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The Poets

April 28, 2014

The Dying Sun



White Dwarf 

When hydrogen atoms in the sun start to wane
The sun will fuse helium, although so in vain
For the helium fusion might maintain the core
But the core can’t persist, at least not as before

As the helium hub becomes sickly and dense
Before carbonic fusion will rise and commence
A luminous glow will overwhelm the sun’s shell
And the sun’s outer layers will violently swell

On the earth desiccation will gradually grow
And her oceans of blue will run rapidly low
With the death of all plant life resulting from this
Comes the end of all life forms, and earth’s former bliss

Now the sun will continue to swell and expand
Until fusion to carbon is closer at hand
Then the core will compress as its red outer shroud
Is dispersed out to space as an ionized cloud

And then there, in the midst of amaryllis hues
In the midst of those violets and scarlets and blues
Lies a core of carbon overwhelmingly bright
That will persist like the sun in vacuous night

-jwm





April 16, 2014

Of Pain


Pain

It is a momentary hollowing out of spirit
An abrupt suspension of hope
The ontic expression of life's secret contempt
It is the God of fear

-jwm

April 14, 2014

Luc Bat- a Vietnamese Form


Just came across an interesting Vietnamese form of poetry called Luc Bat. It starts with a six syllable line, and then an eight syllable line follows, and the pattern repeats for as long as you would like it to (6,8,6,8,6,8, etc).

But here's the challenge. The sixth syllable of every eight-syllable line has to rhyme with the last syllable of the six-syllable line before it, which in turn has to rhyme with the eighth syllable of the eight-syllable line before it. Seems tricky, but rhythmically it is practical. Here is my first attempt (let me know what you think):


Our Time

Our time is brief, I say-
An interval from day to night
Delineates this plight.

But do not shrink in fright or fear
At Night as it draws near-
Be brave, without a care to creep,
Embrace the day, then sleep.

-jwm

April 13, 2014

Rainfall


I woke up early this morning to the tranquil, multiple tapping of raindrops against my window. I was reluctant to get up (I love sleeping to the sound of rain), but I had to memorialize the moment with a single quatrain, so I got up briefly and wrote this:


Morning Rain 

The morning rainfall’s gentle sleeting
Slipped into my gentle dreaming
Her rhythms in my dreams were beating
Gentle tunes that were redeeming

-jwm


April 03, 2014

A Poem by Daniel Klawitter - God as a Cat

 
Maybe God is a Cat

Maybe God is a Cat –
Sharpening her claws on planets,
Pouncing from star to star
Unraveling our lives like yarn.

We scatter as mice in the barn,
Our hearts pitter-patter –
But there is nowhere to hide
If God is a celestial cat like that:

A feline God of War
Brighter than Blake’s Tyger
Who knows what fangs are for
And never leaves survivors.



Of the Poem (A Brief Overview):


Stanza I


Maybe God is a Cat –
Sharpening her claws on planets,
Pouncing from star to star
Unraveling our lives like yarn.

 
Daniel Klawitter, a Colorado poet who I've come to respect, offers us an interesting prelude to his poem- it is from a quote by Paul Davies, from The Fifth Miracle:

“In 1911, the little town of Nakhla in Egypt was the scene of one of
the most remarkable events in history: a chunk of rock (later
discovered to be a piece of the planet Mars) fell from the sky and
killed a dog, the only known canine fatality caused by a cosmic
object.


And so one chidefully wonders: perhaps God is a Cat? 

The first stanza of his poem opens up with an innocent hypothetical: perhaps God is a Cat? and then dedicates itself to the interstellar playfulness of this Creature.

It is interesting to note that the word God usually carries with it a masculine import. But one notices that in this poem the Cat is referred to as her in the second line. Truth be told, without realizing it, as I read the poem I subconsciously thought of the Cat as female the entire time, but hadn't connected the idea of God with it. 

And so the poem begins ... contemplating the possibility of God as being a Cat- and not just the possibility of God being a Cat, but God as a Female Cat!


Stanza II 
 
We scatter as mice in the barn,
Our hearts pitter-patter –
 
But there is nowhere to hide
If God is a celestial cat like that:

The second stanza dedicates itself to our finite, limited nature by comparing our lives to mice scattered throughout a barn (a metaphor I'm sure for earth, or for existence in general). 

If God is a Cat, and we are the mice, where could we possibly hide? It would seem that there would be nowhere to take refuge considering the omniscience of such a Predatory Being- a Being that claws on planets as playthings, and toys with our lives as if it were a game, pouncing from star to star. 

In fact, is that not where the pitter-patter of our hearts comes from? - a sort of existential anxiety based on the reality that we cannot flee from this Presence?
 

Stanza III

A feline God of War

Brighter than Blake’s Tyger
Who knows what fangs are for 
And never leaves survivors.

And make no mistakes ... there are no competitors with our poet’s Cat. Not even Blake's dreaded Tyger (that devilish and forged and finite thing) could ever contend with the warful and predatory fangs of such a Divine Feline. 
 
 


Poetic Devices and Structure

The first stanza is somewhat similar to a ballad, i.e. traditional verse having a particular rhyme scheme that is coupled with a fixed meter, and is usually in the form of a quatrain. The ballad, and there are many kind, is structured so well and is so conducive of rhythm that they were used on a large scale to compose music. Our poet seems to mimic the ballad structure here, but leaves the rhyme scheme out, and quite deliberately so it seems.

The meter of this particular stanza is quite simple: the first and third lines consists of 6 syllables, or what in poetry is also known as a trimeter; the second and fourth lines contain 8 syllables- again, what in poetry is known as a tetrameter.

There are also a couple other devices that are used in this stanza that are worth mentioning: repetition and alliteration. The repetition occurs in line three where our poet’s cat pounces from ‘star to star'. The alliteration occurs with the ‘our lives like yarn’ phrase in line four. The alliterative aspect is very pronounced, especially when said out loud (our lives like), and seems to roll off the tongue with a slightly rigid though harmonious euphony.

The second stanza drops the ballad structure altogether and embraces a musical pattern that arises from a deliberate use of assonance, alliteration, and internal rhymes. But before this happens, our poet links the first and second stanzas together by the last word of the last line of the first stanza (yarn), and the last word of the first line of the second stanza (barn). What I like is how obvious the link is between the two stanzas, especially considering that each of the lines have an 8 syllable count- you can almost read them back to back:

Unraveling our lives like yarn
We scatter as mice in the barn


The second line of the second stanza is an interesting combination of assonance and alliteration. The assonance arises with the words ‘our hearts’. The harmonic resonance lent by those two words are indeed tacit at first sight, but it is there. It is where the utterance of the first word ‘our’ corresponds to the sound that follows the ‘h’ in the word ‘heart’ (our hearts). When you read these words with the words ‘pitter-patter’ (where the alliteration occurs) there is a melodious pattern that arises and continues on through the rest of the stanza via internal rhymes.

The rhythmic tone that occurs in the following lines- lines three and four of the second stanza- are obvious, and contribute to the musical aspect of the overall stanza that was begun by the use of assonance and alliteration. The lines flow beautifully from the previous ones by the way that our poet employs the internal rhymes of line three (there is nowhere) with those that close the stanza in line four, ‘a celestial cat like that’. It is this broad spectrum combination of assonance, alliteration, and internal rhymes that make the second stanza read so gorgeously, and musically:

Our hearts pitter-patter – (6)
But there is nowhere to hide (7)
If God is a celestial cat like that: (11)


The final stanza culminates in a collection of homogenous end rhymes that are all curiously verging on oblique. Oblique rhymes are rhymes whose words lack an exact sonorous correspondence, having sounds that are slightly different, but are nevertheless convergent. The words war and tyger, for example, do not share a direct rhyming pattern with each other, but it is undeniable that there is a rhythmic affinity shared by the two that make us perceive them as a rhyme, however obliquely that rhyme might seem. (One could argue that the end rhymes of lines one and three- war and for-  were meant to be direct rhymes, but I personally do not believe that it was the poet’s deliberate intention in this stanza to have lines one and three rhyme, while the other lines remain oblique.)

Again, our poet uses alliteration in lines two and three to thread the stanza together.

Brighter than Blake’s Tyger
Who knows what fangs are for


This time, however, he goes a step further. He creates an alliteration in line two that connects itself to the end rhymes of the stanza so that it works much the same way that an internal rhyme would work, contributing to the harmony of the overall stanza: Brighter than Blake’s Tyger. To get an idea of how these devices work together, and how they contribute to the stanza's overall harmony, here is what it looks like with the end rhymes and alliterations together:

A feline God of War
Brighter than Blake’s Tyger
Who knows what fangs are for
And never leaves survivors.


It is for this reason that I deeply appreciate and read Daniel Klawitter’s poetry. Far from recklessly throwing his poems together, he invests a great deal of energy and imagination constructing them, and employs with great care every device at his disposal to achieve works whose subjects are expressed through eloquent poetic structures. If you have not read his works you are no doubt missing out. I highly, highly recommend looking him up. You can find some of his works on Guy Farmer's Poems and Poetry blog, or check out one of his chap books (he has three, his most recent being For the Famished). Let me know what you think.


As of April 9th, 2010