Category Archives: Poetry and its forms and meanings

“A Theory of Time”–My latest love poem

This is my latest love poem, and I have to say that even though not all of my poems are love poems, I’m beginning to wonder if people are getting tired of my favorite poetic subject, of all my poetic subjects, if they by and large aren’t poetically inclined, if they resent rhyme (as I often use it, and some people consider it out of style), or if they’re even reading my output at all.  I still am getting tons of reads of my literary essays, some even all the way back to 2012 when I first started my blog, but it’s rare for people to comment on the poetry, or even give it a “like,” which admittedly is a bit of a lazy technique for comments, though I have occasionally used them when I couldn’t think of what else to say.  So, if you are reading, folks out there, don’t feel unequal to the situation, or shy:  most poets are flattered even to be read.  I can tell by some of my stats that the poetry is less popular, but other stats suggest that some readers are getting to it through “Archives” and the “front page,” as I call it.  Let me invite you to read, and have your say.

A Theory of Time

After a while, the rope will fray and break
That is tied and stretched and tested for love's
  long sake;
Though aeons may pass without apparent change
Then on a sudden the atoms will rearrange

Themselves, and the threads will fast unweave
And the lover's heart, torn and tattered, cease
  to cleave
(Except when "cleave" means to split and to divide,
Whereupon the rope then untwines from side to side

Rather like two snakes, themselves undoing from acts
  of love
If really that were their destined formation,
  to be wove.)
Rope, quite like the mirror, split from side to side,
And Tennyson's curse seems to mock and to deride.

Ropes and rivers, and bodies in boats drifting
  with the tide
To Camelot, where the towers spread out wide,
And boats are secured, as long as ropes hold true,
But boats are just boats, and rue is only rue.

For when men and ladies rue what has been done,
And time rolls around, intent to spare not one,
Then Camelot once again peeks out from time
Granting a suffering unwound and sublime.

And then threads of love lie loosely
  on the ground,
Quiescent, dependent from the parent round
So that all one can say is "It once was
  in Camelot,
And wherever else, and now the bonds are not."

For, regal and royal we most of us just fail of,
And our Camelots flourish on more quotidian love,
Long testings and strivings, so noble and honored
  and free--
Why, ropes already riven would float us out
  to sea!

So, consider, my love, that I still love and hope,
Though for aeons, it seems, I haven't yanked
  on the rope;
But left you at peace, where it seems you want
  to be,
As far as a galaxy, universe, from me.

©4/19/2019 by Victoria L. Bennett

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Poetry and its forms and meanings, What is literature for?

“Responsive Reading”–A form altered from the sacred

Though some of you may be unacquainted with the term “responsive reading,” many of you will know the form from a church context.  It is in form in which the minister, rabbi, imam, or priest speaks certain set lines, and the congregation, when he or she is done, repeats another set line or lines, usually shorter, which seems to sum up or comment upon what the leader said.  I decided to try writing a secular poem using this form, even a secular poem which ends with a reference to my very best friend, my cat.  Some might feel that this is reductive of the form in a profane way, but I like to think that what comes around goes around, and that as I have also written some poems with God-references and spiritual topics, I’m allowed.  So, here is the poem:

Responsive Reading

How many bright morning are left in the day
‘Ere mornings and evenings and all pass away?
How long shall I linger, how long shall I strive?
How long before I am no longer alive?

And then there falls a long silence.

Though I am still searching for dubious goals,
And most of my best-laid plans have gaping holes,
I yet ponder daily on how to achieve
The things I most want to do before I leave.

And it seems that the sky folds and snickers.

It happened upon a time there was someone
Who made all my days much more easily run;
But then he found other things far more his style,
And left without grieving, but just with a smile.

Love is a mug’s game, through and through.

So, now I prize letters that fall on the mat,
And seek correspondents, and dote on my cat;
And make my dear calico poems on her eyes–
At least to her I need not spout any lies.

Love is salvation, between true companions.

Oh Lucie, oh Lucie, oh Lucie-Minou!
Your eyes are like jade, and your nature’s so true;
I would that all humans were loyal as you,
And smart and quick-witted, and beautiful too!

We all eventually find our own way out.

©4/1/2019 by Victoria L. Bennett

Leave a comment

Filed under Poetry and its forms and meanings

Rupi Kaur and “The Sun and Her Flowers”–When simplicity is enough

Upon first perusing Rupi Kaur’s second book of poetry, The Sun and Her Flowers, published in 2017 hard upon the heels of her extremely successful first book, Milk and Honey (which I haven’t yet read), I was at first a little disappointed.  The complicated devices and figures I, at least, prefer to find in poetry were missing.  The poem was a long sort of prose poem of most short, declarative sentences, with a few questions strewn here and there, interspersed with clever sketches of the stages of a woman’s life.  The most complicated comparison seemed to be that of comparing people to sunflowers, which, in the titles of the various divisions of the poem, go through stages of “wilting,” “falling,” “rooting,” “rising,” and “blooming.”  That seemed at first not only too simple, but a little simple-minded.  But something kept me reading, anyway.  Perhaps it was the desire to see the “plot” fulfilled, which is one of the characteristic things analysts say drives the reading of a prose work.  I mean, given the organic governing metaphors, and the theme of “to everything a season,” a certain uplift at the end was to be expected, it was apparent.  Still, this particular evocation of the growing season had somehow become more interesting than just the generalized comparison:  she had sneaked it in on me.

As I read, I followed the poem through the delineation of a violently-inclined love affair and its end, the grief and desolation which follow the ending of even a bad love, the gradual recuperation that, if one is basically life-oriented and sensible, one tries to develop or find, the impulse toward re-growth that follows, and the also gradual rise into a new love and a community awareness of the family as a whole.  But let’s take that a little slower.  The first parts of the poem are addressed to a “you” who is a bad influence; then, gradually the “you” disappears; then it morphs into a “you” who is a sudden and surprising treasure; then, an awareness of the loves of different generations of the family develops; then, a recounting of the difficulties that migration presents even to two parents or forbears who love each other, and a detailing of the anxieties and separations they must endure for their families comes next; then, a modest gesture toward discussing the life of societal pressures and how this affects immigrants in a new country sums up the whole.  Really, by the time I finished the book, I was quite impressed with just how forcefully and completely this poetic vision had fulfilled itself, and all in a series of simple, non-capitalized, mostly unpunctuated sentences.  (Not that capitalization or punctuation are regular in poetry anyway, as a general rule, or that they are to be expected in free verse, but when one is confronted with apparent simplicity as a device, one can begin to question whether or not it’s overdone.  Happily, such was not the end result in this case.)

By this time, I was sufficiently humbled to want to read the graceful (and again, simple) biographical sketch of Rupi Kaur which takes place at the end of the book.  It was a bit vague, and I would have liked more details (which, like jewels, or buds, if one prefers to stick to the organic metaphor, were strewn throughout the summary).  Basically, the artist’s statement was that “I am the product of all the ancestors getting together and deciding these stories need to be told”).  One set of topics which I have not touched upon yet, and which the poem also dealt with in detail was female liberation from the restraints of a conventional and hidebound societal influence, and how various generations of women have achieved it.  As the blurb stated, and as I have in a general way sketched out above were:  “love, loss, trauma, healing, feminity, migration, and revolution.”  That’s just about said it all, but that’s saying a lot.

There are many different styles and kinds of poetry kicking around these days, and everyone can mostly choose for himself or herself which to pursue for edification, but if you read no other book of poetry this year, it’s at least arguable that you should read this one, which is based in technique upon the poet’s experiences in delivering performance poetry in places in Canada, her country of adoption.  After all, you can hardly go wrong with a long poem which has not only an organic metaphor governing its development, organic metaphors consistently expressing things “all flesh is heir to,” but which also describes a particular historical experience of a large group of people.  Give it a read; I think you’ll be both pleasantly surprised and greatly impressed, whatever your first impression, or your overall take on performance poetry.  As for me, at some time in the near future, I’ll be dipping into Milk and Honey by the same author, to see what word experience she started out by allowing me to immerse myself in!  Shadowoperator

Leave a comment

Filed under Articles/reviews, Poetry and its forms and meanings, What is literature for?

“Wistfulness”–A poem for “the one who got away” (so far!)

This is probably one of the shortest poems I’ve ever written, but sometimes, when saying is simple and enough, however justified or not, it’s enough.  The title is, of course, a key feature of this poem.

Wistfulness

You and I shall meet again, in the darkness
Or in the light, should by chance we see God’s face,
The surprise may be yours, mine the glory,
Still unknown to both of us the time, the place.

The things we say, the things we do leave our warrant
And our deed, and our habits, and our trace,
Still, I hope to enfold you in my welcome,
And to share with you in God’s most loving grace.

©9/28/2018 by Victoria Leigh Bennett

2 Comments

Filed under commonplace "the vanity of human wishes", Poetry and its forms and meanings, What is literature for?

More love poetry for the misadventurous–“Destiny’s Mayflies”

As I wrote to friends to whom I sent this poem this morning, if one is constantly vocal and expressive of one’s great misery over someone, chances are that one is mostly healed already, as the severely injured don’t usually mourn aloud.  Anyway, here’s my latest mournful love poem:

Destiny’s Mayflies

Me in my little, tight, hurting world
And you, somewhere in the great world
out there
Are both objects
Of the same grammarless sentence,
A sentence passed by what passes for fate,
A cruel joke made by a sentinel over people’s
fortunes,
A cunning lout with hair sprouting from his ears
and nose,
A subordinate who need not fear the distant
authority he represents,
His particular jest those people who try
To maintain some dignity in the face of
what confounds them
And makes them look silly or confused.

My partiality for you,
Your need to withdraw
He sneers at, picks that monstrous organ
In the middle of his face
And wipes the proceeds on his trouser bottom,
Not even having the grace to envy us
Our drama.
What is drama to him?
What irony? what compositional strategies?
He just guffaws at all these as words,
And says, “Not worth my time.”

Our tale doesn’t need to compose nicely
To suit him,
He’s the sort to watch a bug, fascinated,
For a minute or two,
Then, when it is trying loop-de-loops
Just in reach of his hand,
Performing, writing its name across the stars
As a miracle of nature,
He lifts his big, fat thumb
And squashes it flat
Against the table in front of him,
Indifferent to artistry.

But back to us, and our responsibilities:
I loved you, and it was all I could do,
For you were so worthy to be loved.
You could not love me the same,
And so gave it up as a bad job,
A trick with smoke and mirrors,
Something I had imagined
Or cooked up to fool the fates.
Enter our surly lieutenant,
And here I am back to him,
As if we had had no hand
In it at all.
Could it be, is he devious enough
To have brought us together in the first place?
Is he even sufficiently attentive
To the jokes he plays
To extend his feeble concentration
To the experiment
Of placing us together?

Whatever the case,
I still think of you, and wonder
Whether you are looping-the-loop
Somewhere else,
Daring to face him down
Perhaps by flying out of his range,
Your wings lighter
For having lost the burden of me.
I sit, quiet and still,
Or all wound up in knots,
Escaping attention for the moment
By my lack of motion.
He is evidently confident
That I am already dead,
And so all I have
Is my little, tight, hurting world,
And you in my thoughts,
Somewhere in the great world out there.

©by Victoria L. Bennett, 8/14/18

2 Comments

Filed under Full of literary ambitions!, Poetry and its forms and meanings

Purity, blankness, innocence, guilt, and knowledge–An attempt at philosophy in “The Blank Slate”

Occasionally, I make an attempt at a philosophical/rhetorical poem, though sad to say, it’s difficult to make it a truly “poetic” poem at the same time, at least for me.  But I hope, at least, that what this poem loses in meter, or rhyme, or word play (though there are a few paradoxes here and there), it gains in comprehensive, overall clarity in covering the subject.  I think the subject of purity is still a riddle for most of us, since we leave the safe confines of total ignorance and innocence from the moment we are born and steadily accumulating impressions and knowledge.  At any rate, here is an attempt to comment on the subject of purity from an adult’s perspective, after the fact:

The Blank Slate

Scholars, people of learning
Have spilled oceans of ink
Have typed, have dictated,
Have processed, have created
Countless words
About the tabula rasa.
Yet none were so innocent
As to simply shrug
Or keep silent.
And none of their words
Were so guilty
As to tell the real truth.
Purity, of a sort,
Is like their ignorance.

Purity’s feet stink
Because an honest person sweats;
Purity cries out
Because an injured person
Grieves aloud;
Purity is like that.
Purity stares at you, uncertain
What you mean
And waiting for you to explain.
Purity is like that.

Purity, like yin or yang
Paradoxically
Has an element of knowledge in it
Some slight awareness of the other
Or else how would you know
What to compare it to?

Purity
Gets tripped up easily
By its opposite,
Maybe knowing there’s something
To avoid,
But not sure of what, how, or why.
It is too unschooled.
Purity is like that.

Purity and existence are at odds most often–
Just as Sartre claimed we all have dirty hands,
And “existence precedes essence,”
So we always have to ask ourselves,
“What price purity?”
If someone is pure, who made them so?
Who kept them in the dark
About starving hordes, and ticks,
And malevolence?
What makes them so special,
That they are allowed to be ignorant
Of what hurts?
Yet, we are still wistful
For the days when we too were somewhat blank,
Even if guilty by birth.

Purity, in sum,
Is something that,
Whether we ever had it or not–
We had in our mind’s most fervent imagination
From the first time we were asked,
“Who did this?”
And we were able genuinely to answer,
“Not I.”
Yes, purity is like that.

©by Victoria L. Bennett, 8/10/18

Leave a comment

Filed under Literary puzzles and arguments, Poetry and its forms and meanings, What is literature for?

A poem for true denizens of the temperate zone–“The Comfort of Dread”

Oh, if only it were always summer!  But then, perhaps if it were, we wouldn’t appreciate it, so goes the temperate zone dweller’s argument.  The last winter (winter 2017-18) was so severe here in the American Northeast, however, and lasted so long into Spring that one shivers in advance, even at the end of July, especially when we’re already having (and have never stopped having) storms and rain and yucky skies.  Right now, though, I can afford to be a bit blasé, perhaps, at least enough to write a poem on the topic which is not totally despairing.  It does perhaps have one of those human contradictions in it that we often run across when listening to people discussing the weather.  Here goes:

The Comfort of Dread

It’s almost the end of summer,
There is only one month left,
I’m dreading already the winter,
And the cold weather’s mighty, strong heft.

The ice, and the snow, and the chilblains,
(What are chilblains?)
What one used to have
When the frozen air got on one’s knuckles,
And one couldn’t afford a fine salve.

Yes, I dread even antique disasters,
Such as visited people of yore,
When the wind whistled ’round the high turrets
And the snow blew in under the door.

It’s useless to tell me I’m modern,
And I live in apartmented bliss,
After all, these things are so comparative,
And someone lives better than this.

Oh, it’s almost the end of warm greetings,
From one’s family and lovers and friends,
For on cold days they’re bundled and shivering,
And they all complain so without end.

Why, oh why, can’t there be a fine climate
Where we can determine the air,
Where the heat and AC are like indoors,
And follow us everywhere?

But I guess I wouldn’t be happy
Not to live through the change and to bitch,
So the temperate zone, chill or hotter,
Is where I will serve out my hitch.

©by Victoria L. Bennett, 7/29/18

3 Comments

Filed under poems on the weather, Poetry and its forms and meanings