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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fast Day 107 June 21 2009 {Fathers' Day}


Fathers' Day

I had to write a weekly poem for my blog;
having gone to my parents' for Fathers' Day,
I had risen early to write my poem;
no concentration.

My father had gotten up at four o'clock,
and he was in pain, and he felt discomfort,
I heard my mother say my name and suggest: think?

Reminding me of that year before of ills,
year of Katrina, we beat a doctors' path
back and forth to hospitals and procedures...
unending hallways.

Climaxing in iliac aneurysm,
and the first doc said he is old, let him pass
with what dignity remains; he is old.
second doc the charm!

The poem died and lay unresurrected;
we spent Fathers' Day without him, our father,
who lay in a fitful, dizzy bed with chills;
gnawing at our joy.

It was the flu, and Monday morn he was up
and feeling much better, thank you, and thank God!
and by noon, he was his old self once again:
making me wonder...

For he revisited those old, old complaints -
what's wrong with Obama, the neighbors, ...and us!
and we suspect the rosy dawn now changing,
Oh, his former self!

And this is human, oh, all, too, too human!
to rise so high, see so far, be so brilliant!
to spend to maintain our body illusion...
souls remain with chills.


I was going to stitch together a the remnants of my previous poem from the weekend, and append a note on why I was late getting it up - my parents' have no computers or internet stuff.
So as I booted up this morn, I thought to combine the two things. So here it is. It is a first draft, and took exactly 52 minutes to cobble together....and it shows it.

However, what is interesting is the use of the Sapphic verse form - at least, I think it's interesting. Sappho was one brainy gal.

Anyway, as I thought of doing this particular thing at 4:30 am, I also thought, why not use haiku? Then I immediately flashed on a potentially long poem of haiku, which would be a tower of small objects ready to fall down any moment.
So, why not Sapphics?
The traditional Sapphic verse is two lines of eleven syllables, followed by a third which starts with eleven and adds on five more at the end...for good measure. For my purposes, I wanted something like a haiku...only I used three lines of 11 syllables, then a fourth line of 5. The fourth line should stand alone and sort of make a commentary of what's gone before - much like the third line in a haiku.

Two examples of Sapphics:

So the goddess fled from her place, with awful
Sound of feet and thunder of wings around her;
While behind a clamour of singing women
Severed the twilight.

Allen Ginsberg
Red cheeked boyfriends tenderly kiss me sweet mouthed
under Boulder coverlets winter springtime
hug me naked laughing & telling girl friends
gossip til autumn

notice that Ginsberg's easily transforms into my version of the Sapphic - if we scan it like:

hug me naked laughing & telling girl friends ;
gossip til autumn


Ruth said...

I don't know about it showing. Maybe it does, but there is also something fitting about the hodgepodge note-y feel of it.

I do love the metaphor of a poem!

My head didn't get around the Sapphics and haiku part. I actually love writing formal poems, but I have to study and remember their scansion first for a bit. And I am feeling lazy about it at the moment, so please forgive. But I enjoyed reading your thoughts about it nonetheless - and oh I did enjoy those lines of Ginsberg's. And Swinburne's too - wow.

I am loving the human truth of yours. You always do that so well.

Montag said...

Yes. I love it, too.
I have been thinking a lot about what exactly we mean by "poetry". We mean quite a few things when we use the expression.

...and Sapphic verse seems to be so perfect to me, that I wonder that I had not thought of using it before. Of course, she sang in Aeolian Greek, and it was all very different.

When I try to read ancient Greek aloud, trying to pronounce the long vowels correctly and the three different accents they had, it comes out sounding like Chinese. Maybe it actually did.

Ruth said...

My friend Inge went to a writing workshop in which the participants read poems aloud in different languages. She closed her eyes and listened, and it took her to another level, a space where not understanding the words doesn't matter. It was the point of the workshop and effective.

Montag said...

Pure lyric of the voice.
I remember doing similar things...when young ladies would sing and play the acoustic guitar, and we were as close as that to heaven.

Words very often are not essential.