no prompt, just me on a lonely winter walk.
i have a lot of poems like that.
Do You Hear What I Hear?
I crunch the wind-shocked snowpack, cast out
into Saturn, the last eponym of the season’s storming.
This is me cooling off in the rip of a come-back winter
jet stream, furious with the battle I make against this
relentless and offensive weather—boots angry
on the stairwell at spring so far away, so unhappy,
unwilling to work against unhappiness anymore.
I am no one’s favorite tonight, even my blood seethes
against me, withdrawing from fingers seeking stumbling
words. It’s just me and this Marlboro—God damn,
there aren’t enough poems about girls
with cigarettes in the snow, breath and smoke
indistinct below the wind-hull, hands cold. I want
to go home and lay low—maybe I’ll dig
into this drift here—emerge on the other side
to a parking lot apocalypse, sparrows falling
like ice-heavy limbs to the street, chased down
by a prowling hawk. Then wanders a misplaced
carol: Do you hear what I hear? No, if only
the scrape of shovels against cement echoing
in the reverb of a blizzard-tide. If snow falls
silent against the steel and glass, persistent,
then the trunk coming down in forgotten woods
must make the most desperate and lonesome sound.
HOO HOO POETRY JOKES.
this week’s prompt: write any form derived from your scanning of a poetry dictionary.
i like the word villanelle. it’s so pretty. so i decided to write one.
they’re hard. like, mad props to dylan thomas. but i also really enjoy the challenge of pulling off something in a form. or at least attempting it. meh. i don’t like it because it seemed a little stilted and stuff (but doesn’t all rhyming and repetitive stuff seem like that anymore? maybe that’s just me), but we’ll see how it fares in workshop.
My father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
two chirping whistles: you me, you me.
The cardinal quiets, keeps his voice safe in oak.
Cardinals blot red against white winter snow,
voices wound tight in the shell of their beaks.
My father called out in the cardinal’s notes.
Drifts leaned too heavy for the wind to blow,
too strong and silent for my father to heave.
Watching, the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.
Collapsed in a snowbank of icy overgrowth,
he read the raucous beat of freezing wings
fleeing his curious call in cardinal notes.
Stigmata slicing the silence of a frost-shocked grove
those scarbright bodiess, crested hearts that pulse and seize—
the cardinal keeps his voice safe in oak.
The treeline bleeds my father’s trilled echoes,
he trudged indoors to teach the cherry lovetone to me —
my father called out in the cardinal’s notes,
but the cardinal kept his voice safe in oak.
I love how my work over this past semester reflects the change in seasons. So here’s one for the shift into winter. No class prompts, no (real) research save for the “Buffalo Jones” theme song and Sufjan Stevens’ Seven Swans album and a clove cigarette to help me think.
A Buffalo’s Prayer
My Great Mother, I open my self to you, to every
rustling soul stirring in the tall grass that is you.
I am preparing every part for you, every stiff-
legged step into the cold, every silent white
star that prickles in the burnt sky, every turning
chord hidden beneath the sleeping prairie sod.
Will I be invited into the sound?
I am still. I know my sign. The winter is
an angry animal blowing these bracken stalks
into shapes shuddering and strange, and I am
grateful, so grateful to turn my face into its winds.
I will not lie awake in this dark and weep
for my sins. I will embrace every broken
enchanted thing, every circling wing of grief,
every umber-stroked thread of clay beneath me.
How much longer before I join the dirt?
You are heavy on my hulking back, but
not impossible to bear. You are every throb
in my solid heart, wet and visceral and real.
You are every huffing steam of breath
wavering in my nostrils, sharp and scented
with firewood and frost. You are the changing
tears of rain and brush wandering my plains,
painful, pulling, and I am everything in you,
ever-roaming, ever-rising, like the secrets
in these carpets of snow that frost, then wither
with the gasp of another golden dawn.
So, last week we were up in the mountains, and I wanted to try to capture some of those peaks on paper. Unfortunately, I feel like my midwest words were too small to capture them in all their depth, but this is what I came up with. Maybe if I gave it more time, let the images stew a little longer, I can edit this and make it better. Not great, but better.
The summer edition of Poetry Quarterly comes out in 5 days, and I got an offer to enter in their contest. I’m torn about entering or not, since I feel like all my summer work has been kind of disappointing so far, with all the skipped/unsatisfactory prompts to incomplete work…Man, I can’t wait to get back into a workshop setting next semester…
Mountain man sat in his mountain house with his fraying
moccasins and his guitar with a broken string and joined
his songs with the applauding trees, spruce and fir rusting out
like junked cars as their lives snuff out. The peaks press
their slopes together, holding the last gasps of alpine white
in their polygon palms: snow caught in all the rocky grooves
and gaps. Twisted pines point up, up, where mountain man
wants to go with snarled but steady steps that grind into every
graveled lip of the switch backed path, as the wind sweeps
the air from his chest and his head blackens as the pressure
changes within him. In secret groves, glacial carpets seep
and crawl towards rivers so braided in their running
they seem to stampede from dreams, ocher and aqua threads
wild in their falling farther into the cliffs spotted
with cloud shadows and sun-ray strokes. Everywhere is blue,
iced and hazy, from the harsh summits settling in their memories
like teeth in a dog’s mouth to the cold swills of mountain lakes,
where the water is so clear what lies below snowmelt shores holds
no secrets, only crystalline songs of geology and change
which mountain man fingers into the ranges of his guitar frets,
struggling to harmonize with the rough bass of mountain beats.
So after a long hiatus full of final exams and other random bullshit, I finally got to sit down and write today. Which is a good thing, because my poem ideas list is super long right now, and my summer goal is to tackle it! Any suggestions about what I should write about this summer? This is what I have so far for ideas, in any way they may inspire me:
-Maine lobsters of 1853
-draco the dragon (constellations)
-the Fox Sisters
-Indiana ghost stories
-the names of Indiana towns
I’m sure the more I keep surfing the internet, the more ideas I’ll accumulate. But give me some prompts to work with, yo.
Here’s the first thing I’ve knocked off my list, though: beluga whales. What a spirit animal.
Over frosted and fluted ridges of glacier floes floats
the growing tune-up of an marine orchestra song:
clicks, squeaks, whistles, and squawks; chatters,
chirrups, twitters, a bell-like clang—songs
in an ocean of sound no bird could create. White
like a chunk of sea frost with blossoming melon heads
cresting the blanched bone of the horizon, belugas slip
along the edges of glassed and ashy icepack,
sea canaries with a slight quirk in the corner
of their cetacean beaks—a smile that never shifts.
They search the silver roof of their world with sharp
notes for a blue-black sliver through which to breach
and breathe, or a glowing pancake of trapped air pressed flat
at which they can blow and snap. In the acoustics
of the arctic depths, their fatty foreheads morph
with chatter, the bend and flex of echolocation rays
catching the reverb of shadow-waves and sea-shapes.
Water whispers its secrets in ultrasonic bubbles,
mushroom-cloud globes of gas boiling forth
from whistle-stream blowholes and pumping flukes.
Matching the harmonics, setting the pitches right
to echo in their bulbous brows and whale-bones,
one could cross the dark, deep gulf of unheard noise
and make contact, riding waves of song to speak in beluga hums.
In the thick, blue clay of undertow, snow-bodied pods chase
schools of salmon into the St. Lawrence estuary rimed
with hoary trails of sea grass and cadmium. Touching one
pale, ski-slope flank would be as cold as the throbbing,
frozen world through which their blubbery bodies roam.
Bloomington holds its breath for the biggest letdown of the month as the biggest snowstorm in a few decades whooshes by. They say I’ll eat my words, but we’ll see in the morning.
Anyways, I thought it was an appropriate time to post my poem about Siberia. Everyone always assumes Siberia is cold and stuff, but they have a big wildfire problem. Weird.
Also, I’ve been writing a lot of winter poems. Winter needs to end.
Also, I submitted to Spring Canvas…fingers crossed for that!
Aaaaand here’s what you came here for:
There is no such place as Siberia;
no political or territorial entity has
Siberia as its name. Hovering
over the northern latitudes like
a watermark shimmering on the page,
like crystalline radial ice-blots weeping
in silvery, spiraling roses on the earth,
Siberia is the longitudes bending together
on the globe, the sad roads of exile
swallowed up in the haze of wintry
snow drifts and summer taiga fires. Sleeping
land, the Tatars dubbed it, with ribbons
of metal and ore dreaming under the Earth.
Awakened by the rattle of railways and the rumble
of convict feet on rock-strewn tracts,
Siberia runs in the wrong direction: away
from home, into the blank edges of the map
as distant and bleak as the moon. Lenin
did not disagree with his punishment
of place, gazing into notebooks
where words spread open and infinite
as the steppe. Later his people would pale
before him like the icy tundra to which they went,
but then, under the boreals and hemlocks
of his banishment, he saw the subarctic sky
blue with glacial air, rivers shivering
their way to the polar seas and the roads
of possibility unraveling at his feet.
Every stone forbade turning back,
and he finally knew of the places created,
far away and forgotten, too frightening
to exist, too sacred for the body to rest.