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A Few Poems from November

A few weeks ago, I finished up writing the thirty poems I had planned to write in November. As usual when otherwise out of ideas, I resorted to rhyme.dots

Not Calm, but a Clamor

Conductor lifts his baton
as the speakers squeak on
and the trumpets ring out,
with a scream and a shout

Next, woodwinds take turn
as agitated notes churn
in  a flutter from the flute
sounding more like a hoot

Scratchy sounds from the strings,
basses, violin pings,
all together blast out,
whirl and clatter about

agitated notes bellow
from the bass and the cello
Big drums boom, blare, and thunder
makes the audience wonder

If there was some kind of error.
They cower, in terror.
With hands over their ears
all erupt in loud jeers

MusicalNotes

And here’s another:

An Open Letter

An open letter on the table,
left for any who are able
to make out the scrawled out scribble,
words that appear to dribble
down the torn and tattered paper
so they almost seem to caper
to the bottom of the page
Read the words. You see the writer
was most surely in a rage

But although you squint and wiggle
your reading glasses, and you jiggle
the torn paper, you’re not able
to make out the clever fable
scribbled down by clever writer,
so you curse the blank-blank blighter
and go off to try and find him,
track him down and try to bind him
long enough to tell his tale

to you. Alas, you fail.
He grabs the piece of paper,
while you gape, enraged, and caper
round and round, it’s torn asunder
You are doomed, forever wonder
what the stupid blighter wrote
on the three times cursed note

 

Beginnings

Greetings from the Poetic Muselings, and welcome to 2015. We have decided to blog once a week this month, and I have drawn the first week.

darksky3

We Muselings met online in October of 2008 when we all signed up for a workshop at the Muse Online Writers Conference.  The four of us were signed up for Magdelena Ball’s Create a Chap Book workshop and Lisa Gentile’s Creative Block Busters. However, due to a power outage, Lisa was unable to connect for the final online chat session, so moderator Michele Graf (see, even then she was our leader), took over, and we all shared how our week had gone. Afterward, a group of us started to meet online and share our poetry. Lifelines, and the Poetic Muselings, came from that.

 

As to my own, creative beginnings,  I told myself stories as far back as I can remember, stories in my head. Somehow I wasn’t all that oriented in the real world, instead inhabiting the world of my imagination. A blue fairy would appear and comfort me. The back of my closet would open and become the entrance to a new world. The door into the hall would open into someplace new and strange. But it was years before it occurred to me to write anything down.

 

I started writing poetry early, but never took myself seriously as a poet. When I become involved with my spouse, I started writing some for her. I wrote poems into spiral notebooks which I stored in the attic. When things got tense between us, I wrote angst-filled poems, again in spiral notebooks. A few were published in a small newsletter.

 

At one point I wrote a poem I wanted to keep, and that’s when I tumbled into my life as a writer. Searching for a place to store my poem online, I found a couple of communities and started to participate. I became a finalist in a poetry contest. A couple of poems were published in a print journal, a few more in an online journal. I found the Muse Online Writers Conference and connected with others. In short, I got hooked.

Holiday Poetry Prompt

snow1 2Here’s a holiday poetry prompt. My response to this is below. Yes, it really is possible to construct a poem from this nonsense.

 

Ten Characters:
1. Old Saint Nick
2. Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
3. Frosty the Snowman
4. The Grynch
5. Good King Wencheslas
6. Little Red Riding Hood
7. The Big Bad Wolf
8. Sleeping Beauty
9. Glinda the Good Witch
10. The Wizard of Oz

Ten Locations:
1. The North Pole
2. An enchanted forest
3. A frozen lake
4. Antarctica
5. Rockefeller Center
6. Central Park
7. The Eiffel Tower
8. The Louvre
9. Tokyo
10. The New York Subway

Ten Objects:
1. A Candle
2. A Snow Shovel
3. An Ax
4. A red light bulb
5. Ice Melt
6. A sled
7. A wine glass
8. Needle and Thread
9. A dozen red roses
10. An Apple

Ten Incidents:
1. A Scream
2. An enchantment
3. A package delivery
4. A fire
5. A birthday party
6. A visit to a department store Santa
7. A visit to the post office
8. Raking leaves
9. Shoveling Snow
10. Loading Santa’s Sleigh

Ten first or last lines (or titles)
1. Thanks for all the Apples
2. Eat the whole thing
3. I’m allergic to fish
4. I’d rather be in Florida
5. I want a dog
6. I’d rather be ice skating
7. See you next year
8. A roll of stamps, please
9. This is impossible
10. You’ve got to try harder

Pick two characters and one from each of the other categories

 

Thanks for All the Apples

The cake has appeared
the candles are lit
the Tokyo skyline
is beautifully lit

The boy takes a breath
all ready to blow
all set with his wishes.
What? Soon we’ll all know.

With a whoosh and a swish
the candles are extinguished
then from down the chimney
who should we distinguish?

It’s Frosty the Snowman,
but oh, he is melting,
and behind him a Big Bad Wolf
is silently pelting

“My God, boy, my heavens,
oh, what were you thinking?
That wolf has a foul smell.
The whole room will be stinking.”

By this time poor Frosty
was reduced to a puddle
The wolf lapped him up.
Birthday boy’s in a muddle.
 
“Now look what you’ve done.
Frosty is gone for good.
And the wolf,” said his mom,
“is now loose in the Hood.”
 
What should you extract
from this terrible tale?
Better wish for some apples,
’cause the wolf’s sure to bail.

Character Revolt

BrokenBondsCover

NOTE:

This post previously appeared on my blog, http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/

This month’s blog round robin is about character revolt: did you ever have a secondary character threaten to take over a novel?

Boy, did I ever. And what’s more, he succeeded.

It went like this: After I wrote Relocated I was haunted by a question that I asked myself during the writing of the book: what happened to  the partners of one of my characters, Ardaval, who is living alone in a large house in the novel. While contemplating this question, as well as the question about the future progress of my main character, Keth’s, romance with Orodi, I started another novel which I had taking place four years after the first one. I meant this novel to answer both questions.

Thus I was concerned with what would become two four-way relationships, the one between Keth, Orodi, Darus, and Jozi, and the one between Ardaval, Brad Reynolds, another character from the first novel, and Ardaval’s two remaining former partners, Nidrani and Imarin.  And I had to pick a main character and a romance to concentrate on.

I’d just finished writing a young adult novel, so I picked Keth as the main character and proceeded to write the novel in the first person, concentrating on his romance. Along the way, I signed up for a writing course that required me to write 1000 words a day for about five weeks, and produced a messy, multi-point-of-view incomplete draft concentrating on the romance between the adults. This consisted of a lot of the YA version rewritten into third person as well as some new material.

I completed the draft of the YA version, which  I called  New Aleyne Novel, revised it, and passed it by a beta reader. She pointed out some weaknesses in the novel structure and wondered if a version concentrating on the adults might result in a stronger story.

So what did I do? A short while contemplating her remarks convinced me she was right, and moreover, I needed to scrap BOTH version and start over. This time I made Brad Reynolds the main character and concentrated on the adult romance. I set out to pick my point-of-view characters and to lay out the arc of the revised story.

I’d never, outside of the messy draft for the online course, written a multi-pov novel,  but I had to pick my point of view characters. Although I loved both story lines, I needed to keep the number of point-of-view characters to a reasonable number.  I picked the four characters in the adult romance: Brad, Ardaval, Nidrani, and Imarin, and in addition, the antagonist, Senator Hank Manning. I rewrote the entire novel from scratch. It became Broken Bonds.

I also needed major help managing the multiple POV’s , but that’s another story.

Here’s to Character Revolt — long may it wave.

 

Blurb:

When Major Brad Reynolds is assigned to head the Terran Federation base on planet Aleyne, the last thing he expects to find is love, and certainly not with one of the alien Aleyni. How can he keep his lover, in the face of political maneuvering and of Ardaval’s feelings for his former partners— and theirs for him?

 

 

Facing Mortality

NOTE: This post previously appeared on my blog, http://www.margaretfieland.com/blog1/

sky

It happened many years ago. We had just learned  I was pregnant with our second son when I got a call from my mother, with the words no daughter wants to hear: It’s cancer. My mother had cancer of the colon.  She

had had a sigmoidoscopy instead of a colonoscopy. The lesion was fairly high up in the colon, and the procedure had missed it. Hthen-doctor, not the brilliant diagnostician his dead partner, my mother’s former doctor, had been, had been slow to put together the symptoms. By the time he did, the cancer had spread to the liver. It was October, and by June she was dead.

At about the same time, I was offered some freelance work that would have brought in a significant amount of money, money we could have used. But I had a full-time job, a small son, a pregnancy, and a sick mother. I turned the work down, instead passing on the name of a friend — he later joked that I’d payed for the addition on his house. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. Instead of spending my weekends working, I spent them traveling back and forth from Boston to New York.

Here is a poem inspired by this experience:

 

Mother’s Day, Margaret Fieland

He died
the white-haired doctor
with smiling eyes,

leaving you
to the quick-voiced young one,
who called your cramps indigestion.

Your hair became
sparse as grass during a dry August,

your walk
creaky as the old pasture gate,

your frame as thin
and brittle as the bare branches
of the old oak.

until finally
you lay in bed, smelling
of old guts, too weak
to lift your head.

We named
the baby
after you

You cam find it and other poems in the collection Lifelines.

 

 

 

Journey

Here’s a companion poem to the one I posted yesterday:

Journey

Wanderer, wanderer where do you go,
all alone on the road when the wild winds blow?
Where did you come from and why did you leave,
who are the loved ones you left home to grieve?sky

Hunched in your cloak with your pack on your back,
bent almost double by the weather’s attack,
you pass by my hovel. I stare out at you.
When will I ever bid loved ones adieu?

Held to a life of hard labor and toil,
grubbing for greens as I turn over soil,
I dream of far shores and adventures galore,
yet never will I set a foot out my door.

 

Taming the elusive Iamb

Note: In all of the following, I have indicated stressed syllables in bold.

Woods and Fields near my home

My woods and fields

An iamb is a two-syllable metrical foot where the stress is on the second syllable:

da dum

A trochee is a two-syllable metrical foot where the stress falls on the first syllable:

da dum

Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” is composed of iambs:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

For an example of dactyls check out Henry Wadsworth Longfellow‘s “Song of Hiawatha

Should you ask me, whence these stories?
Whence these legends and traditions,
With the odors of the forest,
With the dew and damp of meadows,

And now Michele’s first stanza:

We claim our fears and ghosts by what we do,
   paths drag us into, not by accident,
   territory steep in our deep taboo.*

*Note: there are several ways to read this line — this is one.

So, lines one and two consist of nothing but iambs, but line 3 starts with two trochees.

One way to figure out the meter is just what I have done above: read the lines aloud, then underline or bold the stressed syllables, then see what you have. Another is to clap as you read: clap on all the stressed syllables while at the same time keeping track of whether this matches your pattern.

Another is to imitate a well-known rhyme or song. One of the only successful rhymed stories I wrote followed the rhythm of a nursery rhyme (unfortunately I’ve forgotten which one). Here are the first couple of stanzas. Can you help identify the song or nursery rhyme I tried to follow?

Old Tom Troll
had a hole by a bridge,
not far from the River Dee,

a lonely hole
not fit for a Troll,
and full of damp debris.

So Old Tom Troll
went out for a stroll
to find new holes to see.

Old Tom Troll
had a hole by a bridge,
not far from the River Dee,

a lonely hole
not fit for a Troll,
and full of damp debris.

So Old Tom Troll
went out for a stroll
to find new holes to see.

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