January 5th, 2011

Fly Free

Poem: "The Prairie in Central Park"

This poem was inspired by a prompt from red_trillium.  It is presented as today's second freebie poem, courtesy of new prompter bodlon and new donor Christian Young.

Now, the bumblebee in this poem is a New Yorker, with a vocabulary and attitude to match, so I'm putting this below a cut.  People unfond of coarse language may prefer to read something else.  I sympathize with the poor bee's predicament -- but I consider the poetry student the winner of this altercation.  Also, the quoted lines are by Emily Dickenson.

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Poem: "The Teacup Griffin"

This poem came out of the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a picture prompt from tuftears and the story "Meaningless Ranting" by ladysprite.  It was sponsored by kelkyag.

The Teacup Griffin

The griffin in the teacup is tiny
and picture-perfect,
feathered ears just so
and tail-tuft impeccably curled.

The griffin in the teacup is sickly
and fretful, full of digestive ailments
and an allergy to feather mites, even before
the front and back halves began attacking each other.

The teacup griffin is a cautionary tail and a picked feather
sadly demonstrating why it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.


Poem: "The Presence of China"

This poem came from the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by the_vulture.  (marina_bonomi also expressed interest in this one.)  It's about the way an ancient culture builds upon itself in layers, always adapting yet ever remaining itself.

The Presence of China

Clay warriors rest beneath the earth,
eternally vigilant in their long staid ranks.
The Great Wall marches endlessly along the border,
its stone face staring down enemies now gone to dust.

China is here.

The cities twine themselves into knots of asphalt,
their streets combed clean by beggars' fingers.
Neon lights leap from every window,
as nimble as the spell's from a sorcerer's hands.

China is here.

An ancient language turns itself on the tongue,
as sweet and sour as festival chicken.
Words dance across the page, following an artist's brush,
leaving their black tracks on rice paper and eye and mind.

China is here.

The old magic sleeps and dreams and renews itself,
bamboo shooting and seeding beneath a panda's paws.
Imperial dragons wind their way through cyberspace,
swallowing and disgorging pearls of wisdom.

China is here,
has always been,
will always be.

China is here.


Poem: "A City's Breath"

This poem came out of the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a Cybermind discussion about China, between Chris Mann and Maurizio Mariotti.  It was sponsored by marina_bonomi.  Things are only strange if you don't understand why they are that way...

A City's Breath

Shanghai makes New York
look like a puddle in Nebraska.
New York stands on wobbly young legs
and proclaims its importance.
Shanghai laughs
and stacks centuries like bricks.
The city above the sea
was ancient and strange
before America was ever born.

Sometimes the Eight Immortals come down
to busk on the street corners,
Lan Ts'ai-ho singing with flower basket in hand,
Han Hsiang-tzu playing along on flute.

A sister in Beijing,
teaching at an American University,
solemnly tells her brother
that crossing a street in Beijing
is a life-threatening exercise:
not only the incredible number of vehicles,
but the way they are driven.

Sometimes the qi-lin rummage in dumpsters
and one never knows when they might
dart out into traffic.  Foreigners
mistake them for dogs.

A city's breath
is the speech of its people.
Myths and histories rise up from beneath the roads
like steam from a manhole cover,
ghostly and compelling.


Poem: "Fair Maiden Meets Fierce Villain"

This poem came from the January 4, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired and sponsored by marina_bonomi.

"Fair Maiden Meets Fierce Villain" is a sequel to an earlier fishbowl poem, "Can She Bake a Scary Pie?" and again features Fiorenza.  One thing we learn in this episode is where she lives -- near the town of Fermo, about halfway up the east coast of Italy.  I also researched the plants of Italy, the variants of lavender, and the spice trade.  Fiorenza knows her stuff, so I have to keep up with her.  (Fortunately I'm into herb gardening too.)  Small concrete details, such as the hill of Fermo and the Spanish lavender, are what anchor these poems in a specific place and make the characters seem plausible.  Finally, the terza rima is a traditional Italian form.  When I write about a particular culture, I often choose a poetic form from the same source.

Fair Maiden Meets Fierce Villain
-- a terza rima

When Fiorenza went to Fermo Fair
She climbed the hill to view the countryside
And all the vendors situated there.

The market lanes were dusty, smooth and wide
With booths spread out as far as eye could see
And herbs from distant lands brought on the tide.

She chatted with the captains of the sea
And traded sprigs of rosemary and thyme
For peppercorns and cinnamon and tea.

The clock upon the hill began to chime
And Fiorenza clapped her slim brown hands
To find a Spanish trader in this clime.

She loved the herbs of all the different lands --
See here, a lavender of Spain, remote
And delicate in green and purple strands.

Too pale by half, the Spaniard eyed her throat
And bargained badly as the sun grew hot.
The herbalist looked closer, and took note.

Some maidens might be innocent but not
A young wise-woman traveling afield
Who'd handled worse already than this lot.

So Fiorenza thought what she might wield
Discreetly in the bustle of the fair
And force the fearsome villain yet to yield.

"I have a pizza pie that I can spare,
If I may take that lavender you hold,"
Said Fiorenza, tossing her black hair.

He grabbed for her.  The garlic knocked him cold.
The herbalist just laughed, and danced away.
"You're not much of a villain, truth be told!"

Her lavender was safe in potted clay,
Her spices in their basket neatly laid,
As Fiorenza went about her way.

So let that be a lesson to the trade,
Who should not underestimate a maid.


Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for January 2011

This is the first part of the generally sponsored poetry poll for January 2011.  We'll start by picking the size combination and then move on to specific poems if necessary.  You have $51 to spend this month, which means all the remaining poems are accessible.  There are two $5 poems left: "Astropolis" and "Beneath Suspicion."  There are two $10 poems left: "Gaslight and Cold Iron" and "The Secret Life of Cities."  There are six $15 poems left: "Breathing People," "The City at the Sun's Edge," "Feminists Under Glass," "The Houses of Haunted Dolls," "Perishable Truths," and "Urban Shamans."  There are two epic poems: "The Mascot of Engine 18" at $31 and "A Thousand Pokes of Failure" at $33.

I will check this poem Thursday evening to see if there's a clear winner.  If so, I'll put up the second poll if needed; otherwise I may let this one run a little longer.

Poll #1664771 Generally Sponsored Poetry Poll for January 2011
This poll is closed.

Which combination of poetry would you most like to see published?

"The Mascot of Engine 18" and BOTH $10 poems
"The Mascot of Engine 18" and ONE $10 poem and BOTH $5 poems
"The Mascot of Engine 18" and ONE $15 poem and ONE $5 poem
"A Thousand Pokes of Failure" and ONE $15 poem
"A Thousand Pokes of Failure" and ONE $10 poem and ONE $5 poem
THREE $15 poems and ONE $5 poem
ONE $15 poem and BOTH $10 poems and BOTH $5 poems