Friday, September 22, 2017

Ai! Laurië Lantar Lassi Súrinen!

First off, the important things:

Or, in the world of the Lord of the Rings, it is Bilbo and Frodo's birthdays today. Indeed, I have been very remiss here, as this whole week has been Tolkien Week, and never a word have I said of it, 'til now. I did do a display of Tolkien books at the library, have worn my Tree of Gondor earrings every day this week, as well as my Argonath pin, whenever I have a collared shirt, allowing such excess. Beyond that, I have been reading Splintered Light, which is a very good book for appreciating Tolkien's theories of language and how he used them in the creation of his legendarium. And since it is the birthday of two such admirable and excellent hobbits, I intend to have a small glass of the very fine Connemara Whiskey I got in Ireland to celebrate the day.

And for the rest of this post:

As the very wise might have guessed from the Elvish salutation at the head of this post, Autumn has come and leaves like gold are falling…. Or rather, the pine needles like gold are falling… though, to be honest, Autumn pine needles tend to be a bit more copper than gold. Still, we must face it: Ah! Like gold fall the leaves! is far more poetic than, Ah! Like copper fall the pine needles… though, yet again, having just read that aloud in mine ain heid, I must say that I like the alliteration in “copper” and “pine”, as well as the sympathetic resonance of the “f” in “fall” against those other two…

Let us not be side-tracked. Autumn has come! This is a great relief to me, as the beginning of this month was most appallingly warm, with temperatures rivalling the hottest of summer days. I canna thole such weather. It is soul-destroying. But, the second week came, with an easing off of the temperatures. Though it was still summery weather, the evenings were cooler, and there was gold in the aspens – just a glimpse, a few bright coins amid the whispering green. And then the winds started, beautiful sea-loud winds, roaring in from the west, driving great tumbles of clouds before them. The skies were a rush of gleam and shadow. Rains came, and hail-storms. The air was redolent with the smell of wet earth and pine. Between the storms, the sun shone, pleasantly warm, but no longer hot, and there was an edge to the wind.

As usual, I contracted my yearly case of Autumn wanderlust, and take to the hills as often as I can. (Perhaps, due to the cruel vagaries of Life, I have been a bit more motivated than usual to turn my face to the mountains—and for that matter, the meadows and the streams—from whence cometh my hope. Who can say? It is no matter of concern to this entry, whatever.) The result is sketches in my book, such as the following.

It is also, occasionally, the opportunity for pictures, taken with the crappy little camera on my ancient flip phone… when I remember to take it with me (which is seldom, as I part of the joy of rambling is to be incommunicado) and further remember that it is there, and can be used to capture the moment. Sometimes, the crappy little camera does better than anticipated. Behold:

And that, my friends, while not exactly an explanation for the months of silence since the poetry contest (Perhaps the hitherto mentioned cruel vagaries of Life are to blame?) it does, at least, show that, despite turning into a wandering maniac, who regularly unnerves the populace by following the aberrant flight of a butterfly, in view of a beach full of vacationers, I have not managed to fall into holes, nor drown in streams, nor become stuck in quicksand, nor walked off cliffs. That might not seem so big a thing to you, but to me, it is enough.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Last Day of the Challenge

Wherein the prompt was barely a prompt: "the______". Yup a fill in the blank that was basically all blank. I got severely distracted by a linguistic distraction earlier in the day, that had nothing to do with poetry writing, and it took me a while to come up with something workable. I resorted to a brisk walk to get my mind working again. This was the result:

 The New Page

Those last few lines I've finally written.
It was harder than I had hoped.
So many, many easier endings,
I had tried - and tried in vain.

But there are other, kinder stories,
Braver tales to be told.
I turn to an undamaged page,
Sharpen my pen and start again.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

The Inevitable Piping Poem

Well, I guess waiting until day 29 to finally succumb to a piping poem, is really not too bad at all. The prompt was "metric" and the impression I got from the explanation is that anything goes, so long as it address the concept of meter in some way. So I, of course, fell off the bandwagon, and wrote about piping. We all knew it was coming:

Learning the Pipes

To be a piper you must have
The Tunes by heart, and love them well;
Must wear them, as you wear a poem,
With countless tellings, line by line.
And more than music: you must love
Their bones and shaping. You must dwell
Within the heart beat of their form,
Where song and meter intertwine.
Until you speak the dialect,
Of cuts and gracings, and can tell
The tale written in the notes,
And march their measure, line by line.

Friday, April 28, 2017

What Poetry Contest is Complete Without a Haiku?

Well... most of them probably. And I normally don't write 'em myself. But today was a long day, involving a tedious long day of staff training, that was supposed to be fun, and was mostly just sort of vexing, and unnecessarily long for no reason. And far more interactive than I am comfortable being with anyone. 

Today's prompt was 'smell', and I did not intend to do a serious of haikus on the seasons, but I more or less had the idea for all of them before I got to the meeting (over an hour drive away) and I tinkered on them the rest of the day:

Spring smells of melting
Running water and first green
Of hope and new life.

Summer is heavy,
Incensed by sagebrush and pine.
How I long for rain.

Autumn comes, fragrant,
Aspen bitter, tang of leaves;
restless wandering.

Winter smells of frost,
Of cinnamon and Christmas,
Of comfort and joy.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

There Is No Hiccup in This Poem

 Today the challenge was to write a poem that used at least three of the the six words in this unpromising list of words:

  • pest
  • crack
  • ramble
  • hiccup
  • wince
  • festoon
I tried my level best to get all of them in there.... but seriously, hiccup? I mean, unless one is inspired to write very humourous verse (considerably harder than it sounds) how exactly does one casually slip that word into a poem?

This is what I managed.... and it is not all that bad:

I’m not fond of spiders, though I know
Their point and purpose, and rejoice,
At their harrowing of graver pests.
It is not that I fear or loath,
The little hunters, but that their guise –
All long-leggity and shadow-fast –
Evoke a sense of great unease.

And yet, one morning, thick with frost,
When ice cracked at the touch of sun,
I rambling went in wincing cold
And saw a spiderweb strung across
Two fence-posts, wighted and festooned
With rime that glittered, silver-gold.
And for that joy, the spider blessed.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Regrets... I've Had a Few

But then again, too few to mention....

The prompt of the day was regret. The thing is, most of my regrets, I've moved passed. I am sorry about some things and sad about others, but no real regrets anymore, per se. Besides, I've never been great about writing introspective poems. I manage an occasional one, but I don't really enjoy the challenge. So, when I woke up before the birds this morning, (because insomnia we have always with us) and the first couple popped into my head (I have not had port and cake in some considerable time) I decided that I was writing a somewhat humourous poem instead:

The Things an Insomniac Thinks About

I regret that I did not take
That glass of port with chocolate cake.

That I have never had the chance
To learn just how ‘The Swords’ is danced,

Nor have I quite yet got enough
Old English for reading ‘Beowulf’.

And Morse Code I still don’t know
(I started learning years ago.)

That I don’t own a pair of spats,
A swordstick cane, or a quizzing glass,

That my car has died… again,
And I’m running low on Jameson.

That I cannot name that gleeful bird,
Whose reveille song I overheard

(At 5 am – the little creep)
..I most regret my lack sleep…

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Day We Got the Dreaded Love Poem.

Apparently, that is a thing on these challenges. The last Tuesday in April gives us the option of a love or an anti-love poem. This happened last time too.... 

Last time, I think I wrote a cheesy little poem about old people still in love with each other. This time, I am not doing Love - as in the romantic love that would be translated into Latin amo. I am doing a Charity poem. Not a poem about donating to charity, but a poem about Caritas - the sort of Christlike love we're supposed to have for each other. 

It took longer than expected to write - no doubt because I spent a good portion of my day explaining large library fines to people who thought that they shouldn't have them, in answering decidedly odd questions, and in throwing out the cell phone cusser with the aggressive service dog. It is rather difficult to write about Christian Charity, when one is fielding complaints from the guy who thinks that all dogs are out to eat him, and is being vulgarly told off for suggesting that loud, offensive phone calls should not be made inside the library. But hey ho. This is what I managed, anyway:

The Greatest of these is Charity
(Caritas: nom. Latin - from Carus: dear, valued: Christian love)

Love is not a paltry thing,
Soft-edged with niceness and pleasantries,
A fragile thing of glass and warmth.
Nor is it yet merely mingling
Of passion, nor capricious heat - 
A flame to madden, woo or charm.
These are but the panoply.
Love is forged of heart and will
Fierce as fire, iron-hard.
Forebears in face of suffering,
Is kind, in spite of enmity,
Sees Christ in all, and knows the worth
Of little deeds done honourably.
Keeps Faith, when firm is failing,
Hopes, in face of long defeat,
Remains, when nothing else endures.
For Love, in lonely chivalry,
Duels with darkness. It is the Light,
That shines when other lights go out.