Poetry Month #8: A Fibonacci Poem by Karen O’Leary


and dwell,
mingling mute,
in the world’s beauty.
The cumulus clouds wave over
the field until the tide changes, and the moon’s light shines.

By Karen O’Leary

Karen O’Leary is a writer and editor from West Fargo, ND. She has published poetry, short stories, and articles in a variety of venues including, Frogpond, A Hundred Gourds, Haiku Pix, bear creek haiku, Now This: Contemporary Poems of Beginnings, Renewals and Firsts, Creative Inspirations, and cattails. She currently edits an online poetry journal called Whispers, http://whispersinthewind333.blogspot.com/

Poetry Month # 3: Elinor Wylie

My patient is in her bed, asleep. Her grey hair, not completely white, is greasy and untended. She is dying, just not right this minute. I unfold the little chair I am carrying and sit next to her. I am not a long lost family member who has traveled miles to see her. I am just a volunteer. And so there is no reason to wake her. I sit and knit a cabled scarf. Knit one, purl two. The scarf is in blocks of color, the wool is forty years old, hand dyed by a friend who was once a weaver. She found an old box of yarn and gave it to me.
The patient in bed, when lucid, has said she likes poetry What is poetry? I figure it should rhyme. I open the heavy paperback of Penguin Women poets. Elinor Wylie seems like a safe bed. Emily Dickinson has too much about death. Does anyone read Elinor Wylie anymore? I doubt it. It is light and feminine and doesn’t really go anywhere, I think I shouldn’t insult it, but I tend to. But it reads well aloud. Then I read a Marianne Moore-—better to my ears but maybe not better if you are an old lady dying.
She breaths. In. Out. I fold up my chair, pack my knitting. In a way, I don’t want to go. I want to stay forever, until she dies. But I go.

Down to the Puritan marrow of my bones
There’s something in this richness that I hate.
I love the look, austere, immaculate,
Of landscapes drawn in pearly monotones.
There’s something in my very blood that owns
Bare hills, cold silver on a sky of slate,
A thread of water, churned to milky spate
Streaming through slanted pastures fenced with stones.

I love those skies, thin blue or snowy gray,
Those fields sparse-planted, rendering meagre sheaves;
That spring, briefer than apple-blossom’s breath,
Summer, so much too beautiful to stay,
Swift autumn, like a bonfire of leaves,
And sleepy winter, like the sleep of death.

From “Wild Peaches”

Elinor Wylie

Poetry Month #1: Sleeping Beauty by Michaela Kahn

Welcome to April on Miriam’s Well. I’ll be reblogging favorites from the last year–and any new poems you send me!

Sleeping Beauty – A fairy tale poem–by Michaela Kahn

Once upon a time
a girl decided
to go to sleep.

The thorns were
her idea —
they shelter her,
keep her safe
from waking.

Some summers as a child
I would sleep
as if sleep was running uphill,
wake sweating and exhausted,
but always longing to

When she has a fever
she dreams she is piecing
a puzzle.
She must sort and resort
over and over
and the pieces never fit.
She can almost see what the image should be
but never clear enough
to name it.

A few years on
she dreams of a prince.
In the dream she reaches out
to touch his face
and finds the skin
slipping, sloughing.
Beneath she finds
a mirror.

She turns, and falls deeper.

Are You An Introvert or An Extrovert–In Your Poetry?

I’ve read José Angel Araguz for what is now many years–and his essay below asks a fascinating question. Emily Dickinson would be the classic introvert, particularly compared to Walt Whitman. But what about you and me? I’m a sociable introvert. But I think my poetry is usually extroverted. Fun to think about.

What’s Poetry Got to Do With It?: Introversion/Extraversion

musings by José Angel Araguz

Episode 7: Introversion/Extraversion

In this episode I explore ways that the terms introversion and extraversion can be used as a lens with which to read poems.
The Introvert/Extravert Lens
The terms introversion and extraversion were first significantly put into use by Carl Jung and later popularized by personality tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type indicator. From there, popular culture has redefined the terms over time. In general, an introvert is someone who is more reserved and leans toward solitary behavior, while an extravert is seen as someone who is outgoing, talkative, and energetic. As with any set of categories, the terms are not strict; rather, it is best to consider them as making up two sides of a spectrum on which everyone exists leaning one way or another to varying degrees.
One of the things that helped clear this up for me was seeing how the terms played out in regards to recharging one’s energy. If at the end of the week, you look forward to going out and socializing, and actually come back from said outing recharged, you might be an extravert. Conversely, if you go out on the same outing and come back exhausted, no more recharged than when you started, you might be an introvert. Seeing my introverted tendencies as me meeting my needs (and not necessarily my being antisocial) did worlds for my understanding of myself as an introvert. It also helped me empathize with my more extraverted friends and see them as meeting their own needs as well.
For further clarification (and fun!), Buzzfeed has several quizzes and lists that can help you find out if you are more introverted or extroverted.
Inner & Outer Worlds
To return to Jung, his original concept of the terms had him regarding people as either focused on their inner worlds and thoughts (introverts) at the expense of losing touch with their surroundings, or focused on the external world and being active in it (extraverts) at the expense of losing touch with themselves.
One poet whose work reflects the complexity of the introvert-extravert/inner-outer world spectrum is Emily Dickinson. Due to having lived a life of isolation, Dickinson is often written off as an introvert. Lines like the following would in fact help make the case:
The Brain—is wider than the Sky—
For—put them side by side—
The one the other will contain
With ease—and You—beside—
The draw of these lines is how they take concrete things (brain, sky) and push them for the abstract meanings they imply. While on the surface the poem appears to be making a case for mind over matter, so to speak, a deeper reading shows something more akin to mind within matter. In one stanza, Dickinson does the poetic equivalent of pulling apart two strong magnets to show what lives between them.
In another poem, Dickinson does a reversal of these moves:
A sepal, petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flask of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—a caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
Here, the poem travels from the abstract act of naming physical things to the speaker announcing/becoming a rose. A sign of the transformation begins early in the second line in the form of sound, specifically the “z” sound (summer’s, breeze, trees, rose). As the poem develops, this sound travels parallel to the transformation implied in the words, and becomes its own physical presence, especially if read aloud.
In these two poems, one can see how the inner and outer world engage and impel one another, never cancelling each other out. In a similar way, one’s introversion never cancels out extraverted tendencies and needs.
Final Thoughts
Usually my introverted tendencies would have me continue with examples, ruminating over other poems and unpacking what I find there. I am going to push myself to look outward, however, and invite readers to share their thoughts in the comments regarding introversion and extraversion. I also encourage you to, in your writing, push past whatever type you see yourself leaning towards. If you write mainly about inner impressions, take a walk or describe the physical world around you. If you write mainly about the physical world, start with rhetoric or abstract thought. In either case, you might find yourself reflecting your true nature in a new and surprising way.




What To Write About…

Well, it’s pouring rain! I’m in the public library trying to dry my socks. Reminds me of my sodden undergrad days.

a four thousand year old
pure no longer
but still
hanging from the thorn
of a pink rose bush
tainted by time, by us
like a city tower
rising in smog
like truth
in a fog bank
of lies
it trembles
about to
to seep
into the earth
warmed by the heat
of the planet itself
bubbling back
to the surface
where I will float
having paid
my bath fee
and be sustained
by it and its multitude
of sisters

I’m trying to do voices of the four elements–two times each. Water is pretty easy here, and I’m having trouble with fire. More anon!

Magical Steam Everywhere

steam soft
from the earth’s
spring’s first
pink and yellow
of a fossil dream
the ferns of the grotto
maiden hair, brittle, resurrection,
the worry
of winter without snow,
the geisha’s sleeve
the good time girl’s beaded fringe
sways and swings
with the gentle air
a tale
you came in on
the middle of…

In The Crystal Earth: Poem by Miriam Sagan

in the crystal earth
not found above

beneath the chert
pale flowering trees
rainy spring

cold, edged
hung above
each chakra

on a body
like the stars

what did you wish
and what did you wish

for someone to love
something to read
or—to be gone

to heal
you will descend
and still, grow old

this cavern
reflects itself
is its own treasure

remains always here
beneath this earth.