creative ramblings & reverie

Friday, October 29, 2010

Writing Spaces

Detail of the portrait of a young woman (so-called Sappho) with writing pen and wax tablets.  The net in her hair is made of golden threads and typical for the fashion of the Neronian period. Roman fresco from Regio VI (insula occidentalis) in Pompeii.
Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Naples)

image:  WolfgangRieger

I Am a Lady Novelist

(with apologies to Gilbert and Sullivan!)

I am a lady novelist,
so your story for my mill is grist
(and especially any seamy tryst—
all the details of your being kissed!).

When making notes I love a list
though it causes me a tired wrist.
I’d rather not reboot my disk
but Google the mythic basilisk.

Like an Egyptian archaeologist
I really really must insist
that the hieroglyphics of an obelisk
be rendered so I get the gist.

And like a gerontologist
I consider old folks in something of a mist
(or those entirely gone ‘round the twist).
I’m sometimes poised like a metallurgist
quite eagerly above a schist.

I am an awful fabulist!
My words are sometimes falsely lisped,
my spokes as silvery as a trick cyclist’s,
and when I’m in the mood be sure I’ll play you
    a mean game of Whist.

I am I am a lady novelist—
Oh isn’t it just mahvelous!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Writing Spaces

What better place to write than at one of Bonnard's appealing tables, indoors or out?

image:  Pierre Bonnard

Quiet, Three

I'm still thinking about what quiet is and does, and came up with the following snippets of quiet things, maybe to develop into longer poems or pieces (like two I've written for submission).
* Under the small octagonal
window, my fossil fish—

* The song I never played
those thirty years ago,
for Baccalaureate one May
evening, a hush of lilacs
through the open doorway
of the white adobe church—

* The mute piano, travelling up
a flight of stairs and down again,

as in Venice somehow
a grand piano rose, majestically,
as the specter of some great
flapping prehistoric bird, above
the dark waters of an unlit canal—

* The graceful bowl
of the small Roman spoon
found in the muddy ground
among cow bones—

* Petroglyphs at Tsankawi,
talking among themselves
of the old ones, high up above
on their wind-sheltered
rock faces—

* Tennis on a red clay court
in northern Italy, with autumn 

coming on, while

in the village, just outside
the convent walls,
some nuns are washing greens—

* Camping in Holy Ghost Canyon

nearly a half a century ago—


Friday, October 15, 2010

Writing Spaces

John Keats House, Hampstead Heath, London.  The poet's spirit seems to be there still.  It helped to have seen Bright Star, to know how he was, there, what the house held of him.

image:  John Feneron, Keats House

The Household Spirit

That tranquil spirit does not live here
anymore.  The one I’d come to call
friend, self, has moved on, disenchanted.

I stand scowling over wet lettuces,
chop pithy forest mushrooms,
knead bread of honey and whole wheat,
but she’s not here at my shoulder
exclaiming over the texture and smell,
the fat squat handful of the loaves.

She’s not dancing about the room
in fuzzy gigantic slippers,
sticking a finger when I'm not looking
into the bowl.  Inquisitive, exquisite,
finding a poem in every recipe,

sketching cats or low lazy hills
in the dust on every other bookshelf—
happy, well-rounded shapes,
leaving her silver rings
her gypsy bangles in each glass.

She was absent-minded, dear—
now only absent.  She has gone
to live in someone else’s house.
Perhaps they have a parakeet,
a window open on a rose garden, or on
a full-blown sea with a small fishing boat.

Perhaps she lives with those who can
lavish color on her, strew lavender
among the fine silk stockings, touch
the hollow of her throat with patchouli.

Why did I always hush her?
She would stand then with a finger
to her lips, as if to flatten out that smile
into sufficiently serious lines—
eternal two-year-old, daring
to ask “why not?”

She took things as she found them
and left them brighter, only a bit
askew, her jelly-sticky fingerprints
in the margins, grape blue.

The absence of her footsteps
echoes on the stairs like blankest verse,
unrhymed couplets shuffling down the hall.

I’m left with just the empty arms
of an outsized sweater hugging my neck,
to listen to those precious grown-up
silences I begged her for.


Friday, October 8, 2010

Writing Spaces

image:  Taverna Chair in Greece

Writing Exercises

I've been happily inspired by the Archetype Plot Scenario Generator.

The first scenario I was given:
The story starts when your protagonist breaks a mirror.
Another character is detective who has a gift for poetry.

So I've begun a short mystery set on Mallorca (while Goat Song languishes, awaiting long stretches of unfilled time that will mysteriously appear any day now).  My detective, named Vilalta, writes ghazals and takes the same approach to solving crimes—playing with opposites, jumping from one consideration to the next with no apparent connection or narrative pattern—something his logic-driven colleagues can't appreciate.  He tries out words and suspects in his head while making pa amb oli for a simple supper, or tumbet when he has more time to spend in his open-air kitchen.

Unsuspecting Abigail Demaere brings at least seven years' bad luck upon herself, beginning with an accusation of murder, when she breaks the favorite mirror she'd retrieved from the shambles of her life in Brussels and brought with her to the hilltop of windmills her sister Anne-Marie is renovating for a retreat center on Mallorca's west coast, looking forward to a fresh start.

     Abigail flung the bottle of Havana Club AƱejo at the beautiful, taunting baritone voice.  But she heard it hit glass, instead, a shivering blow—and break, and break.  In the pure Mallorcan darkness, in her intoxicated state, she’d shattered the mirror she hadn’t remembered would be there, hung on the fieldstone wall of the penultimate windmill.  The light from the open door of the mill where she slept, on the far end, hadn’t reached much beyond the threshold.
     After a moment of silence, absolute except for the insect-like whine of a motorbike far away, below them, down on the road to the port, Jaime’s disembodied chuckle mocked her but admired her action, fading as he went away.  The whisper of his rope-soled footsteps across the upper terrace vanished too as he reached the steps down to the unpaved driveway and his Jeep, which he had started for just before she threw the rum.  Away from the monastery, he always wore espadrilles.  Dusty black cotton, or, like tonight, jaunty blue and white striped, setting off his sunburnt ankles—a darker bronze than you’d expect for one who worked indoors in cool old thick-walled halls directing choirboys. 
     She heard the engine again startle the somnolent past-midnight air, and the Jeep retreat down the long hill of almond orchards, down the rutted dirt driveway that came out eventually on the main road between Andratx and S’Arraco, the big village and the small, and continued on to Palma, back across the island to Lluc.