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Embodiment

I wrote this poem as an experiment in prose poetry during an advanced poetry course. (It has since been edited.)

I wrote it with my husband in mind.

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Embodiment

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Do not forget how it feels to immerse your hands in the sink full of suds leaning against your lover drying inhaling Sea Breeze and the sounds of concern to walk barefoot on sun-stained grass amidst the clatter of chastising moths their beating wings dusting you with metamorphosis as you fetch the ball to shouts eager awaiting your embodiment with hair follicles and perspiration

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Do not forget awkwardness sitting alone in the college cafeteria where students harass like ancient companions on this conquest for Great Conversation which you long to enter with your longing the moment you lock eyes with hers and suddenly the pang of loneliness transmutates into stilted sweaty-palm conversation and another and each time your palms sweat less and before long you recite metallurgy while she quotes Millay and your dreams collide in amniotic pheromones their manifestation intoxicating

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Do not forget the successive series recorded in your memory of his hand on the steering wheel how the skin felt from smooth to rough to spotty — the healed scar — how his hand has touched me in only the right ways and do not forget silence how we walked countless trails without speaking because we had memorized each others’ great conversations

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Naming Characters & Plot in Summer North Coming

There are several books which I have read a gazillion times to my children that did not have named characters. A few examples are: Goodnight Moon, Jamberry, and several Dr. Suess books, like Go Dog Go.

Naming in most stories is important. Names hold meaning as far as origin of name, connotations of name, and social understanding of a name. A whole character may be summed up with their name, such as The Grinch.

In Summer North Coming, Winter North Coming, I chose not to name the characters. In a story without named characters, the story becomes universal and any child may relate to the story.

Without names, the story is about the location, the movement, activity, the seasons, the experience, the overall tone and mood of the story.

What about plot?

The plot in this book is not typical. It doesn’t have a stated story problem, or a definitive conclusion. However, the story has the unstated problem of bored children, not knowing what to do. So, the answer is to get outside and do something fun in nature! Or, have some family and friends over for a special occasion. Rather than a sharp ending, the story is cyclical just like the seasons and years in life. The conclusion states off-camera that we will continue to have fun and thrive, no matter what the circumstances in life.

With a poetic story like Summer North Coming, lyricism is at the forefront. The story can almost be sung. Additionally, the story sets-up the expectation that when summer comes, these are the things we will do. In the second half of the book, Winter North Coming enfolds the same style, rhyme scheme, and lyricism, which sets up the reader to anticipate all the fun things to experience during the winter.

In this story, the focus is not on the naming of people, but on pulling the reader outside of self to experience the brilliance of nature, the joy of gatherings, and the beauty of language in poetic form. That is a satisfying conclusion in what can be an uncertain world.

photo credit: Eugene Golovesov
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The Poet’s Debate

I previously wrote a little about form poetry: the Shakespearean sonnet and the Petrarchan or Italian sonnet.

A third type is the Spenserian sonnet named for the poet Edmund Spenser. A Spenserian sonnet has three interlocked quatrains and a final couplet.

The rhyme scheme is ABAB BCBC CDCD EE, and the measure should be iambic pentameter. Another characteristic is a turn or change of meaning at the ninth line.

Here goes. I use archaic words, made-up words, and bad grammar to force rhymes.

The Poet’s Debate

As a reader I found all the well-known stories

that were kept in the public library shelved;

such adventures I found on these paper journeys,

to places imagined with maps to lands unknowed.

In towns and cities the library is more than storied,

plainly found on Main Street or on a side-street hidden;

in its own stand-alone house or inside one tucked,

bricked-up by bricks or with siding linden.

Beowulf, Shakespeare, Dickinson, and the Wordsworths,

must have great conversations after close’n,

no doubt interrupted by the contemporaries

who’ve turned their backs on formal verses form’en.

Who can say if free verse or form is better poetry,

for one requires much skill while the other a pen only.

I write mainly free verse contemporary poetry which comes easily to me, but I like to play around with form on occasion. It is much more difficult, but I like to challenge myself from time to time.

If you’re tired of plodding along altogether too seriously, perhaps try your hand at form poetry. You may enjoy it.

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Bird Cats

I haven’t written a line of new poetry since last November, but I have spent a lot of time editing poems and submitting them to various literary magazines, online and print, through Submittable. Submissions to some publications are free, others ask for a “tip,” and still others have entry fees particularly if they are calls for contest entries.

Some of the lit mags promise to put your poem or story at the front of the queue if you tip them. I tried this with several poems. The beauty of this process is that you can submit on a Saturday and get rejected by Tuesday. There is less wondering over weeks and weeks.

I am going to see how many rejections I can amass. The tricky part is keeping track of them all. I purchased a notebook for this purpose, but I can’t find it now, so I decided to tuck all of the rejection emails into one folder in my email account. I’m not sure if there is some sort of rite of passage about rejections. If I pass the 100 count, will I get a “Get out of jail” card?

I believe there are many variables to a submission’s acceptance. I think it has to do with who one knows, or the mission and purpose of the magazine, personal taste, what colour the sky is, and of course, which way you faced when you wrote it. [smiles]

Some lit mags are produced by universities and not surprisingly give preference to their own students and alumni. Others prefer to publish those who have volunteered their time with them, or people they know personally. Other than those submissions, editors are looking for work that pops for some reason.

At times, the pop is from a unique voice from far away, from a subtle or not so subtle political position. A pop may also be a shock such as a death (that one has been done to death), or even unique or eloquent word-craft. Lately, poetry seems to be focusing more than ever on how empty space on the page is used. But it has to make sense. Here is an example I wrote as child’s play.

Bird Cats

the cats scratch at the spring door

the warm door

longing to                           B A S K

to   s t a l k

to h u n t

to r—o-am

breaking/with

the imposed winter hiatus and bland kibble

finally

the sun-soaked door opens

they run                                                        in opposite [ directions

                                                       ] directions

one for the robins’ nest

the other for the ravens’ nest

on top of the tree

Only one comes home

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This kind of poem is fun for children to write.

Millie and Bo, my bird cats, as they were.

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Instead of watching the news, read a good book. Who says living in a dreamland is a bad idea?