Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sarah Mitchell Sonnet

I don't know why I always turn to sonnets when I think of writing in forms. The sonnet is entirely unnatural to me. It counters my narrative instinct. Maybe that is why I seek it out. For limits. For balance. Anyway, I have attempted at last the Sarah Mitchell poem. I see now that it will have to be a series, sonnets or no, but here is one offering. Matt's own poem from his March 25th posting inspired me to post one of my own. Reactions to this poem are welcome, since it looks like it might turn into a long term project (if it wasn't already!).

X: In which Potawatomi braves capture Sarah "Sallie" Mitchell, "sister-cousin" to Nancy Hanks

Just as we approached the river, Dan
stopped. Thinking I'd ask if this were the Rockcastle,
I opened my mouth, but he half-spun and ran.
Just like that, the Indians surrounded us until
they formed a knot, became a ganglion, a net.
My mother fell. Run, Sallie. Salleee!
she screamed. Or was it Dan? His hand out,
a shaky bridge across the water. My knees
pushed against my skirts. I hiked them up.
My twelve-year-old body a single pulsing thought:
Run! Thought moved muscle into motion, but
how could I not pause to look toward Mama
where she lay, a heap of skirts. His knife
would take her scalp but slice in two my life.

I'm not sure if that ending is cheesy. I think it might be. The idea I am trying to convey, or rather the image, as I have said before is the one of the blade of the knife separating two eras. I don't think I've been successful, but it's something, and it's on paper (on screen?). Let me know what you think.



P. S. The image is artist Bradley Schmehl's rendering of the capture scene.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Reverse Ekphrasis Project

I'll be reading two poems April 23 at the Reverse Ekphrasis Project Literary Reading. The project is sponsored by Morehead State University and will take place in the Claypool-Young Strider Gallery at 6pm, (on the campus of MSU). The event showcases collaborations of visual and literary artists: (artists are assigned literary texts and produce visual representations). It's an exciting project facilitied by Crystal Wilkinson. I'm looking forward to the interpretation of my poems. If you're around the area, I invite you to join us. 


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Cold Spring Day

Beautiful poem, Matt. I particularly like the nod to Maxine Kumin. One can easily see why poets celebrate spring.

Here it has been cold the last few days. Green. Blooming. And cold. "April is the cruelest month." The weather also makes me think of Leonie Adams's "April Mortality":

Rebellion shook an ancient dust,
And bones, bleached dry of rottenness,
Said: Heart, be bitter still, nor trust
The earth, the sky, in their bright dress.

Heart, heart dost thou not break to know
This anguish thou wilt bear alone?
We sang of it an age ago,
And traced it dimly upon stone.

With all the drifting race of men
Thou also art begot to mourn
That she is crucified again,
The lonely Beauty yet unborn.

And if thou dreamest to have won
Some touch of her in permanence,
'Tis the old cheating of the sun,
The intricate lovely play of sense.

Be bitter still, remember how
Four petals, when a little breath
Of wind made stir the pear-tree bough,
Blew delicately down to death.

Even though I've longed for the return of spring, I can't help but notice the inherent decay in all this birth. The already wilted daffodils. The falling pear blossom. The snowflakes? Wait, that's just nature's April Fools. But the newness fades so quickly. Gosh, what a downer.

It'll be warmer tomorrow.