

Moonlight on dark water,
the salty spray of the ocean on my cheeks,
fierce lightning and thunder and
the sonorous sound of the surf
Solitary walks in the summer rain
Overgrown woodland paths and
the earthy scent of fallen leaves and loam
Boxes of old photographs and cards,
dried lavender and rosemary for remembrance,
Bundles of faded letters from old lovers
and glossy images of country cottages
surrounded by wild vines of wisteria and Carolina jasmine
Mozart or Beethoven or Chopin’s etudes,
as the soundtrack to Sunday morning
with cups of strong hot tea
and French bread with butter

            More? 

So much more, yes, cathexis,
yearnings—imaginary and real—
contradictions, assembled, converging—
of what has made me:
The feel of paper beneath my fingers
as I turn the pages, and all of the words
of all the sages who ever lived—
Shakespeare and Tennyson,
Fitzgerald and Anaïs Nin 
Virginia Woolf and the rocks in her pockets
That certain smell just before the first winter snow,
the vapors from a horse’s nostrils on a winter morning
The trumpet of a train that cleaves the night
and torch songs that speak of unrequited longing

            What do you want? 

To fly like the red-winged blackbird,
leaving a narrow flash of crimson in my wake
and to bathe in the Castalian Spring
beneath a beggar’s moon
To sit by the shore in the gloaming
as grey mist descends, cloaking everything
except the plaintive refrain of a fog horn
echoing off the bay

           What do you need?

Truth before a lie
Poesy and prayer, unattainable grace,
solitude and silence, 
unfettered passion and
shameless tears of love and hate
The courage to stray
from what is known, what is certain
and enough faith to abide—
never to become
destiny’s unwitting victim or fate’s fool—
and the constancy to embrace
this confluence of unfulfilled longings.
These things I covet,
—crave as my own             
before the days run down
like a forgotten watch in a drawer.
These things I prefer.

Poem written and read by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com

Photograph “White Moon on Black Water” and its rendering also by www.frenzyandlightning.tumblr.com