Poetry, memed

Lately I have been experimenting with using copyright free images as a backdrop for short poems or poetic fragments. This is perhaps not very sophisticated in the cultural sense, and likely not in the pop-cultural sense either since my productions have been quick and low-fi, but it creates visual interest for social media purposes, and makes my poems shareable. Keep in mind that all are copywritten. Here are my latest examples.

Warlike

Napoleon after his abdication in Fontainebleau, 4 April 1814, by Paul Delaroche.

Forty miles gone in Napoleon shoes,
another day’s dawn with the Julian blues.
Crossing white rivers, crossing past streams;
crossing o’er bridges burnt black at the seams.
Sitting in your captain’s tent jotting down plans;
counting birds from the bush into your hand.
Words lash and they flash: cold Damascus steel,
honed by grit of the past on the sharp’ner’s wheel.
Keen is the thirst that’s got blood on the lip,
and takes vein to the tongue with a lap and a sip.
It took a hard minute of thinking to find
        that you’ve got a warlike mind.
        I’ve read your book, 
       I’ve studied your sign, 
        put down your axe, 
       and I think you will find,
        you’ve got a warlike mind, babe,
        you’ve got a warlike mind.

 
Out from the Battle, by Wallace Morgan.

At the black water edge of Pacific’s shore,
I’m swept up, knocked down, blacked out on the floor,
your sharp sudden surge, eliding defences,
crossing the wire, overrunning the trenches.
Mocked by the king, and the lords, and the prince,
awed over by scenes of stark violence.
You came on by night, wrapped deep in the fog,
as I toiled in the swamps and slogged through the bogs,
pinned down by moonlight and blitzkrieg advances,
I threw all my dice and drew all my chances.
Ares in a summer dress drinking cold wine,
        done up in red boots,
       crossing the line.
        To me it’s just a vicious mess, 
       I guess it happens sometimes,
        that you’ve got a warlike mind, babe,
        you belong to a warlike tribe.

 
Chalice of Saint John the Evangelist by Hans Memling.

Woke up exhausted on the wrong edge of your bed,
with unpleasant dreams falling outta my head.
Medusa in blue with a cup full of potions,
dripping in poisons with love’s easy notions,
asking ten times if I really still care,
while freezing my blood with a basilisk stare.
Looks locked with my eyes, under interrogation,
keeping full score of each new allegation.
You call out for peace in this desert landscape
but ensorcell my soul to prevent my escape.
Look, I’ll call you sometime, we can have an armistice;
you just laughed in my face and ate all my breakfast.
I can’t keep this up, I need to stop and unwind,
        and take a small break from this trouble unkind.
        You can call it victory
       and I’ll call it fate,
        while we go for a stroll
       in some forest upstate.
        We can soak in the quiet
       if you’re so inclined,
        and make a retreat from this warlike mind,
        and bury the hatchet on the warlike mind.

 
Battle of the Golden Spurs,1302.

I surrender the field to your bright shining charger,
and watch from the ramparts as you pillage and plunder.
Head bowed, I march to the grim execution,
paying due homage to your proud institution,
swearing off conflict and black enmity,
resigned to the guilt and the indemnity.
In solemn white chapel with contrite ablution,
I promise on saints to full true restitution,
and balance the scales with each leaden ounce,
and sharpen my dagger, made ready to pounce;
now the troopers have laid down their arms,
and returned to their fields, and their plows, and their farms,
and taken a shine, to the peaceable clime,
      as I brood with a warlike mind.
      With eagles above, my mission aligned,
      my strength ascending, your weakness divined,
      I was born for a warlike time, 
      and I’m in love with your warlike mind, babe,
      we two are a warlike kind.

 
Sir Galahad – the Quest of the Holy Grail
by Arthur Hughes. 1870.

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We sailed on black tarmac, rudderless, root-locked…

After posting and publishing this poem yesterday, I realized it was still falling short. I had high expectations, but I think that was mostly based on the fact that I had hammered some of my ideas into the difficult sonnet form and knew more or less what I was talking about and feeling and sensing in the verses. Unfortunately, I don’t think I was able to convey those thoughts, merely to relive and recreate them for my own amusement. Ultimately, I do think poetry should be communication driven. I still don’t have a problem with making the reader work, that is part of the fun, unlocking the secrets, but I do not wish to revel in obscurity either. So hopefully, this new version, with unnecessary fluff cut out and sinews tightened will be more readable and more to the point of my mission.

We sailed on black tarmac, rudderless, root-locked,
adrift in white Ford, skimming the humid gauze
of Des Moines’ dark. By dash-light glamour you mocked
my pulse, quicked by your sweaty petting palms.

A rhinestone shroud of halogen soaked hues
absorbed your lolling laughter, low and louche.
Still unloosed, the lash that binds honey to the bruise
that purples my dreaming eye with spreading flush.

Buzzing in the noon, knee-deep in summer’s corn,
laid out on the hood, like serpents on a stone,
green and white and tan and taut of form —
and molten as the flames that feed the unbound heart.

The highway miles unroll; journeys never cease;
time ‘s the turner’s wheel, and memory the grease.

=======================================

We sailed on black tarmac, rudderless, landlocked,
drifting, by turns, to split the humid gauze,
as under the rayed and haloed light you mocked
my rising in your sweating, petting palms.

Iowa noon, buried knee deep in the corn.
Tan, green, and white. And lithe as serpents wound —
splayed out and twinned on brazen steel shelled form,
molten as the flame that feeds the unbound heart.

A rhinestone veil of halogen soaked hues,
be-shrouded your lilting laughter, low and lush.
Yet, unsundered from the honey is the bruise
that stains my inner sight with spreading flush.

The highway miles unroll; journeys never cease;
time’s the spinning wheel, and memory the grease.

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We sailed on black tarmac, rudderless, landlocked…

We sailed on black tarmac, rudderless, landlocked,
drifting, by turns, to split the humid gauze,
as under the rayed and haloed light you mocked
my rising in your sweating, petting palms.

Iowa noon, buried knee deep in the corn.
Tan, green, and white. And lithe as serpents wound —
splayed out and twinned on brazen steel shelled form,
molten as the flame that feeds the unbound heart.

A rhinestone veil of halogen soaked hues,
be-shrouded your lilting laughter, low and lush.
Yet, unsundered from the honey is the bruise
that stains my inner sight with spreading flush.

The highway miles unroll; journeys never cease;
time’s the spinning wheel, and memory the grease.