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 Poetry of Reflections

botanical12sig

Reflections
dissolve the tree
that thinks it’s autumn

into lines and waves
and a woman photographing
something hidden standing
in front the tree –

perhaps a child on a bike
her daughter
or her grandchild

writing on the ripples
of water’s time
a winter’s day to

remember
a cycle at the gardens.

Tirra Lirra
watches the water
before she sings

‘May they always be happy.’

She projects
her new autumn dress
into the ripples.

If only she had a bike
to ride back through time
instead of a bike
to ride as a ghost.

She sings herself a
ripple into the water

floats into the poets
that watch for her
in reflections –

something hidden inside the poem

for artists
to watch and sing for.

(c) June Perkins

(See this for more about Tirra Lirra)

What Makes Me Read a Poem?

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Art in nature – June Perkins

The first lines and opening must avoid cliché
and even better still intrigue and invite me
into the poem’s world.
It really mustn’t tell me how much love is like a rose.
 
If there is metaphor it needs to flow and extend naturally
and there are so many metaphors that have been overused
it might take some experiments to find something original
but too original than perhaps I won’t relate.
 
The poem could profound
I don’t mind having to do some work to understand
but if it totally confuses, leaves me lost,
then I am unlikely to read until the end.
Please don’t let it have an artifice of depth
but actually be a shallow pool.
 
It might leave me with a question, an impression, a mood, a challenge,
a pertinent observation and
a constant musing on its end.
I might want to read it again and again.
It might be the poem I’ll forever carry in my head.
 
It might enchant and seduce with its
delicate impressions that capture
the natural world I love.
 
It might introduce me to words
I have never heard before but instead of shutting me
out make me curious and willing to go and look them up.
 
It might touch a nerve
crawl into my poetry sense
with its metre and cadence
burrow into my head
to create comfort or discomfort
to unnerve me
with its truth.
 
Perhaps it is clever beyond belief
an artful crafting of sonnet, haiku, prose poem
or villanelle
but if it’s clever just for clever’s sake
I might not give it a second reading
even though I admire the technical skill.
 
Or maybe it’s just what I needed to read that very minute and
it just came into my life
in the feed, in the poetry book someone gifted to me
in a random search online.
 
Maybe it says what I am feeling
trying to do
trying to understand
trying to remember
trying to encourage in the world
trying to forget.
 
Now I’ve told you my reasons
I wonder dear reader
Why do you read a poem ?

(c) June Perkins  

Detachment

I’ve been visiting a lot of poetry blogs lately and one that I come back to frequently is John Etheridge’s’The Book of Pain.’ He has many gems – and today with his kind permission I share this one.

the Book of Pain

IMG_1719a

She holds and twists her long telling tale
of tangled and torn-at knots: blue ones, red ones,
yellow ones, green, her nails worn to the quick
sorting the strands of the rough, tough fibers,
tiny dark stains bled into the ragged ends.

Blue ones, I think, for the oceans of ink wept
and yet to be written; red ones for the nights that
the sharp-tongued are out, and yellow for the spot
to stand firm on. (The blow, it’s certain, is coming,
yet you stand there just the same.) And finally
green, dark green, that whispering green,
that green-green germ that grows inside you:
the one you eat whole and alive, or it eats you up
from the inside out—the one you want so very much
because you planted it there just for you. That one.

As much as it is to take her hands and gently warm
them to a stop, I don’t—I won’t—I can’t. They are
not mine…

View original post 256 more words

Evening Similes

Spirits Of The Fleeting Dull Ambience
LiLauraLu – Flickr Creative Commons

Art is like memories lost, then found
Memories can be a Pandora’s box.

Camera is like a dear friend sharing special moments.
A dear friend is the antidote to a depressing day.

Fake flower is like a make-up face.
Make-up face is a shield to protect.

Curtains are like eye lids that open and shut.
Eye lids are bridges between night and day.

Guitar is like a bird that wants to be heard.
Bird is a dreamer’s avenue to wings.

Poem is like a letter to a detective called reader.

By June Perkins

mamu_cameragirl

Camera Girl, by June Perkins

Just playing around with similes and metaphors for a few days.