Archive | March 2017

Adagio – A Musical Memory 

I’m addicted to handwritten notations whether it be in music or in personal notes and letters.  For years, eight in total if memory serves, I took piano from Miss Edmonds, a matronly spinster who lived in a grand Victorian with her sister also dwelling In spinsterdom.  Their house bulged with big rooms and overgrown gardens and a long spindled staircase where would-be-virtuoso’s could sit and have a balcony-esque view of the June recitals which we prepared for all year.  

In those days there were no public school programs for music so teachers like Miss Ellen, as we called her, would come to our school and teach us for a monthly fee of $9. In retrospect, I think my parents got what they paid for in the  3 or 4 lessons per week for the nine-month school year.  

We learned to practice, to almost fully memorize our recital pieces, and to show up and perform. Our parents must have thought we were all musical as so many of us took lessons. Musical theory and critical elements like counting and such?  Well… that was not much a part of our curriculum.  In fact, in a recent discussion with a dear friend, it seems neither of us learned to count or learned theory at all. 

In discussions with her as discussions usually go, we shared thoughts about our experience and mine led to “adagio.”  That word triggered a memory when I was reading The Bridges of Madison County when it first came out.   

Somewhere, inside of the breathing, music sounds, and the curious spiral dance begins then, with a meter all its own that tempers the ice-man with spear and matted hair. And slowly— rolling and turning in adagio, in adagio always—ice-man falls… from Dimension Z… and into her. 

When originally reading these passages from The Bridges of Madison County the word ‘adagio’ immediately triggered an image of Miss Ellen and my music lessons. I am transported to Accomac Elementary, and it is fourth grade.  From Domenzion Z and always adagio — I flop into Counting Purgatory on a tinny-sounding  upright. Memory, at that moment, seemed to think I needed to remember Miss Edmonds?  Memory, I think I problably thought,  needed to get a life!  

I hadn’t thought of that book or my short-lived music career in years. But having a discussion with my friend triggered this complete sequence of thought again.  The link to the full passage from the book is a must read for further inspiration as the love-letter portion is poignant.  I’m still annoyed, however,  that one of my most beloved literary letter’s segments is marred by images of dear Miss Ellen looming large as the irony of the crescendoed interlude picked up this unlikely interloper.  

What memories do you have from childhood that may have  popped up at in inopportune time? What did you study as a child that recently came to the forefront, triggered perhaps by a word, a song, or conversation with an old friend? 

I’ll share some fragments soon as I’m sure I can marry Miss Ellen to Dimension Z in some meaningful way. My hope is you develop a draft or completed work as well.  I’m working on a poetry workshop for April and will post links here of interest. Stay tuned. 

Three Ideas for National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month

 

Post A Daily Poem

A few years ago I enjoyed tweeting a short poem each morning on Twitter during April.  It gave me the opportunity to interact with many poets and venues that participated in the fray that is the hallmark of the Twitter realm.  I still have cherished contacts there.  Twitter is a great way to hashtag your way into community interaction with other like-minded individuals, so if you haven’t tried it, you may want to.

In 2011, I tweeted a portion of a poem everyday, the April 20 segment on NPR’s Tell Me More program is when they aired my tweet.  The link includes the whole month so you can get a flavor for their project.

Whatever platform you use on a regular basis, pick one or two and concentrate on poetry- related content.  Share new or older works…whatever you feel comfortable with.  I usually include fragments or drafts in my postings, and it’s usually something that does not have enough potential to becoming published otherwise.   Keep in mind that anything you post could wind up being misappropriated so you must decide for yourself whether you want to share at all and how much of your work you want out there in this way.

Take a Workshop or Signup for a Poetry Class

There are lots of offerings at local libraries, bookstores, or schools throughout the month.  Look for individuals that you know have a strong reputation for imparting their love of poetry and craft.  For those who may be in the mid-Delaware region, I offer an eight-session workshop on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  If you check your local area, you will find lots of events as well.

Attend a Poetry Reading or Sponsor One

During the month of April there are more poetry readings than usual.  Check your local papers and see what is available in your area.  If you can’t find one, then consider  hosting one at your local library or a coffee shop or bookstore.  You could hold a contest and invite poets to read.  Now might be the time to think outside the box.  Poetry opens the lines of communication in many ways.  Decide which way works for you and get involved in bringing an awareness to the public.  An on-line option is the Poem-In-Your-Pocket project. It’s an easy way to make a difference aad will be held on April 17 this year.  The site also offers tips.

Whatever you decide to do, enjoy.  Take pen in hand and write or join in the month long celebration.

 

 

 

 

Revisionist

IMG_1754.JPGPart of the difficult portion of writing poetry is revising fragments of thought into a coherent whole.  My work arrives as tattered pieces which often clutter the page and are anything but a cohesive unit.  A recent poem got its roots from a broken tree which suffered major damage during a storm..

This tree an elm,

as if on tiptoe in a jazz improv

performs a dance leaning this way and that

in a fluid retching of

arms reaching skyward

aware of a gapping scar

poised in silent scream

an emotionless flail

unable to escape

the tangled masses of

broken bones

shredded at its feet — anchored

in the dance of unmoving feet

In revision, the words take on new meaning in a shuffle and reshuffle.  The tangled masses of bramble from the recent storm leads me to question how trees withstand their plight.  Their movement in the wind seems a logical outlet to express what they silently absorb.  The revising resulted in this:

Bramble of Branches
Elm tree on tiptoe
Performs a jazz improv.
In dance, leans this way,
Then that–
A fluid wrenching, arms
Reaching skyward
Expose a gapping scar
Posed in silent scream-
Emotionless flail–
Inescapably tangled
In masses of broken bones
Cracked at its feet–
Anchored in this dance,
Rooted, immovable feet.
Consideration of further word choices will be necessary as the stationary plight of the tree begs to be juxtaposed with the emotional inability to be moved. I also like the slight hint of moveable feast brought by mention of immovable feet.
What this poem really wants to say alludes me at the moment.  It’s saying something but I’m not sure what it is speaking.  I’ll let it gel for now and see what solidifies.  If you have suggestions, I would welcome them.

 

 

Repealing Affordables

Writing is not easy. If you strive for honesty, you risk exposing a nerve or two. I watch in disbelief much of what I see and hear in the various media outlets I visit.  My eyes and ears ache from the onslaught. 

In January I was invited to participate in a reading here in my home town. The National Writer’s Resistance was planned for the following day, and since I could not attend, one of my poems was dedicated to them in a show of solidarity. 

What causes do you have opinions on?  What views do you want to vent?  A writing prompt for today is to pick any headline and begin a rant. 

I gathered some thoughts as I tried to make sense of the nonsensical.  I have always had the perfect health care plan as I worked for the government.  It’s an affordable plan all of us should have. It is beyond my comprehension why this plan, the same plan our congressmen enjoy, could not be the plan for all of us.    

Today as debates rage, I choose  to revisit the health care issue. You are welcome to share my poem.  

From my vantage, I do not comprehend why life and death matters require some of our representatives to unscrew their heads and flay open their chests. It seems pointless for them to prove they have minds and hearts when facts seem to determine otherwise. I no longer seek absolute truths. I seek wisdom. 

Writing is one path to explore the unknown.  Let your thoughts flow and discover what you think about what you may be thinking about.  What do you know about what you think you know?  

Repeal of Affordable Care as Doom Looms in a Five-Letter Word

I watch

From my bird’s eye view 

Perched high

In my elevated stand

Clad in my single

Payor cloak…

The drama unfolds.

I gasp. 

Reviews will agree with mine. 

Repeal will be

Breathtaking. 

Yes. 

Breath.

Taking.