Fruity Little Poem: Ode to a Key Lime” | A-to-Z NaPoWriMo

Hello, dear readers! I hope, despite the bad rap it tends to get, that your Monday was pleasant. Mine was–I got to spend time shopping with my dad, followed by a book-talk-sushi-date with Jeremiah, topped off with this:

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt took me far down memory lane–back to high school, to be specific. Upon reading the prompt, I realized I’d already written a poem that matched it perfectly, from a similar assignment in Senior AP English. While I searched for the poem in the archives of my computer, I found many, many pieces of writing, including fiction, poetry, a screenplay, critical essays, memoir-style essays, and more. I even found chapters from the original version of the YA fantasy novel I’m currently working on. (Thank goodness I restarted it anew…) I was shocked to see how much I’d written, not just as a student, but also in my free time, and it’s amazing to me how long it took me to decide to be a professional writer. ūüėČ I was also grateful to discover the acquisition of¬†my degrees¬†in English and Writing & Publishing was time and money well-spent, considering my vast improvement–though I still catch vestiges of sentimental romanticism creeping into corners of my work from time to time.

NO! Bad sentimentalism!

Luckily, I found this poem wasn’t sappy–but rather tart. ūüėČ

Today’s prompt is to write a love poem . . . but the object of the poem should be inanimate. You can write a love poem to your favorite pen, the teddy bear you had as a child (and maybe still have), or anything else, so long as it’s not alive!

Ode to a Key Lime
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Bright green:
A color usually associated with jealousy.
But you, little one,
Are more envied than envying.

Exotic in origin;
Nothing commonplace about you.
Divorce yourself from your family,
Take your own name and the equatorial beach house.

Beautiful, perfect fruit;
Bewitch your victims into biting your bitter flesh.
Intoxicating, electrifying;
They can’t stop drinking till your body is drained.

Prima donna of flora,
Grace us with your presence!
We eagerly await your renaissance all year,
Only to have to part after so few months.

Pies, juices, garnishes;
Tart though you may be,
We find a way to glorify you;
For you deserve the honor of kings.

Advertisements

“Charm for Happiness,” “Dancing,” & “Eternity”: Poems for A-to-Z NaPoWriMo

Hello, dear readers! I hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! It seems spring is coming here in fits and starts, which is making for some pretty weather–and lovely poetry inspiration. ūüôā This weekend, I got to visit Jeremiah’s farm; take a long walk with my mom; and play ukulele music (my newest instrument to learn!) to celebrate a birthday party against the backdrop of springtime drizzle and fog. These picturesque experiences have inspired my poetry for tonight.

Today’s post is catching up on letters C, D, and E for the A-to-Z Challenge, and the corresponding NaPoWriMo poems (the prompts, for which, I will post directly above the poem, along with the inspiration).

In keeping with today‚Äôs status as the third day of NaPoWriMo, I challenge you to write a charm ‚Äď a simple rhyming poem, in the style of a recipe-slash-nursery rhyme.

When I read this prompt, I wondered what¬†kind of charm I would come up with, if I had the power for it (beyond just my pen ūüėČ ). I immediately thought of the conversations I’ve been having with multiple people lately on the elusiveness–and importance–of happiness. I know there are a few things that are guaranteed to perk up my mood, and they’ve gone into my charm below. Feel free to borrow the spell for your own use–it just might work. ūüėČ

Charm for Happiness
By: Amanda K. Fowler

An ocean’s tide lapping¬†your toes,
The scent of wildflowers tickling your nose,
A cuddle or snuggle with fur or skin,
Messy epiphanies with your favorite pen,
The warmth of the sun bathing your face,
The kindness of strangers–a show of grace,
A few bars of song played with fingers or voice,
All of these things to make you rejoice.


Write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem. 

The nighttime fog last week was so gorgeous, I just had to turn it into a poem. ūüôā

Dancing
By: Amanda K. Fowler

Still, dense, heavy,
Fog drapes like a blanket
Covering the night.

It hushes, hides–
But under the gleaming streetlights,
It is dancing.


The night sky is always so beautiful and vast out in the country. It’s truly awe-inspiring, and¬†I realized–there is power in perspective. No prompt for this one; just my own idea.

Eternity
By: Amanda K. Fowler

A million stars dot the sky,
twinkling, shimmering,
ruling over their planets
and the life they hold.
I am just one pair of eyes
staring at the infinite,
but–I can cover¬†ten stars
with just my thumb.

Two Challenges, Day Two: “April First” and “Brynhildr’s Passion” (A-to-Z & NaPoWriMo Day 1 & 2)

Hello, dear readers! Well, April is off to a busy¬†start for me. I’ve decided to do my best with the challenges–even if the posts will be short, I’d like to attempt them. They broaden my creativity, and I would like to use them as warm-ups for the bigger writing projects I’m focusing¬†on. I mentioned the specifics of the challenges in my last post, but I will define them here, for future reference:

A-to-Z Challenge: Every day in April (except Sundays), write a blog entry based on a topic beginning with consecutive letters (i.e., April 1 = A, etc.). The origins of the challenge are explained here.

NaPoWriMo Challenge: Every day in April, write a new poem from your own imagination of from the daily prompt here.

Without further ado, I present to you days one and two, below.

Day 1–A:

April First’s Verse Curse
By: Amanda Fowler

April Fools…
…I broke the rules.

Perhaps it’s best
I started late–
for all is jest
on this date.

Day 2–B:

Prompt: Write a poem based on a non-Greco-Roman myth. You could write a poem inspired by Norse mythology, or perhaps by one of these creatures from Japanese legend.

I consulted my resident Norse mythology expert, Jeremiah, for this prompt; he recommended Brynhildr.

Brunnhild by Gaston Bussière
Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons
Public domain under {{PD-1923}}

Brynhildr’s Passion

By: Amanda Fowler

The fire encircling your castle
is a ring of hate around your heart.
It will engulf you whole–
but your love could extinguish it all
if only you let it.

Happy Veterans Day: “In Flanders Fields”

Happy Veterans Day, readers. Thank you very much to those who have fought for our freedom, risking–and, in some cases, losing–their lives. According to the Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs, Veterans Day is “when an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities [of World War I], between the Allied nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. For that reason, November 11, 1918, is generally regarded as the end of ‘the war to end all wars.'”

Across the pond and in other Commonwealth of Nations countries, the day is called “Remembrance Day,” “Armistice Day,” or “Poppy Day,” all really the same holiday with different names. King George V (the father of Colin Firth’s King George VI in The King’s Speech) made the holiday official in 1919, while President Woodrow Wilson made it official (at the same time) here in the U.S.A.

Well, unfortunately, we know now that it wasn’t the war to end all wars. But as much violence and hatred as there is in the world, I do think we learned from that war. This is not to discount the tragedy others experience–I know it, and I grieve for it. What I mean is that I see a movement overall towards love, towards peace. I truly believe that each day, we are crawling towards a more peaceful future. Call me crazy, but I bet you can count more people you love than hate. Eventually, I bet we can get everyone to focus on that. It makes you think about the destiny of humanity and the reason for our existence, which would be an epic-length post in and of itself, and I shan’t delve into it more than that tonight. ūüėČ

My friend, Susan, posted this poem yesterday in honor of Veterans Day. Its history is almost as beautiful as its text. Would you believe it almost wasn’t published? Writers are so hard on themselves; I can attest. Here is a case of a lovely poem that dances the line of what would commonly be considered too sentimental to be published–but I say, if there’s anything to be sentimental about, it’s the real deaths of thousands of people. The symbolism and message are so poignant; it’s no wonder the poppy has become the international symbol of this day.

Wikipedia summarizes the history very well [don’t worry, I checked with other sources, too ūüėČ ]:

“In Flanders Fields”¬†is a¬†war poem¬†in the form of a¬†rondeau, written during the¬†First World War¬†by Canadian physician¬†Lieutenant ColonelJohn McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Alexis Helmer, who died in the¬†Second Battle of Ypres. According to legend, fellow soldiers retrieved the poem after McCrae, initially unsatisfied with his work, discarded it. “In Flanders Fields” was first published on December 8 of that year in the¬†London-based magazine¬†Punch.

It is one of the most popular and most quoted poems from the war. As a result of its immediate popularity, parts of the poem were used in propaganda efforts and appeals to recruit soldiers and raise money selling¬†war bonds. Its references to the¬†red poppies¬†that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the¬†remembrance poppy¬†becoming one of the world’s most recognized memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict. The poem and poppy are prominent¬†Remembrance Day¬†symbols throughout the¬†Commonwealth of Nations, particularly in¬†Canada, where “In Flanders Fields” is one of the nation’s best known literary works.

In Flanders Fields

By:
Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD
(1872-1918)
Canadian Army

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

In Flanders Field - Copy of Signed Original

The original handwritten version of the poem. Image courtesy of http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net

Beautiful, isn’t it? The poppy is starting to catch on as a tradition in the U.S.A., too, thanks in part to Duchess Catherine’s popularizing it. Jennifer asked for the pin last year for Christmas, and I just had to get it for her. 100% of the profits go to support British veterans and their families. You can buy it here.

Jennifer wore her poppy today. ‚̧

Today, Marianjoy held a Veterans Day ceremony, including prayer, naming of veterans, and dedication of a commemorative plaque. We even had some veterans present for the ceremony, which was certainly humbling.

It was very moving, and, fittingly, it was even raining at the time.

Thank you again to all those who have fought for peace. May you enjoy peace yourselves, wherever you are. God bless you.

———————————————————————–

Please also see my Memorial Day post to see what that holiday (and this one) mean to our family. Additionally, please join me tomorrow later today for a new Top Ten Tuesday. The topic: signs you may be reading too much YA literature. (Is that possible?)

A Song of Beautiful Sorrow: Kung Liljekonvalje & Chicago a Cappella

A week ago, I had the great experience of going to a Chicago a Cappella concert with my mom. I actually won the tickets on WFMT, my favorite classical music station, for answering a quiz question correctly. ūüôā

Listen at work.

Click to listen to WFMT streaming.

I’d never really been to an a cappella concert before, save for the ones my friend Kara’s choir sang in high school. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but if WFMT was promoting it,¬†I knew it would be good. I invited my mom to go with me.

Embedded image permalink

My mom and I snapped a picture during intermission. We had such a great time! ūüôā
I’m looking a little severe in all black, but let’s just say it’s festive for Halloween season. My mom, of course, looks beautiful as always! ‚̧

We were blown away immediately. The nine voices of the choir blended together so richly, yet you could still hear individual qualities. We were impressed not only with the immaculate quality of every selection, but also the wide range of genres they chose. Since it was their 20th Anniversary celebration, their theme was “best of” from the last 20 years of their performances.

Chicago a cappella

The musical director gave a short explanation before each piece, just enough to get a sense of the song. While all the songs were fantastic in their own ways, there was one in particular that my mom and I really liked. It was the second one they sang, and we were transfixed by it. The song was in Swedish, but the music was haunting, and with the snippet beforehand, we felt the song just as intensely as if we knew all the words. I even had tears in my eyes.

I wanted to share the translation with you, since I found it so beautiful. The lyrics come from a poem, and apparently, the song has become extremely popular in Sweden.

From the Chicago a Cappella program notes:

David Wikander: Kung Liljekonvalje

This song takes place in a miniature world conjured by a poet‚Äôs imagination. Gustav Fr√∂ding‚Äôs finely-wrought poem creates a single beautiful scene, so complete that it feels like it was cut in whole cloth from a Swedish cousin to JRR Tolkien‚Äôs¬†Lord of the Rings.¬†(In fact, Fr√∂ding and Tolkien both used medieval images and style in their works deliberately, so the kinship is an overt one.) The soaring, plaintive melody and exquisite counterpoint are by David Wikander, a Swedish church musician of the early twentieth century. The piece has carved out such a firm place in Swedish hearts that it is virtually considered to be folk music‚ÄĒa high honor indeed for ‚Äúcomposed‚ÄĚ music¬†[likely, of the 20th century].

I’m going to post the translation first, since I’m assuming most of my readers speak English over Swedish. ūüėČ The original lyrics will go after it, though. Please do listen to the audio excerpt available on the Chicago a Cappella website, too; I hope they will include the full version on a CD or MP3 soon.

File:Lily of the Valley (2528553648).jpg

Lily of the Valley (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

King Lily-of-the Valley

King Lily-of-the-Valley from the grove,
King Lily-of-the-Valley is as white as snow,
now the young king mourns
over Princess Lily-of-the-Valley-Maiden.

King Lily-of-the-Valley, he lowers
his sad head so heavy and weak;
and the silver helmet shines
in the pale summer twilight.

Around the bier, a spider weaves
from the “incense place” with floral scent
an incense [that] slowly flows;
the entire forest is full of fragrance.

From the birch’s rocking crown,
from the wind’s waving green house
small songs of sorrow sound;
the entire forest is filled up with whistling.

A message is whispered through the valley
about a king’s sorrow among whispering leaves,
in the wide kingdoms of the forest,
from the capital of the Lilies-of-the-Valley.

Original Swedish lyrics:

Kung Liljekonvalje av dungen,
kung Liljekonvalje är vit som snö,
nu sörjer unga kungen
prinsessan Liljekonvaljemö. 

Kung Liljekonvalje han sänker
sitt sorgsna huvud så tungt och vekt,
och silverhjälmen blänker
i sommarskymningen blekt. 

Kring bårens spindelvävar
från rökelsekaren med blomsterstoft
en virak sakta svävar,
all skogen är full av doft. 

Från björkens gungande krona,
från vindens vaggande gröna hus
små sorgevisor tona,
all skogen är uppfylld av sus. 

Det susar ett bud genom dälden
om kungssorg bland viskande blad,
i skogens vida välden
från liljekonvaljernas huvudstad.

———————————————————

An accurate selfie of how I’m feeling right now.

Aren’t those lyrics so lovely and haunting? And “haunting” fits the seasonal theme so well; I just had to share them. I think this elegy is a sweet example of how love transcends time and life itself. All of the nature symbolism shows us that the princess isn’t really gone; she is everywhere, in everything. Her people, especially her father, keep her memory alive. ‚̧

“The Pumpkin”–A Poem and Memory Celebrating Fall

Happy Fall, readers! Since the autumnal equinox was yesterday, it’s official. ūüôā I hope you had a fun Hobbit Day and continue to celebrate through Tolkien Week. My family did indeed go mini-golfing as planned, which was lots of fun. We were very careful and checked the whole course before putting, because you know what they say about hobbits and¬†holes in the ground. ūüėČ

When the weather started to turn more autumnal here, I had a sudden flashback of a fall memory from several years ago (2008, to be precise). It came back to me as a poem, as flashbacks (luckily!) often do for me, since I record memories in words, writing the world in my head as I see it.

This is a memory from a time when a group of our friends from UIUC went to a nearby apple orchard. Jeremiah and I were in the same group, and we had dated before but weren’t dating at the time (yet). ūüėČ

I wanted to save the poem to share with you until it was officially fall. I hope it’s not too sappy-sweet, but then, it is the season for maple syrup and sweetened gourds of a certain variety–which will star in the poem today. ūüôā

I wanted to share a few photos from that day, too.

The group with some of our spoils (Jeremiah’s doing the American Gothic on the very left, and I’m on the very right).

This was surely meant for little kids, but that didn’t stop us from joining in the fun. It required some intense crouching.

Ripe for the picking!

But this is what I was really excited about, as you’ll read below (the pumpkins, not the modest-afterthought statue).

The Pumpkin

By: Amanda K. Fowler
I knew you loved me when
we went with friends to an apple orchard,
but I wanted a pumpkin
so you followed me to the rows of orange gourds.
They’d already been picked,
because crops were bad that year,
but you spent hours with me,
looking at each one,
turning them over and over.
I saw every curved side
underneath your hands.
We felt the dirt coat the skin
like afterbirth,
and I think
we imagined
they were babies,
and we had to find the one
that was ours.
The sun made
our shadows long,
and I grew discouraged,
and the others were far away
wagons and bellies
full of apples.
But then you found it:
our pumpkin baby.
It was huge,
and healthy,
and bright.
You brushed the dirt off
and showed me how
it had a flat side
from where it lay
while it grew against the earth,
and it would be perfect
for my carving,
you said.
I loved it,
and you looked smaller
under the weight
of the behemoth gourd,
but you never struggled
or grunted,
just carried the pumpkin
to the register
and then the car,
gingerly,
protectively.
And when the others teased you
about looking at pumpkins all day,
you just smiled.
I never carved it;
it was already perfect.
And I knew I loved you then.
———————————————————————————–
I hope you enjoyed the poem. Now, I’m itching to go back to an orchard! What’s on your fall celebration list? ūüôā

“Beliefs”–A Poem

“Beliefs”
By: Amanda K. FowlerBreaking Glass

Beliefs shatter worse than glass.
At least glass can be mended,
but when faith is lost
it is often gone forever–
decomposed into sand in the wind.

When we are young,
this is not as grave.
Our understandings are pliable,
still being defined.
Theories are posed
and tossed out,
the clay of our minds
still being shaped
into form.

But
a belief gained
or proven
is all the more poignant
when acquired later,
because we know
how risky an investment
faith can be,
especially when it didn’t quite
get hardened with that clay.https://i2.wp.com/www.clker.com/cliparts/q/h/2/Y/J/a/kindness-md.png

Angel wings,
unnecessary kindnesses,
sacrifice,
truth,
life,
love.
These are beautiful to me,
and they will bring me wonder
no matter how old I am,
no matter how many times I see them.
These are what I believe in.