Free Verse: I Have Rebuilt A Mind.

 

I have rebuilt a mind.

I built it overnight.

I have torn off its foundation by hand,

One concrete slab at a time.

(To reveal the fertile soil of the unlearned mind.)

I have worked away at its pillars:

Outdated notions, antiquated philosophies

I have granted it new memories.

Knee-deep in rubble,

I have rediscovered its purity.

In the course of this renovation,

I have sunk lofty ceilings, ripped apart awnings;

I have stripped the walls bare

Of all thoughts and feelings. Until naked,

The house folds neat in a pile by my feet.

And when all that’s left is but empty land,

I plant in it the seed of faith

And introduce a weed called doubt.

I watch the two grow and intertwine,

To produce the purest, brightest mind.

By: Kristel Marie Pujanes (7/30/2012)

Image: A Cottage in a Cornfield. John Constable (1817)

Featured Poem: Mad Girl’s Love Song – Sylvia Plath

I don’t think this poem and its poetess need much introduction. Perhaps just a few words on why I love this piece. Though vastly different from Sylvia Plath’s latter works like Daddy, Fever 103, and Ariel, I think this piece is just as valuable as her most well-known poems. This early villanelle is one of her most structured works. To me, set Mad Girl’s Love Song beside any of her last poems and you can definitely see Plath’s progression as a poet.

That and I do love Sylvia Plath and villanelles.

 

Mad Girl’s Love Song

By Sylvia Plath (1951)

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

The stars go waltzing out in blue and red,

And arbitrary darkness gallops in:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I dreamed that you bewitched me into bed

And sung me moon-struck, kissed me quite insane.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

God topples from the sky, hell’s fires fade:

Exit seraphim and Satan’s men:

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

I fancied you’d return the way you said,

But I grow old and I forget your name.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

I should have loved a thunderbird instead;

At least when spring comes they roar back again.

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)”

 

 

Image: Ophelia by John Everett Millais (1851/1852)

Featured Poem#3: l(a – E.E. Cummings

 

e.e. cummings has written a number of amazing poems, but to me, l(a is still his masterpiece. It’s a visual treat that captures the essence of loneliness. The construction of the poem—the l’s that resemble 1’s, caging the phrase ‘a leaf falls’ inside parentheses, dividing the word loneliness to emphasize its ‘one’-l-iness—is, suffice to say, genius. Aside from carefully deconstructing words to demonstrate the strength of their construction, e.e. cummings also uses a familiar image to convey the heartache aloneness brings.

The gentle, slow descent of a fallen leaf is an image often associated with sadness. I don’t know if this has anything to do with O. Henry’s The Last Leaf, but this poem does carry the same bittersweet quality one would find in reading the famous short story. The arrangement of the letters in this poem also mimics the slow turning a leaf does as it spirals down to earth.

l(a

by: e.e. cummings; 1958

l(a

le

af

fa

ll

s)

one

l

Iness

Image: zaifastafa.blogspot.com

Featured Poem#2: Monet Refuses the Operation – Lisel Mueller

Here’s another high school favorite of mine. This incandescent piece by Lisel Mueller is a brilliant reimagining of Claude Monet’s decision to have his cataracts removed. Except, this time, the painter refuses to go through with the operation. Mueller explains the painter’s decision by the describing the world as it must have appeared to him—fluid and ethereal. Through combining superb writing with vivid imagery, the poetess creates a breathtaking picture of a world unhindered by borders.

Now, imagery has always been the weak point of my poetry. That is why, whenever I read works as ‘stunning’ as Monet Refuses the Operation, I feel incredibly humbled—and a touch hopeful that one day, I too can create something as glorious.

Monet Refuses the Operation by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no halos

around the streetlights in Paris

and what I see is an aberration

caused by old age, an affliction.

I tell you it has taken me all my life

to arrive at visions of gas lamps as angels,

to soften and blur and finally banish

the edges you regret I don’t see,

to learn that the line I called the horizon

does not exist and sky and water,

so long apart are the same state of being.

Fifty-four years before I could see

Rouen cathedral is built

of parallel shafts of sun,

and now you want to restore

my youthful errors: fixed

notions of top and bottom,

the illusion of three-dimensional space,

wisteria separate

from the bridge it covers.

What can I say to convince you

the House of Parliament dissolve

night after night to become

the fluid dream of the Thames?

I will not return to a universe

of objects that don’t know each other,

as if islands were not the lost children

of one great continent. The world

is flux, and light becomes what it touches,

becomes water, lilies on water,

above and below water,

becomes lilac and mauve and yellow

and white and cerulean lamps,

small fists passing sunlight

so quickly to one another

that it would take long, streaming hair

inside my brush to catch it.

To paint the speed of light!

Our weighted shapes, these verticals,

burn to mix with air

and changes our bones, skin, clothes

to gases. Doctor,

if only you could see

how heaven pulls the earth into its arms

and how infinitely the heart expands

to claim this world, blue vapor without end.

 

Image: Claude Monet’s Water Lily Pond (1897, 1899) from Canvaz.com

Villanelle #1: The Successful Hunt

The Successful Hunt

by: Kristel Marie Pujanes

 The moon eclipsed, it gives no light;

The hunters stalk their beastly prey,

No sound escapes the still, dark night.

The woods do tricks on this poor sight,

All shadows hurry out to play.

The moon eclipsed it gives no light.

Tonight, malice is to another, right.

There are no judgments made today.

No sound escapes the still, dark night.

A heart is wasted, weak tonight;

The hunted knows and runs away.

The moon eclipsed, it gives no light.

And who more to feel at least contrite

Than the one who caused the slight delay?

No sound escapes the still, dark night.

A shot rings out, and all delights—

The hunter falls dead as the prey.

The moon eclipsed it gives no light,

No sound escapes the still, dark night.

(Villanelle, 2009)

Image: All2need.com

Details: A villanelle I wrote back in 2009. I haven’t written poetry in a while, but I have every intention of starting again. And yes, I’ve always wanted a by-line, so there you go. 😉

Featured Poem#1: Mirror – Sylvia Plath

Every writer (successful, aspiring, failed, or whatnot) has an interesting anecdote on that “something” that got him/her started on writing. My “something” was Sylvia Plath’s “Mirror”. I don’t remember much of the details. I know it was in high school at my Creative Writing class under my then-favorite teacher. I remember him handing out copies of this poem and later, reading the poem out loud to a quiet audience.

Don’t get me wrong. There was no lightning bolt. No lightbulb. No sirens. No Eurekas! No exclamation points. There was just this stillness. This incredible stillness. It was dread, resignation, elation, calm, peace, understanding, and truth (a glimpse of the absolute truth?) all rolled into one. It was a lingering ache that stayed for days.

I knew. I didn’t want to be a writer, I needed to be one. I realized that it didn’t matter what I did in the mean time, I would always go back to writing. To borrow from Milan Kundera’s Unbearable Lightness of Being: “Muss es sein? Ja, es muss sein!”

Reading this poem ten years later, it still makes me feel the same way.

Mirror – Sylvia Plath

I am silver an exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful,

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,

Searching my reaches for what she really is.

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.

I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.