Pillaging Poetry — A Thousand Bits of Paper

I will follow you I didn’t want to at the start When you kept shining that spot light on me Blinking Blinding I didn’t like what you said What you were finding As you walked around Tut Tut Tutting Then muttering All That Muttering Nearly drove me mad But now I see it was me […]

via Pillaging Poetry — A Thousand Bits of Paper

Followers if you can’t tell this is one of my favorite blogs and truthfully favorite poets. This poem is…well, for me, it is just incredibly evocative.

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Why I Buy Poetry.

Previously, a post mentioned how reading poetry can make any writer better at their craft.  Today I’m going to tell you why that is, and why that fact makes me buy poetry.

I buy poetry books every once in a while because I love them, but also because think they can offer a number of lessons of how to construct stories and evoke feeling. A workshopping buddy of mine told me that she believes people can be taught craft, but not how to tell a story. You have to learn story telling on your own. I am inclined to agree. The very nature of poetry makes me inclined to agree because poetry can violate all the rules of craft but still support a powerful story. A poem is as versatile as a piece of elastic. You can use it to hold a crown in place, to make pants more comfortable, or to make a foot tambourine(that’s a thing I learned that existed last night). The nature of a poem is something you can alter into whatever shape you need. The accouterments, whether they be crown or tambourine or the elements of the story telling and the evocation of feeling, are an essential part of crafting a story.

When you know how to cut, define, hide, and comfortably place elastic you have learned skills you can apply to nearly any fabric. Yet elastic is a structural component, what catches your eye is how the accouterments are presented. Does the crown look janky as hell? Does the rhyme scheme break without,pardon the pun, rhyme or reason. Knowing Iambic pentameter won’t necessarily make you a good poet. Hell it could make you a worse one if you only follow those rules. But knowing how minimalist elements produce vivid clear imagery that moves you in a poem using iambic pentameter is something you learn by consuming poetry. And when you don’t look at the pentameter, when you look at clear word usage, or even page formatting you learn far more about story telling than reading some novels or short stories. Writers often focus on writing craft over story craft when even the best writers should expose themselves to the craft of story telling. Poetry reading is an excellent way to do that. You learn how to convey the raw story in a dozen or more different ways.

In that last post I told you:

I am proud to say I write great dialogue because I read and wrote poetry starting from 10 years old. Actually maybe even younger I remember reading Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings at some point with my mother’s help. How did poetry help me write dialogue? A good insult should be as sharp as a good poem and just as heavy with the punctuation. A proclamation of love that, I believe, has the most effect can be as simple as one line when you craft to context well. Poetry has done a lot of me as a writer, as a human being, and I know I’m not alone.

Dialogue is poetry. The stupid things we often say can be poetry especially if we’re clever. When I write a powerful moment, especially in a script it is closer to poetry than prose. If I have character who has finally had enough say “I hate you. Go away” to another it can be powerful. But it can be more powerful to have them laugh with tears glistening in their eyes and say “Loving you is hell. Just let me be free.” Poetry also has a lot of contradictions, long verses interrupted by  short ones, odd comparisons, and both broken and praised conventions. The sheer variety can show you so many tricks to showing emotional reactions, foreshadowing, and character building in neat little ways. More so than with  novellas, where a period is in a poem or whether that poem uses periods tells you a lot of information. Read some of my poetry here and all the punctuation and line length is intentional. Why? Because even the punctuation has to do work in a poem.

Poetry has so many forms and variations, but I promise you even the variations you can’t stand have moved some one else’s emotions. There will be poems you won’t understand. Some poems may simply not be meant for you to understand, and that’s ok. Regardless, reading poetry provides a guide to understanding story telling and story crafting. Not the craft of writing, but the craft of learning to tell a good story. You can spend $500 on a seminar, download $100 worth of ebooks on writing, and learn every grammar rule by heart. None of that is going to make you a better story teller without a diversity of reading. They can help you learn the craft, and understand how to convey things in a improved way.

BUT reading poetry gives you examples of how to convey emotion, setting, story telling, and how to line craft in beat by beat punches. Even the longest poems have an economy of words and structure vastly different than novels.

Specifically, the lyrical nature of poems can radically improve your writing in specific genres. Experiencing poetry especially as a romance or horror writer can vastly improve your story telling. Why do I say this? A good horror story should sing like a poem. Do you know why so many children’s rhymes are morbid? Besides as a coping mechanism, there is something pointed about morbid things. They don’t require long explanations. I joined wattpad and have been reading some great horror stories, but have been coming across far more awful ones. The awful ones lacked feeling, suspense, scene, and sense of character. But let’s look at a lyrical example of a good horror story:

Lizzie Borden took an axe

And gave her mother forty whacks.

When she saw what she had done,

She gave her father forty-one.

Were you surprised I used that one? In four lines we have a character, an event, and a conflict/realization, and then a choice. Slow it down and have children skipping rope to it and gets even more morbid. There’s a beautiful simplicity to that rhyme and the fact that this story has been told as a children’s jump rope rhyme even adds to the character. You have a woman who “whacks” her mother with an axe, and then the line is she sees what she’d done. Whether you think she did it in anger or not doesn’t matter because she saw the blood, the gore, and then not only killed her father but did so more violently.

We spend a lot of time critiquing flowery language and purple prose, but sometimes we misunderstand why. The problem is when flowery language detracts from a story or reads as fake. If flowery language reads wrong it comes across as an insincere way for the author to show off their talent. Good poetry flows, and good sentence should flow like good poetry by the last revision of a piece.

Lyrical poetic language isn’t about how many ways you can describe the night’s sky though it can help you diversify your descriptions. It isn’t about ego though I will say a lot of poets love to show off their egos in their poems. Lyrical poetic language is a means to tell a story in an immediate way to get a reaction, which is something many authors struggle with. It’s hard and let it be said that you may not always get what a poet is trying to do. It may not work for you. Still when written form a sincere place poetic language is incredibly potent. Understanding that potency is something that can greatly add to any written word. It pushes you to think in a different way than short stories and novels. The best thing a writer can often do is have exposure to everything under the sun. Not to copy, but to learn from.

That is why I read poetry. That is why I feel all writers should pick up a poetry book every blue moon. You can learn so much about how to craft a story.

 

Check out my two releases:

Suffer too Good and Dirty Honey on Amazon.

 

Out of Control

Low bass rumbling through our chests
Threatening to make them burst as,
The sound vibrates through our systems,
Fills our veins until they ache driving us to,
Strange and beautiful desires,
Taking sense and turning to,
Compulsion,
Swaying hips entice you and you,
Grab me in the dark,
You press me so close I feel the beat of your heart,
My breath hitches in my throat,
My skin yearns for everything they wrote,
The adrenaline fed by blasting beauty,
Urging me into a lustful frenzy,
Pushing me further and further,
Into going from saint to sinner,
The words leave my lips as we,
Dance until all we want is to,
Find some dark corner and let lose,
But we settle for this,
Compulsion.

For W. on that night I’ll always remember and the first time we danced together.

“I watched her feet move
Her hips they sway
Does a hair flip
And starts to say
‘oh my god it’s my favorite song’
I pull her close and she sings along”

Poets for Peace

I saw the Poets for Peace hashtag and figured it was the very least I can do not to contribute to this collection of community poetry on the increasing violence of our world. We can all be better. Do better. Dream bigger. We can come together regardless of who we are to swallow our pride and make a better tomorrow for us, for our loved ones, and for the world. We are always stronger than hate.

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Available from LisaWhitehouseart on Etsy. Very lovely shop. Remember to buy small business.

Eagle

“I dreamnt out loud last night”,
That is what the eagle wrote,
Of peace and life, and joy.
But then she awoke with her father’s arms
Around her.
Smothering.
Anger?
No. Love.
The eagle flew. Her wings tucked beneath his.
The sky cracked black and read.
The stink of the black waters filled the air.
Birds who claimed to be eagles fought other,
Eagles,
Other
Breeds
Other birds, yet both still bleed.
She dreamnt one night…
She cracked the sky and fire drummed out.
Not god or fury or vengeance.
Just fire. Just rage. Just rightous anger.
And it stormed and stormed until the rivers
Overflowed.
Dread?
No. Happiness.
And the blood washed out the sky.
And the other birds and eagles and creatures.
Were washed out and away too.
She dreamed when she next saw them…
she dreamed they had better things to do.

When she awakes the sky is still black.
She is flying.
Her father’s wings are wrapped around her.
Salty air fills her nose.
Rotten sweat covers them all.
She is flying.
She knows not where she goes.
But one day she will fly through the storm,
And she will become the storm.

#PoetsforPeace

Beating Back the Tide: Or my summer poetry.

Beating back the tide.
A child with wet open palms laughs.
Another quietly hums her way through playing architect in the sand.
And I am here,
Wet and warm and open like a half healed wound.
I shall never be closed again.
The humor is lost on me,
But I am here.

Beating back the tide.
Someone somewhere asks if I’ve had enough.
“Child with dark skin and kinky hair.
When will you stop being angry?”
When you stop saying my passion,
Is anger.
The humor is not lost on me.
But I am here.
Alive.

Beating back the tide.
Someone somewhere asks if I’ve ever tried harder.
The onslaught of rejections is smaller than,
The mountain of passive hurtful silence.
Words on a page run like old coffee down a drain,
Staining the sink in heart shapes,
in teddy bears and barbie dolls,
in blood splatter and sweat stains.
More art there, I wonder, then inside.
The humor is just irony.
But I am here.
I hope I am alive.

Beating back the tide.
My tight neatly trimmed lines blur into,
Uneven screams of terror that are quickly dismissed as,
Selfishness for wanting and pleading to not be as poor as,
Those who came before with their beauty and their lessons drilled into,
My head, disrupting old familiar patterns on quilted brain,
Synapses digging into tangled thread caverns,
Empty prayers to gods no one else believes in,
about a god everyone believes in.
A tricky silence.
Quiet sobs.
Am I?

Beating back the tide.
He quietly laughs plopping in sharp cheeses.
Ooey gooey garlic blends with favorite butters and love.
Carefree dog sits on the sofa, staring out at things only he notices.
The squirrels run away even if he doesn’t bark.
I like that about him, & whisper “good dog”.
Hands get tangled in clothes and hair.
Lines get trimmed with kisses.
A moment of forgetfulness.
A moment of peace.
I am here.

Never His Lady, but I was His Ferret. Poetry under Polyamory

Unique.
It is an over used word,
But every blue moon,
When the stars align,
And your wireless internet holds,
And you’re aching to be noticed,
And that someone interesting notices you,
You find something truly unique.

What we had was unique.
Love and Sex and,
Chemistry,
Words and hurt and,
What was once certainty.
It is broken now.
By my hand.
By my lips.
Twice by my body,
When it arched with pleasure,
When it quivered in pain.
Some days are harder than others.
Some days I can barely breathe.
Some days are easier.
Some days I just dream.
Of what? Of other things that could never be…
I could never give you what you need.
You could never give me more than what I want.

Before I was his lady,
I was his ferret.
I tried to hide the pitch black clouds in my eyes,
The sorrow in my sighs,
The youth in my mistrust which ultimately turned to lust.
Great big smiles and corny pun filled jokes,
Recipes for left over egg yolks.
Science things and history,
Inside jokes because “well you know me,”
I scampered with my words,
Sprawled in glittering images for your eyes,
Joined your little world with my fur well groomed,
Observed with quiet trainable adoration,
And my intentions? More than light.
They were right.
they were right…
Never thought it would end this way on a weary autumn night.

You see,
I kept things cool until truths got too hot.
The heat blasted and I sweltered,
As you gave it nary a thought,
It had nothing to do with you really.
Needless drama. All my making.
Accidental self-destruction,
A common cause of animal disruption,
I jumped from a shadow filled floor,
To a sweaty place near the ceiling,
Stepping on that thermostat, turning and turning and turning and turning and turning
With every struggling step.
It had nothing to do with you really.
Senseless drama. A trifle of my making.

Your little ferret knew who should win,
You,
but you did not. Instead you found no one can.
A ferret dies in too high heat,
Our systems run and then combust,
Or just give out as we wilt and rust.

Ferrets are tricky animals.
Cute, a tad odorous, a tad amorous, a tad…
chaotic.
Before all these terrible things,
Before all my missteps,
Before all my misdeeds and loves,
I was his treasured pet.
Before I ever knew his name,
Before I ever played this newer game,
Before the slipping in the wet snow-rain,
I became his pet.
Whenever I see red I think of you,
When I see purple it happens too,
I just wish I knew what to do,

But wishes mean nothing.

Little rhymes? Just words.
Little lies turn to just desserts.
I never was his lady.
I never loved him quite the same.
I never called him “baby”,
I never took the blame.
Yet no matter what one unique thing remains,
A noble burning pang…
A unique tie to heart,
A sign we were never the same.
The differences that excited us….
The pitch black lust that ignited us…
A ferret, most curious, and a man unlike most…
Now both have nothing with which to boast.
And yet…and yet this defies other lover’s chains.
I never was his lady, but I was his pet,
I never knew him truly, but I was his broken ferret.
Some days are harder than others.
Some days I can barely breathe.
Some days are just easier.
Some days I try not to dream.

-For K