The Poet at Play 3 – Working with Metaphors

Image by June Perkins

This week I have been playing with metaphors.  Metaphors give us a memorable comparison to understand something which seems inexpressible at a deep level.

Some metaphors  have been so used that they have become clichés; so as I write I have to approach them with care and ingenuity.   I have to strive for originality.  But also intertextuality and allusion are going to be helpful.

I have been working with the ideas of gates, doors and walls, of barriers, and openings, of welcomes and denials.

My journey with gates, doors and walls is triggered by all the news about refugees around the world not being allowed to cross borders, and being put inside camps (prisons?) and separated from their children.

Historically walls are set up to protect from invasion of enemies. They surround cities, castles and more. But all walls have a gate for those who can be trusted to make their way through.

There are famous walls, the Great Wall of China, the Berlin Wall (which one day came tumbling down) and literary walls, like Humpty Dumpty’s wall which he fell from.

As for doors, literature is full of portals, doorways, that take us elsewhere.  Often the doors are hidden and disguised, just think the magic wardrobe in the Narnia Chronicles. But there is also the entry to the magical places of Harry Potter at the station, Hogwartz can’t be reached without knowing how to go through the portal.

 

gateflickr.jpg
From Geson Ratnow, Flickr

Now how does one make ones way through a door, I think of the Trojan Horse.

My mind begins to think do people still fear the Trojan Horse, and has this somehow rid people of compassion.  They think that everything must not be what it seems, but is always in disguise; a disguise that has bite, a disguise that will destroy.

 

trojanhorse.jpeg

So now with some of this thinking done, I have some things I can allude to, some ideas about gates and doors,  some emotions I want to draw on, and a current happening in the world that frustrates me and I hope we can change.

Now for a poetry first draft to bring this all together.

People still
fear
the Trojan horse

Somehow this horse
is a boat
or a truck
full of people crying

It can’t be real
it is just a tool
to make us open
borders

We won’t be fooled
We must protect our
citizens

Oh for a portal to freedom
a falling Berlin wall
and all the Humpty Dumptys
falling down,
down,
down

toppling
from the wall
they installed

Oh for a portal
to compassion
hidden somewhere
in that wall
that is going
up, up, up, up

When will you believe
what you see
is not just a trick
and when will we all
sing a welcome song?

I’ll keep working on this poem and see what eventuates.

It is a beginning and I am working with this one to let the subject dictate the shape and direction of the poem.

Questions I ask myself after a first draft like this:

  1. Am I being a little didactic (lecturing) here?  Is that okay?
  2. In what ways can I improve the poem’s lineation?
  3. Can I think also about protest songs and bring their intertextuality in ?
  4. Will this poem be part of a series of poems?
  5. What other research, including visual research, can I do to reflect on gates, doors, walls etc?
  6. Which of the metaphors here can be extended?
  7. Words for gate in other languages?

(c) June Perkins, words and top image.

 

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The Poet at Play 1

Read how I create this new work from an earlier poem

The music of me
In outlines
you refuse to hear

You think you strip me back to my music
You think you strip me back to my soul
You think you strip me back to me

But I refuse
to feel myself through your hands
to hear myself through your music
to move to your expectations

Pearlz Dreaming

I am working hard on new poetry for competitions and submissions.

I have two metaphors that have been preoccupying me for a couple of weeks. They simply won’t go away. I even had a vivid dream based on one of them last night!

I have put preliminary words down on paper. Now I am faced with the task of playing with them until they become fully formed poems. As part of this process, I am doing some creative writing exercises from Hazel’s Smith’s Writing Experiments.

I spent nearly two hours reworking two ideas, and these may turn into two poems or a suite of poems.

I loved particularly Smith’s exercises on additions and substitutions which were my main focus of this first experimenting stint.

Whilst I can’t share the new poems, I thought I would demonstrate how some of the techniques from Smith’s book might work on poems I have…

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Ballad of the Boots

 

Creative commons – Free Image

Son to Mum

My boots are made for sleeping
I’ll never take them off again.
My feet are made for keeping
Those leathery brown boots.

My heart is made for boots
They are the world to me
& if you take them off me Mum
I’ll scream the whole house down.

My boots they sing me songs
As the crackle in the night
My heart is made for weeping
For my hand-me-down brown boots.

Mum to Son

Son, I wish you’d take off those boots
For they are lethal weapons as you sleep.
I know you love them deeply, truly, madly
But they do not make your parents
Meet the morning mildly mannered.

If you stayed asleep on your own bed
We’d have no problems with your obsession,
But as you creep up into ours

I’d rather your boots were dreams
& not your midnight possession

 

Creative Commons – Free Image

Boots to Son

When you grow up you won’t remember
the love that we once shared.

But that’s okay I won’t be lonely because
I always travel in pairs.

I just have one small request before I go
Please polish me & check my eyelets
Then sing me a song to imprint into my sole.

Boots to Mum

One day he’ll be fully grown
& new shoes he’ll own

Boots will be replaced by runners
new challenges be found.

Remember you can write a poem
to reach out to him

Say the things you need to say
as Mum to grown up son.

 

(c) June Perkins

Country Boys and Country Girls

Image by June Perkins

A song lyric

Country boys and country girls
dream more than sugar cane.
Country boys and country girls
want more than endless rain.

They’re picking stars from skies above.
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight.
They’re running to the canopies
of light.

Country boys and country girls
often hide their pain
but they’re still holding
onto all their dreams
looking into the firelight
to find the global streams.

They’re picking stars from skies above
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight
They’re running to the canopies of light.

Country boys and country girls
often leave these towns
‘cause when the pickings done
there’s too few jobs around
and when a cyclone’s been
it’s even harder still
but now they’ve just got to
have a stronger will.

So they’re leaving behind the sugar cane
they’re saying goodbye
to endless rain
And they’re still looking
for the canopies of light.

Country boys and country girls
they’ve long left these towns
and now they’re longing
for that precious rain,
picking up the pieces of their lives
dancing under starlit skies.

They’re dreaming of the sugar cane
and they’re longing for the precious rain
and they’re still looking
for the canopies of light.

They’re picking stars from skies above.
They’re catching pieces of the moonlight.

They’re running to
the canopies of light.

(c) June Perkins

Dust

Creative Commons Flickr – Anna From Dresden

“We cherish the hope that through the loving-kindness of the All-Wise, the All-Knowing, obscuring dust may be dispelled and the power of perception enhanced, that the people may discover the purpose for which they have been called into being.” Tablets of Baha’u’llah, Ṭarázát (Ornaments)

Dust
obscuring
covering
settling
coating the everyday of the soul in
a thickening mantle of swirling
loss, regret, anxiety, confusion

Questions

Surround
impound
confound
and then

Astound

Divine breeze
released by spiritual words
chanted, sung or said into
Air
becoming light through melody
and memory
beyond dust

Peeling away veils

Visible for a moment
the sense of the soul’s shape
free falling
into
faith, connected, certitude
unfurling
feathered tips of wings

Then air filter light warning
the arrival of
more dust . . .

(c) June Perkins

Grey and White

Maria Popova – Flickr Creative Commons

Grey and white streaks
begin to lace themselves
through my hair.
I embrace
the signs of wisdom
chasing through me there,

And all around me others
dye and tease their hair
to conceal their age
but that is their affair.

I don’t mind that they want to do this
and hold onto their esteem
but why does one say to me
‘You should dye your hair
you look so ancient and so old’

I explain to her
‘when I was younger
I looked younger than my age
and am happy to embrace
the white and grey that now
dance through my life.’

She cannot take a hint
and simply doesn’t understand
I don’t need a bottled colour
to conceal the process I’m now in
and now she wants to know
the colour of my youth.

Why do so many worship
forever staying young?

I am happy to see silver starlight
in my hair.
It doesn’t make me blue
to become an ancient woman
with an ancient wisdom.

When did aging gracefully
become so easily scorned
and not needing a disguise
become so fervently despised?

I take the process of my life
and seek an inner dye
where my soul’s forever dancing
outside my body’s time.

(c) June Perkins, words

Paper Boats

Creative Commons Flickr Geson Ratnow

Paper boats conjure dreams
of petals soaked by
scents of the
ocean.

Traveling boats
float in shadows
people
who have a simple hope
for happy lands,

but white markers sink
in sandy earth
marking graves of people
who cannot resist new germs.

‘Once watched paper boats,’
paternal grandfather says
in Vietnamese
but nobody understands

No translators here.

So shadow puppets dance
for petals
falling from kumquat boughs.

 

(c) June Perkins

Cyclone Inspired Poetry 3

If Glass Could Talk

for Jacque

If only all the tiny shards of glass
bottle brown
wine green
yellow and purple orchid swirls
could talk.

What would they say
if fragments realigned
knit themselves back together
like broken bones entwined in casts
and heroes walked?

What if the paralyzed
could miracle embrace
pain and grief
trauma and loss
till they walked with stars?

I breathe out Vincent’s starry night
from living room wall
to outside door
then coffee table book on my floor
I wonder – would he obsess about lost socks
from cyclone’s past?

 

(c) June Perkins, Words and Image

Cyclone Inspired Poetry 1

Feluga after cyclone Yasi – by June Perkins

After Yasi

He said, ‘You are not out of the ordinary if you feel a little apathy.’

She said, ‘We’re still sleeping on our veranda. It’s so cold.’

He said, ‘Scaffolding arrived on Saturday mornings well before breakfast,’ then yawned.

She said, ‘Will we really have to leave?’

He said, ‘Let’s build our lives again.’

She said, ‘I will sing ballads by the sea,’ as she strummed her guitar.

He said, ‘Let’s salvage and rebuild.’

She said, ‘Will you ring the insurance?’

He said, ‘Can I have a cuppa first?’

She said, ‘I’ll see all our memory moments every time we see this farewell couch.’

He said, ‘Let’s give out medals.’

She said, ‘So many quiet heroes.’

He said, ‘Banana prices are too high.’

She said, ‘I’m going to meditate.’

He said, ‘Are you off to yoga?’

She said, ‘I’m going to see our daughter’

He said, ‘The papers say we’ll nearly all be home by Christmas?’

She said, ‘Just as well.’

He said, ‘Yes just in time for cyclone season, I wouldn’t want to be in a dongah for another one of those.’

They sighed. They hoped. They dreamed.
The sun rose.

She said, ‘I can almost breathe.’

He said, ‘I know just what you mean.’

Then they heard a strong wind.
For a moment it scared them.

The next day butterflies returned.
She said, ‘I’ll paint butterflies on our old roof.’

It was then they knew the secret of insight.

(c) Image and Words June Perkins