Ack. As if getting a verb yesterday wasn’t bad enough, today’s prompt had to be an abstraction. I mean — really? What are the options? There’s always the stand-by of Pandora’s box/jar; the potter could be throwing the container for the legendary woman who supposedly was endowed with all the gifts necessary to make a perfect woman. But I dislike the misogyny of the story.
Then there’s Emily Dickinson’s famous poem that seems to show up on home decoration plaques everywhere these days:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.¹
But the current ubiquity of the poem made the bird option seem trite. So I decided to go ahead and try an abstract representation. Right now, hope seems to me to be a fragile, fragmented thing, an emotion that is bright, but on the verge of disintegrating, rather like the lacy ice that forms on the edge of a pond or frost on a window.
1. Poetry Foundation, 19 October, 2020. Source: The Poems of Emily Dickinson Edited by R. W. Franklin (Harvard University Press, 1999)
Today’s word — throw — was difficult because my already unsatisfactory drawing skills don’t extend to comprehensible depictions of verbs. My first thought was to go with throw, as in throw rug or throw blanket, but I couldn’t see that going anywhere. So I pulled up the thesaurus and learned that throw also refers to a potter’s wheel. That option seemed much more promising than a blanket. So here we are:
Writing a poem like this, one word at a time, with the words already chosen, feels a little like trying to channel someone else’s free-association session. It’s an interesting mental/creative exercise.
I went for the obvious sense of blade. I could have gone for blade of grass, or shoulder blade, or even roller blade (that one could have been fun), but sometimes the blatant meaning works best. As we approach Hallowe’en, the definition with the potential for menace seemed to suit. We’ll see where it leads.
This poem emerges as sort of stream-of-consciousness installments. I looked up images of radio waves, hoping for inspiration, and after scrolling and staring at the screen and finding my mind wandering off, I finally thought that some of the depictions reminded me of the grooves in pumpkins. So the radio waves may be emanating from today’s pumpkin, or from the “bulky remnants” below, or both. I tried to make them meld into the wisps.
Having bulky come after wisp was a challenge, but I liked the inherent contradiction and the conceptual contrast. The art teacher I had in junior and then again in senior high school (Mr. Kinney moved to the high school when my class did; it was not for want of his trying to teach me that I did not become an artist) always emphasized the importance of contrast: “Lights on darks! Darks on lights! Contrast! Contrast!” — at which point, once, one of the guys jumped up and yelled, “Rah! Rah! Rah!” Good thing Mr. Kinney had a sense of humour.
Well, so far, so good. I didn’t spill water on the page, nor did I set it on fire, nor did I misspell anything. I will say that drawing wisps wasn’t easy, nor did I find a satisfactory way to do so. All I could think of was fog. We’ll see where the wisps lead us.
It’s Inktober again. I rather hate to start with this, but I am aware of the controversy swirling around Jake Parker right now.¹ Mostly I agree with the Well-Appointed Desk’s take on the matter (see below).
I had hoped to have more time to devote to this year’s Inktober, to write Bridget’s side of the correspondence from last year’s story, but I need a less consuming project. So I’m going to take each day’s prompt and use it in a line of a poem (no, I’m not really poet, but I thought I’d give writing a poem a try), and “illuminate” the page in the margins as I go along. Here’s the first day’s line and mini-illustration:
Stay tuned to see if I can pull this off. I’ve already messed up by leaving out a word in the first word. I had to glue a strip of paper over the first line to write the proper version. Maybe I can blot tomorrow’s line or spill water on the page!
I went for a walk last evening (alone, in the almost-dark), out in the park by my house. To the west, there was this:
But to the east, the east in the evening, there was this glorious sight:
It was more coral than my camera would catch. My iPhone was a little better at picking up the tint, but not so good with the details. The moon sifted itself between the scattered clouds,
and silhouetted the branches of trees:
And as I sat by my open window, choosing photos, the horned owl came by to hoo-hoo plaintively in the tree. Shortly thereafter, in response to a siren in the distance, a lone coyote howled in a plangent fashion, and I thought of Richard Wilbur’s poem, “Beasts,” with which I shall leave you:
Beasts in their major freedom Slumber in peace tonight. The gull on his ledge Dreams in the guts of himself the moon-plucked waves below, And the sunfish leans on a stone, slept By the lyric water,
In which the spotless feet Of deer make dulcet splashes, and to which The ripped mouse, safe in the owl’s talon, cries Concordance. Here there is no such harm And no such darkness
As the selfsame moon observes Where, warped in window-glass, it sponsors now The werewolf’s painful change. Turning his head away On the sweaty bolster, he tries to remember The mood of manhood,
But lies at last, as always, Letting it happen, the fierce fur soft to his face, Hearing with sharper ears the wind’s exciting minors, The leaves’ panic, and the degradation Of the heavy streams.
Meantime, at high windows Far from thicket and pad-fall, suitors of excellence Sigh and turn from their work to construe again the painful Beauty of heaven, the lucid moon And the risen hunter,
Making such dreams for men As told will break their hearts as always, bringing Monsters into the city, crows on the public statues, Navies fed to the fish in the dark Unbridled waters.