Real Poetry

reviews, tips, and personal/local writing

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

Gary Soto – “Oranges”

This week’s poem was a suggestion from a friend of mine.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.  I’m not overly familiar with the work of Gary Soto, but this has clinched my buying a collection of his work.

Hope everyone’s week is going amazingly well,
Stephen R.

A collection of oranges

Oranges

The first time I walked
With a girl, I was twelve,
Cold, and weighted down
With two oranges in my jacket.
December.  Frost cracking
Beneath my steps, my breath
Before me, then gone,
As I walked toward
Her house, the one whose
Porchlight burned yellow
Night and day, in any weather.
A dog barked at me, until
She came out pulling
At her gloves, face bright
With rouge.  I smiled,
Touched her shoulder, and led
Her down the street, across
A used car lot and a line
Of newly planted trees,
Until we were breathing
Before a drug store.  We
Entered, the tiny bell
Bringing a saleslady
Down a narrow aisle of goods.
I turned to the candies
Tiered like bleachers,
And asked what she wanted–
Light in her eyes, a smile
Starting at the corners
Of her mouth.  I fingered
A nickel in my pocket,
And when she lifted a chocolate
That cost a dime,
I didn’t say anything.
I took the nickel from
My pocket, then an orange,
And set them quietly on
The counter.  When I looked up,
The lady’s eyes met mine,
And held them, knowing
Very well what it was all
About.

Outside,
A few cars hissing past,
Fog hanging like old
Coats between the trees.
I took my girl’s hand
In mine for two blocks,
Then released it to let
Her unwrap the chocolate.
I peeled my orange
That was so bright against
The gray of December
That, from some distance,
Someone might have thought
I was making a fire in my hands.

– Gary Soto

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Edna St. Vincent Millay – “What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why”

So for my return to the poem of the week I thought it would be fitting to pick a sonnet in keeping with my new challenge.  This sonnet comes from Edna St. Vincent Millay.  This particular poem came in a selection of examples for sonnet poems in the book The Making of a Poem. Many of the sonnets in the chapter were the overly flowery verse that many of my friends assume poetry is like in all cases.  This one stood out to me though in it’s ability to instantly grip me with the flowing opening line.  I’ll let you see it for yourself.

The Kiss, a painting by Francesco Hayez

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

– Edna St. Vincent Millay

The Next Writing Challenge?!?

Well, I’ve made it back from New York… tired and worn out, but I had a good time with family. I’ve spent the past week recuperating and considering just what the title says: I need a new writing challenge. But first, I want to share this picture from my flight:

Picture taken above the clouds while flying.

I don’t care for flying overall, but I do love a view like that.

So for anyone who’s been following the blog or just checked out past posts, you may remember a segment I did simply entitled the Aphorism Challenge. For five weeks I wrote an aphorism every day and then selected the best of the bunch and put it up for all to see.

The main goal for that challenge was to get myself writing and, as of right now, I haven’t been pushing myself to write like I should. So to fix that I’ve decided to set myself up a brand-spanking-new challenge to force myself in front of my desk with pen and paper (or fingers and keyboard as the need arises). This time, however, I want to work in another form of poetry than the aphorism, which, though challenging in its own ways, was a simpler way of writing.

For now, I want to stick with a form I’m at least a little familiar with, so for my first new set of challenges I’ve decided on Sonnets. They typically come in two major forms, the petrarchan and Shakespearean. I’ll go into more detail next week with the first development of this Sonnet Challenge.

Anyone who knows me well will also know how averse I’ve been to writing in form poetry over the past few years. It’s a different mindset for writing, and thus I find it harder to do and only really possess a cursory knowledge of a few of the major forms out there. So I have an added request for anyone reading this post:

Is there a type of form poetry that you are particularly fond of? One that would make for a good challenge to practice writing with? If so, feel free to comment and share. I would love to hear more about different forms.

I will hopefully have some ok work-in-progress Sonnets to share in the coming weeks. Till then, I hope you all have had a fun and safe time since my last post.

Stephen R.

 

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