Sunday, August 20, 2017

Poetry Pantry #367

Photos of Tonga
by Marja Blom


Wave Blowholes


Fale - Traditional Tongan Houses

Tongan Dance

Wave Blowholes Once More

Greetings, Friends.  And a happy Sunday to you.   Once again we are sharing some photos taken by Marja Blom.  This time they are of Tonga.  Thanks, Marja.  Really looks like a beautiful place to visit.  And, by the way, we will be able to enjoy more of Marja's photos over the next weeks, here in the Pantry.  Stay tuned!

We had another good week at Poets United.  Sherry started our week off with her wonderful conversation with Susan Chast about the workshop she attended with Marge Piercy.  And what a chat it was.  If you haven't read this chat, please scroll back. There were so many wonderful responses to Susan's Midweek Motif prompt - Flood.  And, if you haven't read Rosemary's I Wish I'd Written This post about poet Judith Crispin's poem "Claire de Lune."

Next Monday Sherry is featuring three wonderful poems of the week by three poets we all will recognize.  Smiles.  And Wednesday Sumana is prompting us to write about "Nature: Her Words."

With no further delay, let's share poetry.  Link your poem below.  Stop in and say hello in comments.  Visit the poems of other people who link.  Come back a few times to check on the new people who link.  See you all on the trail!

Friday, August 18, 2017

I Wish I'd Written This

Clair de Lune

—for Alan Gould, who knows the sea

When she wakes,

she wakes in the salt of breakers,
in mist that occludes and reveals night's lustre:
the great nocturnal winds
on which arctic terns bear themselves
and are reflected, silver needles

on a black glass sea.

Through shallows where gulls careen away
and rocks are seen only where the surf retreats,
she is carried out like an embryo,
into the amniotic ocean, thundering to itself
all through the humid night.

And she who swims out will not return.
Another will emerge in her place,
shaking off water.

She won't remember walking towards the sea's green wall,

her unbuckled sandals left on the dunes,
or how she grew lonely among the screens,

liquid crystal inhabitants of a country
where nothing breathes.

Once, in Sunday school, they told her
God made angels from eternity itself,
that they exist not in time, but of time,
trapped in the spaces between the temporal

and the Absolute.

Lost astronauts, unaware of the interstellar cold
in which they hang, their feathers rippled by solar winds,
a psalm heard only by their own kind:

Wandering stars, for whom it is reserved ...

They detach from kelp's shadow, waiting
for the hand of the wave to pass
and in its crash, uncoil.

She sees them levitating on the crests—
a brilliance, immense and old,
leaning out into the prow of night,
spray ionising in their hair,
and the light from shoreside tourist hotels,
razoring through their arms.

They collect in eddies,
where cobalt lies close to the horizon,
light paths
indistinguishable from the trace of time-lapsed stars—
light that has trekked billions of years,
across nebulae and novas, bears rimmed with frost
and the chairs of Cassiopeia.

She floats with her back to the shore

and knows herself
as a time-binding animal.
The fusion of past-stars and future-sea
takes place now in a simple flick of her iris.

— Judith Crispin
from The Myrrh-Bearers
(Glebe, NSW, Puncher & Wattmann, 2015)

Judith Crispin is an Australian poet who was utterly unknown to me until I came across this book in the local library the other day – although it turns out we have many friends in common. 

I was delighted to find her on facebook and receive permission to use the poem. She also sent me two photos to choose from; I chose this one, by Greer Versteeg, because its mysterious, half-seen quality seems to suit the poem.

This poem, spanning two pages, is by no means the longest in the book. It's refreshing to come across long poems which hold the attention by their arresting language and unusual ideas. The language is beautiful and the ideas are intriguing.

The back cover blurb tells us:

The Myrrh-Bearers is a book of love poems, describing real events and real people as the poet has experienced them. The worlds evoked in these poems are suffused with faerie tales, myth and philosophy. The genesis of this collection lies in a diverse engagement with different poetries ...

and goes on to detail those poetic influences, a long list of Europeans and Australians (Alan Gould, to whom this poem is dedicated, is another Australian poet) as well as her musical influences, in relation to 'the presence of music as a subject'. 

In fact she is a musician. We are told:

Judith Crispin is a conservatorium-trained composer, photographer and poet. After escaping academia she lived for several years in Paris and Berlin on various fellowships before returning to Australia where she established exhibitions and poetry seasons at Manning Clark House in Canberra. Currently she is an honorary fellow of the Australian Catholic University and on the advisory board of the International Poetry Studies Institute at The University of Canberra.

Altogether a most distinguished and multi-talented person!

The bio she supplied at my request focuses on the writing, and goes into more detail about her life:

Judith Crispin is a poet and photographer. Her works are variously performed, recorded, published and exhibited in Australia and Europe. Judith’s first book of poetry, The Myrrh-Bearers, was published in 2015 by Puncher and Wattman. Her newest book, ‘The Lumen Seed,’ photographs, poems and commentaries, was published by Daylight Books in January 2017. Judith spends part of each year living and working with Warlpiri people in the Tanami desert, where she photographs elders and writes poetry inspired by their efforts to "grow her up".

Judith lives in the bush outside Canberra with her family, a huge mob of eastern grey kangaroos, two cats, a labrador and an abandoned dingo puppy that she rescued outside an Aboriginal community in the Tanami. Currently Judith is working on a third book of poems – an enigmatic and somewhat pointless examination of the nature of Being, set under desert stars ... with cameo appearances by dogs, snakes and talking trees. 

The new book sounds wonderful to me, and so does her second one, which I have yet to catch up with.

I found her poetry in The Myrrh-Bearers fascinating, and I love this one in particular because I too am well acquainted with the sea, and don't like to be too far away from it for long, having grown up on an island and lived near coastlines most of my life. (I am not a strong swimmer, but I do like to throw myself in the water in summer, love walking on the beach – and beach-combing – at any time of year, and have done a lot of messing about in boats.)

Also I love the way she goes from the swimmer to the speculation about the angels, then the visions of them, and back to the swimmer again.

It's probably not intended (if it was, I believe she would leave more clues) but I also think of the legends of Silkies (or Selkies) when I read that the swimmer won't return but another take her place. I think she means an internal transformation — but the poems are so full of myth and magic that it's easy to start including such elements for oneself.

She is on Amazon, where both The Myrrh-Bearers and The Lumen Seed are listed. She has also written on music.

Material shared in 'I Wish I'd Written This' is presented for study and review. Poems, photos and other writings remain the property of the copyright owners, usually their authors.


Please note:

Jeltje Fanoy, whose writing I shared with you recently in Thought Provokers, was unable to register to leave her own comments on the post. She wants you to know that she very much appreciates all the comments that Poets United members made.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Flood

File:Ma Yuan - Water Album - The Waving Surface of the Autumn Flood.jpg
The Waving Surface of the Autumn FloodMa Yuan - Water Album - circa 1160

“I wish I hadn't cried so much!" said Alice, as she swam about, trying to find her way out. "I shall be punished for it now, I suppose, by being drowned in my own tears!” 
― Lewis Carroll

“Science fiction films are not about science. They are about disaster, 
which is one of the oldest subjects of art.” 
― Susan Sontag

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." To this day, especially in times of "disaster," I remember my mother's words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” 
― Fred Rogers

Monsoon in India 2017
Monsoon in India 2017
(So many have lost everything and died in floods, I found it hard to choose a picture.)

Midweek Motif ~ Flood

Flood in metaphor is often a positive, delightful gift and surprise; whereas flood in reality is often devastating, especially when disaster preparation is missing.  When the idea of flooding enters poets' hearts, when we are flooded with it, we are prepared with the tools of capture and taming even if we are overwhelmed.  So where to begin today? With an actual flood and its stories?  Or with the concept overpowering the will?  You decide.

Your challenge:  
Write a new poem with a flood motif 
and post it below.

by Billy Collins

I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.

After falling off a steamship or being swept away
in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn't you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

by Robert Frost
Blood has been harder to dam back than water.
Just when we think we have it impounded safe 
Behind new barrier walls (and let it chafe!),
It breaks away in some new kind of slaughter.
We choose to say it is let loose by the devil;
But power of blood itself releases blood.
It goes by might of being such a flood
Held high at so unnatural a level.
It will have outlet, brave and not so brave.
weapons of war and implements of peace
Are but the points at which it finds release.
And now it is once more the tidal wave
That when it has swept by leaves summits stained.
Oh, blood will out. It cannot be contained.

The canyon walls close in again,
slant light a silver glare in brown water.
The water is only knee deep, but when the boy reaches the
purple dark, silvered by the smash of brute water—
water will tear at his chest and arms.
The walls of the canyon are brilliant in late light.
They would have glared red and gold for his drowned camera:
splashed blood to his left, to his right a wall of sun laddered
   with boulders.
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

A Story of Holland
 . . . . 
But where was the child delaying? 
      On the homeward way was he, 
And across the dike while the sun was up 
      An hour above the sea. 
He was stopping now to gather flowers, 
      Now listening to the sound, 
As the angry waters dashed themselves 
      Against their narrow bound. 
“Ah! well for us,” said Peter, 
      “That the gates are good and strong, 
And my father tends them carefully, 
      Or they would not hold you long! 
You ’re a wicked sea,” said Peter; 
      “I know why you fret and chafe; 
You would like to spoil our lands and homes; 
      But our sluices keep you safe!” 

But hark! Through the noise of waters 
      Comes a low, clear, trickling sound; 
And the child’s face pales with terror, 
      And his blossoms drop to the ground. 
He is up the bank in a moment, 
      And, stealing through the sand, 
He sees a stream not yet so large 
      As his slender, childish hand. 
’T is a leak in the dike! He is but a boy, 
      Unused to fearful scenes; 
But, young as he is, he has learned to know 
      The dreadful thing that means. 
A leak in the dike! The stoutest heart 
      Grows faint that cry to hear, 
And the bravest man in all the land 
      Turns white with mortal fear. 
For he knows the smallest leak may grow 
      To a flood in a single night; 
And he knows the strength of the cruel sea 
      When loosed in its angry might. 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)


Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and 
visit others in the spirit of the community—

Next week Sumana's Midweek Motif will be "Nature: Her Words."