Tuesday, April 30, 2024

National Poetry Month wrap-up

Fairy tales were not my escape from reality as a child; rather, they were my reality -- for mine was a world in which good and evil were not abstract concepts, and like fairy-tale heroines, no magic would save me unless I had the wit and heart and courage to use it widely.
~Terri Windling

My theme for National Poetry Month was poems inspired by short stories, so each week I found a different short story and used it as a springboard. I found that, since human nature is timeless, the age of the story did not affect how relevant it was. Old stories can be viewed in fresh ways.

This could be a nice approach for teachers to support reading comprehension and critical thinking...let students pick a story (or folk tale or fable) and respond to it with a poem.

My collection:

*The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls by Marcel Aymé (Two poems)
*The Widow's Cruise by Frank Stockton (Mrs. Ducket's Adventure)
*The Changeling collected by Lady Wilde (Changeling)
*Federigo's Falcon by Giovanni Boccaccio (How to Woo a Woman)
* The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe (If I Could Write Like Poe)
* The Thousand and One Nights (Scheherazade)

This looks like a good story source : World Folklore

Monday, April 29, 2024

Haiden Henderson

I'd be lucky
To be the gum she scrapes off
The bottom of her Jimmy Choos
~Haiden Henderson

For Music Monday, Haiden Henderson with "Fresh Blood":

More Haiden:
hell of a good time

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Le Passe-Muraille

I tend to be attracted to characters who are up against a wall with very few alternatives. And the film then becomes an examination of how they cope with very few options. And that's, I guess, what interests me in terms of human behavior.
~William Friedkin

Happy Poetry Friday! Continuing my National Poetry Month project of using short stories as inspiration for poems...Today's story is The Man Who Could Walk Through Walls (Le Passe-Muraille) by Marcel Aymé (1943), translated by Karen Reshkin. I'm going to give you the shortest summary I can, haha!

In it, a 42-year-old Frenchman named Dutilleul discovers he can walk through walls. He goes to a doctor, who prescribes "two doses a year of tetravalent pirette powder containing a mixture of rice flour and centaur hormone." Dutilleul only takes one and then leaves the other in a drawer. When he becomes annoyed with his contemptuous boss, Dutilleul starts sticking his head through the wall into his boss's office to make him think he's crazy. After that success, Dutilleul robs banks, jewelery stores, wealthy homes, etc., leaving behind notes from "The Lone Wolf."

Although he becomes one of the richest men in Paris, Dutilleul still keeps working at his regular job and one day brags to his coworkers that HE is the Lone Wolf. They laugh and he winds up proving it by letting himself be caught. No prison walls can hold him, of course, so he drives the warden crazy. When he's had enough of prison life, Dutilleul escapes and changes his appearance, planning on leaving Paris.

He falls in love with a woman he sees on the street, which makes him want to stay. She is married to an evil man who watches her every move and locks her up at night. Dutilleul visits her one night, walking through the walls of her room, and they have an affair. He has a headache the next day and takes medicine, accidentally taking the anti-wall-walking pill. After he visits his paramour, he gets stuck in a wall outside her room. "He is there to this very day, imprisoned in the stone."

I wanted to write a poem where Dutilleul is able to use his power to help the locked-up lady, but I went another direction.

Walking through Walls

When I imagine
walking through a wall,
it's made of stone
not drywall or plaster,
nothing a fist could find
its way through.
Maybe molecules parted
for M. Dutilleul,
but I picture
moving into
that stone
feels like pushing
through a thick curtain
of slug—
gray-brown jelly
that squishes
and fights back a little—
and you, plunging forward
holding your breath
as tight
and still
as someone who doesn't
want to be
called on in class,
with your hands
in front like
antenna, shuffling
til you slip out
the other side
like a baby being born
your first breath,
to begin.


Addendum for my later visitors (4/28) I mentioned before that I wanted to write a poem about rescuing the lady but I was as stuck as Dutilleul. Here's the draft I wrote this morning:

It seems like, if you can walk through walls,
it would be easy to save a woman who's been imprisoned
by her jealous, violent, rich husband but then
when it comes down to unlocking the door
and letting her out, you find you don't have the key for
"I'll keep your kids," or "you'll be on the street,"
maybe you think you have the one for "I'll find you,"
but then you spot the row of locks that her parents added
during her childhood that all say "Submit"
and you're not sure how you're going to get her out
when all you can do is walk through walls.

What If You Could Walk Through Walls (a "What If" video)

There is no such thing as a Godforsaken town has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Ruth!

Osbourne's pictorial alphabet

To her royal highness Princess Alexandrina Victoria...This pictorial alphabet, combining the beauties of art with the first elements of instruction, is, by permission, respectfully dedicated; by her royal highness's humble servant Charles Osbourne, aged 16 at the time of making these series of designs.

For Art Thursday, images from Osbourne's pictorial alphabet (1835) by Charles Osbourne.

The letter F, "A Roman Soldier on the Battlements trying to corrupt the Garrison"

The letter G, "A Greek Galley, on the River Tiber, with Troops on board"

The letter J, "A Persian Magi, or Astrologer"

The letter N, "A Bearer of the Imperial Roman Eagle, wounded, leaning on his Spear"

The letter S, "An Emblematical Figure of Sin"

The letter Z, "The end of all things is Death"

Monday, April 22, 2024

All the ways

Let’s just write the songs honestly as we can, and trust that they’ll reach whoever they’re meant to reach.
~Laura Rogers

For Music Monday, here's a song I heard in a thrift store. "What is this?" I asked the person who was playing the music. "The Secret Sisters." Ah, wonderful!

"All the Ways" by The Secret Sisters feat. Ray LaMontagne:

(I am reminded of this poem. What are all the ways? Let me count...)

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Mrs. Ducket's Adventure

[Stockton's] most famous fable, "The Lady, or the Tiger?" (1882), is about a man sentenced to an unusual punishment for having a romance with a king's beloved daughter.

Hi folks! Happy Poetry Friday! I am continuing with my National Poetry Month project, writing poems inspired by short stories. I lucked out the first two weeks because it didn't take me long to find stories that I wanted to write about. This week, however, I read a bunch of stories that fell flat. Finally I happened upon The Widow's Cruise by Frank Stockton. Stockton wrote a juicy part for a woman, which I appreciated :)

In "The Widow's Cruise," four elderly sailors stop by the Widow Ducket's house for dinner and a rest stop on their way down the coast. After dinner, they take turns telling stories. The Widow Ducket has asked for true stories, but the sailors tell one fantastical tale after another. Once they are done, she asks if she can share a story of her own. Hers is the most outlandish of them all, causing the men many a yawp of surprise. ("Madam!" exclaimed Captain Bird, and the other elderly mariners took their pipes from their mouths.") The Widow Ducket may have been annoyed with the men for stretching the truth in her own house after she had fed them so well, but in the end, she felt like she evened the score.

My poem for "The Widow's Cruise" is a retelling of her tall tale, as it needs no embellishment from me.

Mrs. Ducket's Adventure

As Mrs. Ducket had oil and love for lit lamps and safe husbands,
when her sister-in-law had a dry lamp and a dark window,
Mrs. Ducket set off to cross the bay. She had no oars or sailing
knowledge, just a rudder and her own hands to spin it.

She was spinning her way along the water when a mighty storm
rose before her and behind her and crashed into itself atop of her,
so she poured a bit of oil on the water and calmed it like a mother hen
getting an angry chick to unruffle its feathers. Smooth the bay was then,
in a boat-shaped space.

Mrs. Ducket looked down, calculating that the oil could not flatten
a path across the bay and still light the dry lamp. Below her,
she spied a crack in the boat's bottom. The water underneath
-- while full of sharks -- was calm. Placid enough to walk across,
drawing air from her oil tin? She thought about it, until she
abandoned the plan for fear of running into vicious turtles.

Maybe electricity would do the trick. Mrs. Ducket rubbed the soles
of her shoes back and forth on a dusty seat until she fairly crackled
with electricity. Fully charged, she swam through the storm to shore,
buoyant with current. She might not have even needed oil to light
the lamp at journey's end with all the sparks she ferried.


My Juicy Little Universe has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Heidi!

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

2024 Progressive Poem

In nature we never see anything isolated, but everything in connection with something else which is before it, beside it, under it and over it.
~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hi y'all! The 2024 Progressive Poem is here for Day #18. I think this might be my 12th time contributing? Is that possible? Wow. Anyway, I think this might be the hardest. I was befuddled by what is happening. Are our kids alone, no parents? There are so many bad things that could happen to them. I didn't want to make it take a dark turn, so I had to rein in my imagination a lot. My addition is at the bottom, bolded.

cradled in stars, our planet sleeps,
clinging to tender dreams of peace
sister moon watches from afar,
singing lunar lullabies of hope.

almost dawn, I walk with others,
keeping close, my little brother.
hand in hand, we carry courage
escaping closer to the border

My feet are lightning;
My heart is thunder.
Our pace draws us closer
to a new land of wonder.

I bristle against rough brush—
poppies ahead brighten the browns.
Morning light won’t stay away—
hearts jump at every sound.

I hum my own little song
like ripples in a stream
Humming Mami’s lullaby
reminds me I have her letter

My fingers linger on well-worn creases,
shielding an address, a name, a promise–
Sister Moon will find always us
surrounding us with beams of kindness

But last night as we rested in the dusty field,
worries crept in about matters back home.
I huddled close to my brother. Tears revealed
the no-choice need to escape. I feel grown.

Leaving all I’ve ever known
the tender, heavy, harsh of home.
On to maybes, on to dreams,
on to whispers we hope could be.

But I don't want to whisper! I squeeze Manu's hand.
"¡Más cerca ahora!" Our feet pound the sand.
We race, we pant, we lean on each other
I open my canteen and drink gratefully

Catherine at Reading to the Core is next!


April 1 Patricia Franz at Reverie

April 3 Janice Scully at Salt City Verse

April 4 Leigh Anne Eck at A Day in the Life

April 5 Irene at Live Your Poem

April 6 Margaret at Reflections on the Teche

April 7 Marcie Atkins

April 10 Linda Baie at Teacher Dance

April 11 Buffy Silverman

April 12 Linda Mitchell at A Word Edgewise

April 13 Denise Krebs at Dare to Care

April 14 Carol Varsalona at Beyond Literacy Link

April 15 Rose Cappelli at Imagine the Possibilities

April 17 Heidi Mordhorst at my juicy little universe

April 18 Tabatha at Opposite of Indifference

April 19 Catherine Flynn at Reading to the Core

April 20 Tricia Stohr-Hunt at The Miss Rumphius Effect

April 21 Janet, hosted here at Reflections on the Teche

April 22 Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

April 23 Tanita Davis at (fiction, instead of lies)

April 24 Molly Hogan at Nix the Comfort Zone

April 25 Joanne Emery at Word Dancer

April 26 Karin Fisher-Golton at Still in Awe

April 27 Donna Smith at Mainely Write

April 28 Dave at Leap of Dave

April 29 Robyn Hood Black at Life on the Deckle Edge

April 30 Michelle Kogan at More Art for All

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Monteverdi Choir

There’s very little artifice in Monteverdi’s music. It’s his own blood directly on the page.
~Robert Hollingsworth

For Music Monday, the Monteverdi Choir with Claudio Monteverdi's Domine ne in furore tuo and Francis Poulenc's Figure humaine, FP 120 - 5. Riant du ciel et des planètes.

In 1943 [Poulenc] wrote a cantata for unaccompanied double choir intended for Belgium, Figure humaine, setting eight of Éluard's poems. The work, ending with "Liberté", could not be given in France while the Germans were in control; its first performance was broadcast from a BBC studio in London in March 1945, and it was not sung in Paris until 1947.

Thursday, April 11, 2024


The reason for abducting the human child varies as well: to reinforce the fairy stock, for love of their beauty, or to pay the Devil.
~Austin Harvey

Happy Poetry Friday! For National Poetry Month, I am writing poems inspired by short stories. To be honest, it's an even more compelling project than I anticipated! It's got its challenges, for sure, but the stories are so interesting and they send me in all kinds of directions.

Today's poem was inspired by Irish folktale "The Changeling," collected by Lady Wilde (Oscar Wilde's mother). In it, a woman sees two people (a man of undetermined age and an old woman) come into her cottage late at night. They warm themselves by the fire and then approach her baby in his cradle, whereupon she faints.

When she comes to, she sends her husband to deal with them. He chases them out, and then lights a candle. When they look at the baby's cradle, they see their baby has been swapped for an unattractive (but cheerful) baby. They are weeping and wailing about it when a young woman comes in and asks what the problem is.

The husband tells her the story and she looks at the baby and laughs, because she is a fairy and it is the child who was stolen from her that very evening. She says that she would rather have her own ugly baby than any mortal child, so she takes him and tells the couple how to get their child back.

They need to go to the old fort on the hill (during a full moon, naturally) and burn some sheafs of corn, threatening to burn down the fort. The fairies can't deal with fire and will give the baby back. The fairy advises that, for his safety, they tie a nail from a horseshoe around the baby's neck after they get him back.

The husband goes to the old fort and follows the fairy's directions, which work. The last advice the husband is given is to draw a circle of fire with a hot coal around the baby's cradle when he gets home. (Fairies really can't stand fire, but the first fairies who stole the baby did seem to warm themselves by it. Maybe they just can't cross it?)

Anyway, the husband goes home, the fairy's fort is still standing, and they live peacefully from then on. "The man would allow no hand to move a stone or harm a tree, and the fairies still dance there on the rath, when the moon is full, to the music of the fairy pipes, and no one hinders them."

My poem:


Fairies walk like the tinkle of wind chimes,
their wings guiding them through the world
like a hand on the back of a dancer,

so no human would expect a fairy's baby to be ugly,
not that the humans had given a moment's thought
to the fairy babies, far away under the hill,
when humans had their own concerns
and their own baby, so new and pink and tight and perfect,
sleeping quiet as a hiding hare,

silent, even when the strangers entered the cabin,
brazen as you please, and sat by the fire.
Once, twice, three times, the baby's desperate mother
tried to send them away, but magic weighed her down
like a blanket, left her flush with angry sleep.

By the time she had come to herself,
her husband was chasing the crone away
and some other baby had his hairy knuckles
wrapped around the top of the wooden crib.

When he gave them a startling grin and held his arms up,
they screamed and sobbed, only too relieved to give him
to his mother-fairy when she came knocking.

If the exchange had gone differently,
if fairy babies were more sleek than unsightly,
would they have cocked their heads
and marveled that their baby was more beautiful
than they remembered,
but pleased?


I wrote my poem thinking about how the fairy mother, who loved her child, would have appreciated them taking good care of her son while they had him but would they have if she hadn't shown up? (And the flipside of that: Would they have wanted to keep the fairy baby if it had been handsome?)

I read this sad article after writing my poem. Not sure how it would have affected me if I had read it beforehand.

Jone Rush MacCulloch has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Jone!


Valkyries, ride over the battlefield
I'm dying and glad to bleed
Because I know today I will take my place with the heroes
In Valhalla of old
~Richard Wagner

Happy Art Thursday! Have you watched the Marvel movies with valkyries in them? I did, but I can't remember what they said about what valkyries are/do. From what I've just read, in Norse mythology valkyries escort the battle-dead to Valhalla (Odin's realm) or Fólkvangr (Freyja's realm). The goddess Freyja seems like the original valkyrie, which means "one who chooses the slain." Some sites say that valkyries choose which slain soldiers to bring to Odin or Freyja and others say they choose who will die in a battle, which seems like a bigger deal to me. Valhalla is the realm that we hear about, so valkyries are often portrayed bringing fallen soldiers to Valhalla.

A valkyrie speaks with a raven (1862)
woodcut engraved by Joseph Swain from art by Frederick Sandys

Valkyries carrying the battle-dead to Valhöll
Johannes Gehrts (1855–1921)

The Rhinegold and the Valkryie
Arthur Rackham

Ride of the Valkyries:

Monday, April 8, 2024

A little spark

Take a little spark
From a battery
And put me back together
~Nothing but Thieves

For Music Monday, Hozier with "Eat Your Young" and Nothing but Thieves with "Broken Machine."

Hozier's song comes from an album he wrote during the pandemic when he was thinking about Dante's Inferno. Hozier:
[Dante's Inferno] is a poem about a person who's wandering through this sort of underworld space, and in each Circle [of Hell], they meet with a new person who shares their grievance, their pain, their experience. That was something I allowed myself to play with a little bit — that each song starts with my voice, but it allows into itself and the license to just let the song grow to where it needs to be.

Thursday, April 4, 2024

Federigo's Falcon

There is too little courtship in the world.
~Vernon Lee

Happy National Poetry Month! I am delighted to be celebrating poetry with you. My project this year features poems inspired by short stories.

The inspiration for today's poem was "Federigo's Falcon" by Giovanni Boccaccio (circa 1353).

In it, a young man named Federigo falls deeply in love with a woman named Monna Giovanna. I can't tell if she was already married or if she married after Federigo tried to win her heart, but he doesn't get anywhere with her even though he tries everything and spends all his money doing it.

Federigo winds up leaving the city, nearly broke, and hanging out on his farm with his falcon. Eventually, Monna Giovanna comes with her son to live on a neighboring farm after her husband dies. Her son is interested in Federigo's falcon and, when he falls ill, asks his mom to see if Federigo will give him the falcon.

Monna Giovanna doesn't want to ask for the falcon but as she thinks it might help her son recover, she goes to visit Federigo. He doesn't know the reason she has come and is thrilled. With no other suitable food to give her, he arranges for his falcon to be cooked for her supper. She discovers after dinner that she isn't going to be able to bring his falcon to her son after all. Her son tragically passes away and Monna goes back to the city.

When her brothers start encouraging her to remarry, she tells them that the only person she would consider marrying is Federigo. She explains, "I would rather have a man who needs money than money that needs a man." What luck for Federigo! He "lived with her happily the rest of his days."

My "Federigo's Falcon" poem:

Federigo on how to woo a woman

If you encounter a woman without whom
the world is an endless eclipse,
offer her everything. If you have four flowers,
offer her five and coax one more to grow.
If you have a carriage, cover the seats
with the softest blankets, hitch it to your
calmest horses. If you have a castle,
circle the moat teaching the alligators
that she is sacrosanct or send them away.
What use is a castle if she cannot enter?
If you have anything, offer it:
your time, your patience, your riches,
your poverty, your surprise, your
last friend.


Addendum: I'd like to add "Federigo" to the title of my poem. "Federigo's advice about How to woo a woman"? "How to woo a woman according to Federigo"? Suggestions welcome.

Great, thank you, Irene! I changed it to your suggestion. xo

Poems from short stories:
* Hawk Roosting by Ted Hughes inspired by "The White Haired Girl" by Gorky
* Her Kind by Anne Sexton, maybe inspired by Hans Christian Anderson (need more info!)
* If I Could Write Like Poe inspired by "The Masque of the Red Death" by Edgar Allan Poe
* Scheherazade inspired by "The Thousand and One Nights" (various)
* The Man He Killed by Thomas Hardy inspired by "The Ambuscade" by Stephen Crane
* Ulysses by Alfred, Lord Tennyson inspired by Homer's The Odyssey


Live Your Poem has the Poetry Friday round-up. Thanks, Irene!

The Mold Gold Cape

With a name like The Hill of the Goblins, one might expect something exciting to be hidden within Bryn yr Ellyllon, near Flintshire, Wales. They’d be right.
When workmen absolutely broke into the ancient burial mound in 1833, they couldn’t believe what they’d found. It turned out the site was a literal treasure trove of ancient artifacts, the most impressive of which was a solid gold artifact known as the Mold Gold Cape.
~Robbie Mitchell

For Art Thursday, a prehistoric gold cape discovered in 1833 in a Mold, Wales burial mound. The cape is small enough that it could have been made for a woman or a teenage boy.

The Mold gold cape. Bronze Age, about 1900-1600 BC/ From Mold, Flintshire, North Wales
photo by David Monniaux

A song about an imagined wearer of the cape...Edie Brickell and Steve Martin:

Monday, April 1, 2024

The floodgates are down

“I’m sure we all know so many incredible bands locally, like artists or musicians or people who are doing incredible things, that don’t get recognised,” [Elizabeth] Stokes says. “And you’re like, ‘Well, they’re really, really good too. So I’m just lucky.’”
~reporter Brodie Lancaster quoting the lead singer of The Beths

For Music Monday, New Zealand band The Beths: