Poem – I shall set beauty

This morning I read a beautiful poem by someone I know who suffers from cancer. I was overwhelmed by her courage, and the wonderful images she had conjured up. It inspired me to write the poem below. (Just in case any reader is concerned that I am the subject of the poem – I am not, thank goodness.)

I shall set beauty seagull - 180424

I shall set beauty

Against this thing,

This gnawing thing,

Against this greedy, gnawing thing

That steals my body, steals my ease,

This greedy, gnawing, agonising thing

That steals my light,

I shall set beauty.

 

The beauty of an owl’s flight

In the dark night,

The beauty of a gull that glides

Above the endless tides,

The golden beauty, pure and bright,

Of an angel shining with gentle light,

These will defend me in my fight.

 

And yet the beast grows strong,

It feasts, a glutton,

It swallows all I savour,

It swells, burgeons,

Spawns

As I grow frail

And slowly crumble.

 

What help is beauty as the end draws near?

Even the gold of angel’s wings cannot stop fear,

The gull soars free while I lie helpless here.

 

And yet…

It is enough…

 

Waking up in June

Although most of what I post on Autumn Leaves is my own, original work, just occasionally I read something exceptional and want to share it. This poem is by Karen Rawson, and in my opinion it’s outstanding. It will be one of my ‘go to’ poems if I need cheering up, because it’s just bursting with joy!

k. Rawson

PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

Waking up in June

Hey Koolaid, get your summer on
Morning dew, I don’t back down.
School’s out, summer!
Playground, dayground, butterfly garden
I can swing so high the chain goes slack
Squealing on the breath-catch dizzy-down.

Ready or not, here I come!
Barefoot and coppertoned, hear my rally:
I’ve got a pool pass, wanna see it?
Olly olly oxen free
Jarfull of night and firefly
I don’t see no streetlights;
I can stay out late ya know

Twenty-five cents buys a fresh box of crayons
Didja wanna know a secret?
Look inside:

I’ve got a million colors.

98 words

This has been an edition of Friday Fictioneers, hosted by the talented Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. This week’s photo courtesy J. Hardy Carroll. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

A tidbit for you….I am actually in this picture…

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The Sirens

I don’t often attempt to write poetry, and this piece was originally intended as an exercise in descriptive prose. However, a rhythm gradually infiltrated the writing, so I tried laying it out as a poem and worked on it in that form. Whether that makes it a poem, I leave for you to judge! BTW It helps if you know the story of Odysseus and the Sirens.

Siren 171120

The Sirens

A nightingale that heard them sing

Would blush for shame.

The lines of melody intertwine,

The words blend, rhyme.

Oh, to be whole, free from the pain of loss!

So many heroes dead, friends hewn by sword,

Skewered by spear, or crushed by rocks.

Now peace. The voices offer peace.

“Helmsman, steer to shore!” I beg,

But wax-stopped ears are deaf.

I struggle with my bonds.

My vessel’s oarsmen beat the waves to froth and past we go,

Past surf that breaks on rocks like knives,

And on the rocks the Sirens feast

On rotting flesh and broken lives.  

In the moment – time flies!

Life flies past so quickly, doesn’t it?

I reflect on what I remember:

It’s nearly a year since the Brexit referendum.

It’s five years since London hosted a dazzling Olympic Games.

It’s eleven years since my first wonderful grand-daughter was born.

It’s seventeen years since we celebrated the millennium with fireworks and apprehension about whether all our computers would crash.

It’s forty-two years since I married Daphne, and forty-one since the birth of our first beloved daughter.

It’s forty-eight years since mankind took the giant step of sending a man to land on the moon for the very first time.

It’s sixty years since the Russians launched Sputnik 1, and a new era of exploration began.

The personal; the newsworthy; the significant; the trivial; they’re all there in my memory, and none of them really feel a long time ago – ok, well maybe Sputnik, although the memory is clear enough!

What a rush!

We can, though, slow down our perception of time if we practise living in the moment. We pay mindful attention to what we are experiencing as we experience it, and time slows for us. In particular, we pay attention to our feelings, nurturing the positive, and gently looking to let go of the negative. We have time to appreciate, time to enjoy; time to say “I love you” to those closest to us; time to fully enjoy their presence with us. Our time is both slower and richer.

Cooking ingredients 170530

I sometimes find that cooking helps me reach a state of mindfulness. It’s an activity where you have to focus on what you’re doing, and be alert to what’s happening. You pay attention to the appearance of the ingredients, and to their smell and to their taste. It’s a small step from there to being fully ‘in the moment’ and appreciating with your whole attention who you are and what you are living. I wrote a brief poem about this.

Season to Taste

I taste and season, stir and cover,

Chop potatoes, pepper, beans,

Making a meal, family-making,

Making pleasure, making love.

Not too salty, fine-chopped onion,

Taste and season, stir and cover.

Flavour contrast, savoury and sweet,

Unlikely partners, no meat,

Celery and chili (discreet).

Taste and season, stir and plate,

Food for my family – come and eat!

Cherry Blossoms (4/5)

Frederic is an excellent poet, and he’s written a sequence of five short poems about cherry blossom. I’ve reblogged my favourite, but they’re all well worth reading, and I recommend a visit to his site to read the others. While you’re there, you might enjoy his poem “The True Poet”. I like it; it seems to me to be very French in sentiment. But is it romantic with a post-modern slant, or is it just romantic? I’ll leave you to judge!

Words in the Light

they raise their arms to the sky
but never ask for
anything

I admire the way
cherry trees pray

~

Cerisiers et le Ciel, Tokyo © 2017– F.G.M.

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Poem – Persistence of Vision

This poem celebrates my forty-two year marriage to Daphne. It started life as free verse, but gradually, without my conscious design, iambic pentameters started to elbow their way in. Finally I realized that my sub-conscious was wiser than my conscious; iambic pentameters, with their remorseless di-DUM, di-DUM, are the very thing for conveying the brutal march of time.

Daphne portrait for poem 170420

Persistence of vision

Maybe the outline always has been blurred.

You stand before me, upright, curly-haired

And blonde, your blue eyes steadfast, thoughtful, kind.

Attraction blossoms, sight leads on to touch

And we become, as near as dammit, one.

Then two are three and four and more, a girl,

A boy, another girl; skin stretches, care

Writes lines of love upon your loving face.

The days, though gentle, tug and dull and hurt

And suddenly the curly hair is grey,

The skin is scarred. Despite the pain, you will

Not bow your head; your courage is undimmed.

The person that you were is who you are.

Wisdom and love defeat the passing years.

 

My box

This Thursday’s guest poem is by Hope Owen-Gadd, my grand-daughter. It’s here because it’s the new poem that I’ve enjoyed most this week. Hope is 8 years old. I wish I could put such vivid images into my writing!

Hope poem 170323

Hope poem 2 170323

I will put in my box
The ping of a drumstick hitting a super cymbal,
A jewel of fire forest from the darkest caves,
The wool from a new born baby lamb.

I will put in my box
The gentle twinkling of a fairy’s wonderous wand,
A mouth-watering cherry pie freshly baked,
A spark from a shooting star.

I will put in my box
A bubblegum tree and a cat with wings
A parrot teaching a class,
And a teacher in the rain forest.

My box is constructed from the fossils of ammonites,
Shells, and sand, and sapphires,
With a crystal flower on the lid and love in the corners.
Its hinges are the scales of fish.

I shall hike in my box
On snow-covered rocky mountains,
Then stare into the ice cold eyes of a yeti
And rid my heart of fear.

In the moment – Storm at Sea

Sailors in a storm have no choice other than to live in the moment. A brief lapse of attention brings disaster. Most of the time, we don’t need mindfulness to survive. But it is good to practise mindfulness in our daily life; it will always take us towards a place of emotional calm; and one day, when life’s difficulties batter us, it may make all the difference.

Stormy sea 170321 (2)

The small boat flees before the wind

As the storm wrestles the ocean into a swell,

Throwing it through darkness across leagues.

Like a puma, a wave advances silently,

Gathers speed,

And flings itself with a roar upon its prey.

The sailors steer direct towards each wave,

Accept the fury and the peril,

Use the water’s strength to lift them clear.

The voice of the murderous surf deafens them.

It bellows of southern tempests where the ocean rears into cliffs

As solid and more perilous than a rock face.

It shouts of the calving of glaciers into the sea,

The surge of the sea when a million tons of ice plunge into it.

It whispers of Krakatoa, and breathes the name of Atlantis.

The small boat reaches harbour.

Behind the breakwater

Vessels great and small

Are safe.

Turquoise World

Frederic is a talented poet in both French and English. ‘Turquoise World’ is one of my favourite poems of his. He’s posted the poem first in French, and then, below it, in English. If your French is good, read the French version first and enjoy the way it sounds. Otherwise, just read the English version, which is very good in its own right.

Words in the Light

sur les eaux transparentes
j’ai vu ton âme scintiller

c’est un monde turquoise
baigné de lumière

m’as-tu dit
sans prononcer un mot

et je me suis laissé bercer
par les vagues de la Nuit

jusqu’à ce qu’en rêve
l’aube me ramène à la vie

~

like stars seen
through the clear water
I saw your soul sparkling

it’s a turquoise world
bathed in light
you said without a word

and I let myself
be lulled by
the waves of the Night

till Dawn in a dream
brings me back
to life

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