A Bird’s Frantic Tattoo – Writing Avian Poetry

Today I have been writing bird poetry. Or poems that relate to birds. I was inspired by listening to the Overdue podcast and it was on Fifty Shades Darker. One of the guys said that here we learned about the birds and bees, but in this case the bees had whips and the birds wore corsets.

I love the imagery of a delicate bird wearing a corset. Being confined so it can’t fly. Okay, love might be the wrong word. Inspirational. So I started writing about that. Unfortunately, the only images I could find when I typed in ‘bird in corset’ was women dressed in corsets and feathery costumes. Or in cages (not sexual).  But it brought the ‘bird in a cage’ feel to my mind, so escapism. I am interested to see where this takes me.

But then I was writing bits and pieces of poetry that relate to birds.

‘I have a sparrow’s heart fluttering, beating a frantic tattoo tucked away in a locked jewel box….’

or

‘The sweet damp spring calls me, a meadowlark robin am I, a trickling chattering blackbird….’

That last one turned into a two-page poem in my journal. Granted, I was using the italic nib on my fountain pen. (it uses up ink and space on a page quickly.) I want to revise it and work on it more.

Anyways, maybe it’s the spring and every morning there are birds everywhere. I hear so many birds because we are in the country and have this habitat that they love. The nesting that is going on. And the other night, I actually think it was last night, I stepped outside and I could smell the damp mist from the mountains mixing with the humid air and the scent of new cottonwoods with their spicy, musky-sweet resinous smell that is so rich and intoxicatingly good. I could hear the creek and feel the cut grass beneath my feet. There were tiny mouse-ear aspen leaves and grape hyacinths blooming. There was this silent explosive feeling to the moment. It was something I wished I could run out in and be a part of. A wild woman Taurus child. I like planting my feet in the earth and taking hold while my mind galavants off into the sky.

Fanciful, yes?

So that is me right now.  This post is a bit ADD and rambly. I should also mention I am reading Ada Limon‘s Bright Dead Things, one of my favorite books. I love this book of poetry and frequently check it out from the library.  I just looked. I’ve checked it out 6 times in the last year.  The second section and the melancholy is calling to me. Life is discouraging now. I can’t go into more than that. But Ada’s words are helping me. (they are also making me want to have my poems in print)

What are you all writing right now? What is inspiring you? I’d love to know.

Oh, and check out Overdue podcast. The two guys, Craig and Andrew, are hilarious as they go through books you should have read or have been meaning to read. And there are spoilers.

Kate

Dabbling…In and Highlighting NOPW

Writer’s Digest and the Poem a Day (PAD) started and we are here on day 15 with hardly anything to show for it. I started feeling a bit guilty that I wasn’t following along and cranking out a poem for every prompt. Till I got to the halfway point and said, fine, I don’t care. I stopped worrying about it because I knew I wouldn’t be able to play catch up.

Ironically, I was able to crank out 4 poems in 45 minutes the other day with my writing group. Granted, they aren’t that great, though three have promise if I clean them up. I still probably won’t accomplish PAD, but I might be able to dabble in a few more. Sometimes it takes me a while to get back to finding a poem in a simple prompt. This coming from someone that can usually come up with something with just about anything. Give me a picture, let me stare at it for a few minutes, and I can usually start off on the start of a story, or idea. Maybe not a poem, but definitely something.

For some reason though, this time around, the prompts have left me, well, hanging. Maybe it’s me. Today’s prompt is a Two for Tuesday is a Life or Death poem. Honestly, this one hits close to home as I have a friend who’s wife at 30 had a stroke then found out she had cancer. Talk about being hit by a wall.  Talk about a subject that triggers all kinds of things.

But a good segue to bring up something.  For those interested, there is a GoFundMe for my friend and his wife here at, Lift For Lainee, and I also want to bring attention to National Orange Popsicle Week or NOPW which brings awareness to those who have had a stroke at a young age. As they say “We consider a young stroke survivor to have had their stroke under the age of 45 because most statistics show that 45 is considered young for having a stroke. 20-to-64-year-olds make up 31 percent of all strokes.”  Who knew it was kind of rare? I didn’t. And talk about a life changing thing to have to relearn how to walk, or move, or speak, or, well, do just about anything we take for granted. I urge anyone to take a look at NOPW which has a rather cool story as to the name….  You can also check out their Facebook page here NOPW-FB.

Do you know of someone that has suffered a stroke at a young age? Maybe you would be interested in the site and organization.

Also, you can see why life and death have been on my mind, not to mention another dear friend who has had to go back in for another round of chemo. How does one even rationalize death or the word ‘cancer’ and not think of death?  Despite being a believer and knowing where I end up when I die, death still is something I struggle with. Surprisingly, I haven’t experienced much death in my life other than two great- grandparents, one at an early age. It hasn’t been one of those things where I even remember it much. So as friends age, or get sick, it comes to my mind.

I am reminded of Dylan Thomas’ poem do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (which I may or may not have mentioned in a recent post about Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas….)

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

SO good friends who read this blog….. Do not go gentle into that good night….

Kate

Listening To Bob Dylan

American folk and rock singer Bob Dylan, who was born on the 24th of may in 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota. — Image by © 91040/dpa/Corbis

Recently I have taken to liking Bob Dylan and his music. Not all of it, but a select few. I find it funny since I used to inwardly scoff at his music. Possibly because he was popular during the Vietnam War. Why that should make any difference at all doesn’t make any sense since I particularly like music from the 60s and 70s. Maybe it’s because I can actually appreciate the story being told in one of his many songs, whereas before, I was more interested in the beat. I didn’t know how connected to stories in songs I would get over the years of writing.

The first song I remember being introduced to was ‘Lay, Lady, Lay‘, and at the time I didn’t even know it was Dylan. But I fell in love with it. Over the years I’ve slowly added to my small collection of his songs. The stories in all of them are magical and as a writer, I can appreciate the condensed tale told.  I actually wonder if contemporary folk music appeals to the writer in us due to the story being told? I can honestly say that country music that has a story, I do have to quantify it, appeals to me. I like songs without a story, in fact, most of what I listen to wouldn’t qualify as much of a story and more of a ‘feeling’.  But if I start really thinking about songs that grab and hold me, they tell a story.

Thinking about Bob Dylan always reminds me of something I read in Poemcrazy where Susan Wooldridge was talking about him carrying around an armload of words. Turns out, it wasn’t Bob Dylan she was talking about, but Dylan Thomas, the poet. While I have a book of his poetry, I’m not as familiar with his works, so somehow I thought it was  Bob Dylan. While I had the person wrong, I still picture Bob Dylan carrying around armloads of words, racing to get to his black typewriter, up winding stairs in a small garret at an Irish inn on dreary, wet Irish days.

The actual quote about Dylan Thomas from Poemcrazy is as follows:

Dylan Thomas loved the words he heard and saw around him in Wales. “When I experience anything,” he once said, “I experience it as a thing and a word at the same time, both equally amazing.” Writing one ballad, he said, was like carrying around an armload of words to a table upstairs and wondering if he’d get there in time.

My image is certainly fanciful at best in regards to Bob Dylan. Who knows if he used a typewriter or wrote his music in Ireland.  I know I’m probably completely wrong, but if you listen to his words you feel the lyrical quality, and I can’t help but imagine the songwriter is this way. In Ireland. Go figure.

I carry boatloads of words in my head constantly. I have lost countless poems or starts of poems by not having paper at hand when I need it. I have a small pocket journal I have just for this reason, but like my camera when I don’t have it I need it and when I do have it I don’t need it, my writing is the same way. I never write when I have paper at hand. I write when I am scrambling frantically for any scrap piece of paper at hand. Netflix flyers, bill envelopes, receipts, margins of something and various other odd places. I have a folder/envelope of scraps of paper with the starts of poems. I have been meaning to transcribe them onto a document, or into one notebook, but I have yet to sit down and do anything with it. The question of, ‘Will I ever really use that and do I need to compile it all down?’ frequently hits my mind.

There is a panic that starts when I can’t find paper. I try to repeat the lines over and over in my head in the hopes that I will remember it for the next five minutes till I find paper, but inevitably I am asked a question, interrupted or just don’t have a moment to grab a paper and pencil.  It’s aggravating like that itch you can’t scratch. Knowing that the lines were just there. If only there was a way to scoop all those words up in a bucket that holds onto them until you can come back to collect them.

I try to make sure I keep a notebook, journal or index card with me whenever I go out. Of course, because I have that ready, I rarely write out in public.

In no particular order, Bob Dylan songs I currently love are, Lay, Lady, Lay, The Girl From The North Country, Mr. Tamborine Man, To Fall in Love With You, and Shelter From The Storm.

My one Dylan Thomas poem I currently keep rereading due to a friend’s young wife having cancer and is recovering from a stroke, is Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.

 

The Old Pirate – Poem

The Old Pirate

Under the old clock towers on a full moon night
and the asphalt and cobblestones are wet with a shine
he clomps and staggers in cracked leather boots.
He once was a pirate by trade
sailing off to adventures a many
looting and pillaging and carousing around
letting the gold slip and tumble through his fingers
as easily as the rum slipped down his throat
so full of life was he, till it came back to bite.
A rabid dog bite of a drunken haze.
He’s a cloak of invisibility of old man now
worn and tired and rather gray
aged and fat and a little more drunk
ancient adventures lost in delusional bursts
brandishing half empty bottles and shouting
the insanity creeping insidiously in
slumped on the cold stone steps.
He’s less than half the man of long ago
when he was a dashing charming sort.
Now all that’s left is this sad old man
sailing off in memories long forgotten
growing colder under the towers of time
till time eventually stops and he’s frozen
no longer anything but a once told tale
when the morning comes and they heave him so
up into a cart and tossed not into the sea
but to earth interned never to sail again.

 

I was feeling uninspired by the prompts I pulled for writing at my writing group this morning. So Sera graciously offered to pull some for me. I should have requested a random pulling instead of specifically looking for ones…. I know what you did, Sera…., but she pulled ‘full moon, clock towers, he was a pirate, grey silk, adventure, cloak of invisibility.’  I added in my one ‘wet asphalt’ and suddenly I was picturing the ‘wish realm’ version of Captain Hook that was featured recently on Once Upon a Time. But then I thought, what would this old pirate look like in the real world and would he drink himself to death….? Apparently he became that way, though there were some that didn’t realize I killed off this pirate. Hopefully it’s clear.  Enjoy this very random piece of poetry, and very open verse as well.

Kate

Writer’s Don’t Take Sick Days

czhuxiqjilg-alejandro-escamillaOkay, we do, but it’s different. While we might be tucked under the covers, a thermometer in our mouth, an ice bag on our heads, we are still writing in the midst of being sick. For me, it was random snippets of poetry that I actually forgot to write down so needless to say, promptly forgot. I have used being sick to be a whole plot point for one of my novels. This time around, my flu was so nasty I wasn’t up for much in regards to writing, having to actually cancel my writing group. I did sit down today and work on a piece of short fiction for my local library’s writing contest. It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme

It’s an annual thing and I enter off and on over the years. This year the theme is “Snowed In” and I have actually dabbled in a story about being snowed in. Downside, it’s close to ten thousand words which exceed the 3-page limit with this contest. Not to mention it’s more romantic and adult to send off for just the heck of it. So I started working on a new story, that after reading the premise to my writing group two weeks ago, they said (or completed for me) was a Hallmark story. I had the image of this snowed in cabin and from there I got a three-page story.

Now, seriously, I find it hard to write a beginning, middle, and end three-page story. Just over 2 thousand words, I’m a little impressed this worked and I do actually have all three parts. It might be a bit choppy, but you can’t add much detail into a three-page story. (have I stated this is a three-page story? Just checking) I’ve kept it to just some dialogue, a bit of a back story, and even an epilogue of sorts. I’ll let it settle in and ‘bake’ for a bit before the submission date at the end of the month. I might make it better, I might see some areas that need correcting.  I wouldn’t mind making it longer and add in detail, but you know, sometimes the best stories are short and sweet.

But like I was getting at, at the beginning. Even while being sick, and being uninspired most of the time (it’s hard to be inspired while coughing, running a fever and not feeling like eating) I still find myself writing. Now if only I could remember the poetry I didn’t write down.

Kate

With Apologies to Poets Great – A Poem

A while ago I created prompts for my writing group using lines from famous poems. Just a line here or there to just get you going. Well, this last Saturday, feeling uninspired, I pulled out almost all of those prompts and came up with this little number of a poem that, well, I give apologies to the greats. I took your words and mashed them up into a, well, mashup. It was fun, it got a laugh and it flowed, surprisingly enough. All without adding in much more than just a few little articles and where’s and when’s and I’s. Enjoy.

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It happened on a whim of an Autumn evening and in the morn,
when shadows, and the sun falls in little sprays to be picked by anyone
when the golden mists are born
that I traveled to Ithaca last night
and I will be in Syracuse at noon;
But it was in Cedar Rapids tonight that
I found myself, walking in Dragon street one
fine August night, and I just happened to meet
a man whose eyes where midnight shames the sun
Hair of night and sunshine spun
And he had a mermaid on his arm
an anchor on his breast
He had the looks of a man that books take ages to tell
And he told me how he fell far through
that pit abysmal, a nameless one
Indolently dreaming, puzzling till there
came a great voice to the sound of thunder
like the ancient gods
“O Lord he will hang upon him like a disease
as she doth teach the torches to burn bright
Let there be wings and yellow dust and the
drone of dreams and honey…”
And when he woke, the stars were the only
ships of pleasure at night when reddest flowers
are black, a slash of blue, a sweep of gray
Some scarlet patches on the way
And he asked me if when I go up through
the mowing field, smooth land like thatch
with heavy dew, if there is a garden,
grey with mists of autumntide where
ornamental clouds compose an evening song
And I said here lies a poet who would not write
To which he asked,’Have you forgotten
how one Summer night we wandered
forth together with the moon to
a land where the morning mist is curled
and I pondered on the complacencies of
you in your peignoir, and late coffee and
oranges in a sunny chair
And you told me the Frogs got home last week
As we sipped and ate toast and marmalade
for tea contemplating ships upon the sea…

My apologies to the poets and songs in order within the poem: P.B. Shelley, M Strobel, Philip Booth, e.e. cummings, A.C. Swinburne, Langston Hughes,  Mika, e.e. cummings, J.C. Mangan, C. Reznikoff, Shakespeare, Carl Sandburg, Elizabeth Bishop, Thomas Hardy, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Walter de la Mare, Rilke, Stevie Smith, Christina Rossetti, Robert Penn Warren, Wallace Stevens, Emily Dickinson, and the song Toast and Marmalade(a classic song)

I have pulled out my poetry anthology from Poetry magazine, years 1912-2002, marking lines that I have plans to type up, on the Royal, to add to the prompts. It’s rather fun to dabble in poetry this way. Totally nonsense, but fun. I have one other member in the writing group that has taken my prompts, not just poetry ones, and created some beautiful words. Short vignettes or poems. She’s brilliant.

Kate

Revamping Poetry

cxyhfbkc0vs-calum-macaulayI was a little undecided about entering into the Writer’s Digest Chapbook Challenge from all of November’s poetry. I just didn’t feel like anything gelled and I was at a loss for how I could put the poetry together into a collection.  Well, then I finally started looking at some of the work and reworking it for readability and I came to the decision, almost a month after November, that I am going to enter. I have been busily typing up the poetry and making it look pretty. That is where the challenge has been.

People always say that reworking a story is hard. And while that may be true, reworking poetry is really hard, trimming the fat and getting rid of excess words. Trying to make it flow and sound nice. You have only so much you can work with without it being prose or heck, a story itself. Not to mention that sometimes what you started with is not that great. I sat there with several of the prompts from November bothering me and not really liking the thrown out poetry that hit the page. I sort of just threw out crap, in a lot of instances. Some was good, some had potential, but most was just fiddle farting around with words. Some, well some are so good that I want to actually submit them to something else. I just haven’t gotten around to doing that.

I have been rushing around trying to write new poetry, fix old, and compile it into a chapbook file. It’s been fun and exhausting. I found a theme; a lot of my poetry centered around my mind and a guy I was interested in this summer. Seeing his life go to shambles as he tries to pick himself up, while still being semi interested in a weird sort of way. There are a lot of things he does that drive me nuts, but oh, I would love a good long kiss from him.  Such is life.

The poetry will be compiled into a chapbook titled She and Him: Poems of Them. Yes, the pronouns are not correct, but that’s part of the play on words and the fact that there is discord throughout the poetry collection. I also sort of stole it from the band She and Him with Zooey Deschanel.  Sorry Zooey, but it’s a great title.  There are sadness and melancholy in the poetry. There is sweetness as well. It’s supposed to be an up and down kind of thing that plays on your heart and mind.  I’m excited about submitting the chapbook. I would like more than ten to twelve poems, but I’m starting to run on empty and I only have until the 15th to get it to Robert Brewer at Writer’s Digest.

I’d love to know if others decided to enter the Chapbook Challenge.  Did you find November inspiring? I felt it was a mental cleanout. A wash for my brain. Needless to say, I have felt a little drained. Okay, a lot of drained and I’m still draining my reserves rewriting poetry. It is good and I will be glad to get it over with.

But I conclude; revamping poetry is gosh darn hard at times.

Kate

Writing Down Dat Dem Poetry

Ah PAD, not my strong suit this year. I thought I would have poetry flying out of my ears, but I seem to be a tad too emotional as of late for some of the topics to really come out in a good poem. Or one that is a decent poem right off the bat. Most of them are needing some serious reworking and editing.

I had started off rhyming in my head in a partial iambic pentameter, but then I would get stuck writing sonnets that weren’t going well. At all.  But it dawned on me the other day that I needed to stop trying to write sonnets. Just write. Write whatever comes to mind with the prompt, from spirit animal to wire (I liked wire), and just let it flow. Then if I want to take whatever I wrote and turn it into a sonnet with the ideas from the poetry just written, okay fine.  And it’s going better. If I don’t feel inclined to write a sonnet, I don’t have to. But if I want to dabble something out, I can. Which I have done.

It’s actually kind of helpful to have all of the poem written out with all of the ideas there, then to rework it into the sonnet. Now, I’m not saying the sonnets are good, and I only have one mostly done, but  it’s still there.

The fence is wired with rusty barbs and nails
And tangles tight to hold and grip the ties
The baling wire and hooks cling without fail
To posts that once held rails for trains that fly
~Katie Lyn Branson (Wired)

That is the start to the wired poem. Not great, but not bad. All about fence posts on the plains that are faded and held together with wire.

Who knew you could take such an ordinary thing and write a sonnet out of it. But I’m trying to get out of my head, which is harder to do than you think, and just let it come out. I think another part is I’m inspired by certain music I’m listening to, specifically the Strumbellas with their songs of  “Spirits” and “Wild Sun”, and the Lumineers “Stubborn Love”, which is a personal favorite song. I think the folksy aspect of it.

jackie-and-ryan-2014-movie-posterAnother inspiration is the film Jackie and Ryan, with Katherine Heigl and Ben Barnes. I can’t explain how much this movie hit me (I was nearly crying at the end). But the music and the story line and the lyrical quality of it all. If you are a writer, or a musical lyricist, I recommend it. Best part, it is based on a true story of a man,  Nick Hans, who was playing at SXSW, if I remember the story correctly. So that is really cool.

So, is anyone else hard at work on PAD? I’d love to know.

Kate

November Starts With Writing

Today is the start of PAD (poem a day) through Writer’s Digest. This is the Chapbook challenge.  I did it last year, writing as many sonnets as I could. This year I’m starting off the same way, writing a sonnet. Granted, I’m only one stanza in, but I have the vibe going. I guess playing around with iambic pentameter for some blank verse I did for an open reading my writing group did, has put me in the same mood to play with that form. I can think in that form easier than I did last year, and I hope that I will be able to write some sonnets.

However, I don’t have plans to stick with just that form. Thirty days of sonnets gets to be a bit much, so I hope to be able to share open verse or free verse or whatever as the month proceeds. I have two people in my writing group that have just now decided to do NaNoWriMo, to which I say, wow, late start… Sorry Dona and CP, I just don’t see how you are going  do that, but I applaud anyone who attempts such a feat. I have never really had the desire to do so, though I suppose there is a tiny part of me that would like to actually be able to write a novel that fast.

But I’m actually quite happy with my poetry. Honestly, I never thought I would be writing more poetry than fiction. I have been reading Ada Limon‘s “Bright Dead Things” and Billy Collins‘s “The Rain in Portugal”  and I am inspired to send out poetry to magazines, things I have never done.  A part of me wonders if I could send off something to The Sun magazine, which would be cool. Or others. I have great hope to be published with something. And if I start with poetry, that’s cool. So, I need to start sending it out!

Does anyone have some places they would recommend sending to first?

So, November is starting off with all kinds of things going on. And what a gorgeous day it was here in the mountains. Such a perfect fall day that I mean, you could just revel in it. The trees are still covered in gorgeous color. I love it.

And now to finish the Cubs game… Come on Cubs!

October 27th – Write 31 Days – Red Oak

red-oakSometimes a picture comes out more spectacular than I think it will. Today’s picture of a red oak leaf looks like the leaf is right on the glass!  It’s kind of amazing how things turn out so perfect and you aren’t even trying, or well, you just don’t think it will be that way.

The colors on the trees has been so spectacular this year, but I have failed to capture enough of it, waiting till it is nearly twilight to take pictures, which does not help. Nor have I been inclined to take my camera out with me that much. But the black oaks are now turning on the hills and there is this fluffy, nubbly carpet of yellow ochres, and yellow browns, tans and various shades of yellow from them. It’s a warm feel.

This oak in the picture turns a lovely red…. then the leaves turn brown and hang on the tree half the winter. It’s rather nasty looking, but the red is especially stunning.

 

I robbed the Woods-
The trusting Woods.
The unsuspecting Trees
Brought out their Burs and mosses
My fantasy to please.
I scanned their trinkets curious-
I grasped-I bore away-
What will the solemn Hemlock-
What will the Oak tree say?
~Emily Dickinson

Kate