I thought I’d just check in to see if all is well. We’re transitioning to fall but really am working toward Spring 2022. At least that’s how Red Wolf’s poetic calendar works. Our issues come in fall and spring, so we’d just released a Fall 2021 issue and submissions are currently open for the Spring 2022 issue. We’re always looking ahead, working to harvest some new poems in the next season. Gestation is the name of the game I guess. Or the waiting game. Or just the poetry game. Why do we even bother? Because, as Seamus Heaney said, “in the realm of poetry, as in the realm of consciousness, there is no end to the possible learnings that can take place.” Be that be the path for you, then you have chosen to be a poet. For a poetic vocation, you writing new poems entails “the disciplining of a habit of expression until it becomes fundamental to the whole conduct of a life.”
The pandemic isn’t over. As the seasons transition, I wonder how we are living in a post-pandemic world. It depends on which part of the world you live I think.
There’s a new theme so if you’re interested, you may read about it here. Can writing be transformative? I think so, as I think about what Adrienne Rich said, “The moment of change is the only poem.”
Perhaps the wait is soon to be over.
A phantasmagoria of spending
arose entirely out of this pandemic
was just a surrogate for travel;
My soul is smelling of dead vegetation.
This fraying of nerves is soon to heal.
Attending to words, then a distrust of them.
A visitation from the sun, a playfulness
with shadows. What can prefigure the future
but time present and time past–
Eliot’s words on my page.
You read my litany and I really should
rein that in, shouldn’t I, holding the past at bay.
Yet shine a torch, that’s what I’m wont to do.
I read your words too, full of humor.
For us, there is only the trying,
didn’t he say. The rest is not our business.
Do you need prompting? Well, I’m sick and tired of saying the ‘L’ word..’Lockdown’ that is. Not the other ‘L’ word. If you’re puzzled just google it. Sorry for feeling slightly weary, though I hope to snap out of it as soon as the ‘L’ thing is over. We’re having reiterations of lockdown. There, I said it. And as usual, poetry is my thing to turn to when that happens. As it is, Red Wolf’s The Coronavirus Poetry Issue is in the making (read about it here.) The current theme of Red Wolf, My Dream Of You, is still open. Info found at the same link. Submissions are open till end August 2021. Anyway folks, do take care of your own wellness. I know the pandemic is affecting us and weird things like murder and madness are happening, in public and in private. So maybe write about it and submit?
We’re getting more and more remote,
friendship rumbling and dried away.
No more wish to sleep on it
yet sleep, when it comes, will take away
all consciousness of this world, take us
to other worlds. Why is that, you asked.
No answer of course.
We will take things as they come.
Exaltation diminished, glimpses through the rift,
like a faint hum or a long siren, glimmered.
As humans, growing less and less
dissimilar as the pandemic laid us bare.
I said that, lying through the teeth.
This is what I do, glowering at you.
What a pathetic earnestness,
looking at old photographs as if
first noticing the stars, me looking
sideways, you biting into a chip,
our youthful glances seared
into an old camera.
I lost track of poetry for a while. Then the Covid restrictions kicked in and I ran to poetry again. Social gatherings of no more than 2. No dining in. No gym. No facials. No no nooo.. Back to work from home. Back to home based learning. Our vaccinations are on track (I’ve had my two jabs) but we’re not immune to the Indian variant which is spreading in the community. Back to Bleak House. Back to poetry. There may be a Fall 2021 edition of The Coronavirus Poetry Issue. You may read about it here. If there’re no new accepted submissions, then that will be cancelled. It’s of your doing. It’s the zeitgeist of the pandemic. Cancel everything.
The kind of catastrophe we’re in
has us formlessly depressed;
it’s as if our perfected systems
are crumbling and no longer can be
shored up. We need to move
beyond layers of opaqueness
to get somewhere else.
We need this together,
a kind of ensemble singing
in this half lit world
full of revelations.
When will we be fully formed again?
Is this the lowest ebb?
We’re moribund, can do
the bare minimum.
Vapid, soppy and gushing,
living on our nerves, what
will be of our doing?
I almost titled this post “Looking for Robert Lee Brewer”. Long story short, I found him three days later. He’s the reason I got into poetry. I can’t remember how long ago it was, but I found Robert, got into poeming and then the rest is history. This year’s 2021 PAD challenge will be my swan song I believe. If you like you may submit your fresh poem to my poetry journal here/ So here it goes. Robert’s prompt is to write an “introduction” poem.
I know not but we’re lumped together
fetching hyacinths–“they called me the hyacinth girl”–
as if what we do is anything
of importance. And so we half-gagged ourselves
so we could not speak, and muted
in society, we recoiled.
We secretly met, and held hands,
fastidious about who we let in,
and thus cut off, we do our conjuring
in language, grew in spirit. So
in retrospect, that’s what it was,
how we chose really to live.
And all of a sudden mad March is over. March was listless. And yet full of lists of things to do. April on the other hand is all about poetry. Last night I looked out to the full moon. I wonder, what are you full of at the moment? Do you have a sense of fullness? Or do you feel a rich emptiness? Is it the same thing? I know I am full, chasing after this and that. Yet empty, but that’s a positive. After all that chase, you wish you are content and at peace. I’m not sure if I’m making sense. Anyway write about fullness.
Those silences, but life rolled on.
I grew histrionic and false.
You didn’t like it one bit.
And then it’s all water
under the bridge.
What use was belligerence?
What use indeed was being prickly,
and defensive? I want to be
weightless; I want peace.
And love? I want it rich
Sleep–do you have enough of it? We spend half our lives asleep. Or trying to sleep. I remember when I was in my 20s sleep would knock the daylights out of me and when my eyes opened it would be daybreak. Sleeping like clockwork is such a luxury. Because when I had kids, my sleep was severely broken. And I never really got back that uninterrupted sleep. Do you sleep jaggedly? But anyway when you sleep you dream and when you come out of a dream you awake. That’s how half our lives is. Sleep feels like astral wandering when you’re having an out-of-body experience and things (people, events, feelings) unfold in your mental state. And is death something like sleep, when your soul is elsewhere? So write about sleep/dreams.
What’s it like living Life After,
I ask of you, as in dreams
we would be doing things, as in life
if that were the goal. Then would
sunlight bedazzle the night?
You would be wandering in strange streets,
you said. Your face obscured.
And a blackbird would sing,
wouldn’t it? Take these sunken eyes
and learn to sleep…
Would you like to be the spokesperson
for the dead? Sing, the Phantom said.
Maybe that’s what I’m doing,
isn’t that a laugh! What cadences
I long to keep.
Sometimes you feel life is good. Like waking up on the right side of the bed, figuratively speaking. Then all feels well again. You feel laid back, relaxed. You get busy and active. That’s the way it should be, and may you have many days like that. Part of the goodness for me, is to get back to reading my current book. The power of a book that engrosses you, ah! That’s like good medicine. People may ask, why bother reading fiction? Fiction tells you stories that you would like to hear, out of curiosity, and you do get something out of it, depending on what you’re reading. Write a poem about books/reading.
In the evening the egrets came,
flapping into stillness.
We laid back, in the sunset.
Me, absorbed into a book, could not tear
away from, as if my soul was
Reading as a way to self-knowledge,
fiction being more real while
normality settled around like
dew, evaporating. To self-forget,
steeped in another consciousness
was to become a feather.
What pilgrimage is this?
The ultimate question.
You reached a certain point in life when you start to look backward. Because forward seems a shorter passage then the backward part. And then you may want to try writing a memoir. But it’s never straightforward, because the writing changes you. The writing is about the change. You are not the you of yesteryear. Write a poem that is a memoir.
In my middle age I am winnowing
the past, can still remember
the sanguine girl I was,
a moth to the flame
in a verdant field.
I absorbed the losses now,
chased the wind of forgetfulness,
asked the writing to be exacting.
Not wishful thinking, you said
pedantically taking my hand.
What can I say but I did not know,
could not know. The crows
kept circling, pecking,
black and sleek. I looked toward
the seabirds, bobbing.
As we transition to spring, as the sun begins to shine, something begins to stir and words want to fill our belly and warm us. Is that so for you? Oh the sun, the sun! Great shining orb in the sky! If you, like me, have been hibernating for too long, would you just come out for a while, to bask in the sun? Well, I’m expecting April to be a flowering season for poetry. So come out and play! Submit to our current Dream journal here.
I’d been mostly a leafless tree bare
of blossoms, but what would baring myself
mean, saying look at me, what shape would you
discern except the stripped, the Jonah
in God’s whale belly.
My womb is tear shaped. This spring
I will rake the earth one more
time, be all artifice, all evasive
you would say, so no one would
notice a wiry shape.
I will look into your shining eyes.
Time flies. 2020 flew by, and is now gone. We were all grounded, and then now we’re poised to expect release. The release came but partially, and we’re in fact still grounded. Like our wings are wet and we cannot fly. They weigh us down. How then did you find solace? I thought we’d given up on capitalism, in early Covid. But actually there was so much consumption, online at first then it’s online and bricks-and-mortar. Devil may care! Maybe it’s a different story for you. Whatever it is, let us hear it.
For a while now I’d feel muffled.
No sound ensued. How does it feel like
to live in a soundless world?
When words inflate and pop,
are of no use, and everyone had gone
back to science, tech and engineering–
I say go there, feel the fullness in
change in the real world.
One day you’ll come back,
searching. You’ll look different,
feel different, and I’d say
this isn’t vanity.
I’d slayed a few sacred cows myself
in the muffled light.