Thursday, October 18, 2012

Spirits and Staircases, two more weeks of poems

More poetry today! I'll start with something a little strange and experimental; this is another one I wrote for my good friends at the Brooklyn Speculative Fiction Writers group. As I've already mentioned here, I'm slogging my way through the Modern Poetry course from UPenn offered on Coursera. So I took this writing prompt (a photo of a ghostly figure on a staircase which I seem to have misplaced) and threw a mashup of various poetic styles we've studied at it. It's also a touch feminist in that there are obvious references and allusions to four famous female poets or other artists. Is it obvious who?

Spirit of the Stair

You see the ghostly form upon the stair
An apparation clad in wisps of white
She whispers secret words as you draw near
steady she remains as you take flight

Does she hear you? Would Cassandra? Would Cassandra
would she hear you? Would Cassandra would she hear you
hear you hear you hear her hear you? would you hear her hear her hear
you would she hear you hear her hear you hear the risers rising
upward hear you rising upward see

her ghostly face is fair, but soon forgot
her ghostly arms, they fade into the air
Her ghostly frame, some would call it hot
but nothing more. The spirit of the stair.

into your glass eyes, your button eyes, your dead eyes
you are flesh, she is soul --
she will rise, she will descend
she is air, she is real
You are flesh.
Is Cassanda? Is Cassandra on her deathbed? On her deathbed?
Would you hear Cassandra on her deathbed, on your deathbed,
would you hear Cassandra when you hear Cassandra

Beneath your feet, the treads are solid wood
the balustrade your hands caress is smooth
You'd stop to meet the spirit if you could
but up you sweep, a brain within its groove.

You stay within your groove
the one that mother gives you doesn't do anything at all
But they know
the lifeguard found Sylvia already immensely drowned, but they know
they know they know.

You'll not drown.

You'll not touch the spirit.


Would you meet the spirit gaze to gaze
to see the echoes of your better days?

And, some horror poetry from the Nightmare Fuel project, of which I'm slowly fading out:

"Three small turns"

Again a night of jagged, broken sleep
again the well-trod path, bed to kitchen to crib to bed
nightmares to milk to sleep to nightmares - 
an insomniac's triangle-trade
My eyes are red
her eyes are red
his eyes are red. 
His night-terrors haunt us through the day until

until the ancient guardian is engaged
a man of wood clad in a wooden hat
a sentinal from when my nightmares raged
who calmed my fears of spider and of rat
beneath his watchful eyes the terrors cease
and now once more we all could sleep in peace


the jagged edges of broken sleep cut once more
no spiders, no rats, no monsters under my bed
but terrors named

so I take it
creep into his room - he whose nightmares are banished
and take the talisman of my youth
its wooden face still severe, strong, beneath a wooden helmet
worn smooth by young fingers

The terrors stop
the terrors stop

in the pre-dawn I wake to see 
termines fleeing the disintigrating wooden carcass
to feast on fat houseflies

The wood is no longer hard, no longer smooth, 
but soft and rotten and stinking of decay

The nightmares of parents are stronger.

And, finally, something blatantly and shamelessly political:

The hundred less one arrived to join the hunt
left words behind, spoke only in animal grunts
will the goddess and gods protect those who eschew meat
from bright-burning hundredth with carnivore's teeth?
On this day masks are worn outside our face
See our spirits form paper-mache-
clad this - this autumn night when worlds collide
when veils grow thin, we see the other side
When we, the hundred less one run enmasked
as ancestors did walk in days long past
though creatures meek as we may earn your scorn
remember that stags too are armed with horn.

Overall, my favorite thing about these is how I have the chance to play with form, with meter, and with the sounds of words as well as the words themselves. Look for more experiments in weeks to come.

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