On Gratitude and Humility

While it’s not poetry, I feel that such epiphanies as the following certainly have potential for the poetic. Regardless of whether or not it results in any verse, I am drawn to share my opinion nonetheless.

Waking to no water in the apartment complex can be a frustrating experience, especially without prior warning/notification, and doubly especially when we have schedules to maintain. Instead of venting that irritation, I wish that I had sooner grasped the greater significance of the event:

Every day, I take my clean, running water for granted. I should be thankful for all of the shortcomings of my plumbing system, because it means that I have daily access to such a system ― moreover, one that performs flawlessly 98% of the time.

I should be respectful toward the intermediaries who handle my frustration (and that of all of the other annoyed apartment tenants) admirably, and remain indebted to their patience and willingness to address the issue.

I should be grateful that I live in a developed area; that this area includes my gym; that the gym has even nicer shower facilities than my apartment; and that I have a functional vehicle to take me there and back with time enough remaining to leave my precious schedule virtually uninterrupted.

I should be appreciative that I have access to clean drinking water at any of a number of surrounding grocery stores.

I should be humbled by my haste to insist that I have the right to be upset about waking to such an inconvenience when, elsewhere, there are people literally dying of thirst or disease for lack of potable water; or when their governments are either unable or refuse to establish such a public water system.

I have no such “right.” I am not entitled to the luxury of “civilized” living, nor to my petty desire to maintain my schedules and appointments, nor have I the license to blame someone else when a blemish appears on the sweet, ripe fruit that I bite into every day, that blooms eternally from a tree whose roots and resources, I evidently feel, rarely merit my attention.

Life is not merciful; so will I be grateful for such mercy in my own existence. So will I be more aware of the sources of my comfort, of the difficult and rare path those sources follow to end with my satisfaction.

Whisper to Winter

I’m having trouble formatting the text to my desired specifications here, so I’ll instead share a screen shot of a poem that I wrote a few years ago. (After meditating on what a brutal winter it’s been, this title came to my mind, though the content is unrelated, but at any rate the thought made me dig up another old one.)

 

whisper to winter

An Invitation, a Kiss

I had wondered whether to reserve this blog for completely new creations, as per NaPoWriMo’s criteria, or to share some already-documented adventures from my previous expeditions into poetry. While this space owes itself to April and the creative cause, I feel that a few throwbacks may be in order, given that I’d like to continue updating here on a regular basis, regardless of what season it is (and let’s be honest―it is certainly easier to uphold such a promise with a cache of already-written material to draw upon from time to time!)

But more importantly, I’d like to solicit the participation of you, my readers. If I am to grow as a writer and poet, I’ll certainly need all of the guidance that I can draw. I invite you to apply your thoughts, suggestions, criticisms, etc. to my verses, both new and old, in the comment sections that follow. What did you like about that poem? Why does this pantoum make you cringe? Is the meaning of this line clear? What the hell did I just read? Please, don’t hold back, whether it is praise or judgment―I value your voice.

Perhaps it is fitting to begin with a poem that has garnered both admiration and confusion from those with whom I’ve shared it. I wrote An Aurous Inquiry in November 2009 as part of a creative writing course in my undergraduate studies. In response to Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss, I adapted the villanelle form of poetry to suit my needs: I added an additional line (and rhyme) to the second and fourth tercets, tying it into the final quatrain with another such line embedded between what would otherwise be the last two lines of the poem. (If it sounds confusing, I was all sorts of turned-around when I first tried a villanelle, let alone the variations.) So here you have it:

klimt kiss

An Aurous Inquiry

What more can hopeful words do to assist
an eager subject’s sojourn into peace
when all the world has seen the famous kiss?

When gods alight within a gilded mist –
entreat that love might wear a golden fleece –
what more can hopeful words do to assist
such clear divinity?

Beneath drawn lids, two lovers’ eyes know bliss,
for Love is blind; her subjects see release
when all the world has seen the famous kiss.

When silence is the best thing on our lips
and skin is silence, words can only cease:
what more can hopeful words do to assist
such deaf affinity?

Enshrined with sweet abandon in their midst,
the centuries’ eyes upon them matter least
when all the world has seen the famous kiss.

Such sacred peace cares not that words persist,
for lovers’ quills have long designed release;
what more can hopeful words do to assist
the brief infinity
when all the world has seen the famous kiss?

Tribute to NaPoWriMo

There’s a fun website called Wordle that transforms text into artistic “word clouds.” Essentially, it identifies the most used/repeated words and phrases in a selection of text — a speech, poems, journal, whatever you like — and assembles them into a bubble of thoughts & ideas that, theoretically, represents the most prevalent themes of the chosen work.

I’ve copied the text of all of my poems from April (save for the rather silly ode to Trader Joe’s, since its repetitiveness skewed my final artistic result) and created a couple such word clouds, identifying my most-used words and principal ideas. Each image seems like a poem unto itself, I think. I made two for the sake of aesthetic variation, and I think that each has its own distinct flavor or mood, despite identical material — evidence, perhaps, that the artistic arrangement of words can be as influential as the meaning behind the words themselves.

tribute1

Here’s an arguably subtler variation:

tribute2

All in all, NaPoWriMo has been an exciting project, and one that I plan to continue beyond April — though I won’t be as ambitious as to sustain a poem-per-day ratio. If you’ve been a regular reader of my blog so far, I certainly hope that you’ll stop by again from time to time to check out my developments; your readership has been a wonderful inspiration to me (yes, I read the stats of my blog!) and I can’t thank you enough for your support in my endeavors to make this happen.

From the Poet

The last day of April is upon us, bringing our project to a close. As per NaPoWriMo’s prompt for the day, a farewell poem seems an appropriate way to wrap it up, though it is certainly anything but a permanent sentiment! I’ve developed quite a motivating sense of pride in this blog over the last thirty days, and I don’t think I could let it lay still for too long before returning with more literary inspiration. So until my next post, here’s poem # 30 to conclude the project (and my fiftieth blog post, at that! Time for celebration :) ):

 

Farewell

We climb into a blue embrace
beyond the spotted night’s cool breath,
where milky rivers sing and sway
between colored planets.

Eagerly, we unwrap clouds
beneath the moonlight
and spill some forgotten words
on muffled sunsets.

Every sacred stroke
betrays a certain tenderness
in the shadowed interior
of our brave dreams,

and in anguish, we spell our love:
bold, profound, but gentle
on waiting ears, if they listen
with their eyes open.

We come and go on the wind,
never staying for too long,
each new verse a wave goodbye,
a hand that’s left the window open.

The scar will stay with you,
reminding you of the beauty in silly words,
so treat it as a kiss goodnight
before the morning burns.

Missing Muse, Parts Five and Six, Plus Ensemble

You may have noticed my between-poem interjections on writer’s block as the month sped forward. The last two couplets reflect my final installments of “Missing Muse,” consummating my twenty-ninth and second-to-last poem of April:

 

I listen for her sterling word, a sacred whisper yet unheard
but muted sound from all around derides my solemn song deferred.

She sinks below the rising din of clam’rous currents closing in
and holds her breath, a voice bereft of pow’r to pierce the ocean’s skin.

Aloft upon the rise and fall, I struggle ‘cross the rugged squall
of knotted words and thoughts unheard to seek my sunken siren’s call.

Adrift on trech’rous waters wide, I lose the stars above the tide
and in my haste―a will misplaced―I’m caught where words and waves collide.

Beneath the raucous, roiling deep, a subtle sound in coolness creeps
to soothe my ear and quell my fear and lay my voiceless woe to sleep.

The world becalmed to placid blue, I hear my siren’s song anew
and upward rise in open skies to sound her sacred verses true.

Yogi’s Journey

Number twenty-eight was inspired by my yoga classes:

Downward dogs
turn eager heads,
salute the sun in
warming transformation:
toes root downward,
grounding the forest
as deepened breath flows
through swaying branches.
Stern warriors rise
from padded soil,
stand strong and firm,
then dive as swans
to the rolling earth
where they become boats
atop crystal waters,
bridges joining
shore with shore.
They cascade down,
waterfalls winding
inward toward
final relaxation.