Sunday, November 14, 2010

Poetry Train - 178 - On That Glorious Day

I'm on Day 14 of NaNoWriMo.

For the Poetry Train this week, here's a teaser from my current NaNo manuscript, currently at 23,000 words.

This is a found poem taken from my prose work-in-progress. It introduces the Lady Elysande, the noblewoman who takes the adult Scorpius - featured each Saturday in my serialized fiction - to work for her as her chamberlain when he is released from captivity along with her cousin, a hostage of a rival royal family.

The events of this poem take place in Elysande's young childhood and just as she comes into womanhood, as a youth. But it's narrated by the man in her life, Xaviero, the captain of the guard at her family's estate. For readers of my Weekend Writer's Retreat, Xaviero is a figure from Richolf's storyline.

On That Glorious Day

His body trembled
Trembled with the knowledge that it
Was finally over

No more waiting
His beloved approached
With slow
And measured steps
Her skirts rustling as she
Crossed the stone floor

Xaviero dropped to his knees
Beseeching her with
A tormented gaze
“You don’t know what you’re asking of me.”

He'd knelt before her once before

On that glorious day
When they'd first met
“How do you know how he feels?” he'd asked
Meaning the guard he'd put to the lash

She'd shrugged

“Do you submit to me, darling one?" she asked now
She smiled at him so sweetly
She was like an angel
An angel of vengeance
Sent to make him pay

He could barely see
Past thick tears
He didn’t need to see anything
Not in this moment
Of complete surrender

“Look at me, my lady,” he'd said on that first day
In a tone
That would not tolerate
But obedience

She'd done as he'd commanded her

“I have a feeling
You’re not like most of
The other little girls. Hmm?”

He'd smiled a secret smile
One that already knew something about her
That she didn’t know herself

“It’s good to feel pain with your pleasure,” she said now.

“Yes,” he whispered

“Most of the time
You don’t feel
As if you should
Have any pleasure at all
Do you?”

“No,” he said
Twisting his face away from her
How could she know that
About him? Why
Did it feel as though she’d
Brought him before a mob
Disrobed him before a thousand condemning eyes?

He'd gazed at her
On that first day
And said, “You think I should have been kinder.”

She'd clutched her ribs
As though finding it tender to breathe
“He’s in so much pain.”

“What were you doing out there?” he'd asked

“I heard…” she'd begun, squirming
“I heard him crying out.”

“The children’s garden
Is a fair distance from
My guard house,”
Xaviero had said.
“I have put other guards
To the lash before
And never once did any
Curious little girls
Come to watch.”

“It’s not right
That you should feel pleasure
When you’ve hurt people,"

Elysande said now
"Hurt them so very badly.”

Flooded his chest like
A sucker punch
He gasped

“Make no mistake, my dear one,” she said

He pulled hard
At his wrists and ankles
But cuffs held him fast
“You are going to suffer
As long as I am here to make you suffer.”

He shook his head from side to side

“And every time I make you suffer
A little more of that darkness
Is going to come to the surface
Where I can see it.”

“Please don’t,” he said
Turning away from her gaze
Which burned him

“Tell me what you’ve got buried
So deeply inside you.
You know what it is.”

A surge of rage
Coiled through him
He pulled hard
On the wrist cuffs
Raising up to look her in the face

“The proof, you mean?
The proof of my sins?
Oh, I’ve got enough of those
I’ve got enough sins rolling around in here
To keep us busy for a century.”

“Maybe they’ve heard it before
And never came close enough,”

Elysande had said on that first day

“Perhaps,” he'd said. “Perhaps.
But I don’t think so.
Most little girls
Don’t have the stomach for
Military justice.”

“I’m not like them,” she'd said.

“I didn’t think you were.”

Was it true, what she said
He wondered now
If he did as she commanded
Would some of that horror
He’d put other men through
Finally leave him be?

He was exhausted
He hummed with joy in his chest
He felt lighter in so many ways
His beloved was cracking him open
She would not be stopped
Whatever she demanded, he must
Give to her

He’d used his rage
On those people he’d tortured
Rage that was fueled
By the realization that
She’d been the wrong age
When he’d finally found her

What I should be telling Nurse,"

He'd said to her on that first day
"Is that her little charge has
For things that little girls
Shouldn’t want to see.”

Elysande had pulled herself
As tall as she could make herself
And looked him in the eye

“You may tell her anything you wish.
She wouldn’t believe you,”
she'd said
In her haughtiest tone

He'd shifted his weight then
Moving smoothly from a crouch
To a kneeling position

“I know exactly
What I’m asking you to do,”
she said now

He shook his head
“You don’t know what I’ve
Done to people, Elysande.”

“I’m beginning to
Get the idea.”
He gasped
When she took his face
In her hands
Forced him to look
Into her eyes
With the merest tug

“You knew about me
From that very first day
In the barracks yard."

He winced
As if she’d struck him

“Well, you weren’t the only one.
I knew something about you, too.
I didn’t know what to make of it.”

He tried to shake his head, but
She wouldn’t let him
She squeezed his face harder
His eyes grew large with dread

“Nurse has already discovered things
About you, hasn’t she, my lady?”

He'd asked on that first day
He'd bowed his head
As though he were her servant
And not a man who commanded a garrison
“She once suspected
There was something about you
But it frightened her
And – dear thing – she loved you,
Didn’t she?
Didn’t want her sweet little darling
To be taken away.”

“Who would take me away?”
She'd blurted out.

“I won’t lie to you, lady.
Powerful people
Would take you away.
Have you put to death.”

Tears had welled and shimmered
In her eyes
Xaviero had reached his finger
To wipe them from her cheeks
He'd opened his arms
She'd all but leaped into them

His body now trembled
Trembled with the knowledge
That it was finally over
There was to be no more waiting

“I think it’s safest
That we keep this to ourselves,"

He'd said on that first day
Cradling her into his shoulder

“How do you know about me?”
She'd asked finally
She'd pushed back
So she could gaze into his eyes

“I’ve been different, too,” he'd said
“In my way.”


He'd nodded

“And now?”

Now she smiled at him
So sweetly
She was like an angel
An angel of vengeance
Sent to make him pay

He could barely see
Past thick tears
He didn’t need to see anything
Not in this moment
Of complete surrender

“The proof, you mean?
The proof of my sins?
Oh, I’ve got enough of those
I’ve got enough sins rolling around in here
To keep us busy for a century.”

© Julia Smith, Nov. 14, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Detail from Roman Centurian, Legio XX, 1st Century AD by Chris Collingwood

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 174 - No Courage Left For the Next Time

This poem was written during the 3:15 Experiment in August.

It's a backstory poem for my falconer character, Richolf, who is featured in my serialized Saturday fiction. I was just brainstorming his storyline over the weekend at my annual real-life writer's retreat at White Point Beach, Nova Scotia.

I've based him on Scottish-Peruvian actor Henry Ian Cusick.

No Courage Left For the Next Time

Cowering in ceaseless dark
He didn't know what was worse
The waiting
The knowledge there was no more waiting
The tiny flame of hope
The hopelessness
The weight of iron on his wrists
The moment of weightlessness
The sound of their footsteps coming for him
The silence of solitary
Were they coming with food?
Would they drag him down the corridor?
Would they break something?
Would he beg them to stop?
He didn't know what was worse
The memory of his cries, his screams
Or the knowledge there were more lurking inside of him
It was hard to say
Hard to know what was worse
It was all worse
He could see no way out
There was no courage left
For the next time he heard their footsteps
For the next time the keys clicked in the lock
But he was so hungry
So thirsty
Maybe he heard something
Maybe they would bring him something
He had to ride the turbulent hope and dread
He had no choice
The iron pressed down on his wrists
The cold seeped up from the stones
The bruises ached from the last time
His stomach growled
He hoped they arrived soon
He hoped he never saw them again
He couldn't take much more
How long did it take to go mad?
Or was it already too late?

© Julia Smith, Aug. 9, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 173 - There For the Taking

This poem was written during the 3:15 Experiment in August.

There For the Taking

New day
New blade of grass
New whisker

I'll mow

New dawn
New wave breaking ashore
I'll stand
As it washes over
I'll trust

© Julia Smith, Aug. 3, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 172 - The Things That Aren't Things

This poem was written during the 3:15 Experiment in August.

The Things That Aren't Things

Things in my room
Castles and Palaces of Europe
Schloss Neushwanstein cookie tin
A red McFarlane dragon figurine
With its crystal ball in its talons

Things in my room
A framed collage of The Arts, signed by the photographer
A framed Taming of the Shrew ballet poster signed by the featured dancer
A dry-mounted poster for my 4th year film screening, including 'Exposed Film' tape to secure the date & time of screening

Things in my room
A pile of photocopied pictures featuring the actor-muses for my fictional heroes from last year's writing retreat
The 'Bravo!' card featuring a single pink rose that Brad gave me when I finished my very first NaNoWriMo
A pile of paperbacks written by fellow members of my writer's group

Things in my room
Two pairs of slippers, one fuschia, one black
An outdated computer tower & monitor
A pile of my dog's stuffed toys she's stashed under the bureau

Things in my room
A pile of programs from special National Ballet of Canada performances
An old cassette tape of my dad talking
Two spiral notebooks containing family stories I've collected

Things in my room

© Julia Smith, Aug. 22, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 171 - Further In and Around the Corner

This poem was written during the 3:15 Experiment in August.

Further In and Around the Corner

Maybe not right now
But soon
Maybe not on my tongue
But I can taste it

Perhaps the vision is too
Misty to grasp in my hands
Perhaps the words are muffled
Drawing me further in and around the corner

Maybe the climb is still steep
But at least I have those mountaineering clips
Perhaps I run out of day before I run out of done
This journey becomes more soothing, revealings its own joys, its own insights

© Julia Smith, Aug. 27, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 170 - Defining Moment #2

This backstory poem for Richolf, my falconer character who appears in my Saturday serialized fiction, was written during the 3:15 Experiment in August.

Defining Moment #2

Delicious glances as they wove between the other dancers
Three sword points levelled at his face
The searing bite of the blade upon his brow

His invitation to the soiree
Had been heartfelt
By a grateful noble
One of the hunters who
Wanted to reciprocate
The falconer's hospitality

"Go on, go on"
His master had urged
Declining the offer himself
A twinkle in his eye

So many beautiful girls
So many intoxicating ladies
Richolf danced with them all
Smiled at them all
Clasped her hand
Brushed his lips upon her knuckles
Locked gazes
Felt the heat

Until he was called outside
Surrounded and threatened
In the chill night air
The sweat from the party
Turning to the sweat of fear

He'd danced with the wrong girl
He didn't even know which one
Had inspired these three sword points
To level at his face

A kick from behind
His cry hanging in the night air
The distant sounds of the soiree
His heart beating as he realized
All the moments of his life
Would end in this dusty moment

But the hands which held him
Only meant for the sword to
Kiss his brow
A reminder for life
Not to mix his lowly breed
With that of one born to the blood

They left him
Laying in the dirt
Dripping red between his fingers
That still held the thrill
Of all those girlish hands
Those womanly sighs

© Julia Smith, Aug. 25, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 169 - Drawing You In

This poem was written during the 3:15 Experiment last month, just after my sister's second wedding shower, hosted by her new family-in-law.

Drawing You In

Your in-two-weeks sister-in-law
Had tears sparkling in her eyes
As you held up the
Cooking apron

All the women
In your new family
Have a handmade apron

With her thread
She draws you in
With her stitches
She binds you to her
And to all of them
Even before you say

"I do"

© Julia Smith, Aug. 30, 2010

My sister with her husband and his brothers and sisters. The sister who made the apron is second from left.

There will be lots of wedding pix for Thursday Thirteen - never fear!

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 168 - Son of Whispers

Well - I did it.

Starting on the night of July 31st/Aug. 1st until the night of Aug. 31st/Sept. 1st, I wrote a total of 31 poems for the 3:15 Experiment.

"Founded in 1993 by poets Danika Dinsmore and Bernadette Mayer, the 3:15 Experiment is an annual 'collective consciousness' writing experiment.

Each year a menagerie of poets scattered across the globe wake EVERY August morning at 3:15 am and write. An epic conversation, this exercise explores hypnogogic and hypnopompic states (between sleeping and waking), challenges writers and provides insight into the collective sleeping/dreaming mind."

- Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley / Danika Dinsmore / Tod McCoy

Technically, the idea is to set your alarm for 3:15, wake up and write a poem, but I had already decided that the alarm thing wouldn't be necessary, as I generally get up at least once a night. The poets who run this event also insisted that the exact time wasn't important, as many people who would participate in this event are naturally awake at 3:15 am.

The important part was to write in that sleepy, half-awake state. And to be honest, I feel that I've never written poetry so easily or so vividly.

I've definitely been learning over the years to ignore my inner editor and just write. It's never been easy for me. But I've kept at it. In fact, writing this blog has been an instrumental part of learning to let go and just post it, already.

For the month of August I posted five of my 3:15 poems - in their raw state, as scribbled in the hazy dream state:

At Least

I Love Your Desire

Expecting Someone Altogether Different

You Reached Out

Defining Moment #3

I'll be posting all of my 2010 3:15 poems on the Poetry Train, as they appeared in my bedside notebook. If I work on any of them in the future, I'll state the transformation status.

This is a backstory poem for the adult Scorpius, whose childhood I'm exploring for my serialized Saturday fiction. I did a series of poems exploring this period in Scorpius' life, and it brought on an actual nightmare for me - an unusual and jarring experience.

Son of Whispers

Dragged to the room of torment
He expected to see
The man whose unlimited creativity
Drew the sounds he most despised
From the darkest parts of himself
He expected to see
One lord or another
Who stood in the gloom
To question him
He did not expect to see
The fellow captive

This man
Was definitely
Of the blood
Though just as pale
Just as frightened

Yet it wasn't the noble prisoner
Who howled
When the lord
Would not answer their questions
Dragged to this room whenever
Their captors needed privileged information
He watched the
Tears collect and fall
In the eyes of the nobles
Who fought to keep their secrets
At his expense

Over time
There were things he
Expected to see
But when his fellow captives
Were freed by ransom
He did not expect
To hear the voices raised
Beyond his cell door
The negotiating
The keys jingling
The door creaking open
Yet no guards to drag him
To the rendezvous with agony

He did not expect
To see the face of the noble
He did not expect
To see the lord's hand
Reach out to beckon
To coax him forward
Who could expect
That their freedom
Would demand his own?
The shock stole the strength
From his legs
Which refused to work
His head swam
His heart beat too fast
But freedom would not be
His undoing

He dug past the point
Deep inside himself
The point which always
Slammed hard into resolve
The point his jailers knew
So many routes to uncover
He grabbed fast to that part of himself
He made his legs move forward
He ignored the tipping
Of the walls and ceiling
He crossed the threshold
Into the corridor
Not dragged

He knelt before the noble
Who had wept at his torment
Who'd never given up his secrets
Who'd come for him now
When his own freedom
Would have made it easy
To leave the son of whispers
To perish on the damp stone floor

© Julia Smith, Aug. 11, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 167 - Defining Moment #3

Danika Dinsmore inspired this poem when I read her post about creating defining moments to develop your characters.

This 3:15 poem takes a look at Richolf, the falconer from my serialized fiction which appears on Saturdays.

Defining Moment #3

the sound of the slap
the wildness unleashed behind her mask
the lips he wouldn't kiss for some time yet

Like every man
He'd heard the tales
Of beholding a maid
And feeling thunderstruck

When he heard the crack
Of her hand upon the boy's face
His head snapped to follow the sound

He crept through the trees
Silent hunter's feet
Keeping his secret

There she was
Tall and broad as a dragon
In her fury

The youth curled low
Hands protecting his head
As her blows pelted like coals

He waited
Till her hand ceased the striking
And latched onto the boy's collar instead

He waited
Till the blade-edge bite of her voice
Finally reduced the boy to tears

He watched
As the fire never dimmed from her eyes
Merely spread from her gaze, from her hand

Till she wrapped the crying youth
In her arms
Till his sweat and tears stained her breast

He never stirred
From that tangle of branches
Which shielded and held him

She never knew
Till much later
So many days and nights it took

But he'd fallen for her
The moment he'd heard that slap
In the echoing wood

She never knew that he would gladly
Have taken the blows
Just to feel her hand upon him

That the sight of her parted lips
As she spoke the words
That drew the tears

Had robbed his legs of strength
He could have fallen to his knees
Before her wrath

He was glad he waited
A hunter has patience, after all
Her lips were so much sweeter

When they finally parted
For his sighs
And all her heat was for him

The boy had not known
What to do with such a storm
So why provoke it?

But he could ride this hurricane
He loved how it felt
To have limbs snap off, rooftops torn off

© Julia Smith, Aug. 26, 2010

How to participate in the 3:15 Experiment

Starting on the night of July 31/Aug. 1, set your alarm for 3:15 am, wake up, write a poem in the midst of your sleepiness and go back to sleep. Repeat each night for the month of August.

Visit the originators of the project for more information:

Danika Dinsmore

Gwendolyn Alley

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Detail from Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses by John William Waterhouse

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 166 - You Reached Out

Les McKeown Week wraps up here at A Piece of My Mind with this poem written a week ago for the 3:15 Experiment.

How to participate in the 3:15 Experiment

Starting on the night of July 31/Aug. 1, set your alarm for 3:15 am, wake up, write a poem in the midst of your sleepiness and go back to sleep. Repeat each night for the month of August.

Visit the originators of the project for more information:

Danika Dinsmore

Gwendolyn Alley

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

You Reached Out

When I first read about
Your ordeal
I felt as though
My girlhood joy
Had contributed to your
Thirty years of torment

At first
When I gazed once again
Upon your face
From those old photos
When I realized
What had happened
I looked down
I saw blood on my hands

I wish all of those
Girlish hearts
Had been enough to shield you
But I'm grateful
That one woman's heart
Was your haven
That your son
Helped you to see
That boys should be cherished

You spoke against your attacker
But no one would listen
How could a boy
Ward off a predator
Who'd built such a web of terror
Who carved misery
Into so many psyches

You grabbed your own life back
From the chasm's edge
I know that's why
My girlish heart
Thrilled to you
When you gazed into the camera
And reached out

Reached out

Somewhere inside me
I knew that pain lurked
Somewhere inside you
But I also recognized
The courage
You have shown
Have always shown
In the face of it all

© Julia Smith, Aug. 15, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 165 - Expecting Someone Altogether Different

Last week I mentioned my husband's suggestion that I write a sexy poem. And several of you wondered if I'd written one.

Here it is - it may actually be more romantic than sexy, but who's quibbling?

Expecting Someone Altogether Different

On my day off from work
I threw on my shapeless
Comfy black pants
My slightly-too-big
Cotton top
My grass-stained garden clogs

I shuffled into the car
To pick you up from work
And because the timing
Had been so close
With Mom not knowing
If she'd be back from the store
If you'd have to call a cab
I parked the car
I went in the store

With my day-off-from-work
Unwashed hair
Stained clogs
Shapeless clothing

How many women
I thought to myself
Would enter their
Husband's workplace
Looking like this?

When you saw me
Your eyes lit up
Your smile was not
For the customer before you
And she could tell
She turned to look
I'm sure she was expecting
To see someone
Altogether different
Attached to the smile
To the look
You gave me

© Julia Smith / Aug. 14, 2010

How to participate in the 3:15 Experiment

Starting on the night of July 31/Aug. 1, set your alarm for 3:15 am, wake up, write a poem in the midst of your sleepiness and go back to sleep. Repeat each night for the month of August.

Visit the originators of the project for more information:

Danika Dinsmore

Gwendolyn Alley

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 164 - I Love Your Desire

So far, so good with The 3:15 Experiment.

The 3:15 Experiment? What's that, again?

Starting on the night of July 31/Aug. 1, set your alarm for 3:15 am, wake up, write a poem in the midst of your sleepiness and go back to sleep. Repeat each night for the month of August.

I haven't set my alarm at all for this event. I seem to wake up naturally at about that time anyway. Likely the originators of the event realized that people's sleep cycles do these things and set the wake-up time to coincide with it.

For today's Poetry Train, here is my eighth middle-of-the-night poem, in its raw stage, as written at 3:00 this morning.

I Love Your Desire

"What time is it?"
I ask
Returning from the bathroom
"Quarter to three"
My husband answers
Kissing me
"Time to write
A sexy poem"

- Julia Smith, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

For more information on The 3:15 Experiment, visit Danika Dinsmore and Gwendolyn Alley and they'll fill you in on all the details.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 163 - At Least

I'm taking part in The 3:15 Experiment for the first time ever.

It began back in 1993. I signed up to do it last year when I first heard about it, but I was only a few months into my acupuncture treatment, and at this point last year I was still struggling through my days with chronic pain issues.

I enjoyed reading the poems that emerged from this poetry event over at Art Predator's blog, however, and this year when it rolled around again, I made sure I was ready for it.

For more information on The 3:15 Experiment, visit Danika Dinsmore and Gwendolyn Alley and they'll fill you in on all the details.

The Coles Notes version:

Starting on the night of July 31/Aug. 1, set your alarm for 3:15 am, wake up, write a poem in the midst of your sleepiness and go back to sleep. Repeat each night for the month of August.

For today's Poetry Train, here is my first-ever middle-of-the-night poem, in its raw stage, as written at 3:30 this morning.

At Least

Tried to get home
But it had snowed
Tried to return
But the snowfall was epic
Tried to get inside
But the front of the house was plastered
Tried to clear the way
But there was no shovel
Dug in with my two hands
My two mittened hands
Snow shot up inside my sleeves
Tried to get in
Long hours ahead
Two mittened shovels

At least
The porch light was on

- Julia Smith, 2010

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Photo by Steve Gallagher

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 161 - The Snags of Life

Having spent wonderful hours in the yard this weekend, and looking forward to more on my time off this week, here's a Loop Poem inspired by my garden.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

The Snags of Life

Standing in the garden
Garden opened wide
Wide enough for all
All to step inside

Treasures peek from corners
Corners beckon sweetly
Sweetly spiced and tempting
Tempting me completely

Shadows cool and knowing
Knowing boughs that wave
Waves of color flicked by breezes
Breezes gather seeds to save

Garden beckons, gathers
Gathers butterfly and bird
Bird takes refuge here
Here the snags of life are cured

© Julia Smith, 2010

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 148 - American sentence 6

Just got back from the first of three intense evenings of choral singing:

Sunday evening rehearsal, the first with Nova Sinfonia and our guest conductor, Dr. Mark Shapiro, from New York.

Monday evening dress rehearsal

Tuesday evening - concert!

I confess I was a bit nervous all day, knowing that he would make us work hard. We're a combined choir of amateur singers ( my choir, Dartmouth Choral Society and the Chebucto Singers) and he's used to professional singers.

However, he turned out to be extremely forgiving, yet at the same time took hold of us and yanked us up to stand tall and let loose our inner divas.

For today's stop on the Poetry Train, I give you this American sentence:

First violinist introduced conductor to director - old charm.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

For any of you in the Halifax area, my concert is on:

Tuesday, April 20th
St. Matthew's Church
1479 Barrington St., Halifax, Nova Scotia
7:30 pm

The concert program:

Schubert's Mass No. 2 in G major
Vaughan Williams' Antiphon from Five Mystical Songs
Schubert's Symphony No. 9 in C major

Tickets are:

$15 adults
$10 seniors
$5 students

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 147 - Something Which He Knew and Which I Did Not

This poem began as a writing exercise from this afternoon's workshop, given by Renee Field.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Something Which He Knew and Which I Did Not

I stood in the great hall
In my best doublet
My doublet stiff and musty

Sweat collected along my brow
A draft blew the tapestry behind me

I stood in the great hall
My feet both heavy as stone
Well drilled in court dances

Roland and Stuart entered
My relief loosened a loud guffaw

In the great hall, those around me
Stopped their conversations
Stopped to stare at me

I hurried to join my friends
I wiped the sweat upon one brow

In the great hall, Stuart's voice broke
It broke as he said, "There you are, old man."
Roland grabbed my arm, dragging me

Out of earshot
"We've news."

I stood in the great hall
As Stuart said, "She's here,"
"She?" I said

My heart stuck in my throat
Roland nodded toward the end of the hall

I stood in the great hall
As Roland said, "Yes
he is also here."

Something told me not to look
Just then

In the great hall, I stood there
A glance and
I locked gazes with Guilford

Why don't I ever listen
when something tells me not to look?

I stood in the great hall
And Guilford smirked over something
Which he knew and which I did not

- Julia Smith, Apr. 11, 2010

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 146 - No Cure

Hard at work on the second draft of my vampire story, this long weekend. It's inspired this assessment of the affliction I suffer.

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No Cure

Story attacks like a virus
No cure except to write
First attempt inside out
Like the transported fly

Years of workshops
Tears of surrender
When it just won't make sense
When it won't leave you in peace

Light bulb moment
Only leads to dissection
Your story's scenes sliced bare
Moments amputated on the floor

Rebuilt version sent out
Fragile as spun sugar
The heart bruises
With every rejection

An offer is made
A contract is signed
Champagne cork popped
Dreams now stock on a shelf

Someone you've never met
Stays up all night
Reading your story in one gulp
As another story attacks you

- Julia Smith, Apr. 4, 2010

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 145 - Make Me / Take This Tune - 1

For today's Poetry Train Monday, I'm taking a prompt from the Take This Tune meme, which posts on Friday's for a Monday meme. Take This Tune is hosted by Jamie from Durward Discussion and Fairweather from Fairweather's Red Mud Inn.

Here are the Take This Tune guidelines:

A video will be posted each Friday as a theme. Write anything you like based upon that video, the lyrics, or just a story that in some way ties in with the idea. You may use a written piece, photography, or poetry. Post your contribution on your blog the following Monday (the official day, but everybody cheats with any day of the following week) and link back here so that others can read what you have created. Have fun.

This week's prompt is Red Staggerwing by Mark Knopfler. Here are the lyrics I'm using for my prompt:

If I was a Fender guitar
A Fender painted red
You could play me, darlin'
Until your fingers bled

If I was one of them Gibsons
Like a '58 or '9
You could plug me in
And play me anytime

- Mark Knopfler

And now, my poem for both memes:

Make Me

No woman ever held me
The way I hold my guitar
No woman's curves fit into mine
The way my Dobro sighs

If only you could hold me
Coax the sighs from me like that
There's a song inside me yearning
For the right fingers
For the right pressure on my neck

Pick me up
Strum me
Coax me
Make me sigh
Make me sing

- Julia Smith, Mar. 28, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 143 - American sentence 4

I've been working on two stories this weekend, my vampire story and my convict gardener story. Since one of the supporting characters has been on my mind a lot, here is an American sentence from his point of view.

Mr. Bent is a settler on Van Diemen's Land in the mid-1840's. When he hears that Robbie once worked as a gardener at an English country house, he takes Robbie off the road party to work as a convict laborer on his farm.

I always cast my characters, and Bent is based on English actor Ray Winstone.

Neck cloth soaks with sweat, but hides the scar from the iron one I once wore.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 142 - Delighting in Our Tribe

Another meeting of my writers' group this afternoon. Something I look forward to with both arms outstretched.

Thanks for a lovely lunch, thanks for the wisdom of craft, thanks for the example set, thanks for every laugh.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Delighting in Our Tribe

Delighting in our tribe
We draw our strength from words
A kinship undescribed

Laughter peals, we imbibe
Conversations spun, heard
Delighting in our tribe

Affection slung with jibes
Guffaws at the absurd
A kinship undescribed

Rx so sweet prescribed
Embrace our inner nerd
Delighting in our tribe

Inhale creative vibe
Our dreams, here undeterred
A kinship undescribed

No one to circumscribe
Our muses stroked, chauffeured
Delighting in our tribe
A kinship undescribed

- Julia Smith, Mar. 7, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 141 - American sentence 3

*insert crazed war whoop*

I composed this latest American sentence mere seconds after Sidney Crosby scored the tie-breaking goal for Olympic gold in the most stressful hockey game ever.

Hats off to uber-amazing US goalie Ryan Miller and the agressive American team who forced me to physically hold a hand over my view of the Canadian net throughout the entire game. Interactive audience participation - what can I say?

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Olympic gold so tough to grasp, making victory all the sweeter.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 140 - American sentence 2

I waited until the hockey game was over before writing this for the Poetry Train. I was hoping I would have a much different American sentence to craft.

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History always repeats itself, even if it takes fifty years.

Photo by Harry How

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Poetry Train Monday - 138 - Falling With Abandon

With Valentine's Day approaching, here's an ode to love, which I wrote this evening after indulging in watching ballet pas de deux on You Tube.

For more poetry, Ride the Poetry Train!

Falling With Abandon

Love yearns
Yearns like the sea
The shore always slipping through
Fingers of foam

Its absence cr-
cracks the heart
Cracks like a dry lake bed

Love refuses
Will never give in
Love scrambles like tiny turtles
Scrambling from the sand for their watery refuge

It stalks with lethal prowess
Stalks like the panther gazing
From the shadows

Love competes
Love collides like
Tangled antlers

It shyly flirts
Flirts like the cocked head of a kitten

Love swirls
Swirls in the pit of the stomach
Swirls like dervish snow squalls

It bursts from the breast
Bursts like startled flamingos

Love burns without warning
Love burns like orange flame
Flame wrenched from trees by blue lightening

It falls with abandon
The abandon of a glacier calving
Into the open arms
Of the sea

Love kicks with springy delight
Rambunctious delight
The springing leap of young goats

It protects
Love protects like a bear's
Swiping claw

Love soothes like the tongue
The tongue of a doe nudging her fawn

Its joy spreads
Spreads through the cosmos
Spreads like smiling stars
Stars revolving in the vast night

- Julia Smith, Feb. 7, 2010

Panther photo by Liorah_Lleucu