Sunday, May 31, 2009

“the past didn’t go anywhere”

Sunday is upon us again, which means more original poetry for Original Poetry Sunday, the excellent idea hit upon by Sandra Leigh of the excellent Amazing Voyages of the Turtle blog. My offering is the latest in my series of ghazals.

I believe the following blogs (at least) are “officially” participating this week, but everyone’s welcome:

The Amazing Voyages of the Turtle
Poetikat’s Invisible Keepsakes
Secret Poems from the Times Literary Supplement
Yes is Red

You also can find daily poems at Apogee Poet, & frequent poem postings at Keeping Secrets, Pics & Poems (there’s a very good one up there today already). Dominic Rivron posts some very good poems, tho not on any regular schedule, & the same can be said for TotalfeckingEejit & Mad Aunt Bernard of Mad Aunt Bernard’s Tortoise Poetry, as well as Willow of the popular Life at Willow Manor. There are also poems occasionally on the excellent blog Radish King, which is written by poet Rebecca Loudon, & which always contains very high quality writing, & also on Premium T., which, like Radish King is well worth a visit whether there’s a poem posted or not.

Of course, there are any number of poetry blogs out there, but these are ones within my experience. Hope you get a chance to visit them & enjoy their poetry.

“the past didn’t go anywhere”

the story I told about the mourning dove’s coo in
the draw a low grey clarinet note washed over by

sparrows’ silver chatter the grapefruit sunrise the one
pink poppy coming awake amongst orange poppies the

irises purple & yellow & maroon a metal spiral
staircase outside an old white farmhouse a teardrop

mandolin posed on the lawn near the young catalpa’s
teardrop leaves—the story I told about red red shoots of beb

willows in the draw & the stream’s liquid song thru the
underbrush a purple chord on an archtop guitar in a per-

petual evening—& the lilacs’ whispering evening even at
6 a.m.—the story I told about the mourning dove’s coo in the

beb willows & the sparrows’ rippling conversation—ok
I know “the past didn’t go anywhere”—the stream’s liquid

song the cowbirds’ liquid song a horse trailer rattling up the
dirt road—the story I told didn’t go anywhere in

the grapefruit sunrise—traveling into the past to avoid
death—we talked about that & sex which is perpetually

now—the mourning dove’s gray coo in the grapefruit
sunrise wasn’t the past it was a memory drenched in the

stream’s liquid song over slate grey rocks where per-
petual past & future embrace in a liquid moment

John Hayes
© 2009

quote is from folksinger/songwriter Utah Phillips


  1. John - I've read and re-read this, soaking in the many sensory images, which evoke that time and place and conversation. I must admit that I had to do a search of ghazal, not being familiar with the form, which appears to me to be extremely difficult to achieve. I want to go back now and read some of your others, but want to say that this one is wonderful. Bravo.

  2. Ah, you have struck a real chord with me here. The sound of birds are so dear to my heart; I awaken to the songs of robins and bluejays and finches and chickadees et al., every morning. The blending of images is like an oil-painting in progress - the selection of colours and textures all intermingling to create that effective whole.
    Definitely one of my favourites!

    I am still filled with an odd trepidation over this form.


    P.S. I have managed to contribute to today's efforts.

  3. You have created the effect you speak of, the liquid feeling of water moving along, or a bird's spiraling song, or memory... I feel a little woozy right now. :) wonderful, entrancing... My favorite phrase is "a teardrop mandolin posed on the lawn."

  4. Hi Karen & Kat & René!

    Karen: Really glad you liked it; I probably should create a label for the ghazals, since there are a few of them on the blog at this point (19, tho some posts had two or three at a time). I don't know that my ghazals are a great template for anyone seeking to use the form in a more strict sense. I really love Adrienne Rich's ghazals; I think I got ideas about the form from reading them.

    Kat: Wow, thanks! The oil painting line is such a nice thing to say! I checked out your contribution to OPS, & really enjoyed it (comments on your blog). Other readers: please check out Kat's contribution hereRené: Thanks so much! I liked the mandolin & the catalpa leaves too if I do say so myself-- definite echo in shape. Thanks for your usual wonderful reading & response. I also checked out your fantastic poem (comment on your blog). Hey folks, check it out here

  5. oh, the grapefruit sunrise. I love that. Today, on the way to church, I passed a historic apartment building. The most unusual sign on the front says "Ghazal Apartments." I will take a picture and post for you sometime. I wonder what it means and why this name was chosen.

  6. I can just hear than mourning dove's coo. It evokes such a poignant feeling of sadness and nostalgia for me.

    And thanks for your kind mention!

  7. Hi Jen & Willow!

    Jen: Now I'd love to see a photo of that, & I agree it's pretty mysterious. Someone's name perhaps? Glad you liked the poem.

    Willow: You're welcome, & yes, the mourning dove's coo is very evocative!

  8. One of the sites I've been reading to try to get a handle on the ghazal says that ghazal is an Arabic word that means "talking to women". (It also informs me I've been pronouncing it wrong in my head. Apparently it's pronounced like "guzzle".)

    Kat's comment that she is "still filled with an odd trepidation over this form" made me smile. Me too, Kat! I don't understand it. I enjoy reading it, but it baffles me.

    That said,I've read "the past didn't go anywhere" many times now and loved the imagery, particularly "—the stream’s liquid
    song the cowbirds’ liquid song a horse trailer rattling up the
    dirt road—", which carried me along most wonderfully.

    Thank you, John, for the poem - and also for all your linking.

  9. I'm really enjoying Sunday poems. Your contribution is wonderful. I was unfamiliar with the phrase 'draw' and had never heard the grey willow called Beb's willow but that's the wonderful thing about local words that describe local landscape elements, and the great, if confusing thing about the common names of plants. They give such a flavour of place. The synaesthetic imagery is beautifully used - I'm into synaesthsia lately - the purple chords, the way music always runs behind your lines so the reader feels as if he's walking through an unfamiliar landscape hearing it coming from somewhere out of sight. The way lilacs are a time of day. The abrupt change of tone halfway through and the way the narrator just jumps in with his matter of fact about the ice storm - what's happening, what it means - and how he can't keep it up but slips back into the lyricism of the stream’s liquid song over slate grey rocks. I guess I'll stop now.

  10. A cornucopia of vibrant sounds of flowers and fruits and colours and sadness. wonderful words,John, of the one eternal moment we all pass through.

  11. Hi Sandra, Mairi & TFE:

    Sandra: Thanks-- I really enjoyed all the Original Poetry Sunday entries a lot. I hadn't heard the "talking to women" definition-- that's interesting.

    Mairi: Wow, thanks for such a generous & responsive reading-- & for the reference to "Birches." I love those narrative break ins!

    TFE: Thanks so much! It's hard to see it as "that one eternal moment" isn't it?

  12. Thanks for the mention! As you say, I don't post poems to a schedule, but I have a link in my header to all the poems on the blog, if anybody wants to read them.

    If blogging as a medium has a weakness (I suppose all media have at least one one) it is that it focusses on the current. There are so many good blogs to read that one rarely stops on one to browse back through previous posts. It's easier to flick through a book than it is to click through a blog.

  13. Liked the ghazal. You've got me thinking it's a good form in which to ruminate on time ("where perpetual past & future embrace in a liquid moment").

    There's a little label down on the left - why not a nice big link to the ghazals?

  14. Never heard of a 'ghazal' first I thought you meant a type of animal. ;)


    You know, reading through some of this stuff makes me wonder if I know a damn thing about poetry, at all!


    Anyway, I love your line, "traveling into the past to avoid death."

    Sure. Let's do that, huh? ;)

    "Grapefruit sunrise"

    I saw one of those yesterday...

    And about 'Original Poetry Sunday': I may have mentioned this before, but there used to be a group here on Blogger called 'Poetry Thursday'. It had a ton of members! And every week, you'd post a link to your poem, and we all wrote or posted poems to fit a certain weekly theme.

    I'm not sure if that place still exists, but if it does, I bet you'd enjoy it. :)

  15. Hi Dominic & Ginger:

    I'll take your suggestion about the link under serious advisement. I keep thinking of things I'd like to do in the left frame (both in terms of insertion & deletion) but don't seem to get to them much!

    Ginger: Glad you liked it, & I'll try to track down poetry Thursday sometime for sure. Glad to see you stopping by!


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