Between the Known and the Unknown

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NaPoWriMo 2017 has suggested the following prompt for today:

“Write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something.”

So, here goes . . .

in the knowing

Oblivion was pleasant, naive – and now –
only disquiet. Somewhere, a streetlight
burns out – and a fawn calls out for its mother.

Outside, it is raining; storms don’t exist
until they are named. In the knowing
and shadows, seen and unseen,
Anubis raises his hackles.

It is the time between: imagination toying,
skillfully coy paramour
of the man with the vanishing rabbit.
Delight in his secrets. Children always want
more – until blackened, the stage becomes
more than just a stage.

© 2017 Lisa Mulrooney

Ghazal

I have not participated in this year’s NaPoWriMo challenge to write a poem a day; however, I was intrigued by yesterday’s prompt to write a ghazal. Here’s what I came up with. It was much harder than I thought it would be!

Intertidal Ecology: A Love Poem

Goodbyes are hardest said in person, beside the ocean’s furrowing rhythm,
Tossing along notions of return, helpless vessel, in complicit billowing rhythm.

Rocky shelves, cursed by sailors, are exposed just prior to contact.
Candid inner sanctums echo a similar, sombre, crowing rhythm.

“Refrain, refrain.” Again and again, siren call and conscience meld:
Neither sanity nor drowning – both – provoke the heart’s flowing rhythm.

Awash in weeds and pummeled driftwood, bearing the scars of every tide,
I lay my head in your lap and listen to the ocean’s knowing rhythm.

We danced along with drifting continents, tidal shifts and evolution.
Though dying, we’re immortalized in this last rendition of life’s slowing rhythm.

© Lisa Mulrooney

Haiku-A-Day: Part 1

“Haiku tends to focus on the immediate present, upon a mindful moment that captures the essence of meaningful living.”

 

In January, I discovered “National Haiku Writing Month” (www.nahaiwrimo.com), which encourages poets from around the world to commit to writing at least one haiku poem every day for the month of February.

The NaHaiWriMo Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NaHaiWriMo) and Twitter account (https://twitter.com/NaHaiWriMo) provide poets with a forum for sharing the results of their endeavours.

I decided to give it a go, and the result (so far) has been a huge sense of enlightenment!

I knew – or thought I knew – the basics of Haiku (17 syllables – 5 each for the first and third lines, 7 for the second line), but it turns out that there is actually A LOT more to Haiku than just that! In fact, the syllable count is far from being a hard and fast rule, and certainly does not define the structure of Haiku, contrary to what I thought I knew about the form. Perhaps even more important is the juxtaposition of images that creates a subtle expansion of meaning (accomplished in Japanese through a “cutting word” that serves to grammatically separate a haiku into two distinct parts). Also, in traditional Japanese Haiku, the time of year is signified through a “season word,” so those particular versions of the form are heavily dependent upon nature.

In English, a great many liberties have been and are being taken with Haiku. This flexibility has made Haiku very accessible to a wide range of writers and poets; however, as I have discovered over the past couple of weeks, it could take a lifetime to master the intricacies that create truly beautiful Haiku poems. After embarking upon a journey of discovery into this (underrated?) form, I am now certain it is worth the effort . . .

Haiku tends to focus on the immediate present, upon a mindful moment that captures the essence of meaningful living. A moment that could otherwise slip by unnoticed is effectively trapped and bottled by the poet. The mindful reader opens the lid and releases the thought (and its associated feelings) back into the world, leaving both reader and world changed by the transmission of that moment.

So far, this month, I have stuck to my commitment and written a Haiku each day. I have shared them on Twitter (https://twitter.com/lisamulrooney) and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NaHaiWriMo), but I thought I should share them here, gathered all together (like a little Haiku bouquet).

1.

snowswirl day 1

whisps of white moisture
swirl on the icy breeze
refusing to settle

2.

train day 2

tracks rumble in time
to a hypnotic beat:
sleep, train, sleep

3.

horses day 3.jpg

so close that you inhale
my breath’s condensation –
two worlds colliding

4.

spurned day 4.jpg

The chill air restrains,
after the burning torment
of a spurned advance.

5.

baby day 5

she hums in her sleep
and the last letter drifts
to oblivion

6.

grave day 6

a wrinkled hand
rests gently on a headstone
waiting patiently

7.

embers day 7

Embers from the fire
fly like moths to the moon;
the stars are dancing.

8.

aurora day 8

the wind holds secrets
we only hear at night;
aurora lights

9.

prison day 9

Watch yourself watch
yourself, a bird’s-eye-view.
The clock is ticking.

10.

trees day 10

The sun’s dying light
trickles into the shadows.
Dangerous thoughts pool.

11.

snowflakes day 11

Perfection inhaled.
A child’s honest laughter
tastes like snowflakes.

12.

toddler day 12.jpg

Galloping horses –
toddlers, tantrums and time.
Oh, to reign them in!

13.

dog day 13

steady rise and fall
curled into a safety knot –
dog on a pillow

14.

seagull day 14

seagulls squabble
over scraps and trash –
the sated take flight

If you have never written a Haiku, or you haven’t in a while, I challenge you to try it out. There are tons of great resources available online to help you in your journey, but I definitely recommend that you start here: http://www.nahaiwrimo.com

Happy Writing, Lisa

 

 

Tags on Towels

I recently completed my first MOOC or, for those not in the know, “massive open online course.” A MOOC is a FREE (or at least very affordable) course that is available online to a huge, often unlimited, number of participants. Since much of my work life has centred around improving and increasing access to higher education, I was excited about discovering MOOCs and even more excited to participate in one. The course that I took was entitled “Sharpened Visions: A Poetry Workshop” offered by California Institute of the Arts.

While the course did not teach any poetic techniques that were unfamiliar to me, what it did do was refresh my memory and encourage me to flex my poetic muscles. I highly recommend the course to anyone, even though it may be focused slightly more toward beginning writers.

For more information on the course, click here.

Following is a poem that I worked on for the course . . .

 

Tags on Towels

Your sigh is a tag on a towel.
“Wash with like clothing”?
I have no clothing like towels – just towels.

It scratches and I keep meaning to cut it off
until the next time it scratches
my naked body, caressed and reminded
of its vulnerability.

Threadbare confidence, fraying, the damp
wet cleanliness clinging
in defiance, on the line
because “low heat” is impossible.

I ruined all my clothes once – with a towel.
Or was it the other way around?
They all came with labels I never read.

My clothes are new but I still use the same towels.
Debris clings to everything.  Little bits. Little tags
on towels – little sighs.

 

© Lisa Mulrooney