The challenge of my poetry workshop this week was to write on a subject that was either fully or partially concealed. However, Lydia chose to write about a fashionable female that she had observed in her youth. In her poem, we will find out why the man needed to conceal this beautifully decked-out lady in a closet. Hang in there please, her poem will be the last one I include in this blog. But first, I’ll start with the inspiration of this assignment, Emily Dickinson’s Poem on an unrevealed substance that comes to us through “Leaden Sieves:”
It sifts from Leaden Sieves –
It powders all the Wood.
It fills with Alabaster Wool
The Wrinkles of the Road –
It makes an even Face
Of Mountain, and of Plain –
Unbroken Forehead from the East
Unto the East again –
It reaches to the Fence –
It wraps it Rail by Rail
Till it is lost in Fleeces –
It deals Celestial Vail
To Stump, and Stack – and Stem –
A Summer’s empty Room –
Acres of Joints, where Harvests were,
Recordless, but for them –
It Ruffles Wrists of Posts
As Ankles of a Queen –
Then stills its Artisans – like Ghosts –
Denying they have been –
(Reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College).
After some discussion, we decided that the poet was talking about fine, unadulterated snow falling from the sky. Leaden sieves served as a metaphor for heavy clouds. The snow is healing as it fills the wrinkles in the road with alabaster wool (another metaphor for snow). It evens the mountains and the entire landscape like a smooth forehead. It creates a monument to nature, even as it conceals the work of the summer harvest. In a clever simile, the snow ruffles the ankles of a Queen. It is not concerned about human states of artificial power or even the work of artisans who have produced manmade works. Snow is depicted as a powerful gift of nature that helps humanity to put all of our endeavors in proper perspective. After we discussed Emily’s poem (yes, I have made her a consulting poet for our class), I asked them to go home and write a poem about a subject which is fully or somewhat concealed.
Bob Ferguson wrote several poems that were completely concealed. Let’s see if you can figure his topic out in his poem, “Tigerish Dreams?”
Dread Tigerish Dreams
Soft stalking schemes
Must give other pause
Boisterous behavior impolite
Without witness at night
Cancels any escape clause
Often silence her surrounds
Then with unknowable sounds
The mysterious sphinx gnaws
Bob hints that the subject might be in the feline family. He plays on the word pause, which sounds like paws. We get a sense that this creature is prowling the house at night making unknowable sounds. It also gnaws like a mysterious sphinx. Anyone who has a curious and mischievous housecat will know what that critter is!
Charlie Wayland also decided to write a poem about a cat. But to my surprise, he wrote about my cat. Yes, about Mia, The LitChatte Assistant! The subject was not very concealed since he also included a picture of her in his handout. However, Mia and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I apologize for slightly editing his word spacing. Here’s the poem he wrote, called “Mama Mia.”
Me, oh, Me, Oh Mia
If you could only read my bio,
It is endless-it goes to nine-o,
I am so comfortable on my couch
Some call me curious and mysterious,
When I’m playful, I might be delirious,
To be napping, you see, is pure ecstasy
At being a cool cat, I am certainly no slouch.
I am graceful, independent, and sly,
I can hide in the wink of an eye.
My purr is contagious
It is loud to outrageous
My lifestyle is like “pie in the sky.”
To converse in this house, it’s so clear
That we dwell deeply in atmosphere
Through personification and onomatopoeia
My name is forever- Mia!
Nancy Kunnmann wrote a poem, called “Possibilities.” She concealed the subject matter until the end. As we were reading it, everyone thought that it was about a seduction between a man and a woman in progress. Well, maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t? You decide:
Luscious curves accentuate an hourglass figure
His gaze lingers a little longer than expected. Colors swirl softly as he retreats, only to
Colors swirl softly as he retreats, only to
have his eyes forecast his feelings.
Slowly approaching once again he searches
for the right words, pondering, groping,
only to be left speechless
Time falters, as he becomes mesmerized
by his possible future before him
Hesitating for only a moment, he places
his hands along the sleek lines of
different shades of the rainbow.
Perfect. A vase so beautiful, he curls
his fingers gently around.
He smiles, anticipating his wife’s reactions.
Here is Murray Ellison’s poem, describing a recent tragic event he recently witnessed in the Richmond and Central Virginia area. Although his subject is not very difficult to figure out, his ending contrasts the increasingly violent movement of the subject with a final serene stillness. The poem is titled “Shroud of Darkness.”
Darkness shrouds a mystery
Over what is real and what is mechanical.
Everything in this world is measured
By what is and what is not tyrannical.
At this dusk, images of light
and dark become an obscurity.
Black clouds blanket the sky’s mast
Harbingers of some terror are now a surety
An infant cries, a town once there,
Is now recast. It:
“Furrows, funnels, and shakes
Slithers, screams, and snakes,”
the weatherman calmly states.
It’s growing stronger by the hour.
Moving houses like sticks.
Look, he says, it has created a fire.
We sit apart transfixed.
Torrential rains and floods conspire.
Three dead in Waverly
One, merely, a baby.
Move to shelter Now!
To a windowless space,
The trees rustle violently— right over our house…
She sits right next to me on the couch.
Finally, we will find the answer why the man keeps his beautiful girl out sight, in Lydia Aiken-Wilson’s poem, “Dress Me.”
Oh, how the fraternity would sing.
Their voices were dulcet and would ring:
“She may not be good looking with long, black, wavy hair,
But what the good Lord gave her, He really put it there.”
One brother was awed with his job.
He had to satisfy the waiting mob.
His girls had to be just right.
Yes, she had to be out of sight.”
All the intricate details had to be made.
That she was not perfect, never was said.
He caressed her as she was to be “the belle of the ball.”
She was the most charming and all on her would call.
Finally, the masterpiece was finished and the prize he would win.
Yes, he dressed the most beautiful girl– a lady mannequin.
I hope you can see that the poems of our workshop participants (at the Lifelong Learning Institute: LLIChesterfield.org) are improving each week. As a prompt for next week’s class, we discussed William Carlos Williams poem, “Plums in the Icebox.” Next, I assigned them to write poems using words from newspaper clippings on Advice Forums and/or on a“This Day in History” Column. I can’t wait to see what they write Before we left the workshop, we wrote a class poem, from a newspaper article about the many uses of butter in cooking. I will include that poem in next week’s poetry workshop Blog. I can’t wait to see what they write. As a new feature of LitChatte, you can now provide your email address bar in the sidebar>>>>>>>>> so you will be able to receive notifications of my future LitChatte Blogs. I say that your Support will Certainly Inspire Me! Mia says, “You Heah?”