Haibun: The Feather

You are the colour of slate, you smoke in husky float, you describe a butterknife arc. I pluck you out of obscurity from under a bush in my old hometown. Supple-smooth, tripartite with frazzled edges, worn white with grief, you lie supine in both of my hands.

You were once the pinnacle of aviation engineering, now less purposeful than you appear. November, surplus to requirements, your bird doesn’t want you no more. Just like this town doesn’t care if I come or I go.

All I can do: comfort you.
Always knew this day would come.
Soothe through boxing-gloves.

Linking this to Haibun Monday over at dVerse Poets, where we are talking about hometowns. I feel sadly out-of-place in my ‘official’ hometown and am not necessarily welcome in the hometowns of my heart. Like a feather, I’ve been transported across many countries and towns, and I’ve left a little bit of me everywhere.

Advertisements

Untethered or Not – Writing Poetry in Class

In one of the poetry workshops I attended at the Geneva Writers Conference, we were encouraged to allow our minds to amble aimlessly like a camel, to allow words to come to us. Here is my result (on a topic which is obviously becoming a bit of an obsession with me). I am linking it to dVerse Poets’ much-loved and always interesting Open Link Night, which should be starting this evening (European time).

The straitjackets of corporates I seek to embellish

with jewel-coloured scarves.

The coffin-planks of business jargon I scrape on emery boards

to soften with a smile.

Within the gnarl of strategic progression I untangle

a few words that buzz

– raw and angry – Swiss army knives shredding my pocket

they clamour for rebirth

shimmering Morganas, outside and beside their utilitarian desert.

I undress them

watch them shiver

hear them groan and misbehave.

Done with coaxing I am cruel.

Beseech no more I point the way.

Take no prisoners, gloves are off.

Photo credit: Newsjournal/Kelly Jordan
Photo credit: Newsjournal/Kelly Jordan

Yet their world of cloned rabbits have leeched me out of colour.

Discipline is my undoing.

My words jump through endless monochrome hoops

how they conform

how they confirm

docility is taking over the circus.

Contrasts

This little poem came out of an exercise in a poetry workshop run by Stephen Knight. Five random words were picked out of a hat and we had 10 minutes to write a two-stanza poem, one of the words per line. I rather liked the result: the point of the exercise being that sometimes we work better with constraints than without them.

Rooted in waiting at bus-stops

she drifts off like a bird,

flits in and out of dreams of stairwells,

a pillar of deepest longing,

to bring tidy smell of wax.

www.wildlifeextra.com
http://www.wildlifeextra.com

 

A bird trapped in his rust-cage,

wax coats his wings and beak.

He comes to a glottal stop

halfway up the stair,

watching her turn to a pillar of salt.

 

Poetry Workshop: Ideas and Results

Aracelis Girmay

This past weekend I had the rare pleasure and luxury of thinking of nothing else but words, writing and poetry.  I attended a poetry workshop organised by the indefatigable Geneva Writers’ Group and our guest instructor was the vibrant, beautiful poet Aracelis Girmay.  She invited us to play and experiment, to explore bewilderment and mysteries, to climb down the ladder of writing head-first.

It was the first full-length poetry workshop that I ever attended and, boy, did I need it!  Poetry is an old love that I have only recently come back to, after many years of neglect.  I am still struggling to shed the adolescent overcoat that lies over it (yes, it is that long ago since I wrote poetry).  I have been writing a lot of it this year, but is it all therapeutical outpourings of infuriating sentimentality? I needed to push myself. I needed to learn to play, watch words appear and disappear. So here is an interesting experiment we conducted.  Based on Bhanu Kapil‘s thought-provoking questions from her book ‘The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers’, we were asked to create our own questions about a subject that preoccupied us.  I picked ‘Identity and Belonging’, and here are my questions (it’s not really a poem, more like a prompt to spark thinking):

Where do you come from?

Who helped make you what you are?

If not here, where?

How will you know when you get there?

What are you trying to prove?

When will you know and tell?

If not now, when?

What else are you?

What has not been mentioned before?

Why do you need to make the fragments whole?

Who lingers when all is said and done?

But then – and this is where it gets interesting – we had to reshape our questions, leave gaps and rearrange syntax.  We were Isis finding all of the fragments of Osiris and trying to put them back together.  And I was startled to find a much more powerful way of thinking hiding under my initial, conventional questions.  Here is the outcome:

Where do you come from? Who helped make you?

What? You are? What else you are?

When you get there, will you know?

Will you know what you are trying?

When will you know and prove?

If not here, where from? If not now, how will you know?

Who lingers when all is said and done,

Who lingers when all done is said?

What do you think?  Which version do you prefer?  Is this an experiment that might be useful to your own writing?  Can we change our way of thinking by changing the structure of our sentences?  What does the lack of information, that frightening gap, tell us about ourselves?