A New Poem

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Okay, I suppose I shouldn't, but I'll share the draft of this--the longest poem I've written in twenty years and it is simultaneously about three or four quite different things, so it may be a muddle. Whatever--it does need some work--but here's a start--or at least a finish of a draft. Please note due to my lack of ability with HTML coding, the line below that begins "Consider this" should start immediately under the second space after the period in the line above. Doesn't matter to most, but makes a great difference in how the poem is read/intended.

Meander Plain

Long ago, this laughing water flowed
straight over the plain, seeking its level
in the sea. It danced and played in its banks,
it jumped and tumbled in its rough channel.
So it should have flowed, straight and true, through time
but rough water holds its own mind, obeys
its own rules. And so the curling tumbles
shocked the rock and mudsteeped banks into new,
unknown shapes. And so the silver flow laughed
its way into channels shaped by wayward
yearnings and wanderings, still swift and cool
running yet headlong, following now not
just its own way, but the way it had shaped.
No longer the true straight path that runs so
swiftly to its close, now bending, winding
turning in churning pools that roil nowhere,
pools that spin and turn and cut and shape, change
to no end but that the water might move
and keep moving, now more slowly than it
had ever known. Still the wayward currents
shape and change the bank and channel, bending
ever more from the straight and true start. Does
water have thoughts? Regrets? Does water know
its past? Do the fingerling currents feel
for the grip that they knew in the straight true
days? If so, to what end? The bank has changed--
the water runs quietly, quickly moving
even more slowly. But the old power
is there, strong even in the slowness, now
renewed by a surge of spring, a summer
thunderstorm jolt. It cuts away, changes
its own changes endlessly. At the end
it travels ten times its length to arrive,
to merge with the ocean.
Consider this
as a stream--the frustration of being there,
seeing the sea-glint, the sun-spot that marks
the rampant waves, surging forward to find
your course suddenly changed. You cannot get
there from here and the sad thing is you made
this place yourself. Longing for reunion
with its ocean birthplace, the stream winds in banks
of its own making. The water here might
never reach the great salt, it might simply
vanish, drawn into oblivion, skyward
reaching only to condense, a cloud or
less, drops falling even further away.

But one spring the silver winter sun-warmed
thaws into a flood and strikes downstream--rage
in water--passion throwing banks aside.
The graceful surge, the fresh tide, forces banks
to bend, rock to sway and break, and what was
an age of swerving away and back, now
becomes a breakneck flash, a raging white
that plunges to its end, its shape reformed
by sun and snow and surge and sea-longing.

The straightaway leaves stranded crescent lakes
carved scars that pock the land surface beside
the silver stream that freed from itself, flows
swiftly jumping joyful to join the sea--
the birthplace and the end. Where it began
where now it slows and mingles with the salt
and never loses shimmer, glint, and light.

There you have it. There are some lines that I really, really love, some that need some work and probably some excesses and some repetitions that need to be excised. But this work is respectfully dedicated to our previous Holy Father, John Paul the Great, whose teaching and whose courage renewed my own and gave me something worth writing about. It is also dedicated to the poet trio of Lofted Nest who sparked an urge to speak in this language again.

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Well begun, I hope you stay with it. Those "churning pools that roil nowhere" and "the stranded, crescent lakes" are oxbows... it's such a great, poetic word... (perhaps a title option, too, when you consider other definitions of oxbow). I like the whole idea. In particular,

1. rough water holds its own mind
2. the curling tumbles shocked the rock
3. do the fingerling currents...
4. sun-spot that marks the rampant waves
5. the idea of evaporation as you used it

and I'm sure there were more. I didn't like "the laughing" water. I thought it was jarring where you wrote "If so, to what end?" -- I was happy with the metaphor and felt snapped out of it at that point... as if you were no longer writing about JPII, but just water.

I struggled with "Quickly moving even more slowly."

I'd say my favorite part though was the section "You cannot get there from here..." It was both JPII and also yielded thoughts of God trying to get to reconciliation with Man. Nice.

It's good to read you. :) And thanks for the kind words for our site.

Dear Sparrow,

Thank you--as I consider revision, I'll keep this close to hand.



I liked your poem very much. I found myself caught up in the drama and often painful journey of that initally laughing, carefree, frolicking water that took so many hazardous detours, lost part of itself, but was ultimately seized and captured by a force greater than itself for all eternity. The next person reading this poem will most likely read it in a entirely different way. I love my new-found word -- mutable!

Very nice, Steven. You've made the life of a river very meaningful here.

Youthful rivers in their upper courses, bounding over rocks, fast flowing and pure... reminds me of JPII in his mountain climbing days.

Mature rivers in their middle course, where tributaries come and join to the main flow on the trip to the sea is just like JPII climbing up in the ranks to become Pope, and also how the people of the world turned and joined in with him on his trips. How he meandered here and there, pulling others to him, leaving behind oxbows of faith. Wonderful!

And the river's old age, in its lower course, moving slowly, reaching for the salt of the sea, all it's journey behind it.

You've discovered a mine here...



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on April 21, 2005 7:45 PM.

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