Thursday, April 5, 2012

Day Five ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day


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Say WHAT? Well, today's prompt from Robert Lee Brewer asks us to "write a poem about something before your time. Maybe it's a certain time in history. Or a type of music. Or a story that was shared by friends or family — before your time."

Lorem ipsum goes back several centuries as text used in printing-press layouts to stand in for text that hasn't been written yet. In other words, test or dummy text that the printer uses to see what a layout will look like ahead of the "real" printing. Clearly, "several centuries" is "before [our] time." The traditional Lorem ipsum passage (see above) comes from Cicero, 45 BC (or BCE, as some folks say).

Now, on to NaPoWriMo and the Poem-a-Day Challenge, let's start again with Catherine's poem today. She dips into Biblical history, pardon the pun (you'll get it later). Way before 45 BC.


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                        Poem removed for
publication purposes.
Sorry. It may return
at some point. Thanks.


—Draft by Catherine Pritchard Childress     [do not copy or quote ... thanks]

Once again, Catherine gives us a wonderful view into the innermost heart of her speaker. I was inspired, in turn, to delve into the heart of her opposite in the story, her foil. Who really is to blame? Whose is the sin? Whose fault is the eventual civil war, the death of Absalom? Here goes . . .

Bathsheba's Paramour

Uriah, son of Heth, why won’t he go in to his wife?
Damn him! I have called him home from Rabbah,
from harshest battle, to give him this, his own lily
among the thorns, the choicest fruit, the rose of Sharon
within his own garden. And he says no? Uriah must
serve the King always, here in the castle, he says.
His men are at siege against the Ammonites, he says,
and he will not disrespect their faith, their sacrifice.
He will not disrespect me, my service, he says.
What of his oath to defend my crown, God's city?
What of that, upright Uriah? Go to her! Her breasts
are two baby deer fed on flowers, her eyes are purest
white of doves, her temple a split pomegranate
amid her sweet curls. Even the King could not resist
her myriad charms, though try he did. O yes, try
he did. Well, then, Uriah, back to the battle you go.
A letter will you carry, giving your general Joab
my orders, the King's desire. Uriah, I offer you
the chance in the thickest of the fight to prove
your fealty to me, your master, your true King.
O brother, yes, you will fight, and you will be
lauded forevermore as the brave, loyal lieutenant
who laid down his life for the Kingdom of Israel
and Judah. Yes, let it be so. I wash my hands of it.
The Lord speaks . . . I merely pass on His word.
I am Moses . . . I merely bring down the stones.
Yes, Uriah shall go to the stones. And Bathsheba,
abandoned by her Hittite, like so much spoiled milk
dashed to the dirt, she shall bear Kings. Kings, I say.
Kings of Kings. Yes. Yes. It is the will of the Lord.

—Draft by Vince Gotera     [do not copy or quote ... thanks]

Well, friends, there you go. Five days, five poems each.

Could you please comment below? How do these two poems strike you as two sides of the same story, two interlaced points of view?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Have a good evening. Looking forward to day six. Ingat.


POEM-A-DAY 2012 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30


5 comments:

Ivy said...

I like the vivid detail of the heated water on skin in the first poem. Your poem, Vince, captures that biblical speech-rhythm convincingly and sustains it. Quite thrilling.

Vince Gotera said...

Ivy, thanks. This is the first time in our poems so far that we coincided in topic. Well, not "coincided" exactly because I followed Catherine's lead. Thanks about the biblical speech rhythm comment. I tried to do that while also maintaining a speech style that was also contemporary, or that could have been (conceivably) spoken today. And I stole stuff from Song of Solomon, which to me set up an interesting paradox because he had not yet been born but of course these two were his parents. And so in a way the stuff that Solomon would later say is here being said by his dad to his mom. Weirdness. I hope.

Angela said...

Vince, I like working on prompts with a partner because of examples like this. The prompt itself was interesting, and so was the conversation between the two pieces. Last April for NaPoWriMo my writing partner challenged me to write a response to The Cinnamon Peeler. While the driver in Catherine's poem was the image of the bath, your response was really framed by the knowledge that this couple would create the path to Song of Songs. Once I caught on to this I wanted to see a title of that magnitude. You know, The Story of Songs, The Story of Stories...I love the retelling of Bathsheba's story -- especially that very sexy moment of moving into his frame of vision. I love the lushness of your use "Her breasts/are two baby deer fed on flowers, her eyes are purest/ white of doves, her temple a split pomegranate amid her sweet curls.
*Catherine and Vince, thanks for a great Day 5!

Vince Gotera said...

Angela, thanks! I never thought of it that way. I first started pilfering from the Song of Solomon because I wanted that kind of intensity. Only later in the composition did I realize that indeed the writer of the Song was their child. About that lush language ... that was a modernization (only slightly) from the Song. Shameless, I thought. But you're giving me good reason not to be ashamed. Thanks again, Angela. Are you doing NaPoWriMo?

Catherine Pritchard Childress said...

Angela, thanks! Your comment sent me directly to my well-worn copies of Ondaatje's _Secular Love_ and _The Cinnamon Peeler _. A response to "The Cinnamon Peeler" would be a perfect execution of one of today's prompts--a persona poem. Working with a partner opens all kinds of doors. VInce's response to my poem above leaves me itching to revise "Bathsheba's Bath." Thanks for reading and for commenting.

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