22 April 2010

April Poem A Day Challenge Day 22

I should have seen it coming. I try to avoid thinking about whatever media induced "Day" is coming up, with all its accompanying hype and hoopla. The day when specific groups try and browbeat me into believing and acting the way they do, for "the children", "the country", or 'the planet". (no pressure) Refuse to hop on the bandwagon carrying your 90 pound recyclable tuba and receive prompt accusations of Not Caring about the earth. I prefer to spread my actions out over 365 days instead of just one, and what I reuse and my weekly purchasing choices are my own business, thank you. Okay, rant over.

Poetic Asides: For today's prompt, write an Earth poem. You can decide what an Earth poem is. Maybe it's a poem about the planet; maybe it's actually the lowercase earth (a gardening or burial poem?); maybe it's just a poem that happens on (or to) Earth; maybe it's even written in the voice of extraterrestrials (that might be fun). No matter how you decide to roll with it, have a very poetic Earth Day!

I actually took this prompt and ran with it (okay, ran away at first). I just didn't take it in the direction that was probably expected. Earth to me meant ground, and ground meant grounded, as unable to fly. So my poem became "Grounded", and the quest for flight by someone who is fascinated by flying things, but kind of afraid of heights.

I wrote the poem in a sort of stream of consciousness process, so it appeared as more of a prose poem. I broke it into lines, which luckily for me, seem to occur at regular intervals. The stanza breaks are a bit trickier, and I will probably leave those for later revisions. Another good thing is that I already know the basic principles of flight, so I didn't have to go research them, break my flow, they slid naturally into my poem.

The tricky part will be deciding which of the two themes that emerged is the right one for the poem. One has a more psychological, or self-analytical bent to it. The danger in choosing that path is perhaps bending the poem to the theme, even if it doesn't entirely fit. I will probably try and retain both themes, one overt, the other underlying, and try to weave them together so they compliment each other rather than compete. This is where I shelve the poem until after this month is over, to let it breathe before I try that balancing act, because the poem, reduced, reused, recycled is usually better than the poem, fresh plucked. Something like that.

A few poems to ponder. My earth poem, courtesy of Ruth Stone, A commentary on Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay, and a poem by Constance Urdang for traveling about on Earth Day. Or so I see it.

In the Next Galaxy
by Ruth Stone

Things will be different.
No one will lose their sight,
their hearing, their gallbladder.
It will be all Catskills with brand
new wrap-around verandas.
The idea of Hitler will not
have vibrated yet.
While back here,
they are still cleaning out
pockets of wrinkled
Nazis hiding in Argentina.
But in the next galaxy,
certain planets will have true
blue skies and drinking water.

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

The Luggage
by Constance Urdang

Travel is a vanishing act
Only to those who are left behind.
What the traveler knows
Is that he accompanies himself,
Unwieldy baggage that can’t be checked,
Stolen, or lost, or mistaken.
So one took, past outposts of empire,
“Calmly as if in the British Museum,”
Not only her Victorian skirts,
Starched shirtwaists, and umbrella, but her faith
In the civilizing mission of women,
Her backaches and insomnia, her innocent valor;
Another, friend of witch-doctors,
Living on native chop,
Trading tobacco and hooks for fish and fetishes,
Heralded her astonishing arrival
Under shivering stars
By calling, “It’s only me!” A third,
Intent on savage customs, and to demonstrate
That a woman could travel as easily as a man,
Carried a handkerchief damp with wifely tears
And only once permitted a tribal chieftain
To stroke her long, golden hair.


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