Friday, April 28, 2017

The Bleakness

Once again it’s fiction Friday and here I am with the story I came up with for this month’s picture prompt. How about you? Did you find yourself inspired by the picture? Just as a reminder, here it is:



My story turned out a little longer than I expected, and I have to admit it’s a little rough. But ready or not, here it is:

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

The Bleakness

Clouds boiled in the sky, a sickly combination of grey and green and brown. That’s when she knew her spell had worked. Until that moment, she hadn’t been sure it would. It was a dark magic, and old magic passed down through generations but no one had ever used it before. No one had been consumed with the right amount of rage and sorrow....

The day had begun much as all the days did. While she hoed the small vegetable patch beside the house, she kept an eye on Lanni, her youngest, as she played contentedly with her doll in the shade of the apple tree. The branches of the tree were just starting to dip under the weight of the apples they held - it promised to be a good crop this year.

In the distance she could see Joseph working diligently in the fields, Henry and Robard close by. The sky was clear and blue, giving no hint of what was to come. She’d paused for a moment, leaning on her hoe, and watched a hawk wheeling above, then suddenly diving. He was so fast his prey had not even a chance to cry out.

And that was when the horn sounded.

She’d frozen in place. Out in the field Joseph’s head snapped up, and when the horn sounded a second time he sent the boys ahead of him as they raced towards the house. Shaking off her paralysis, she dropped the hoe and snatched Lanni up, ignoring the plaintive cries for the dropped doll as she rushed into the house.

“There’s no time to take anything,” Joseph shouted, catching up to her at the door.

“But...”

He sent the boys on ahead then took Lanni from her. Frightened, Lanni began to cry harder.

“Things can be replaced, you can’t,” Joseph said grimly. “We’ve no time to waste.”

He was right and she followed him back out of the house without a second glance. There was not enough time to follow the road and they cut across the fields, stumbling on the uneven ground. As they caught up to the boys Robard fell, crying out in pain. They paused long enough for Joseph to pass Lanni over to her and then he scooped Robard up into his arms.

The gate was just closing as they reached the village wall.

“Wait!” Joseph shouted.

But the gate shut fast and they heard the bar drop into place.

“Please,” she called out, as Joseph set Robard down so he could start pounding on the gate. “You can’t just leave us out here!”

“It’s the likes of you what brung the raiders in the first place,” an angry voice called from behind the gate. “With any luck they’ll take you and leave us be.”

“At least take the children!” she begged, only to be met with silence.

They turned to run but it was too late. The small party of raiders, advance scouts for a much larger group, had them surrounded. Though they had no come specifically for her, once they saw the mark on her forehead she knew they were lost.

The raiders took them back to the homestead and made her watch as one by one they tortured and killed her family. She remained stoic, resigned, refusing even to shed a tear. Finally they beat her and raped her and left her for dead.

There no sympathy from the villagers who ventured out to see the raiders handiwork the next morning, but then she expected none. Dry-eyed, she stood and faced them.

“You have only yourself to blame, witch. This is what comes of consorting with the devil.”

“I am no witch,” she said proudly. “As you well know.”

“You bear the mark,” the headman’s wife hissed.

“It’s just a mark, it means nothing.”

“You need to leave,” the headman told her. “We don’t want your kind here.”

“And where am I to go? This is my home.”

“No longer. We want you gone before your trouble becomes ours.”

“You have no idea what trouble is,” she said softly. “But you will.”

They left without even offering to help bury her dead, not that she would have accepted. Her heart was stone, she was stone. Alone she buried her family, four graves lined up side by side. With each shovelful of rocky soil her anger grew, soon outweighing her sorrow. They would have only had to open the gate and her family would still be alive. But they were too superstitious, too petty - and they would pay.

She was not a witch, but she came from a long line of witches. They had but one spell left to them, passed down from generation to generation. Her mother had not used it, nor her grandmother, nor even her grandmother’s mother. But she did.

It was a summoning spell, it called the creature known as The Bleakness. It stood before her and she pointed at the village behind its wall, no words were necessary. At her direction it turned and drifted that way, the crops in the field it passed over shriveling in its wake.

She watched even though she could no longer see it, knowing that where The Bleakness passed, barrenness followed - fields, animals, women - no life would grow here for a hundred seasons. There would be no crops, no increasing herds, no children.

At last she turned away and started back towards the house to pack up what few belongings she was taking with her. As she passed the apple tree, fruit rotting on its limbs, she spied Lanni’s doll laying where she’d dropped it. She reached down and picked it up and a shiver went through her.

Numbly she continued on into the house. There was nothing she wanted to take from this place. There was nowhere for her to go where she’d be welcome. She sank down onto the hearth with the doll in her arms and wept.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Be sure and visit next Friday to see what the picture prompt is for the month of May. And don’t forget to check back on Sunday for the final poetry post.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Week Three of the Jamie and Carol Poetry Challenge

Whoops! I almost forgot. It’s Saturday, and that means it’s time to post my week’s worth of poems. In case you missed the previous posts, you can find Week One HERE and Week Two HERE. And don’t forget to check out Jamie’s poems HERE.

Without further ado, POEMS!

Poem #15
The Monotetra can have any number of stanzas of four lines each, but must have at least two. Each stanza contains a mono-rhyme, so that the pattern is aaaa, bbbb, cccc, and so on, and eight syllables, and the last line of each stanza has a repeating four-syllable phrase, like an echo, to make it look like a refrain.

The Price to Pay

The wind is from the west today
I stand and watch the branches sway
a storm is coming, so they say -
perhaps it may, perhaps it may.

But wind and rain are not what wait
for one like me, no it is fate
upon my soul it’s hunger sate
so filled with hate, so filled with hate.

I dabbled in what I should not
never thinking I’d be caught -
it’s not as if I’d not been taught
but I forgot, but I forgot.

There always is a price to pay
for those who once were made of clay
but changed to stop life’s slow decay
to my dismay, to my dismay.

I come to you, confess my sin
remind you all of what has been
the world around me starts to spin
please let me in, please let me in.

It doesn’t matter anyhow
alas there is no succor now
for those who broke a sacred vow
the end is now, the end is now.

Poem #16

You know, you’d think Sunday’s poem would be easier because I’m not following a specific form, but I still have to come up with a subject, and my brain feels like it’s full of sawdust.

I Make The Plans

I make the plans and then I watch
as plans go all awry
all that time gone with a splotch
and all I can do is sigh.

I make the plans and then I see
other things to do
I go upon a cleaning spree
and then I sit and stew.

I make the plans and then I find
a web cam on the ‘net
I watch the feed ‘til I’m near blind
and so the pattern’s set.

I make the plans but never seem
to stick to them, I guess
plans for me are just a dream -
they only cause me stress.

Poem #17
Naani is one of India's most popular Telugu forms. The name means “an expression of one and all”. It consists of four lines, with a total of 20 to 25 syllables. The Naani has no rhyme scheme and there is no set length to each line, nor is the poem is not bound to a particular subject. My kind of poem! It was so much fun I did three of them. :-)

I offer you a cup of words
take what you want -
the rest will fly free
like dandelion seeds on the wind.

Look up, look up
into a clear blue sky
where thoughts and dreams drift
in the shape of white clouds.

Ink spills across the page
needing the mind’s eye
to decipher the meaning
of the poet’s thoughts.

Poem #18
The Ochtfochlach (points if you can pronounce it) is from Ireland. It has 8 lines, any consistent number of syllables, and the rhyme scheme is AAAB CCCB.

Split

There is a darkness deep in me
Down where no one else can see
Filled with all of life’s debris
and what I perceive is pay back.
Sometimes I let the darkness out
but only when no one’s about
and then true evil starts to sprout
and there’s no turning back.

Poem #19
The Pensee is a syllabic form with five lines. The structure is as follows:
Line 1: subject – 2 syllables
Line 2: description – 4 syllables Line 3: action – 7 syllables
Line 4: setting – 8 syllables
Line 5: final thought – 6 syllables
Titles are optional, but I titled mine and did two of them because they’re short.

Magic
faeries
in the moonlight
flittering and dancing free
in the hidden magic forest
make me feel young again.

Depression
journey
into darkness
the black dog is chasing you
to the edge of the mind’s abyss
the dark night of the soul.

Poem #20
I had a lot of choices for the letter Q and in the end I chose my two favorites.

A quinzaine is an unrhymed verse of fifteen syllables. These syllables are distributed as follows:
Line 1: Statement of 7 syllables
Line 2: Beginning of question with 5 syllables
Line 3: End of question with 3 syllables

I always expect the worst -
why do I do that?
I don’t know.

The flapping of wings fills the air.
Where do ducks come from?
Will they stay?

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

A Quatern is a sixteen line French form. Rhymes are not a requirement and if one is used the rhyme scheme or rhyming pattern is entirely up to the poet. The Quatern:
1) Must have four verses.
2) Each verse must have four lines.
3) Each line must have eight syllables.
4) It must have a first line which is a descending repeated line.

Magic Rare

A quality of magic rare
dwells within the most worthy souls;
a hidden essence sometimes shown
but only to those who believe.

Like a ghost on the earthly plain,
a quality of magic rare
is often sensed rather than seen
like a will-o-the-wisp at large.

A moonlit path of fairy dust
that shimmers and glows will lead to
a quality of magic rare
for those who have the eyes to see.

With pen and ink I start to write
trying to capture the coy words
and wish that somehow I could find
a quality of magic rare.

Poem #21
Like so many other French forms, the Retourne is all about repetition. It contains four quatrains (four-line stanzas), and each line has eight syllables. It’s kind of like the Quatern in that it has a repeating line, but in this case the second line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the second stanza, the third line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the third stanza; and the fourth line of the first stanza becomes the first line of the fourth stanza.

My Path

I walk a path that no one sees
It takes me to unknown places.
I see things most others cannot
I hold the magic in my veins.

It takes me to unknown places
This path of mine I walk alone
Though others are free to follow
If they truly wish to do so.

I see things most others cannot
Which is disconcerting at times
But oh, the beauty in the world
So often overlooked by man,

I hold the magic in my veins
And walk a magic path of words.
As hard as it is, still it’s mine
And I wouldn’t trade for anything.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

And there you have the poems for week three. Next week is going to be challenging because I’m getting into the harder letters of the alphabet. And seeing as April ends next Sunday, that’s when I’ll be posting the final week’s worth of poems. Don’t forget to check back!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Week Two of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

Wow! It’s becoming more and more difficult to keep up the pace of the poetry challenge, but somehow we’re managing. Would it have been easier if we were posting every day? Hard to say. In any case, if you missed the first post about National Poetry Month, you can find it HERE and for those of you who’ve had these posts delivered to your email so you can’t just scroll down, my first week’s worth of poems can be found HERE

And now, on to the poems!

Poem #8
The Gzha is a Tibetan poetry form written in four unrhymed lines with six syllables per line. It's really only supposed to be one stanza, but because it's so short I kept going - technically any of the verses could be a stand alone.

Pearls of wisdom fall like
drops of blood from a wound,
bruising whatever they
touch with unwanted truths.

Whispers in the darkness
meant to lure and beguile -
a maelstrom of choices
too tempting to resist.

What good is truth really?
When a well thought out lie
is much more seductive
and easily believed.

Poem #9
This poem fell on a Sunday, and I’m taking Sundays off from forms and just doing whatever pops into my head. :-)

A Poem Every Day

What was I thinking?
A poem every day -
I really don’t have
all that much to say.

A poem every day?
It’s a lot of work
when lately my writing
I’ve tended to shirk.

And sticking to forms -
what’s that all about?
A lot of those rhyme schemes
fill me with doubt.

A poem every day
is a pretty big chore
but I hope by the end
I’ll keep writing more.

Poem #10
Today’s form is the Hexaduad which is comprised of one stanza of six rhyming couplets or twelve lines. The structure is fairly simple: 1st couplet has 2 syllables per line, 2nd has 6 each, 3rd has 8 each, 4th has 4 each, 5th has 6 each, and 6th has 4 each. The rhyme scheme is aa bb cc dd ee ff

Oh look,
a book!
Because it’s so well writ
I find I must read it
and nothing will stand in my way
even if it takes me all day.
Give me a chair
out of the glare
and a pot of hot tea
and perhaps a cookie -
no talk until
I’ve read my fill.

Poem #11
The Imayo is from Japan, a four line poem with twelve syllables per line. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, there’s a caesura (or pause) separating each line after the seventh syllable, giving it the typical seven/five pattern. Because it’s so short I did two of them, but I cheated a bit and did the five syllable part as single words.

Stargazing
Childish wish upon a star, imagination
the truth appears in a dream, interpretation
things fall into place for once, serendipity
the future spreads a bright path, illuminati.

Progress
Toxic waste flowing freely, contamination
always there is an excuse, justification
quasi clean-ups just in time, organization
money obscuring the truth, civilization


Poem #12
The Jagati is a Hindu verse form. The Jagati is written with 4 lines or padas to a stanza and 12 syllables in each pada.

Disconnection

A cool white moon, shining high in the midnight sky
Keeping silent vigil o’er an uncaring world,
Pacing across the heavens in an age old dance,
Seeking the perfect partner that does not exist.

A lost god, winging his way across the heavens
Forever in pursuit of the truth, of the way,
Fruitlessly searching for the vision gone astray -
Steadfast, the mission to find a forgotten past.

A rising sun, red on the distant horizon,
Herald for a new day of unanswered questions,
As eternal and enduring as time itself -
Archaic habits cannot be changed on a whim.

Poem #13
Today’s form is the Kwansaba, which is a non-rhyming form that consists of seven lines of seven words per line and each word cannot be more than seven letters. You’d think this would be a breeze with no rhymes or syllable count to worry about, but I kept wanting to use words that were more than seven letters. Go figure. LOL

Dreamer
I lie awake in the dark night
my mind awhirl with this and that
hopes and fears and what might be.
Sleep still eludes me for a time
but as my turning thoughts slow down
visions begin to appear in my mind;
soon I’m lost in a dream world.

Poem #14
The final form for the week (written fresh this morning) is the Luc Bat. Luc Bat is Sino-Vietnamese for "six eight", referring to the alternating lines of six and eight syllables. It will always begin with a six-syllable line and end with an eight-syllable one, however, it can be as long as you wish. It has a really funky rhyme scheme, which you can learn all about  HERE.

So It Begins
The drifts of snow are gone
and sooner comes the dawn, soft glow
the winds begin to blow
the sap begins to flow, unseen
the grass becomes more green
and has that special sheen, once more
the rain begins to pour
like it has done before, in spring
the birds begin to sing
celebrate everything, at dawn.

And there you have it. The second week’s worth of poems.

Don’t forget to check out Jamie's Poems too. She may not be using specific forms, but following prompts can be just as challenging, if not more so!

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Week One of the Jamie and Carol PAD Challenge

As you know, my best buddy Jamie and I challenged each other to write a poem a day for the month of April. I’m following an A to Z theme of forms while Jamie is working from prompts supplied to her from a workshop she participated in.

We emailed our resulting poems to each other on a daily basis and today we’re posting them on our respective blogs.

Poem #1

My first poem is written in the Abhanga form. It’s a four line stanza with a syllable count of 6,6,6,4. Lines 2 and 3 rhyme:

Magic burning brightly
the heady perfume scent
of power in assent
filling the air.

A thought, a word, a spell
the magic works its will
and power rises still
to reach the end.

Poem #2

Since April has 30 days and there are only 26 letters in the alphabet, I’m going to take a page from the A to Z thing and do whatever turns my crank on Sundays. This is a poem I’ve been meaning to write for a long time that’s part of a book I haven’t worked on in years (because it needs to be totally rewritten). It’s supposed to be more like a nursery rhyme.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

White the Myste that grasps your hand and takes you to another land.
Yellow Myste, the years will fly -
forwards, backwards, not knowing why.
Blue the Myste, transforming skin
into things that have not been.
Green the Myste you’ll lose your head;
Red the Myste, you’ll end up dead.

Beware the Myste that shifts your way flee as quickly as you may;
the Myste, it winds through time and space,
danger’s found in its embrace.

Poem #3

The Balassi Stanza is named after the Hungarian poet Balint Balassi. It consists of nine lines with the rhyme-scheme AABCCBDDB and a syllable count of 667667667.

My escape is a dream
on a silver moonbeam
a gift from the stars so bright.
I can fly if I will
even go further still
and soar far into the night.
I can change how I look,
take the road no one took -
wherever fancy takes flight.

I can be anyone,
I can lay in the sun,
or swim in an ocean blue.
I can step in a book
maybe just for a look
or see the story comes true.
I would live in a dream
all my life it would seem
if choice was in my purview.

Poem #4

Choka is a form of Japanese long poetry pre-dating, but related to, haiku. As with haiku, the lines of a choka should not rhyme but should follow a syllabic pattern (onji). The most widely accepted pattern for the Choka is to start with a katuata of 5-7-5 syllables and continue in a 7-5 syllable pattern. It can be any odd number of lines and finishes with a 7-7 syllable count.

Gun metal grey sky,
clouds weeping for lack of sun,
chill dampness seeping
into the pores of the earth,
no ending in sight.
Boiling rivers and streams, dark
with mud and debris
rushing to leave us behind;
wash away our sins.
Like divine retribution
prayers go unheeded.
In the uncaring darkness,
voices turn to smoke.
Like a prophet false to truth
the dark continues
eroding creativity;
a slow death of the spirit.

Poem #5

Despite being called the Diminished Hexaverse, this form has nothing to do with the number six. It begins with a five line stanza of five syllables in each line, then a four line stanza with four syllables each, then three, then two, then one. Rhymes are to be avoided in this form and you can give it a title or not, as you wish.

Creativity

The glide of a pen
A soft muttered curse
A brushing of paint
A starting over
Persistence is key

A finished poem
A finished song
A painting done
Satisfaction

Creation
is never
that easy

but still
we do

it.

Poem #6

This form is the Etheree, which is similar to the Diminished Hexaverse only longer. This one is ten lines long. The first line is one syllable, the second line is two syllables, and so forth until the tenth line of ten syllables. You can also do it in reverse, going from ten syllables to one.

I
write of
things unseen
and often things
hidden in the dark
abyss of a twisted
imagination - nothing
is planned, words flowing outward
and spread across the page in a pattern
that weaves the story that’s trapped within

But the spinner spins and the weaver weaves
and sometimes thread-thoughts become tangled
and I stare at the empty screen
waiting for inspiration
waiting for ideas
that might never come -
still I persist
until the
tale is
done.

Poem #7

The Flarf is an internet dependant form that combines unusual phrases from Google searches. It takes its raw material from a search involving wildly different terms, like "anarchy + tuna melt" or "exquisite + corpse." A poem is created by cutting and pasting words from the search results page (none of the website links are followed). You can also pull lines from your Facebook or Twitter feeds, but I chose the traditional Google search. :-D

The Ugliness in Beauty (revised)

Humans can be very conflicted
when it comes to the concepts of beauty and ugly.
Is Ugly the New Beautiful?
These are two variations of the same concept,
which, when literally translated, mean pretty-ugly
and beautiful-ugly, respectively.
Note the proportion of beautiful words to ugly ones.

What are we to define ugly?
We all enjoy beauty.
But an appreciation of ugliness is necessary to it.
The Beautiful and the Ugly are One Thing
Ugly is just another form of beauty,
Without ugly we would have much less,
Because even the ugliest thing has helped something.

How beautiful am I?
The beautiful and the ugly are not opposites,
but aspects of the same ...
Better to see the beautiful, ugly truth of the cosmos.
There are no certainties here, only struggle and contingency
In the natural world, beauty can be many things

Why am I ugly?
or not pretty enough?
It’s a pretty person’s world
I'm ugly, and I know it.
Stop telling me I'm 'beautiful'.
I'm ugly. It's fine.
The Beautiful Ugly. 143 likes

Heartbreaking, terrifying, thought provoking
Just who are these sinners
that are so ugly on the inside?
And the LORD God said unto the serpent,
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle,
and above every beast of the field; ...
Existence can be beautiful or ugly.
It can be lonely. Chaotic. Terrifying.
What matters is how you see it.
“EVERYTHING burns,”
says the Joker in the Dark Knight
Am I ugly?

And there you have it. The first week’s worth of poems. I hope you had as much fun reading them as I did writing them. And hey, it’s National Poetry Month - why not give one or more of the forms I’ve included a try?

Friday, April 7, 2017

Prompt Me - the Masked Figure

Here we are again, the first Friday of the month. And here's your picture prompt for the month:



A cloaked figure in a mask crossing a barren field - if that doesn't inspire you to write a poem, story, or article I don't know what will. :-D

As usual, you have until the end of the month and I'd love to see what you come up with so feel free to email it to me at crward(dot)author(at)gmail(dot)com. With your permission, I can even post it here so others can enjoy it too.

And don't forget to stop by tomorrow to check out my first week's worth of poems!

Monday, April 3, 2017

On National Poetry Month and Challenges and What Was I Thinking?

Remember back in November when my writing wasn’t going well and I decided to do NaNoWriMo? The idea being it would give my writing a much needed boost and get me back on track. And it worked ... for a while.

Unfortunately, due to a series of unfortunate events, over the Christmas holidays I kind of lost my momentum. And my motivation. So I thought, why not take part in the A to Z Blogging Challenge? This challenge has you doing a blog post every day for the month of April (except Sundays) following the letters of the alphabet. I’ve done it a few times in the past and it was a lot of fun - each day is a new letter.

But when I went to their site I discovered that they’ve changed the way they’re running it, which is their prerogative of course, but instead of a links list of participating blogs, you’re required to post a daily link either on their website, their Facebook page, or Twitter - or all three if you have the time and inclination. Which quite frankly, I don’t.

For my A to Z theme (it’s always easier if you have a theme) I was going to do poetry, seeing as April is National Poetry Month. More precisely I was going to do poetry forms, which I’ve explored with great enjoyment in the past, but writing an original example for each day’s form.

When I decided not to do the challenge I toyed with the idea of just posting my A to Z poems anyway, but a daily blog post seemed like a lot of work. I was all ready to just shelve the idea when I received an email from my best bud Jamie who was waffling over participating in a local poem-a-day seminar.

I goaded double dog dared encouraged her to participate and even suggested I’d be willing to match her poem for poem, never really believing she’d accept. ;-) But she did, and now we’re both writing a poem a day for the month of April. To keep each other honest, we’re going to email each other our poems on a daily basis and then post a week’s worth of poems on our respective blogs on Saturdays.

I don’t know who’s facing the bigger challenge: Jamie, who’s working from a specific prompt that’s sent to her daily; or me, who has to come up with an idea for a form. One year I participated in the Writer's Digest PAD Challenge where you write to a daily prompt, and it was indeed challenging. The only good part about it was you could post your poems any time, so if you fell behind it was easy to catch up. But that’s where I first discovered a poetry form called the Sestina, which I’d never heard of before and that sent me on my journey of discovery of poetry forms.

I started out writing poetry, and I’ve always felt that it gave my other writing a creative boost. I think Jamie will find that too. If nothing else, it’ll get us writing every day, right?

Don’t forget to check back Friday for the picture prompt for April, and then Saturday for the first week ‘o poems. :-D