Category Archives: Full of literary ambitions!

Verbum satis (est)–“A Poem of Unequal Meters, for an Unequal Subject”

A Poem of Unequal Meters, for an Unequal Subject

Love is a thing that has no whys and wherefores
Love is a thing that comes but once a year;
Or once a century, or once a fortnight,
Love has no rationale, it’s oh! so clear.

Love is betwixt and between the poles and deserts,
Love is both hot and cold, angry and shy,
First we cast it off, and then we seek for it,
When we want it, then no love can we descry.

Love is both sure of itself and quite uncertain,
Love can’t decide whether to go or stay;
Where other things crawl and lump along life’s toll road
We often expect love freely to make its way.

We pay a huge price for love, yet eagerly give it
Many times to such contenders as value it not,
And whatever we have to invite its honest presence
Others would give up for what we have not got.

For lovers’ sakes we pull our hair, and beat our breastbone,
Like to a host of cannibals on the prowl,
Such spiritual nourishment torn from human sources
In a case of symbolic replacement, any old how.

On the days when love’s spirit, though, doesn’t plague us,
We fall for love’s body, a hand, a lip, an eye:
Yet always we find ourselves incredulous
Whatever our own appeal, that love passes us by.

For it doesn’t matter how modest we are, or how clever,
We’re born with a sense that it’s a democracy,
Yet often when love overtakes us, aristocratic
Norms prevail, and do not set us free.

So take your best shot at it, or forego it,
You’re born to it! Or, you lack love’s troublesome spark,
But be sure should you falter in love’s path, my dear, you will know it,
And find yourself lost and stumbling in the dark.

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 10/11/17

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A Poem for a Friend, Already Much Missed Though Still Present–“To a Departing Friend”

For the occasion of the publication of this poem, I don’t mind revealing that it is a poem based on fact, and is written for a friend whose presence will be sorely missed.  We’ve all lived through such an experience, when all the little debates and differences of opinion we go through with our friends are suddenly less important than the friend’s upcoming departure.  Debate is often a luxury of presence, and  later unity of mind and temper prevail, so that we can express what we deeply and truly feel, at the last possible moment, when absence will begin to be felt.

To a Departing Friend

Yes, I am full of commonplaces,
Conversational gambits,
Some not new, some all my own.
I say to you,
“‘…the feast of reason,
And the flow of soul.'”
And in search of some universal
(Or at least particular) truth,
You say in frustration,
“Defense mechanism.”
Considering my options,
And reviewing my mistakes,
I say,
“This is all I can do,
This makes me survive.”
In search of making myself and you
A little more perfect,
If such a thing could ever have degrees,
You point to this as my
“Comfort zone.”
Don’t chase your own tail, my friend,
That’s a ploy for kittens and puppies,
Who don’t yet recognize
The other end of themselves following.
The fact is,
That my life has been made so much better
By your intercession for me
With the storms and high winds
Of happenstance
Which precede
The visits of the gods,
And you have for a while
Kept me most divine company
In the space allotted us
Before the great dark.
Who knows if what heaven there is
Is not arranged and populated
By such conversations as ours,
And the sorrow and laughter
We have shared
Are not apportioned out
To all who would live on
Beyond their death?

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 9/29/17

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A Poem for a Season Past: “Wise Lovers”

Autumn is the time of year for saying goodbye to many people and things, summer among them.  Here is a poem for parting lovers who want to mitigate their suffering.

Wise Lovers

They each had deep-laid plans
For neither would be left;
At least, they thought of it
As not to be bereft.
One thought of life alone
After the ship had sailed
On love for the last time
And often wept and railed.
The other thought of days
Spent doing what he list,
Post facto happiness
At not to have been kissed.
For kissing would imply
That he had returned love,
And would incur the wrath
Of those ruling above.
And too, he thought of it
As generous and bland
To garner love and trust
With a well-opened hand.
And, who’s to say he’s wrong
When all is said and done?
Love listened to and heard
Is love near half-begun.
Nay, it’s no breach of faith
To say what’s possible;
Refuse to war with rules,
To cite life codicils–
You know, those edicts all
Follow when pressed at last
When thinking of breaches
Committed in the past.
Examples rule the day
For either of the pair,
One quoting poetry,
The other, custom’s fare.
So finally, they part.
While one will stay and mourn
The other seeks new shores
And who knows if he’s torn?
But both were well-prepared
Despite sorrow and dole,
Or using partial ways
To make a brand-new whole.
The first said to herself
“I will be left someday”;
The other said, “It’s time–
I must be on my way.”
Of Circe and Calypso
One could debate and ask
If such impediments
Made worse Ulysses’ task.
Odysseus was wise
Though wiser still may be
To love and count as nothing
Love’s inconvenient sea.
But both had planned ahead
As far as they could see,
And so my lovers end
Not so unhappily.
Though it is difficult,
Still, they can well forfend
To utter irked retorts,
Reproaches at the end.

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 9/19/17

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A Poem from a Dream, Based on People-Watching–“A Life”

Today, I’m putting up a poem that I actually woke up with in the wee hours, of all silly romantic notions about poetry!  I was dreaming the first line or two, and in the dream remembering someone I saw at the bar once, who didn’t really even make an impression on me at the time.  Be that as it may, once I heard the first two lines in my head, I had to get up and write it down, and the rest of it just came automatically.  I don’t know about you, but this sort of inspiration happens to me, usually, never, if “usually, never” is a thing one can say!  Anyway, I hope the real person’s actual life is better than the things I dreamed about him.  In all likelihood, he was just getting over a tiff with the wife and was at the bar to soothe his frazzled nerves.  Here goes:

A Life

He was a man
Rich in tea bags
And paper napkins.
His days were bounded
By thoughts of Caesar
And Agamemnon
But he was none of them.
Most of his friends
Thought he must at one time
Have been British,
For the accent was hard to place.
And when the little moustache quivered
At some frustration
With a daily happenstance,
In secret, they found it funny,
Though they didn't want to hurt him,
Oh no, never to hurt him.
He liked some alcohol in moderation,
Going to the local bar to have it
And always saluting the waitress politely,
Though he longed for a male presence
To be at his elbow, solicitous.
In token of her womanhood,
He always used the cardboard coaster
She brought him under his pint,
As if it had been her house and he her guest,
Convinced that she found him
More gallant that way.
He took his landlady's grim lace curtains
Down to be washed one day
When she had left them up just too long;
One day in winter, when the weather
Was damp and drear,
And he got soaked through, and his feet wet.
Then he sneezed once and was promptly ill,
As he would have expected.
When he signed into the hospital
The doctor wrote "chest complaint";
How quaint!  As if he belonged
To another, untechnical era indeed.
And when he inexplicably sickened and died
A few days later,
"No family" was written on his card at the morgue,
Though a few well-meaning acquaintances
Held a brief and noncommittal
Commitment service
Over his ashes.
His little bird, as if she had been
A secret mistress no one knew about
Or had forgotten in the dull excitement,
Chirped with mysterious forebodings
For three days more
And then gave out from lack of water;
She only knew that she had nothing to drink,
Couldn't get out,
And there was nothing to be done about it.
When the ones appointed
Went to clear out,
They found her, and
"What a pretty pet!
How nice it would have been
For the children to take her!" they said.
She, whose little claws had stiffened
Into predatory shapes,
So gentle as she was.
Gentle, as he had been gentle,
And sometimes annoyed without conviction
At the bounds of her cage,
Just as he with his life.
No greater conqueror than he of her,
She his only claimed territory,
The only living thing he even lightly controlled.
His friends, shrugging in amusement
At the cabinet of tea and coffee supplies,
The paper napkins and the cans and jars
And boxes of tea and coffee,
Ended by dividing them up,
Each grateful, but not unduly,
For his or her share,
"To remember him by,"
Not one of them wondering
How long they might remember him
When the stuff was gone.
The landlady, satisfied that the tenant
Had kept the premises clean
Contented herself with a mere sweep
And a few swipes
With a lemon polish rag,
Putting her notices up in the paper again.

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/27/17

As I recall, in the dream I had early this morning, I was actually writing a story about this character, but I remember the first few lines of the poem distinctly; I was also getting very annoyed in the dream with a friend who was talking at me and keeping me from writing the story down.  Good thing I woke up, I guess; at least the poem is left!  Shadowoperator

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The Essence or Real Nature of a Person or Thing–A Poem Called “Quiddity”

The term “quiddity” signifies the essence or real nature of a person or thing.  I have chosen it for the title of this short, cheerful (and possibly quite mistaken) poem in order to make a point:  what we are at our cores may be very different from what we feel about ourselves most of the time.  I experienced a moment (only a moment before I sank back into everyday uncertainty) in which I felt quite happy about my chances in life.  This poem is the result:

Quiddity

I had a very strange moment today
Of being glad I was I.
It wasn't just like the usual
Which oftener ends in a sigh.
What caused it, I couldn't quite tell you,
Or just what made being so right,
But buoyant I felt, and happy and quick
And ready to put forth a fight.
Though challenges face me, I'm safe now,
Though foes may be strong in my path,
But the way I was feeling this morning,
I think I'd just see them and laugh.
I had a peculiar notion today
That somehow, my problems were small;
They didn't seem nearly as big as before
Or I not so ready to fall.
What prompted this state of elation
I couldn't quite say and don't know,
But if it's now time for a battle
Then by heaven!  I'm ready to go.
I don't think I'm captain material,
Though let me just say it again
That if I continue as I was today,
Then I'd be surprised not to win!

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/23/17

One can’t feel this way all the time, of course, but if you’re feeling this way at all, in spite of all the bad things that have happened in the public arena lately, then I’d advise you to take advantage of the feeling and try to do something worthwhile, even if it’s only to work some more on poetry or fiction or posts on literature:  you never know whom you might affect to the good.

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“Having a Clear-Out (to Katia Gregor’s eloquence on the same subject)”

Back on October 9, 2016, on Katherine (Katia) Gregor’s site Scribe Doll’s Musings, she dealt ferociously  and fiercely (and eloquently!) with a subject that has always been a weak area for me, the subject of having a good clearing-out.  So I suppose it was no wonder that recently, faced with a clearing-out need of my own, I decided to write about it, and to dedicate the poem I wrote to her previous writing on the topic.  I’m only hoping that once I finish the preliminaries and get through the grubby bits, that I will be able to get the new bag on the old, tired vacuum cleaner for a clean sweep (a challenge at which I do not excel, usually managing to fill the engine with gunk instead of getting the bag on straight).  Here’s my effort, which I dedicate to Katia:

Having a Clear-Out
(To Katia Gregor's eloquence on the same subject)

Throw out the old holey socks.
Hang all the sweaters and tops
In the appropriate part of the closet.
Do likewise
With the pants and skirts.
The paperwork is enormous,
What to shred, what to save,
Better leave it until the end,
The cocktail party confetti of all the chances you missed
While you were busy playing with papers.
Remember to buy more clothes pins;
There aren't enough.
Fold blankets
And put all but one
Away,
You're alone here now,
And have only yourself
To keep warm,
At least until better days
Come along.
The cat's box is clean,
She under the bed
In her accustomed place
For the day.
She wonders,
But will get her curiosity prowl
This evening,
When it's time to make
Her usual appearance.
Throw away old tissues
  and wrappers
That have accumulated
Around the bedside table;
Reading in bed is said
To be a bad habit,
But one that's lifelong,
So why stop now?
Just remove the clutter and evidence
And no one who might be here by chance
Will care.
One must of course suppose an audience
For most of this to make sense,
As why's one stray hole in a sock
The more or less
Important just for you?
The books, no doubt, are a labor of love,
But they never get sorted and reshelved
Satisfactorily anyway,
So let them stay where you can find them,
Ready-to-hand
The next time there's no clearing-out
To take up an idle day.
For, somehow,
You thought it'd take longer,
The ordering of a whole life to date;
Is there really that little,
You ask yourself,
Or have I already disposed
Of that much before?
Did I throw out anything
Unwarily,
That I might need?
A moment's anxiety,
A moment's thrill
At the unexpected danger;
And now that there's room,
Who knows what next
Will step over the doorsill?

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/22/17

There is a difference, of course, at least one, in Katia’s creative post on clearing out and mine:  hers and mine were occasioned by different things, and went in somewhat different directions.  Still, I wanted to dedicate this poem to her because I thought of her when I was clearing out and also when I was writing this poem.  Katia, you make good things happen!  Shadowoperator

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A Poem Using a Frequently Occurring Rhetorical Figure: “Paralipsis”

Though love poems are sometimes happy and sometimes sad, there’s no reason that one cannot also use a rhetorical figure to express its point.  Paralipsis is a rhetorical figure in which one vows that one is not going to discuss something, all the while mentioning it.  It is as if one were to say, “I have no intention of mentioning my opponent’s underhanded tactics!”  One is, thus, calling the tactics into prominence and awareness again, all the while saying one has no intention of doing so.  That’s what this poem is at least partly about.

Paralipsis

I'm not going to speak about love, no,
For it gets me overwrought.
I've said all I'm going to say now,
I can't give love a thought.

I'm not going to think about love, no,
Why should I be upset?
I've considered the whole thing very well,
Or I'd be reflecting yet.

I'm not going to tumble in love, no,
It's made a mistake with me,
Because I'm in love right now, and it
Wears me down mightily.

I'm not going to write about love, no,
Or put my woes in verse;
For love has a way of sneaking in,
(Unless I'm very terse.)

©Victoria Leigh Bennett, 1/18/17

I hope you had some fun, at least, with this poem; I had, in writing it.  All for now!  Shadowoperator

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