Thursday, April 30, 2015

Hail Poetry!





Well, today is the last day of the poetry challenge. And that gif pretty much sums up my feeling for the past month. (You have no idea what of what I am speaking? For SHAME! Click here for the song :-)I feel very conflicted about it coming to an end. On one hand, I doubt I could go on writing a poem a day indefinitely - after all there were a couple days I missed this month, though I figure the days I managed two made up for this, (I a rather think I came out ahead on the whole deal - not that ever single one of them was a winner, mind. But I think I managed some keepers.) On the other hand, there was a sort of exhilaration about so much writing. I have not managed that much creative writing in.... well, I can't remember. A long time. It was fun. And challenging. And rather inspirational. I feel quite passionate about poetry. I might very well run about creation, singing along with the Pirate King. 

The prompt for our last day was on one of those fill in the blanks that seem to be so popular there. In this case, bury the something. I started with a slip of paper containing such things as: bury the bone and bury the sword... bury the fire... bury the piper.... Heaven help us if a co-worker ever comes across it! What I eventually came up with is this: 

Bury the grief, for Victory
Must always bear the weight of loss.
Do not lament the hero’s choice,
The valiant do not count the cost.
They have earned the Resurrection,
In the carrying of the Cross.

And that is that. Thank you all for reading all my poetry, and leaving encouraging remarks. I am very shy of my poetry (yes, truly) and it was not always easy for me to put these out for everyone to see, so I truly do appreciate all of you who took the time to comment. It helped.

I intend to keep up a more regular posting schedule now - not daily, obviously, but something more than the hit and miss stuff I was pulling earlier. 

And I have not forgotten the 3 tags I got earlier this year. I will get to them soon. 

TTFN

Hahahaha! I Made It!


Today's prompt was to write a nobody knows poem, and for some reason - even though I could think of quite a number of things that nobody knows (where George Washington's Wallace Oak Snuff box has gotten too, for example) I could not make a poem about any of them. I think I ended up abandoning at least 3 actual written attempts, and several more ideas that never made it to paper at all.

What I came up with is not exactly what I wanted. 

The Communion of Saints


Temptation seduced him
And sin smelled sweet.
Virtue was treacherous in that place.
In the barren wasteland of his soul,
He cried out in pain for grace.

She knelt in the shadow
Beneath the Cross
Where only God and Grace may be,
And waged her prayers for the souls of men
Who stand upon eternity

The demon was routed
And war was done.
He took hold of grace in pain, and rose.
A thorn-crowned nun in a silent room,
Saved his soul and no one knows.


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

On Matter


Today's prompt was "matter, the stuff from which all things are made"... or you could elect to write about anti-matter. It was all one. Now, I have mentioned before that I am not a scientist - nor am I a physicist, theoretical or otherwise. My reaction to the magnitude of created matter, is see it shot full of God's power, and be quite overcome. Poems on matter, therefore, are not the sort of thing that I can knock out at a moment's notice.

This is what I came up with:

All things that are and may yet be
Complex in particle and quark
Are formed forever in the Mind of God
In the reckonless time of eternity.
The atom bears His finger's mark
Ions His electric power
All Matter, charged with Divinity
Is vital with His creative spark - 
All things that are and may yet be,
Forever are in Him.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Twofer


Today's prompt was "looking back". I did not feel like waxing philosophical about it, so I waxed flippant instead:

I lost the fight to a flourish of wit.
I was right - but he won it.
His clever tongued had out-fenced me.

My mind, too full of things to say,
Rendered me speechless - my dismay,
That I, so right, should voiceless be.

So I lay, insomniac, on my bed,
Thinking of all I should have said...
I won that fight at half-past three.

That is the one I wrote for my prompt. One of the odd side-effects to writing so much poetry, is that I have started reading a lot more of the stuff lately - a rather wide range of it too, including far more modern verse than I care to make a habit. On that: I have got to a point where I can see where people are going with some of that formless, meter-less rambling free verse stuff. I've come across lines, and phrases that impress me enough to make me re-evaluate my idea that free verse kills poetry. That being said, it seldom holds my attention for very long. I get wildly frustrated by the lack of completion in the lines - the sentences wander and break off in a way that I think is supposed to mimic the cadence of daily speech. It doesn't work for me. I find it effected and aberrant. 

So I mostly stick to older poets - which meant that I was trying to get my head around Gerard Manley Hopkins this morning. He is a remarkable poet, who wrote brilliant things... And I have a love-hate relationship with him. He uses accents marks to show how to the poem should be recited. And he has a curiously Germanic tendency to long word-phrases in his descriptions:dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, for example. Now I am very fond of kennings, and of word phrases, such as sword-bright courage, but I find the sheer abandon with which he uses them quite overwhelming. But his poetry is gorgeous and astonishing. I was reading The Windhover this morning (whence came dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon) and this came at once into my mind:

Meditation

An Eagle, unfurled against the sky
King of Birds, wind-lifted high
On mighty wings that Cross-wise spread.
So did our King His arms wing-spread,
When Love had lifted Him on high,
Unfurled in Death against the sky. 

And that is that. I have things to do. Things to clean. Things to buy for dinner. I shall see you all again tomorrow, God willing, and the Prompt be not too difficult.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

I Could Write a Sonnet


Today, we were supposed to look at a list of which Shakespeare is credited with coining, choose one for a title, and then write your poem. I browsed through the list. Wasted some time looking up the etymology of some that I was reasonably sure pre-dated Shakespeare. Wasted more time reading articles about Shakespeare really being a great coiner of words, but that some of the words generally associated with him were likely older. He merely got them into print the first time. But, I digress. 

After all that hemming and hawing, I decided to go with 'hobnob'. In Shakespeare - if the Merriam-Webster dictionary may be trusted - hobnob meant something along the lines of hit and miss, By the 1700s, the phrase had come to mean "to drink to each other". So you get.... (drum roll, please).... a drinking sonnet.

Hobnob

God save you, my friend, its been too long
Since we sat together with shot or pint
Making us merry with laughter and song,
Sitting up talking far into the night.
So sit by the fire and drink with me - 
A bit of old whisky will do us well,
And we shall contented and pleasant be - 
Now up with our glasses, our toasts to tell.
Here's to good whisky and to the past,
Honour and courage and all holy things,
The day that's done and the one coming fast,
To our Cause and the joy that friendship brings,
To our Faith, and King O'er the Water - 
Raise your glass and toast to one another!


Saturday, April 25, 2015

I Must Go Down To the Sea Again


I like it when the prompt so naturally fits me, that poetry simply comes, and I hardly have to think of it. Our prompt today was "across the sea" and I am somewhat enamoured of the Sea at the best of times. Nowadays, I am also working on a story about the Sea, so I have been reading about the Sea. And looking at pictures of the Sea. And listening to Sea songs. And reading other people's Sea-centered poetry. So, obviously, I was just itching for a chance to write my own Sea poem.

This one is sort of connected to my story - I needed a bit of poetry for a character to recite, and I had not gotten around to looking for any yet, so this is very likely going to end up in the mouth of my main character - I was thinking about him when I wrote it:

This bit of Earth has been my home.
Rock and sand have grounded me.
And I have loved the cedar tall, 
The coast-pine and the apple-tree.
But Autumn's come, and tastes of salt,
I must go back to the Sea.

Her currents run through all my blood.
My name she calls and sings to me.
I cannot bear the touch of Earth.
I'll loose my boat and set her free,
Take the Sea-Road to the West - 
I must go back to the Sea.


Friday, April 24, 2015

This is the Moment!


I had to write a poem on 'moment' today. 

I also had to attend a staff meeting today. All library staff for the entire county had to gather themselves together and discuss librarianish things. We had to wear tags (I didn't. I am not a parcel and I do not believe anyone has a right to my name.) that contained our names, a book cover and a coloured border. For the first half of the meeting we sat at a table that matched the colour that border, so that we would be sitting with totally random people. For the second half, we had to sit at a table that matched the book cover, and a completely different set of random people. We had to participate. I have a low threshold of toleration for group activities. So I came home and wrote this:

For just a moment
You captured my attention
I caught your fire.

Gone is the moment
I am bored to distraction.
Have done. Cease fire.

However, today is also the anniversary of the Easter Rebellion, which began on Easter Monday, 1916. The Irish Volunteers took over various key locations in Dublin, with the General  Post Office for their headquarters. Their leader, a poet named Paidraic Pearse, read out the Proclamation of Independence from the steps of the building, though few people paid much attention. For all that, it was a pivotal event in Irish history - an odd, tiny, gallant little uprising that lasted less than a week; but the influence it had was enormous. So I wrote a short little moment poem for that too:

You stand - 
     Brave as joy
     And soldier-tall
You speak - 
     To a Nation
     And none at all
Just a moment - 
     Scarce of notice
     Few to mark
But Ireland - 
     Flames to Freedom
     At that spark.

So there. A comic poem, and one that is a bit more on the serious side. And that is better than I expected to do after a day like today. Five days left.... God help us!  


A Wee, Bitty History Lesson


It was, I'll admit, only a matter of time before I composed a poem in Scots - or at least, imitation Scots. I've always rather enjoyed writing in it. There is something very satisfying in the sturdy old words, and the way they change the tempo of the writing. I am surprised I managed to get so far before succumbing to the temptation.

But today's prompt was "history" - which is another one of those prompts that is almost too much prompt. For a while, I considered writing something both comic and heroic about Mad Jack Churchill, because, let's face it, there is great scope for poetry in a man who takes out German sentries with arrows, and used a basket-hilted claymore on D-Day. But it just wasn't clicking for me. So I cast my mind about my mental library of historical trivia (I refuse to refer to it is a mind palace.) and dug up a story from Scottish history - the story of how Lady Maxwell of Nithsdale smuggled her husband out of the Tower of London on the eve of his execution. It is proper ballad material, and I have attempted a Scottish ballad of it. I have also taken the balladeer's prerogative of heightening the drama. I have Lady Maxwell rescuing her husband all on her own, but in reality, she had her faithful lady's maid and two friends to help with the proceedings. However, the bit at the end: King George really did say something quite like that about her - that she had given him more trouble  than any woman in Christendom.


When Jamie's Cause was lost at Preston,
King Geordie's men had put us doon,
They captured gallant Willie Maxwell,
An sent the laird tae London toon.

Nae trail for Laird Willie bold
But condemn├ęd oot o haund
Tae the gallaws an the noose
Far frae his ain dear Scottish laund.

When his Lady heard the news,
Nae tear shed she, but saddled her steed
An straight awa tae London toon
She rade wi muckle haste an speed.

An when she came intae the toon,
She gaed at aince to King Geordie,
An begged that he would gie a pardon
Tae her ain dear laird, Willie.

But mercy he swore he wouldna gie
An the Lady drove awa - 
Willie Maxwell was like tae hang
There seemed tae be nae hope at a.

But Lady Maxwell was brave an canty,
At aince began tae plot an plan
How tae rescue Willie bold
An get him safe oot o' England.

She bribed the guards wi siller bricht
An wine, that she micht Willie see
She told him a her desperate plan,
Tae get him oot and set him free.

The nicht afore he was tae die,
Lady Maxwell gaed tae Willie's room
Wi a great red riding cloak
An ladies' claes, tae put him on.

A muckle mon was Willie Maxwell,
But he wept sae like a maid in wae
An his beard hidden by a claith,
The guards, for pity, let him gae

She got him oot o London Tower,
An got him doon unto the sea
An tae a ship that lay at anchor
An was bound for Italy

When that he had heard the news,
King Geordie, he did rant and rave,
Said the Lady had caused mair trouble
Than a hunner-thoosand aither knaves.

Lady Maxwell's nae at hame,
She has gaed far ower the sea
An she bides in Roma fair,
Will her gallant Laird Willie.

And I shall close with this link to Lady Maxwell's very matter of fact account of the proceedings. It is well worth the read. 


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Naturally....


Today's prompt was nature, and we were allowed to interpret nature anyway we felt like. 

God fashioned all His living things
With natures to reflect His own:
Kingly lions, strong and brave,
Black bears with their gentle might,
Eagles that are wild and brave,
Butterflies formed of living light,
Banded bees, the honey-givers,
Solemn owls, ancient, wise,
Merry otters, born of rivers,
Patient lambs with mild eyes,
Peaceful dove and leaping hind,
Steadfast horses, oxen strong,
Foxes of the clever mind,
Blackbirds only made for song.
             **********
But Men, in His own Image made,
Who fell in Nature, tasting sin,
Reflect the God of Calvary
Who fell, and fell and rose again.          

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

I Yam What I Yam



Today, I am writing an "I Am" poem. How very self-centered of me :-) Predictably, I am a piper.


I am a piper,
Such is my boast.
For years on years
Have learned my way
Around the notes
And gracings sweet;
Have learned to play,
And tune, and breathe,
Held wild music
In my hands
And marching
In my feet.
Have striven hard
To claim and master
The wild privilege 
Of a piper's art
Of setting fire
To the blood,
And flaming courage
To the heart.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Trochaic Tetrameter


How's that for a mouthful? It merely means that you are getting a poem that sounds like Longfellow's Hiawatha... or possibly, The Kalevala. I know I didn't get to yesterday's poetry prompt on "authority" but I have an idea for it, and am working on it, so I think it am merely delayed and not defeated. 

Today's prompt was involved coming up with a title that followed this example "My (fill in the blank),  The (fill in the blank). I mused for a while, came up with the snooty, avant garde sounding title of  "My Memory, The Road" which is most certainly not the title that I intend to keep for this poetic effort. But it was useful for getting this:

Do you mind that night in winter
When we roamed alone together
Down the Road that rolled forever
Down amongst the fields and hillsides,
Fields of waving, silver grasses
Whispering in the silent starlight
Whispering of the Sea together?
When we sallied, cloaked and sworded
Beneath a sky of dappled starlight
A shivering sky, devoid of moonlight,
On a Road of elvish silver
On a Road that rolled forever
Ran upon the World's margin - 
Hobbits on a dark adventure,
And we braved Mount Doom together? 

Yes, there is a story behind it. No I am not going to share it. Suffice it to say that seeing The Return of the King in the theater when it first came out, had a very bracing effect on me.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Well... That Was a Challenge


Behold the prompt:

"For today’s prompt, pick 2 vowels and write a poem using words that only contain one or both of those vowels. For instance, write a poem with words that only have a “u” and “o.” Also, the letter “y” is wild–so the words “my” and “gypsy” are freebies. And I’ll allow text-speak"

Well, I took ruthless advantage of that wildcard, and while I consider text-speak cheating a bit, I figured that '&' is permissible - And since it is shorthand for the Latin word "et" (that is to say "and") and my vowels are 'o' and 'e' - I actually am not cheating by using it. I did tweak things a bit in my favour. I used a Middle English spelling for Christ, and a Scots word for thought - those are actually words and not cheating either. Spelling pypes as I did is probably cheating. But since the old, odd words make it sound imitation-ancient, I decided to take the historically acceptable liberty of spelling words as I see fit. 

So.... here:

Offertory

To God, by Rood
& Blood of Chryste,
Be offered thocht,
& goodly deed.
By words, Thy honor
So to tell.
My pen & pypes
to Thee be blest.
To Thy glory
Be them employed,
& by my sword
To serve Thee well. 

 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Fight! Fight! Fight!






I'm sure a psychiatrist would have a field day with the fact that the first thing I thought of when I saw today's prompt - "swing" - was boxing. And people think I am so nice....

Come out swinging - 
Good advice.
I seldom follow it,
Holding back,
Easy and nice.

Biding my time - 
Lie in wait.
Big fellas swinging,
Hard-hitting
Underestimate.

Think me easy.
Wear them down,
Keep 'em swinging.
Duck and parry,
Weave around.

You're too close, mate,
Now you're mine,
Dance in stinging,
Hard and heavy,
Double-time.

Press advantage
- Child's play!
Jab and uppercut,
Put 'em down
Walk away.

No doubt a psychiatrist would have a field day with that poem as well. Now, I know that in boxing one doesn't really swing. Or, if one is swinging, it is probably a haymaker, and while that can be effective occasionally, it really does leave one wide open. Therefore, you will notice that the narrator does not swing.

I am also going to be completely honest and admit that the majority of my boxing experience comes from watching The Cinderella Man and taking jabs at my sister's head...both her real head and also this head:



What I was actually describing was my fencing style. I was a short female in a group of tall men, who obviously had the advantage of a far longer reach than I had. They could, in theory, kill me before I got close enough to even chop off their hands. So I never bothered to get close until they did. I defended and kept them moving, and the second they got too close, I was inside their guard. That territory was mine. I'd kill them off pretty quickly at that point.

And now I'd best stop, before that pesky psychiatrist freaks out and locks me up for my own safety, and that of others.

Good night.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Because Everything is Poetic, If You Think About It Enough



The prompt for today was science.... I am not much of a scientist, even if reading things like The Physics of Star Trek and Darwin's Black Box, give something of a different impression. I would love to write something sweeping and epic, about the vastness of the outer universe in macro dimensions, and the equally vast inner universe of microscopic space. But that is entirely outside my capabilities. Which is why this is about the best I can manage with science poetry:

A magnet always points to North.
At six it seems like sorcery
A needle to gain that property
By little rubbing back and forth.

'Science' is how the textbook read
  But so like to a magic spell
To make a needle Northward tell
And set it hanging it by a thread.

And wizardry, that water holds
A bit of metal on its skin
Magnatised, to quiver and spin
And rest - aligning to the poles.

A practical, primal, Earthly thing
Harnessed since antiquity
Yet sorcery it seemed to me
Scrying North with water and string.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Half Way Point


I have been doing the poetry challenge for more than two weeks now, and we are halfway through the month of April. I feel... astonished. And accomplished. And almost like I really am the wordsmith I like to style myself. Of course, about the time I start feeling too chuffed, I get a prompt that leaves me floundering for half the day - like today. The prompt was, and I quote: "pick an adjective, make it the title of your poem, and then, write your poem." I spent an awful lot of time discarding adjectives today, ending up with a short list of words that included brave, faithful and steadfast. I ended up writing this:

Resolute

I long for martyred bravery,
The courage of the gallow-hill,
To march behind the Hero King
And make a sword-bright end to me.
But I'm not fashioned for fire and strife
And not the stuff of martyrs made, 
So I'll look for Him in tangled ways,
And dark thornwalds of a common life.
Will brave instead the paltry stings,
Show courage in kindness and forbear.
Be steadfast when I want to flee
And faithful in the smallest things.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Absolute Honesty is Not Always the Most Diplomatic Nor the Safest Form of Communication with Emotional Beings


So I was all flippant and nonchalant about my confession prompt yesterday, and today, that has come back on me with the Twofer Tuesday prompt of an honest or dishonest poem. I could stoop to fibbing in my verse - indeed, I am quite good at speaking the absolute truth and still leading people astray. This is actually quite useful. If - God forbid - we ever find ourselves under a totalitarian government, or facing persecution, I shall be able to give truthful answers and still keep secrets. We are not a present in either of those dire predicaments, however, so I mostly use this tactic when people are getting too nosy, and I don't want to be rude and tell them so. 

However, back to poetry. I have trouble being dishonest for the sake of dishonesty, so a dishonest poem is out. Which leaves us with honesty. More's the pity. 


Speaking Candidly

I love you - 
   My sorrow it is that this is true.
   I've always wanted the best for you - 
   Done everything that I could do...
I've always been an easy touch.

I love you - 
   And always will, it's true.
   I'd still do anything for you - 
   But, candidly, I must say too
I do not like you much. 


 Here's hoping tomorrow's prompt moves away from soul searching.

Monday, April 13, 2015

With Apologies to Emily Dickinson


Today's prompt was "confession"...

I could, I suppose, have taken it as seriously as it was meant, and write a proper confessional poem. However, that would be quite unpleasant for me to write, and unpleasant for you to read, so in the interest of sparing us all a bunch of grief, I elected for parody instead. (I do hope that we are not given "parody" as a prompt....)

This is based off a poem by Emily Dickinson. And, let's be honest. It sort of had it coming:


I tasted cake not meant for me
From the chocolate glory, I stole a share - 
Not all the five-star bakers could
Produce a taste as I took there.

Inebriate of cocoa - me - 
And a debauchee too - 
Reeling through a chocolate haze - 
I drank her coffee too - 

And then my sister came in again - 
The desecration spied - 
"They stole it from us, my Precious!" she yells - 
I lick my fingers and hide. 

There now. 

And, no. I am not really given to scoffing down other people's chocolate cake, nor quaffing coffee that does not belong to me.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Little Alliteration


(Did you see what I did there?)

Today's prompt was "damaged" and to be perfectly honest, it was rather too much of a prompt. My mind obligingly produced at least three possible ideas for a poem and then immediately decided that it was overwhelmed and shut down. For a while, I was leaning quite strongly towards a religious poem about the Sacred Heart being stronger for the spear wound in It, but I have noticed that I seem to be producing rather a lot of religious verse. Not that I consider that to be a bad thing, but I thought I really should try to get a bit of diversity into the writing, and went with the idea of a battle-standard being made more noble for its battle-scars. Of course, after I started it, I realised that I write an awful lot of battle-themed poetry as well, and that this in not really a departure for me. However, I had started it, and decided to stick with it - especially since it decided to come out alliteratively, and I haven't really done any alliteration during this challenge. 

They fought, nor faltered, yet the fight went ill
And step on step the soldiers gave
All had they given, now all seemed lost:
Holding - yet hopeless and hardly pressed.
Til a shout, and the standard stood again,
Its bearer unbeaten, yet bleeding sore
And the men took heart and hoped again.
For its wounded silk was in the wind
Blackened by fire and battle and blood
Tested as they, as rent and torn,
Done to death, yet holding fast. 
And sacred were its battle-scars,
Bloody with the blood of the King - 
Heraldry fit for the Hero of Hosts
They roused and roared and rallied fast. 

Yes, yes, I know. In spite of my intentions, it is still a semi-religious poem. It wasn't really meant to be. If anything, there was a slightly historic inspiration behind it - or rather, a line from a work of historical fiction. But this is how the poem came out, and that is that.

Snow


Today we were to write a poem about seasons. It was pointed out that haikus, as traditionally written, are nature poems and most adaptable to writing about seasons. I wish I had a softer spot for haikus, but I tend to view them as exercises - let's see just how much you can get into 17 rigid syllables - rather than proper poetry. Besides, my last haiku ended up as comic rhyme, which was fun, but not exactly what I wanted for this prompt.

This isn't exactly what I wanted for this prompt either, but it was close:

Night Snow

I woke in the night to the sound of snow,
A sound that is no sound at all;
The expectant hush of potential things
That wait upon the Will of God.

All made things are formless now,
A canvas stretched to the Artist's Will
In pale washes and shadowy inks
God sketches all His world anew.

 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Poets Have Been Strangely Silent on the Subject of Potatoes....


Here is what I woke up to this morning:

For today’s prompt, take the phrase “How (blank),” replace the blank with a word or phrase, make the new phrase the title of your poem, and then, write your poem. Possible titles include: “How to Write a Poem,” “How Mechanical Pencils Work,” and “Howling at the Moon After Midnight in the Middle of a Thunderstorm.”

Perhaps, if I had been less tired, I could have come up with something better than this. But there was a raccoon.... or something.... wandering about last night, and the neighbour's dog took such exception to the creature, that it barked wildly and threw its great bulk crashingly against the tall wooden fence all night long. There was a point in which I felt very strongly that the proper thing to do was murder that animal, but it was the middle of the night, and I was far too wearied to be bothered dragging myself out of bed and doing the needful. I was not a happy person this morning. Nor was my mood and general outlook - not to mention my inventiveness - improved by a two-hour long employee training on ethics. The mind, I am sorry to say, simply refused to be creative. The mind was focused on comforting things, like coffee and chocolate and what I was going to have for dinner, aside from wine.

As a result, you get..... a recipe. 

How to Make Gnocchi

You start with potatoes
Simply and plainly,
Boiled up tenderly - 
Maybe a pound.
When done they'll skin easily,
Steaming and savoury
Mince them and mash them,
Pile them up in a mound.
Now a generous drizzling
Of golden, rich olive oil,
A measure of flour,
And a dash of salt too.
The center dent deeply,
And an egg you crack into it - 
A 'volcano' I call it, 
As my Nono used to.
Now using your fingertips
Gently incorporate,
Teasing ingredients,
To a warm, plaint dough.
Flour you add to it,
Little by little bit,
Kneading and working it,
- Easily though!
Til its firm yet elasticky
still warm from the boiling:
Dry on the outside, 
But moisty within,
Now flour the counter well,
Roll out long snakes of it,
Thinly and evenly
And cut it up small.
Now comes the tricky bit,
Fork-tines to roughen it:
Lay the dough firm on it,
Flip it, that's all.


To cook:

Boil in water with oil and salt -
Four or five minutes should be fine.
Drain them and serve them in a savoury sauce,
With Parmesan cheese and a glass of red wine.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Once More Into the Breach


It is hard writing poetry every day. Especially if one is working from random prompts, which I am. There is no peeking ahead. You just poke in to the Poem-A-Day page and see what fate the judges have prepared for you, and try your best. 

Apparently, even profession poets, who made a living at it, find daily poems a bit hard too. The Victorian poet, Robert Browning once made a New Year's resolution to write a poem a day.  He wrote nothing on the 4th of January. Perhaps it is wrong of me to take comfort in this, as two of his best remembered poems - Love Among the Ruins and Childe Roland - were written as a result of this resolution, but I do. It is not just me that finds poetry hard work!

And, speaking of work, that was the prompt today. Because everything is poetic if you think about it enough. 

There is comfort in working,
In shaping and sorting,
And setting to right
In a world running mad.
And solace in cooking
And cleaning and mending,
In  keeping in order
And lending a hand.
Peace in long labouring,
In weariness and aching - 
Contentment that dulls
The knife-edge of pain.
Grace in creating,
In building and making,
In starting anew
And trying again.

So there.

And now.... I go.
 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


Today's prompt was "dare". That is all. So I did:

 Dare

There's nothing for it, but to go on.
   The bridges behind me are burning red.
Once was complacency, now it is gone.
   On the World's Edge, I stand alone.

There's war before me, and waste behind,
   And Cross-Road branching below my feet.
I sort through the tangle of hope in my mind.
   In the rage of the wind, I am as stone.

I'm weary with warring and long for rest,
   A quiet life on the margin of pain.
In the waste of the World, the edge of the West
   To build a camp and settle there.

But battle and blessedness lie ahead,
   With angels and heroes to fight by my side.
A sword for my hand and a halo for my head,
    If I but take the Road and dare.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

One Week Down.


You are quite right. I missed a day yesterday. I did not post a poem. I am going to count that extra poem I wrote early on in place of yesterday's, and call it even.

It wasn't for lack of trying. Indeed, two pieces of paper, covered with lines of verse, scratched out and restarted, attest to the fact that I actually wrote quite a bit of poetry yesterday. I merely could not finish it. I gave up at around 1 a.m..... Well, no, that is not true. I took a break from it at 1 a.m. and spent half of today, attempting to redeem it, but could not. To quote Bertie Wooster, "One has tried, one has failed! One can do no more."

Today's prompt, I am sorry to say, was a love poem. Or an anti-love poem. You had a choice. Now, I am not really much of a love poem sort of person, but I am not so bitterly cynical that I'm going to write against it either. The problem is that I don't consider love as a soft, sweet thing. I consider a brilliant, beautiful flaming sword of a thing; sharp as steel, double edged; glorious and burdensome and painful and hard. It is makes heroes and martyrs out of people. It involves sacrifice and renunciation, and while true love is always good, it doesn't always feel good. Love is so much more awesome than feeling. Loving truly makes us most human; that is to say, most like God. For we are made in His image and likeness, and the more truly human we are, the more we reflect Him.

And I do not know how to get all of that into a poem without it being not a love poem.

So this is what I came up with.

They had grown comfortably old together,
  And looked at each other with lovers'eyes.
She still wears gloves when they go out;
  He is fond of red bow-ties.

They hold hands when they walk out together,
  Though he rushes ahead to hold the door.
Her smile still sets his heart to beating,
  As it did when he was twenty-four.

They still go on little dates together.
  She ties a bow in her snow-white hair.
He gallantly offers an arm to support her,
  Whistling some sweet, old-fashioned air.

And they go beautifully together,
  Young at heart and old and wise,
For in their great and happy age,
  They still look with lovers' eyes.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Haiku Your Face to My Blade!


In which it transpires that I ought not to attempt to write poetry concerning vegetables on a mere three hours of sleep. This is the sort of thing that happens:

To Potatoes

Praise the potato
Most excellent vegetable
humble though it be.

Eat them for breakfast
With tomato and sausage,
Scrambled eggs and tea.

Have them for luncheon
With haddock and vinegar
Add a Guinness too.

Boil them, mash them,
Quarter, roast or pan-fry them,
Put them in a stew.

With salt and pepper
And liberally topped with cheese
- Noble fare this be!

Versatile tuber,
O, most tasty vegetable,
I sing praise to thee!

Yep. There you have it, a rhyming, multi-verse haiku on the glories of the potato. Never it let it be said that I am incapable of lighter themes. You want to know the sad part? I am so tired, I sat there sniggering like an idiot whilst composing those immortal lines. I believe I must retire early. Good night.


Happy Easter!


So, the important part first right? It is Easter and I am glad. Our family gathered itself together and went to Easter Vigil. It is about four hours round trip for us to attend, and the service itself is very long, the the liturgy is so beautiful, and though I am rather sleep-deprived and shaky this morning. I am most thankful for Easter. I feel the way one feels when the eagle sings at the end of the Return of the King:

Sing now, ye people of the Tower of Anor,
for the Realm of Sauron is ended for ever,
and the Dark Tower is thrown down.

Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of guard,
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.

Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell amoung you
all the days of your life.

And the Tree that was withered shall be renewed,
and he shall plant it in the high places,
and the City shall be blessed.

Sing all ye people!

Or, if you are watching the movie, the way one feels when Aragorn starts to sing:




I hope the joy of Easter comes abundantly on all of you as well!

And now, to lesser matters: I did actually manage a poem yesterday, but between a full day's work, and having to leave for Easter Vigil by about 8 o'clock, I did not have a chance to post it, so I am doing that now. The prompt was "departure" and I was quite pleased that the prompt was something nice and workable.... And then, to my dismay, Robert Louis Stevenson's "Requiem" popped into my head:

UNDER the wide and starry sky   
  Dig the grave and let me lie:   
Glad did I live and gladly die,   
  And I laid me down with a will.   
 
This be the verse you 'grave for me: 
  Here he lies where he long'd to be;   
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,   
  And the hunter home from the hill.

which is a fine, brave, beautiful poem, and one of my favourite pieces of verse. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to think of poetry of your own, when that keeps going round and a round your head all day, which it did. 

But I stuck to it, and by dint or several pages of painful scraping and sheer orneriness, I managed to write this:

Departure

She went from them at dawn of day
The little farm and fields she loved,
The ewes and lambs she used to tend -
She left them there, and went away.

The chapel where she used to pray,
The river bank and fairy tree,
She left her mother, unaware,
Her father cutting hay.

There were words she could not say,
A charge she could not tell -
Kissed them both and left them there,
Though heartily longed to stay.

But duty will not bide delay,
When God and country call.
The Maiden like a flaming sword,
To war, then, walked away.

The winter sky was cold and grey,
They watched her march from home,
With flame-red dress and flickering hair
Against the coming day.

My prompt for today, now is .... drum roll.... 'vegetable'.... God help us.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day the Third


So, this is how today's prompt started:

"I always think of Day 3 as the day that the challenge gets real. Make it through today, and you can make it through this whole challenge."


Which I found ominous. I scrolled through the rest of the encouraging, ra-ra post and discovered that my prompt was: machine.

I always expected that there was going to be an uninspiring prompt, and counted myself lucky that the first two were easy. It took me quite a while to come up with anything that could be considered a machine poem... and it really isn't:

The Train South
 

An eager chuff.
A pull. A surge.
Wheels turning
On the track.

I perch and watch
The platform go
Find I'm sitting
Front to back.

Fast. And Faster.
City blurs.
Skyscrapers
and chimney stacks.

Spire and seagulls
Seen. Then gone.
Sacramento
Falling back.

Sudden farmland,
Cathedral sky
Train is singing
Wheels clack.

My heart sings too
Beats wheel-time.
Earth slips by me,
Front to back. 
 
To be honest, I am not entirely sure how I feel about this one. There are parts I like very well, and when I was writing it, thought them good. The whole thing is from the feeling I remember from my first train ride. I was ridiculously excited by trains - still am, as a matter of fact. The Sacramento train station is in the middle of a decrepit and derelict section of downtown, and you pass abandoned lots and graffitied walls as you pull out. Then, before you know it, you are gathering speed amid a tangle of off-ramps and over-passes... and suddenly for just one moment, everything clears away, and you get fleeting, postcard picture of a white church steeple, which is frequently attended by flocks of wheeling gulls, crying wildly for the river. Then the city is flicking by again, but that instant - if you catch it - is beautiful. So of course, that showed up in the poem. 

And now, though it is not all that late, I shall go toddling off. My sisters and I spent the evening making ravioli for Easter dinner - completely by hand, as we have no pasta machine.... sadly. How great would it have been to write a poem about the efficiency of a pasta machine?!? So we rolled and rolled, till it was as thin as we could make the dough, and cut circle after circle, which we filled with great mounds of pureed meat, crimping the edges down with forks. It took hours (there will be 15 people partaking of our ravioli, so we made lots) and it was fun, but it was hard work, and I am tired now.

But I finished the poem, so if that daily encouragement is true, I will be able to make it through the whole challenge. 

Wish me luck!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Holy Thursday


The poetry prompt for today was 'secret'. After a moment of panic this morning, while I tried to think of how on earth I could come up with anything about that, I found myself thinking about WWII, and all the brave people who hid Jews and Allied airmen. Then, about hiding people in general, and then I remembered one of my favourite historical figures. 

Many of the great houses in England have secret spaces hidden in them - sometimes, whole rooms - which were used during the Elizabethan persecutions to hide priests, vestments and Mass things. Many of these priest holes are so cleverly hidden that long-forgotten ones are still being rediscovered to this day. Rather astonishingly, the vast majority of them were designed and single-handedly built by one man. He was a very small, almost dwarvish man, whose true name was unknown to the families that requested the use of his talents - you cannot say they 'employed' him, as he only accept money to cover building costs, and took nothing for himself. He went by the alias of Little John. Thanks to his efforts, countless priest were spared capture and death, and able to continue ministering to their congregations. Little John was eventually caught himself and tortured to make him give up information. He died without giving away anything at all. He is now venerated by is right name - St. Nicholas Owens. This little poem is about him.

Little John

He knew well the ways of stone,
And where to hew and where to hide;
Where solid wall had hollow heart,
To bury man and give him life.

In secret dark he carved alone
That sacred things might safe abide.
A little man with dwarvish art,
Saved Faith from hanging and the knife.

And while the poetry challenge is only for a poem a day, and I doubt I shall be this inspired for the duration of the month, another poem came to me while I was working on this one, and I thought it might be good - given the day - to post it as well:

In Pain

Tonight Thy friend goes Thee to sell,
And with a kiss Thy name to tell.
Then laughs the Devil in his Hell
And Thou art led to pain and death.

So I bless this pain that's comes on me.
May it take some of Thine Own from Thee
And help Thee walk to Calvary
And comfort Thy last breath.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Ambition


I have been feeling rather guilty about the state of my writing lately. There are a good many factors into why, exactly, not writing is weighing on me almost like a sin, but the long and short of it is that for a very long time I had an excellent excuse for not writing, nor even feeling motivated to write. I was sick and didn't know it. I was simply too tired to think about being creative. That is no longer the case. I feel quite robust, and I am wildly creative these days. I am doing beading projects, crochet projects, the occasional scribble which I refer to as 'art'... but letters seem to be eluding me. Or rather, I am out of practice with the butterfly-hunter type of patience required to produce writing. I go out with my net to stalk my story, and it flutters nervously around until Every Thing Else intrudes upon my hunt, and I forget butterfly-plots and sit there, letting life wash over me. I suppose that in itself is not really a bad thing, but the problem is that for the first time in a very long time, I have story ideas which I am very excited about, and I want to write. I just lack discipline and commitment. And then... Well, I feel like I am allowing my talents are going to waste, and this weighs on me.

So, I have been looking for ways to make myself accountable somehow. And that means that I have done something I shall probably regret in a couple days: I am taking the Poem-A-Day Challenge. And, in the interest of making myself exceptionally accountable, I am admitting this folly in public, and hope to post the poems here most days.

 Morituri te salutant.

Today's prompt was "resistance." I doubt this is really what anyone had in mind with that prompt, but this is what I came up with:

My Lord, what is Your will of me?
Long have I striven against the Sea;
In roaring storms have tried to stand,
To keep my feet on shifting sand,
To hold my ground nor think to flee.

And all for naught, or so it seems -
Sea-rocks awash with broken dreams.
Hopes have come to wreck and rue,
And false proved loves I thought were true - 
False the course I set for You.
Surf sounds mocking, and gull birds scream...

And do I now forsake the fight,
Despair forever of Your sight?
Or do I choose to stand instead;
Hope, though all my hopes are fled;
Take courage, though the heart lies dead;
And brave the wrongs to make them right?

Behold, alone in wind and sand,
By raging Sea on storm-wracked strand,
I strive to set my course anew,
And trust, though I've no sight of You,
Wrest joy from sorrow - laughter too,
Keep my feet and make my stand.