Poetry


I don’t usually share my own writing (other than blog posts, obviously). This has to do with the label “non-writer” which I gave myself many moons ago. And I dubbed myself a non-writer simply because I knew I could never compare to those writers I admire so much. But, since I’m now about to be published for the third time, I suppose it’s time to admit that I am a writer….at least sometimes. And with that part time admission, I’d like to share the story which is being published in the very near future…don’t worry, it’s a short story! Really short….shorter than most short stories. 😉 And now I’ll stop prattling….my almost published, shorter than a short story, story:

 

Pomegranate Seeds  whole-and-cut-pomegranate

The sun bounced off the waves, throwing shards of shimmer over the water, like a disco ball at a high school prom. The day was fine, all light and warmth, as the boat with its two passengers slid across the rippled river, silently…stealthily. The warm breeze touched the young girl’s face, and gently mussed her hair, like a mother’s soft embrace. Mother. She sadly sighed.

Yes, the day was fine as she sat in the boat, watching the boatman steadily row. But despite the sun and breeze, she knew the darkness was coming. It was looming up behind her. Its sharp, cold teeth were bared. It was ready to pounce. She felt it growing in the distance, but she would not look back. She couldn’t bear the pain of her own creation.

As they travelled, the waves began to rise, lapping at the sides of the boat. The treetops stretched now bony fingers toward the sky, and seemed to scrape and claw at the abundance of dark clouds as the wind howled through their limbs. She felt the gale build, as it grabbed at her with its rimy tentacles. I AM HERE!!LOOK AT ME!!! it screamed, pulling at her hair and scraping her face with icy talons. I’m sorry, she whispered. I’m so sorry… She hugged herself to keep out the bitter wind, which shrieked around her, but it was only a matter of time. The darkness was poised to overtake them. She was helpless to stop what she had so foolishly started.

And then she saw it. She felt her panic rise up as their destination rose up into view. Entering that cave would be like death for her, and all that surrounded her would die with her. It was as if the very earth was mourning her loss. Cold and bitter barrenness would prevail. For her and for the world. As they were about to enter the mouth of the cave, she noticed one small rebellion. A lone woman stood, holding a sign, which read “Freedom For Persephone!” Freedom…she sighed, and she closed her eyes. A tear slid down her cold cheek as the darkness enveloped them, leaving the rebel alone to brave the benumbing cold and snow which suddenly surrounded her. All was dead. All was barren. All was lost.

~Heather Sarsfield 2014

Carl Sandburg once penned a poem about fog, stating that “fog comes on little cat feet…” The imagery here is amazing, as the reader can almost see the fog, in feline form, looking out over the harbour after creeping in on its furry little paws. I love to think about fog in this way, but not merely because of its poetic-ness. It actually has more to do with the fact that I’ve never seen fog creeping along on little cat feet. Here, in the North Country, the fog does not creep. It rolls in, like dense waves on an ocean of clouds, covering the entirety of the landscape in one fell swoop, in a thick, pea-soup type of blanket. It also seems to flow over the land en force when the nights are beginning to become very cool, and Old Man Winter is just waiting for the right moment to cross the threshold of Autumn and take over its residence. I have often wondered if this fog was Mother Nature’s wy of pretending Mr. Winter isn’t at the door; like she’s taking her thick blankets and pulling them up over her head to try and get a just a few more days of sleep before she has to get up and endure the cold. I think this latter image is one which is easy for me to see, for now that the nights are getting colder, and I’m feeling Winter tapping on my window, all I want to do is pull the blanket up over my head and stay warm in my bed until Spring. I’m certain Mother Nature feels the same way.

At any rate, our first blanket of fog of the season arrived early this week, after a particularly chilly night. And apparently the blanket was still pulled over Mother Nature’s head as I pulled out of the driveway to go to school. I’d love her job…she gets to sleep in whenever she wants, it seems. But, it covered everything, completely. It took me 15 minutes to get the car warmed up enough to dispel the murkiness from my fog covered windshield, so I could see the road well enough to drive. And even once I had banished it, I had to keep turning on my windshield wipers in order to enforce the banishment, for the fog kept trying to take over, again. It still permeated the landscape once I arrived at school, which gave the campus an eerie appearance…I couldn’t even see the buildings on the far side of the quad.

It was so thick, the numerous flocks of geese flying overhead from the river across the street were heard, but not seen. They weren’t even remotely visible, since they chose to fly over the blanket which covered the North Country.

And this is why I can’t relate to Mr. Sandburg’s image of a Feline-esque fog, that creeps in slowly, takes a look around at the scenery, and then moves on. But I would like to see it, someday. Maybe I’ll sit down with it, and look over the harbour, seeing it through it’s cloudy eyes.

Poetry dedicated to the moon! You know you’ve been waiting for it, and it’s only taken me a few years to finally get to it. The problem is there are so many to choose from, it’s hard to narrow it down to just a few. But, I’m more than willing to try. So, for your reading pleasure, Moon Poetry, beginning with the moonrise:

Moonrise
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I awoke in the Midsummer not to call night, in the white and the walk of the morning:
The moon, dwindled and thinned to the fringe of a finger-nail held to the candle,
Or paring of paradisaical fruit, lovely in waning but lustreless,
Stepped from the stool, drew back from the barrow, of dark Maenefa the mountain;

A cusp still clasped him, a fluke yet fanged him, entangled him, not quite utterly.
This was the prized, the desirable sight, unsought, presented so easily,
Parted me leaf and leaf, divided me, eyelid and eyelid of slumber.

And once the moon has risen, what is there to do, other than sit under it?

Under The Moon
by William Butler Yeats

I have no happiness in dreaming of Brycelinde,
Nor Avalon the grass-green hollow, nor Joyous Isle,
Where one found Lancelot crazed and hid him for a while;
Nor Uladh, when Naoise had thrown a sail upon the wind;
Nor lands that seem too dim to be burdens on the heart:
Land-under-Wave, where out of the moon’s light and the sun’s
Seven old sisters wind the threads of the long-lived ones,
Land-of-the-Tower, where Aengus has thrown the gates apart,
And Wood-of-Wonders, where one kills an ox at dawn,
To find it when night falls laid on a golden bier.
Therein are many queens like Branwen and Guinevere;
And Niamh and Laban and Fand, who could change to an otter or fawn,
And the wood-woman, whose lover was changed to a blue-eyed hawk;
And whether I go in my dreams by woodland, or dun, or shore,
Or on the unpeopled waves with kings to pull at the oar,
I hear the harp-string praise them, or hear their mournful talk.

Because of something told under the famished horn
Of the hunter’s moon, that hung between the night and the day,
To dream of women whose beauty was folded in dis may,
Even in an old story, is a burden not to be borne.

and then perhaps ask the moon to look down upon us…

Look Down, Fair Moon
by Walt Whitman

LOOK down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night’s nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen, purple;
On the dead, on their backs, with their arms toss’d wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon.

Add a dash of sentimentality…

What Counsel Has the Hooded Moon
by James Joyce

What counsel has the hooded moon
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Of Love in ancient plenilune,
Glory and stars beneath his feet — –
A sage that is but kith and kin
With the comedian Capuchin?

Believe me rather that am wise
In disregard of the divine,
A glory kindles in those eyes
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
No more be tears in moon or mist
For thee, sweet sentimentalist.

a bit of silliness, in the form of nervous nursery…

The Cruel Moon
by Robert Graves

The cruel Moon hangs out of reach
Up above the shadowy beech.
Her face is stupid, but her eye
Is small and sharp and very sly.
Nurse says the Moon can drive you mad?
No, that’s a silly story, lad!
Though she be angry, though she would
Destroy all England if she could,
Yet think, what damage can she do
Hanging there so far from you?
Don’t heed what frightened nurses say:
Moons hang much too far away.

and into the dawn…

Memoriam A. H. H.: 67. When on my bed the moonlight fall
by Lord Alfred Tennyson

When on my bed the moonlight falls,
I know that in thy place of rest
By that broad water of the west,
There comes a glory on the walls:
Thy marble bright in dark appears,
As slowly steals a silver flame
Along the letters of thy name,
And o’er the number of thy years.
The mystic glory swims away;
From off my bed the moonlight dies;
And closing eaves of wearied eyes
I sleep till dusk is dipt in gray:

And then I know the mist is drawn
A lucid veil from coast to coast,
And in the dark church like a ghost
Thy tablet glimmers to the dawn.

And with that, I end my tribute to the moon. Although……no poetical tribute would be complete without going a bit Wilde. That would just be blasphemous…at least for me 😉

Endymion
by Oscar Wilde

THE apple trees are hung with gold,
And birds are loud in Arcady,
The sheep lie bleating in the fold,
The wild goat runs across the wold,
But yesterday his love he told,
I know he will come back to me.
O rising moon! O Lady moon!
Be you my lover’s sentinel,
You cannot choose but know him well,
For he is shod with purple shoon,
You cannot choose but know my love,
For he a shepherd’s crook doth bear,
And he is soft as any dove,
And brown and curly is his hair.

The turtle now has ceased to call
Upon her crimson-footed groom,
The grey wolf prowls about the stall,
The lily’s singing seneschal
Sleeps in the lily-bell, and all
The violet hills are lost in gloom.
O risen moon! O holy moon!
Stand on the top of Helice,
And if my own true love you see,
Ah! if you see the purple shoon,
The hazel crook, the lad’s brown hair,
The goat-skin wrapped about his arm,
Tell him that I am waiting where
The rushlight glimmers in the Farm.

The falling dew is cold and chill,
And no bird sings in Arcady,
The little fauns have left the hill,
Even the tired daffodil
Has closed its gilded doors, and still
My lover comes not back to me.
False moon! False moon! O waning moon!
Where is my own true lover gone,
Where are the lips vermilion,
The shepherd’s crook, the purple shoon?
Why spread that silver pavilion,
Why wear that veil of drifting mist?
Ah! thou hast young Endymion,
Thou hast the lips that should be kissed!

Mr Izz finished his finals today…which means only 5 months until he is DONE, and only a year and a half until we are in Ireland!!! Anyway. Where was I? Oh, right, finals. He’s done, which is a grand thing. I went and picked him up after his last one, and since he didn’t have coffee before he left this morning, he decided to stop at a coffee shop on the way home. Of course I was thrilled. I mean, I love coffee, and this particular coffee shop has the added attraction of boasting a large assortment of used books for sale as well. And I mean it when I say large assortment; they have cookbooks, trashy romance novels, classics, kids’ books…you name it, they have it or something similar to it. But even with all of these lovely categories to choose from, there is one category I migrate to more than any other (after the trashy romance novels, of course)…the Poetry Section. Whenever I am in the coffee shop, it is an absolute necessity to see if there might be anything new and exciting in the poetry section. But I don’t run over to it immediately…I try to be coy and nonchalant about the whole thing. There is no need to let on how much I adore books of poetry. I’m certain Mr Izz has no idea of how much I really do adore them, based on my nonchalance. I am very good at it…I think.

I get my coffee and sit down to hear all about Mr Izz’s finals, my coffee cup firmly grasped in both hands to warm up my fingers. I peer at him over the rim of my cup as I take a sip, as he goes on about how he should have done better on such and such an exam, trying hard to focus on what he is saying. It doesn’t take long, however, until my eyes wander over toward the poetry books…I wonder if there is anything new? I haven’t been in here for a while…is someone talking to me? “IZZ! Do you want another cup of coffee?” he asked me quite loudly. “Oh! Yes, I do. Sorry, I have a lot on my mind.” I reply. Mr Izz rolls his eyes and walks off. Now, why on earth did he roll his eyes like that? What a dork.

As he gets our coffee, my eyes wander back to the poetry section. It looks like there is a red book I don’t remember seeing the last time I was in. My interest is piqued by this time. I am half aware of my coffee placed in front of me, and Mr Izz sitting back down. Finally, he says “Will you just go over there and look at the damn poetry books? It would be nice to have you even somewhat interested in talking to me and you won’t be until you check them out.” I just stare at him for a minute. I have no idea where that came from…geeze. But, what the heck…I smile, jump up, say “I’ll be just a minute!:, and bound off to take a looksy. I think Mr Izz uttered “Be right back, yeah, right” but I’m not sure. By that time I was already at the poetry section. But he would have said it…he’s rude like that.

So, the poetry books are wonderful as always, but I have to see what that red book was. I find it quickly, pull it out, and…..oh my! It’s a book of selected poems and two plays by William Butler Yeats. Of course, I have to buy it. That’s a no brainer.

I skip back to the table in a jovial mood, take a sip of my coffee, and say: “See? I was only a minute. And by the way, I’m buying this book.”

“Another poetry book? Don’t you have enough of those?” Then he looks at the book itself. “I know you have at least one Yeats book! You don’t need another one! You’re starting to remind me of the Mel Gibson character in Conspiracy Theory!”

“I do not! You’re just being totally rude” I retort. I then spin on my heel and march up to the register to buy the book…making sure to throw a death glare his way as I walk. I swear, he’s nuts. I don’t have that many poetry books, and surely not tons of Yeats. He doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

We finish our coffee, then drive home, Mr Izz rambling on about his exams. And he says I’m obsessed. I walk into the house, give hugs and kisses hello to various Izzlets, and then proceed to put my new book with the other poetry books. Right next to my other books of Yeats’ poetry. Hmmmmm……SIGH! Oh well. I’m not saying a word to Mr Izz about this.

I’ve been accused on a friend’s blog of being “overly engrossed” with Chesterton and poetry. I actually do take issue with this…if you are going to accuse me of being overly engrossed about something, there are far better examples you could use. And honestly, I think I read more Belloc than Chesterton…but let’s run with this. I hereby dedicate this post to my friend, Thomas, who apparently hates poetry, and has little use for Chesterton. And just to make it all the more special, I’ve put these two things in which I am overly engrossed into one neat, little package. For your reading pleasure, a poem….by G.K.Chesterton:

A Ballade of Suicide

The gallows in my garden, people say,
Is new and neat and adequately tall;
I tie the noose on in a knowing way
As one that knots his necktie for a ball;
But just as all the neighbours–on the wall–
Are drawing a long breath to shout “Hurray!”
The strangest whim has seized me. . . . After all
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

To-morrow is the time I get my pay–
My uncle’s sword is hanging in the hall–
I see a little cloud all pink and grey–
Perhaps the rector’s mother will not call– I fancy that I heard from Mr. Gall
That mushrooms could be cooked another way–
I never read the works of Juvenal–
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

The world will have another washing-day;
The decadents decay; the pedants pall;
And H.G. Wells has found that children play,
And Bernard Shaw discovered that they squall,
Rationalists are growing rational–
And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
So secret that the very sky seems small–
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

Envoi

Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
The tumbrils toiling up the terrible way;
Even to-day your royal head may fall,
I think I will not hang myself to-day.

And with that, I think I’ll go and re-read Chesterton’s The Outline of Sanity, just for the heck of it. Thomas, I’d be more than happy to send you a copy. I’m sure you’d find it rather enlightening 😉

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,–
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

-John Keats

The green elm with the one great bough of gold
Lets leaves into the grass slip, one by one, —
The short hill grass, the mushrooms small milk-white,
Harebell and scabious and tormentil,
That blackberry and gorse, in dew and sun,
Bow down to; and the wind travels too light
To shake the fallen birch leaves from the fern;
The gossamers wander at their own will.
At heavier steps than birds’ the squirrels scold.
The rich scene has grown fresh again and new
As Spring and to the touch is not more cool
Than it is warm to the gaze; and now I might
As happy be as earth is beautiful,
Were I some other or with earth could turn
In alternation of violet and rose,
Harebell and snowdrop, at their season due,
And gorse that has no time not to be gay.
But if this be not happiness, — who knows?
Some day I shall think this a happy day,
And this mood by the name of melancholy
Shall no more blackened and obscured be.

-Edward Thomas

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