Today we are listening to the men in our community, as they share their poems and thoughts on the state of the world, how it weighs on our hearts, and what keeps us going in spite of it all. Definitely topics we can relate to; as poets, we seem keenly aware of, not just the beauty of the world, but its darkness. Perhaps our poems can shed a little light into the dark corners and lighten the way just a little. We can hope. Let's listen to Bjorn Rudberg, Ollie the Tired Monk, Michael (grapeling), and Marcoantonio, whose words run in counterpoint to the daily news.
The taste of fear is open, pure and red
a lump of meat, its poppies lost and
from cries in mud, in trenches darkly
We harvested our fear from fields we’d
with honey dripping from our leaders’
The scent of fear is blood and broken
We fought with tears and cried
with broken lungs,
we bulwarked, starved, believed it’s
more than right,
to maim our foes, the newborns and
The sound of fear is sweat of starlit
we waited as the forest grew inside,
it spread with rotting hands and ropes
around our necks the
night we lost our pride
when life was soiled
and all we knew had died.
This sonnet is one that I have been
working with through several different versions. The original version was
written for Real Toads as a sonnet challenge, and when we started our form
project at dVerse. In this particular one, I worked with Terza Rima rhyme scheme
inside a Shakespearean sonnet. The idea on the poem is a subject on the evil in
every one of us; lately I have watched many documentaries about the big wars in
Europe and I fear that war will come back one day. I think the war itself is
less interesting but more how human being changes, how ordinary men can do the
most horrific things, and how war, fear and hatred will make humans do things
we would not be capable of during peace.
Sherry: I suppose if soldiers thought of the other side as being human, they could not fight at all. I am most struck by the lines "when life was soiled and all we knew had died." It is no wonder soldiers come home with inner wounds. They have experienced hell. Thank you for this thoughtful poem, Bjorn.
Michael recently wrote a poem that offers us a positive reflection, amidst all the gloom of wars, climate change, crazed leaders, and despairing refugees. We need his words of hope!
The World Is Not Going
the world is not going
to hell anymore
than the sun is burning
will burn just the same as today.
I’ve neglected the garden;
it hasn’t missed me. Dirt accepts
wet or dry equally, it’s only living
things that notice the difference
but still, I noticed today’s rain
continually high-fiving the Meyer lemon
which bowed in return, as though smiling,
yellow rind glistening like an old man’s stained teeth
or mine in the window.
What is a half century
if fifty revolutions is a myth:
the entire solar system swirling
in spirals around a star racing through space
so maybe the world is going
Sherry: We live in hope! Mother Earth tries her best, in spite of our mistreatment, to carry out her cycles. What gives me comfort is that she can heal, if we give her half a chance. Where did this poem come from, Michael?
Michael: My impending half century at the time
was the foundation.
This poem was posted in reply to
Grace's prompt at toads about David Huerta, and having now revisited it, I see
that in the poems she highlighted he wrote of fruit. I suspect his lemon,
coupled with the scrawny Meyer bush outside my then-bedroom window, inspired
the one here. Perhaps I had witnessed a then-rare rain buffet the winter rind.
Rereading Grace's notes, she observed
that Huerta's poetry invites the reader to participate in constructing the
meaning of the poem, a precept I admire - after all, it could be that.
I've always been curious about the concept of time, relativity, space, and how
we feeble humans so often insist there are great cycles, but how cosmology
shows us we spin through space and time without ever really tracing the same
Or maybe it was none of that, just idle
musings. Spinning into another year older makes the mind wander, doesn't it?
Sherry: It certainly does. Thank you so much, Michael.
I always love it when Ollie, the Tired Monk (and one of our first members at Poets United) pops up on the blogroll. No matter what is happening on earth, the Tired Monk can be seen in his tattered robes, sweeping, shoveling, chopping wood, with his temple dog beside him. That gives me great comfort.
scattered bits n'fragments
deep temple dog tired
tired of wars
n' wars on words
tired of fighting
pushing on the last few
bottom burned black
morning of wet monk
energy drink cans
scattered up the ditches
or squashed flat
and paved over
in the pre-frost rush
is a fiddle in these hands
sawing - mingling
with Americana chords
yer broken heart
Sherry: I, too, feel that bone-deep weariness. Regular people are so tired of all the sparring, the rhetoric, the damage that is being done. I love the tune you play to help heal all the broken hearts, my friend. Heaven knows we can use a good tune!
you really the tired monk?
bone weary tired
but still ready
by temple dog walks
a few warm holy songs
maybe a slug of highland healing
bit of Drambuie warding
off this winter cough
held up by these monk robes
Sherry: This strikes a chord, as I see hard-won gains being stripped away, injustice everywhere, climate change melting the planet....I try to hang on to optimism and hope. But some days ... just.
Ollie: Being a monk these days is such a blessing.
There is much work to be done, and many to serve. Some days my more human
parts break down. This piece is a meditation on what keeps me moving
forward in this world: a little music, my temple dogs, and maybe a nip of single
malt. Today I felt like the only thing holding me up were my old battered
Sherry: I have those days, too, without the support of monk robes. But my cane helps! Thank you for this poem, Ollie. Your poems always make me smile. I can see the Tired Monk, bravely battling the snowdrifts in eastern Canada.
Marcoantonio, another early member at Poets United, wrote a very perceptive poem on these topics, which I am happy he agreed to share with us. Let's take a look:
devastation of storms and floods
then come the hell of fires and words are
said from a tongue of sharpen blades not for
the sake of pain for loss or sorrow but for the sake
of their own tomorrow
the flower does not blame the wind
for its loss of petals, the rain for
their wilting, the sun for being parched
with too much heat or for the night
stealing the day
in selfishness and greed there is
no good that comes but a sadness
and lament avails for the souls departed
and all who is left are the lonely and
the cold hearted
Marco: My piece reflects the present
conditions of how our country, the U.S.A., is being devastated by Hurricanes
and Forest fires, and how our present resident of the White House has little
empathy for the specific states affected - either because one is basically
'brown' people, and the other, because it was and is a state that is not
supportive of his continued 'megalomania', narcissistic, racist, xenophobic,
Sherry: Plain words, Marco, and I share your frustration at the widespread social injustices that are occurring. In your poem, I am most struck by the line "the flower does not blame the wind for its loss of petals." That is very beautiful.
Thank you so much, gentlemen, for your poems, which illuminate so well the state of our hearts at the present state of the world. Shall we overcome? I hope so, for the sake of the young.
Do come back, my friends, and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!