Friday, March 25, 2011

Light of the Ages

Lamplight in the early years of England
Shone around the artist and his hardened works,
Illuminating lands no one had heard of
He mapped the way across the universe.
With nature just ahead for his companion
The traveler used his wits to gather clues.
A mirror of nature beneath a field of clouds
The artist reflected in that motionless pool.

Upon return the nomad turned out traces
To teach the path to pleasure through and through.
The words of knowledge at his bright disposal
The only obstacle was to pursue.
Dispelling indignations of the fathers
Rewriting maps in correct and legible light,
Brass tools, compass, and quill; the lessons he distilled
Elevate us still from morn until night.

Then the pupil took his reservations
Filled a raincloud covering all the land
To dim the light from other wandering lamp-posts
He stood alone, a solitary man.
Once again he travelled through the garden
Of hopes, affections, loss, and happiness,
Though brave in his unaccompanied voyage
His expression was a cloak of man, depressed.

Our drifter, muted in the vales of England,
Though admittedly in contact through the crown,
Still suffers strong connections with his fathers
Yet, now he’s only left to map the towns.
The natural artist tucked back in his town-flat
Must make a match to find his own clear light
And quench the thirst of solitary masses,
To fuel the fire of each individual light.

Synopsis: I gathered the idea for this poem from the “four major artistic orientations” of the “rhetorical triangle,” as illustrated in M.H. Abrams' The Mirror and the Lamp (1953). The four points being mimetic (universal), pragmatic (audience), expressive (romantic), and objective (work). Each stanza is meant to reflect one of the orientations and is set to follow the timeline in which they occurred historically. Think Johnson, Blake, Wordsworth, then Elliot. The form is blank verse, though I have an affinity for rhyme that I’ve not been able to shake yet, try as I might.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Word of the week: Balance

I've recently found a relaxing way to calm my mind, though it's probably more harmful to my body than helpful: smoking tobacco through a pipe. All of my friends and I smoked in high school, but I never really enjoyed it and thought it stunk, so I quit. However, a good friend of mine suggested pipe smoking a few weeks ago during a conversation about how busy I am with school and, though I had apprehensions, I was pretty easily convinced that it would be a good opportunity to take 20-30 minute timeouts during the evening to just reflect, without falling asleep just sitting around.

Since I started I've found there's a whole counter-culture of tobacco smokers I didn't even know about, pipe smokers being among the most introspective and least egotistical. So, along with learning a new skill--loading the pipe and keeping it lit are indeed learned skills--I became immersed in a new cultural experience.

The best thing I've gained though, and what I look forward too, is those solitary moments I get, between school, work, and sleep to, step back and reflect on what's happening in my life. This way I can ensure I'm making progress on my journey and that I'm enjoying, appreciating, and learning from the things I'm putting myself through. With all of my pokers in the fire (and then some) I've decided to make time for an easy and enjoyable way to balance life and leisure: I just laid my pipe on the pleasure plate of my scale, right next to the bottle of Scotch.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Brilliant Blaze

The poet’s mind is an hundred year-old forest,
crowded over with ancient sentiments and senescent rhymes,
waiting for a spark to drop, a lighting bolt from the sky
which alights one leaf, written off and forgotten,
yet filled with potential to torch her brothers and sisters.

One by one they catch, and the crowded forest floor becomes a smoldering blanket,
suffocating with a damp heat, all fresh life that may infringe upon its task.
Each leaf becomes a stream of smoke that fills the air
until no living thing could survive, nor breath,
nor could see through the opaque cloud of consumption, saving the poet himself.

For he knows each tree intimately, standing or fallen,
because he planted them, and he alone cut them down.
Each bush belonged to him because he cared for and fed them
with his own love and attention.
And each flower, blistering now, pushed up only because he wished its existence.

The fire chases down and snuffs every frame to ash, smoke, or soot.
The inferno peaks and plummets, carrying its casualties into oblivion.
The forest calms and the poet sweeps arduously over the landscape;
for any sign of remaining life must be consumed.
The blackened, burnt trees, still stand tall
among the smoldering corpses of their noble children;
they remain proud, having given their best blossoms to heated passion: his art.

And as the first rain washes away the magnificence of his ink stained opus,
time begins to pass, the critic calls, and the wildfire’s work comes to age.
The poet however, resumes his ritual deference to the forest,
doggedly fortifying each seed with the pleasure of his natural experience,
for the promise of another brilliant blaze.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Assigned to write a couplet poem based on Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Criticism," here's what I came up with. Though not nearly as original or insightful as Pope's, I hope you find it a least a little entertaining. Let me know what you think, eh?

Java Jive

I drink my coffee to start the day,
Though it's bad for you the nay-sayers say.
It's good for me, I like it a lot,
And there's a fire afoot if you drink a whole pot.
But don't burn your tongue, your hands, or your lips,
And you cannot forget the barista's tip.
For surely unlucky your day will be
If you don't pass on that nominal fee.
And you'll feel like a chump, a louse, or a sloth
If you don't get a taste of your morning froth.
So fill it on up to the brim, if you please,
Oh and give me one of those little cup sleeves.