I felt a bit stuck after finishing my The End of Love collection, so I began capturing some thoughts within various poetic structures I find appealing. Eventually, I settled on three forms — sonnet, waka, acrostic — and put together a collection that attempts to impart the flow of life within the Pattern and Form that both confines and defines our experience of it.
The sonnets take liberties with the traditional Shakespearean or Elizabethan structure by rhyming only the second and fourth lines of each quatrain, and my pentameter is more conversational than iambic. I was hesitant to use this approach at first, but after my friend, Linda, referred to my sonnets as “edgy” I felt much better about them. But I decided to call them Poseur Sonnets nonetheless because I am, after all, just pretending that they are genuine sonnets.
The waka poems use a traditional Japanese structure that’s similar to the more familiar haiku form, but incorporate two additional lines. The haiku is a three-line poem with 5-7-5 syllables per line. The waka is a five-line poem comprising lines of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables respectively. There are a couple very cool things about these waka poems. First, a good friend of mine is actually named Waka, which makes her a living Japanese-American poem, which I think is both true and extraordinarily cool. And, my friend, Klara, who is a budding intellectual with remarkable potential, generously embraced the form to carry on a brief poetic dialogue with me. In doing so, she clearly strengthened the collection.
When experimenting with the acrostics, I slipped back into the poetry-as-memoir approach I used when writing my man love collection. I’ve always enjoyed the acrostic approach, mostly because I think it’s fun to try to capture the story within the pattern that names it.
I’ll share one poem from each set: a poseur sonnet, a wistful waka, and an acrostic memory.
Simply By Being
Remember the one that wouldn’t grow straight?
Even times when we were forceful or harsh
she was having none of it. In the end
we pulled her up and tossed her on the trash
out back. We simply forgot about her.
Then remember what we found that winter?
Her branches had draped themselves across the
slick, wet moss, shading the soil around her.
Her tiny, perfect leaves were vibrantly
alive. And her fading blossoms had spread
beneath her, mingling her music with earth’s
alluring tunes. “Simply by being,” you said,
“she’s begun to perfectly sing the song
that she alone was hearing all along.”
the garden path
i garden to live,
quietly as possible,
among small beauties
woven one to another,
sharing everything they are.
After Summer Rain
After a replenishing summer rain it was common
For a sense of peace to settle in on our small family farm.
Time paused for a little while. It seemed to allow the
Earth to breathe a bit more easily before our country life
Returned to its regular, and necessary, get-it-done pace.
So for a young farmboy like me, who did not yet
Understand life but yearned to do so, those easy
Moments offered needed respite and myriad pools of reflection…
Mud puddles are what some folks called them…
Even so, to me the water caught the quiet light, and
Reflected the endless stream of possibilities waiting in the
River I was beginning to drift down. In those moments,
As I tried to look ahead to a world I could not yet imagine,
I felt completely empty and alone. But the sadness I felt
Never made me want to turn away. I knew what I felt was me.