Today is the birthday of one of my favorite poets, and although she is no longer here, we should still celebrate her life. I am so grateful for her life and words; in many ways, Lucille Clifton is one of the reasons that I continue to write. Her works resonate through me and I am always inspired by her. I have decided that my next poetry purchase will have to involve her work.
I finished this earlier today. It’s a piece that I’ve been struggling on for several months. It’s something that popped up and I felt compelled to start working on. This morning, I stumbled across it and decided to go ahead and work on it. I will probably go back to it and work on it more to fill it out a bit. I would like to make the format more uniform and possibly inject more imagery. But this rough version is very honest and sharp.
As always, enjoy!
I’m trying not to regret it
That first step towards you,
the smile, passing you my number
Wishing that I didn’t want to burn you from my memory
The way I burned old diary pages
Lamenting our love
I’m trying to pretend that this has been a learning experience
Like it’s as valuable as all those degrees
When I really just want to rewind time
And walk away at your first words
I’m trying to remember all of the good things
Not the tears, years and emotion
That we’ve put each other through
Like we were magnets drawn to one another
I wish that I regretted every moment
But the grown up version of me
Chooses to simply think of it as you sharpening me as steel sharpens steel
Given the heat and summer, I felt that sharing this poem by Alice Dunbar Nelson would be perfect to share. As I sit here, I can smell my grandmother’s rose bushes and the current heat that we’re experiencing in North Carolina feels as though Satan is peering through all of my windows so this poem felt totally appropriate for me.
Hopefully, you’re all staying cool.
There is tropical warmth and languorous life
Where the roses lie
In a tempting drift
Of pink and red and golden light
Untouched as yet by the pruning knife.
And the still, warm life of the roses fair
That whisper “Come,”
Of sweet caresses, close and pure
Has a thorny whiff in the perfumed air.
There are thorns and love in the roses’ bed,
And Satan too
Must linger there;
So Satan’s wiles and the conscience stings,
Must now abide—the roses are dead.
This is a super short snippet featuring a character who has appeared in a previous pieces that I’ve shared. I’m kind of in love with this character and I feel like she’s pulling me back to share her story. It’s a bit of a comeback story and who doesn’t love those?Anyway, meet Sin! Hopefully, I have painted a good picture of her and the setting.
Sin pulled at the neck straps of her white bandage bathing suit. She felt naked even with her bottom half covered in a pair of distressed denim shorts. She stared out of the lenses of her shades at the beautiful turquoise water that surrounded her. She could feel the nervousness of the other seven women on the stage as they waited for the rest of the crew to join them. It was five o’clock in the morning and they had a full day of shooting. The sun was just rising when they were boated across the lagoon to the spot where they’d spend the rest of the day shooting. Her face automatically scrunched into a frown as the hair and makeup people came over to her to try to fight the wild nature of her huge hair; as it fought its way out of the smooth ponytail that they’d spent hours straightening and molding it into. The humidity was not her friend. Great, another thing to worry about!
Although she’d retired many years ago as a model and choreographer, Sincere Owens found herself standing in a lagoon on Malolo Island in Fiji. She’d spent weeks coming up with the choreography for this video. She’d said no initially but with a close friend producing the comeback single for R&B group Shoop and another close friend directing the video for the lead single she had no choice but to dive in. Sin had been a dancer her whole life even before her grandmother enrolled her in formal classes when she was four. She was trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, hip hop, and African dance. It was her first love and while she’d never stopped she had long ago stopped dancing for the public; especially in videos.
Video director Nick Knife had hand selected Sin to choreograph and dance alongside the others since he was shooting a scene on a floating stage. It was an ambitious project geared to attract attention to the reunion and video so he was counting on her to come through with something amazing. The members of the group had shot some scenes on the beach yesterday and were finishing up this morning at the beach bar before they joined the dancers on stage.
They’d rehearsed the moves before their flight out and earlier in an empty banquet room at the resort but none of the ladies had danced on the type of setup they’d been delivered to this morning. The shots would be amazing given the locale but Sin just had this anxious feeling. It had been years since she’d shown the body that had been dubbed made for sin. She’d built a career on it; dancing in a few videos and marketing her own calendars. Her body had held up well. That wasn’t what she was worried about. She smoothed a hand down the bare patches of honey colored skin that peeked through the white bathing suit. Her long legs were toned and glistened from the coconut oil that she’d applied earlier. She looked down at her feet nervously looked at the scars from years of dancing pointe and took a few deep breaths. She saw the tips of Nick’s trademark black Chuck Taylors close to her toes and she looked up into his sable eyes.
Are you nervous?” he asked taking her hands in his. They’d worked together more than 20 years earlier on their first video and she’d been the first call he made when he was contacted about the video.
She smiled and shot him a grin. She wasn’t nervous just…well nervous. She still danced and still made fixes to a few routines at the center but this was different. This was big time and she did not want to screw it up. Popular dancing and dancing in videos had changed since she’d chosen another career and she didn’t want this to look dated or to mess up the video.
“Come on, you know I got you. I’ve seen the routine and it’s perfect, Sin. Here come the guys” he told her as a boat approached the stage. She could see the heads of the five members of the group and their white suits so she walked away to take her dancers through the routine once more.
One of my goals for the second half of this year aside from putting together my own collection of poetry is to develop some new works. I have been working on some new poetry, but it has been quite difficult. Writing poetry has always been something that comes easily to me. The words have always poured out of me, even after midnight, when I wanted to be asleep. However, lately I have been unable to really focus on finishing new pieces. I have started at least twenty new poems that are currently sitting in various stages of development on my hard drive. I’m reluctant to call it writer’s block because I am writing but none of those pieces feel complete.
In the hopes of fixing it, I am toying with the idea of pulling out my old craft books and trying to create based on prompts. Or looking up prompts on Poets & Writers or another site. I’ve been trying my hand at different forms of poems in the hopes that they will spark my creativity. I have been looking at tanka, blues poems, epistles, and prose poems; next I may try found poetry. I’m hoping that focusing on different types will help me complete some work. I may just have to pause in trying to create new poetry and focus on some other type of writing until the words come back.
Please share any suggestions or recommendations that you think might help.
It’s Sunday and I am feeling spiritual so I thought that I’d share one of poet John Donne’s Holy Sonnets. As a poet, I have a special affinity(and disdain) for sonnets. The disdain is probably because I associate them with The Bard but I respect them because I have difficulty composing my own. Regardless of my feelings, I love the beauty of the form and was delighted to share one with you this weekend. This sonnet was one of the first of Donne’s Holy Sonnets to catch my attention. In my defense, I was watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II yesterday and got caught up in Harry bravely speaking to his parents, Sirius and Remus. I think that’s why this one captivated me.
As always, enjoy!
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
Since its inception this blog has been my safe haven, a place to share my writing and misgivings and the joys and pains of everyday life. For the past eight years it’s been something that I could turn to as a way to ensure that I was creating and then I always had things to share because of my never-ending commitment to education. Since I am currently on a pause from classes, I have been struggling with what to write especially as I turn my vision more towards fiction. In many ways, this blog has helped me develop my voice in ways that degrees and multiple creative writing classes couldn’t. If you are a long-time follower of the blog, then you’ve read some of the fiction that I’ve shared here. I currently have one completed piece of fiction and two more that need editing and revision. I have a bunch of other stories that are in various stages of development. And I have this poetry manuscript that I am working to put together before the end of the summer so that I can pass it along to a few trusted readers to ensure that it is cohesive.
I like to think that over time, I have improved, not just in what I share but the quality of material as well. As this blog took on the feel of a portfolio of poems from other poets that I respect I began to feel more confidence as a blogger but also as a curator of works. So hopefully, that experience will help me as I try to collate my own collection.
I know this reads as some sort of goodbye, but it isn’t. It’s merely a thank you for taking the time to read whatever I share. I am not going to be stepping away from the blog, but I am going to take some steps this summer to get back to batch blogging in order to ensure that I’m sharing great and relevant material (including poems, fiction and rants). You are going to see a bunch of different types a post at least once a week, but I will still be sharing all the normal writing things.