Sunday, April 14, 2013

Day 14 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013


April 14 . . . today finishes the first fortnight of National Poetry Month, 2013. Almost halfway through, friends!

The number 14 is not as culturally interesting as 13, it would seem. One connection between them is that, when the 13th floor in a building has been renamed for superstitious reasons, it becomes the 14th floor. Which creates a linguistic if not mathematical equation: 14 = 13. False in math, but true in the "real" world of superstition.

Because today's the 14th, Robert Lee Brewer suggests we "write a sonnet" in his blog Poetic Asides. "For those who are not familiar with the sonnet, it’s a 14-line poem that rhymes. Some contemporary sonnet-eers even ditch the rhymes and just write a 14-line poem. Go with whatever feels right."

On the "other side," Maureen Thorson prompts in the NaPoWriMo site, "I challenge you to write a persona poem — that is, a poem in the voice of a particular person who isn’t you. But I’d like you to choose a very particular kind of person. How about a poem in the voice of a superhero (or a supervillain)?"

Since I had already written a superhero poem on the 10th, I decided to compose a poem from the perspective of a dragon — anyone who knows me well will tell you I have a keen interest in dragons. To satisfy both prompts at once, my dragon speaks a sonnet, and since sonnets have been traditionally used for love poetry, today's sonnet focuses on my dragon's romantic love for a tiger. Actually, a familiar dragon and tiger, old friends of ours, but more on that in a few moments.

First, we have some cultural underpinnings to tease out. According to Wikipedia, "The tiger is considered to be the eternal rival to the dragon, thus various artworks depict a dragon and tiger fighting an epic battle. . . . Chinese dragons are strongly associated with water in popular belief. They are believed to be the rulers of moving bodies of water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas." In Chinese culture (particularly in martial arts), "the tiger is depicted as an earth symbol and equal rival of the Chinese dragon – the two representing matter and spirit respectively" (Wikipedia). So traditionally, dragons and tigers are opposed in many ways — maybe all ways — so they continually fight, enmeshed always in an archetypal war.

In a poem I wrote last year, I played with this paradigm by having a dragon and a tiger be in love rather than eternally opposed. However, although they desire each other, the two sweethearts are unable to consummate not only because of the species difference but more importantly because of the cultural baggage they each carry, even embody. Okay, here's that poem from last year, written in hay(na)ku stanzas, which have a one word / two word / three word pattern sprinkled across three lines.

The Tale of Everyone


Dragon
and Tiger
love each other

like
dawn Sun
and harvest Moon,

Sword
and Flower,
Rain and Flame.

Forever
chasing, never
touching. Each other’s

orbit
clockwork machined
by distant gods.

They
sit in
their glass globe

heavens,
the bridge
between them nothing

but
empty space,
indigo and orange

motes
of dust
floating in between.

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

Today's April poem is a sequel to this earlier piece. In hay(na)ku like "The Tale of Everyone" but as an unrhymed sonnet: four hay(na)ku stanzas followed by a closing hay(na)ku shoehorned into two lines, like my Day Three poem this year. For more on this sonnet form, which I invented during last year's National Poetry Month, see 2012's Day 14post. Interesting coincidence that today is day 14 again. Anyway, in this new poem, Dragon figures out how he and Tiger can get together finally. Remember too, as we learned above, that Chinese dragons are associated with water, they are "rulers of . . . water, such as waterfalls, rivers, or seas," at the same time that they breathe fire, like Western dragons.

Dragon Solves the Problem:
How Tiger and He Can Love



Draco,
water emperor,
I can become

anything
liquid. Shapeshifted —
yes — Aqua Tigris,

hefty
like ice
yet soft, silky.

Rainbow
striped, fleshed.
In me, dazzling

Lady Tiger swims.
Lingering, wild nights.

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

That's all for today, O gentle readers. Why don't you try writing some hay(na)ku? If you're feeling particularly adventurous, try a hay(na)ku sonnet. Won't you comment below? Thank you. Ingat, everyone.   ;-)



POEM-A-DAY 2013 • 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

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