Grayscale

Though I’d normally shy from ending the month with more somber and depressing verse, I impressed myself with the readability of this villanelle, which I wrote backward as per NaPoWriMo’s daily prompt – an interesting challenge, for sure, and a method I plan to return to. Precisely where the morose theme came from, I cannot tell — yes, I have faced loss and grief in my life, but I feel that this piece came from deeper inspiration than I can know. Here’s the draft again, if you missed it in the last post:

ocean and vilanelle

Number 30, final cut:

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I’d join my hands and close my eyes to pray
with prideful words, redundant and naive,
if I could see the other side of gray.

But in your heart was all that I could say,
and so I’m left with faded ghosts to grieve.
I’d join my hands and close my eyes to pray

before the Fates could tear your thread away;
I might have spun the colors dreamers weave
if I could see the other side of gray.

Such grief would see my old convictions stray:
I’d put more trust in what I once believed;
I’d join my hands and close my eyes to pray

and lay my heart upon the Healer’s way–
if only you would grant me such reprieve,
if I could see the other side of gray.

A setting sun returns the night from day,
for in the end, when souls are wont to leave,
I’d join my hands and close my eyes to pray–
if I could see the other side of gray.

Falling Tides

Number 29, finished (along with 30, to be posted momentarily) with a few moments of the last day to spare. Both appear in the draft below:

ocean and vilanelle

This was technically the last poem of the month, but I think the villanelle (to follow in my next post) is themed more appropriately to wrap up the project:

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When we sense the swell,
we expect the wave to rise,
and watch the angry foam, sure enough,
crest on a gaping maw,
and though we anticipate the crash,
we still cringe when it falls,
and while we feel battered
and soaked to the bone,
we seem to miss
the ocean’s scale
and the sparkle in the water.

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Crossing Over

If you keep up with NaPoWriMo’s daily prompts (or my tags), you’ll have a spoiler for this one. For the rest of you, I’m going to post the poem in its last iteration first, then follow with the usual draft and commentary. (If you like, you can consider this a riddle poem from Day 13.) Number 28:

Silver threads
descend the river’s neck
but cannot cross its
hollow depths
and float from
silence
to sacred sound

until they wind
themselves up
and pull
themselves taut
to dance atop
the maple’s tiny spine

and as they cross
their voices echo
in the wooden well
and holy water flows
beneath our feet.

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And the spoiler: today’s prompt was to write about a bridge. The poet shares my heart with a musician: both brought me to the bridge of a violin — the small, wooden element that suspends the strings over the soundboard (hollow body) of the instrument and allows the vibrations from the strings to be transferred into the body, where they then reverberate into the air.

As you’ll see in the draft, I mused about how the literal bridge of the instrument transports us across the metaphorical bridge of music: from the silent mundane to a more fulfilled and vibrant world.

bridge

I hope I don’t ever ruin these poems with my commentary and explanation. Let me know if you’d rather me leave them to your own interpretations :)

Essential Elements

As I was drifting to sleep last night, I was half-consciously mulling over NaPo’s suggested prompt for Day 27, and I was struck with inspiration for the hay(na)ku. Around a half hour later (added to the sleep which I’m still looking to catch up on), plus some revisions today, I’m left with a poem of five strung-together hay(na)kus. Poem 27:

haynaku

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cleansing
waters flow–
do we drink

warming
fires glow–
can we see

changing
currents blow–
do we follow

fertile
lands bestow–
do we recieve

singing
spirits know–
will we listen

Uneasy Observation

I rarely dabble with any type of narrative verse (nor anything quite this lengthy), but after a recent visit to an art venue that put me rather ill at ease, I felt that a description was warranted. Though probably unnecessary, I’ve included scans of the notebook I had on hand while I was there as well as my “official” poetry journal, since I’m looking to track the creative process for this month’s works. Number 26:

collective0

collective1 collective2

The experience
quickly became a list
of confusing,
undesirable sensations.
I found myself uneasy,
uncomfortable,
out of my element
in an alien atmosphere
that smelled dusty
and unfinished.
It was only just
too cold:
if I didn’t move my toes,
the anxiety crept in
from the cool, uneven
concrete floors
that spanned the soles
of other awkward feet
shuffling through the room’s
hard mood.
Though I tried to read
the walls,
nervous preoccupation
only showed me disrepair:
loose cords grew like vines
from new paint on old trim
while sad strips of black duct tape
clung desperately to
old paint on older walls
smudged by dirty fingers.
Those same hands
might have dragged
the ugly rugs
over more electric weeds
sprouting from the hard drive
of anachronism
at the cracked room’s
buzzing center.
My heavy head
and tired eyes cringed
at dated typeface
on faded signs,
loose particle board
and sealing foam peering
back at me,
“You are no Adonis either.”
I felt unwelcome,
though somehow obligated
to be there
in this out-of-joint
collective,
every bit
as aloof as I was.

Yet under it all
or perhaps through it
or in spite of it
there was the scent
of potential:
this space
had tried so hard,
I finally saw.
It wanted to be
a place of class
and warmth
and culture
and sharing,
but it tumbled
and fell short
when it saw how
uncomfortable we were,
when it heard
our criticism,
when artists and audience
left the building
and judges sat down
in their cold, rigid seats
to watch,
with suspicious eyes,
their spectacles.

Salutations

This one took me off guard, but I was happy to let it be. Number 25:

salutations

Sunrise lifts the mountain,
open-armed,
to heaven
and dives on swans’ wings
below the blue horizon.
The World-Bearer’s stride
brings strength to night
as the waking hound
sniffs his soil
and lengthens his gaze,
a smooth plank
on calm water.
Beneath, the crocodile sinks
and the serpent shows his hood,
calling the hound to lunge
into dawn and fold the moon’s rays
behind the world.
Ascending circles sweep the sky
and sink to sturdy thrones
and reign in the embrace
of the mountain’s
welcome.

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A bit of yoga inspired this one.