Some, a breath exhaled slowly into life-giving words.
Some, an excavation with bristles firm, then soft and careful.
Some, roots gnarled and half-buried we trip over them and follow them to trees.
Some, grains of sand to be gathered and shaped into delicate mounds washed into the sea.
We gather. We excavate. We dig and we build.
We are careful to use the right tools, the right angles the carved-out landscapes of metaphor and dream.
We speak for them, but they are our teachers.
all my fellow poets out there digging deep, finding the breath to
breathe life into your poetry, or just listening to your poems until
they speak themselves to you…it is a gift to be their voice.Embrace it. Be mindful. Always seek. Always listen.
Hot tea, infused with sugar white, granular, swallowed-up. Powdered creamer swirls, slips inside, a marriage of “Good Morning” and “Wake up” to me, sleepy on the couch.
Pungent warmth to tongue, to throat, to the insides…a dissipation to soothe the memories away. Some days they come.
A survivor, me? The multi-syllabic mess of me?
You have so much to offer, she said, with a genuine smile. She was a nice lady, put-together well-dressed, dignified, attractive, walking in heels up steps. Grace on stilts with a syrupy lure, to share myself…to share me?
My input, my experience my story, my chrysalis shed, to empower other women who shift in bruised realities, someone stealing their right to just be without a price tag on their needs.
Those women are the me I used to be.
I don’t feel very empowered Sitting here sipping tea. The past rises, even if you swallow it whole again and again. Insufficient distance between us for my Soul to rise up and fly free.
You cast stones lift your curses high, chanting carried away, to hide and wait for you… its return three-fold? I think no goddess hears you. It is a barren place, your circle.
It is my pleasure, to wipe your sweet nectar from proboscis and pen, parts of your soul digging into mine. (I use it!) I abuse it, this loving that I must do. After all, you hate the thing that feeds you.
I am Ophelia. I will rise, collect wretched daisies and pass them out one by one, to gaping faces, sterile-hearted creatures that watch me drift downstream and know not my spirit.
But you! Stone in hand your anger rises, a fat red circle in the sky. Your blacks and greys writhe behind bulging, hollow eyes, twist inside your vertebrae. You light your candles fool! You collect your symbols… Idolatry! Curses! Hatred!
It is a barren place, your circle.
I ran into a guy some years ago who professed to be Wiccan, but his “practice” of it was mingled with mental health issues and a gross distortion of what Wicca stands for. Please do NOT consider this poem as a blast of Wicca — it was most certainly not from that place. I am a practicing Christian — and I believe people have every right to believe and practice their faith as they wish. But any time a person is using their religion to do harm to other people — this is not ok with me.
This man heard me make a comment about missing someone I loved who had broken off a relationship with me. The individual I wrote this poem about was so angry at my comment — all I had said was that I missed someone who had meant a lot to me — and this guy lost his marbles. He began calling me all hours of the day and night (I think he thought I was interested in pursuing a relationship with him and I was NOT at all!) cursing me, cursing my name, cursing my children — saying that he had placed an actual curse on me. He then had his WIFE call me and do the same. It was terrifying. They claimed to be calling on all kinds of witchcraft to damn me. He said he was a Warlock with special powers to destroy me.
After this terrifying experience, I wrote this poem as a way to cleanse myself of the anger and fear. I wanted it to be clear that it was not a slamming of any religion or belief system — but more a fit of screaming anger at two seriously crazy people who tried to destroy my spirit. This poem was originally posted on MySpace if that tells you how long ago it was. I stumbled upon the poem today in my files and thought I’d share it. Hopefully, no one will take offense — as it was not intended to be offensive.
Interestingly — I only knew this person for TWO WEEKS!!
Thanks for reading Circles and Stones. I am grateful that poetry can be liberating and help us to heal.
I am thinking of my favorite paintbrush — poetry 🖌
My first experience with loving the poetic word was in a high school literature class when my teacher assigned us to choose a poem and deliver a short speech about it to our class. The poem I chose was Sylvia Plath’s Edge.
…odors bleed From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about, Staring from her hood of bone.
— Edge, Sylvia Plath
There was something so deeply disturbing, yet profoundly magical, in that poem. I was drawn inexorably to those words.
I began writing creatively in high school and poetry as early as 16. A Tale of Two Poems is an article I wrote featuring two of the poems I wrote in high school. And, I don’t think they are too terrible. 😉
Poetry is a living, breathing element of my being, the tool by which I choose to express parts of me I dare others to attempt to understand.
It is my favorite tool, and as I choose to paint, and I paint with words. What poetry means to another individual is completely unique and right in its own way as all of us are touched and moved by it in varying ways.
Despite my initial attraction to poetry, at times writing it has eluded me, the brushes remaining in a dusty cup on a shelf in the corner of life. As a child, I was compelled to pick up this brush and sit with it in my hand, yet no poem would pour out of its colorless brushes.
As I have grown into my adult skin I have both lived and consumed and observed the colors of life that fill my brush again and again.
This gives me means by which to splash myself onto paper, eternalizing that which could otherwise be washed away in time. I have learned through the years that sometimes I write the poem, and sometimes the poemwrites me.
Poetry can breath itself into us, painting our souls with richness, emotion, clarity, and a whole range of other reactions, or it can be bled out of us, inviting others to grasp its music and its colors with canvases of their own waiting to be filled.
Consider the poetry in your life. Consider the paintbrushes with which you write. And always seek to fill those brushes with wondrous color.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing poetry, it’s that you’re never done learning how to do it. Anytime I find a new angle, a new inspiration, or technique, it feels like my first day as a poet all over again. I pick up my imaginary feather quill, dip it in my imaginary pot of magical ink, and I write.
So get out your imaginary quill and take a few notes. Perhaps there are a few poems waiting for you to birth them. Here are a few ideas that do not come from any book I’ve read or class I’ve taken, but from my quill, and the bend my mind takes while rounding new corners to find poetry.
Let’s talk syzygy.
(Ok so I learned a new word today and couldn’t resist adding it in…)
noun, plural syz·y·gies.
1. Astronomy . an alignment of three celestial objects, as the sun, the earth, and either the moon or a planet: Syzygy in the sun-earth-moon system occurs at the time of full moon and new moon.
2. Classical Prosody . a group or combination of two feet, sometimes restricted to a combination of two feet of different kinds.
3. any two related things, either alike or opposite.
We will consider the third definition of syzygy. Two examples will help to explain.
Parallel Syzygy Poem
The first example, I call parallel poetry writing. In this technique you will follow this equation:
Equation: an object, a living being, or a train of thought + an action = new poem
Rule:The first item, being, or thought will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. The two will be similar in some way so that the comparison isn’t too forced, uncomfortable, confusing, or stark.
Here is an example of a poem that I wrote using this method:
thoughts of a child + swinging on a swing = Yesterdays
As you can see, there are easy similarities to be drawn between a child and the action of swinging and the two are easily pictured in the same scene.
Here is the poem for quick reference:
Why don’t you climb inside my braids and sing me a song?
swinging out over the grasses our feet stretched so high the chain-link grinds as we rise toward sun
Why don’t you open up your freckles and let me inside?
I need to know where the June bugs hide in the winter when swings don’t swing and the night stands still
Consider the first stanza; these are the silly things you’d find bouncing around inside of the head of a happy child, lost in imaginative play. This theme carries throughout the poem as this child contemplates freckles and friendship, June bugs and their wanderings.
The action of swinging is evident as expressed in stanza two. Listen to the sound of the chain link grinding on the pole as this child swings. There’s also an interesting twist to this poem with regards to the structure…swinging out and back in with the line lengths, to mimic the pattern of swinging.
Juxtaposed Syzygy Poem
Now for the second example, I call juxtaposed poetry writing. You will, again, follow this equation:
Equation: an object, a living being, or a train of thought + an action = new poem
Rule: The first item, being, or thought will be the actual topic of your poem but you will borrow imagery and descriptive words from the action you have chosen. The two things will have very little, if anything, in common.
Here is an example of a poem I wrote using this method:
Ripped from the belly of the sea pregnant with vowels our tails slap hard pendulous swings, our eyes are benign, panicked moons, fibroadenomas sitting inside our heads.
They must be plucked out.
We climb outside ourselves, hold the knife steady, scrape against the grain, shedding our silvers until we are clean, carve a canoe-slice across our necks another, neck to belly, our insides slide free.
This poem is about the vulnerability of being a poet. The poet must open up parts of themselves, sometimes very personal, with raw honesty. Now consider the action. Have you ever seen the cleaning of a fish? If you have not it is a violent really kind of gross thing to see. The knife scraping the scales away (called the “silvers” in this poem), and slicing off the head, cutting the length of the belly the fishes guts spill out in a slippery glub. The panicked eyes are wide.
I described the writer process using the terminology, visual images, and description of a fish cleaning process to show that opening process the poet does while writing. We dig pretty deep when writing poetry — our insides slide free.
One would not normally think of these two things at the same time, but the metaphor sits well in this poem, giving it richness, depth, and provokes an emotional reaction in the reader.
Now, anyone want to give it a try?
Choose either of the above methods and write your poem. Link back here so I can see what you create!
“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
― Anaïs Nin
Christina Ward is a poet and aspiring author working on her first book, a piece of literary, mainstream fiction, and is a columnist for the Observer News Enterprise newspaper. Her poetry has been published in the Cameo literary magazine, the Arrowhead literary magazine, Vita Brevis Poetry Magazine, and in Wolff Poetry Literary Magazine.
Beneath this earth so many souls. In this ground right where I stand, my bare-heeled ache on the grit; do they linger here?
Do their solemn hazes pass me by as my breath drifts me one day to the next? Am I aware of that chill, that pressure in the air shifting, disturbing, a moaning whisper to my human ears? Does it shift me?
I turned on the light I asked you to leave
In the pierce of afternoon sun an oak; a bleak, towering, ivy-choked oak. An angular ghost. The last leaf fell long before I appeared, a shifting soul, nowhere to go. I contemplate its lean.
When comes the terrible fall? When comes the violent creaking that will rip me from my sleep?
Sudden noises — squirrel-gray antics on maple boughs, on living, bending boughs or dead bark-bare and bony limb; no difference to them, with their inexorable ramblings all toenail and chatter. They gather and they gather.
How soon will I sink into worm-foul and rot?
They will scurry across my grave. They, or their generations of they.
The dead tree refusing to fall… These wiry-tailed rodents’ gatherings… These shadows of souls carried quietly by… and I? Barefooted, sore-footed I; standing in the dirt left to ponder it all.
I had a vision. A pole; horizontal, unmoving. Suspended from it — carrion in varying stages of decomposition;
One, freshly hung drips its life blood free drip…drip…drip…
Another, rotting begun, its surface writhes with maggots and flies.
The third is rot-worn black, a carcass shell or its former self.
The three hanging there just out of reach, as are most things when you are hungry.
A bear, standing on two legs angrily reaching one sharp-clawed swipe after another roaring swipe menacing arcs cutting the sky just out of reach, just out of reach.
I don’t want to be this bear.
Sad thing. Always reaching for the depleting, the constantly wearing, disintegrating, withering dreams cut short just hanging there… dreams dripping in the sun. No, that is not for me.
I do not want to be this bear, pathetic hungry beast reaching for the despaired, decaying and wormed away by the negative and the bleak, gnawing, stealing, tearing dreams disappearing, eaten away in the sun.
I do not want to be this hungry animal reaching for the rotten, the black the ghosts of dreams the illusion of dreams the dreams that used to exist.
I want to be a different beast. A noble, beast of wanderlust and curiosity, broad-shouldered thick-backed and wiry and feasting on berries plump with juice and seed paws-full gathered in the bliss of the sun and breeze. The work is of no mind. A belly can be filled with the small, if there are many.
want to chase after the living, the sprinting and darting deer, eyes frozen wide with fury and fear… devouring the fresh flesh-dream full of muscle and blood pumping full of organic desire, of opportunity racing, raging into life, unabashed.
I had a vision, or perhaps a vision has me. A sharp-clawed roar impels me.