Sunday, April 10, 2016

Poetry Today: Trends & Traditions
April 2016
Collaboration Poems


Compiled and Formatted by Anthony Servante



Introduction

In this month's poetry column, we look to the works by two poets who together created a poem. We call these poems, Collaboration Poetry. The idea came to me from a wonderful source of inspiration: Kim Acrylic, and so I dedicate this column to her. 

It is, therefore, fitting that we open the column with the first collaboration poem by Kim Acrylic and Julea Callinicos, followed by Howard Carlyle and Lemmy Rushmore, Rick Mohl Sr. and Rosefyre Flannery Wicks, and Michael H. Hanson and Martin Reaves

Also, to pad out the piece, I've included critiques of each poem this month. My analysis of the poetry will involve how well the collaborations work, you know, are they seamless? are they cohesive? and so forth. 

I have also included a bonus poem by yours truly just to make the column look bigger than it really is. Sit back now and enjoy our first and hopefully not our last Collaboration Poetry column. 




"Candied and Pickled"

I am down to malignant marrow as chem-trial tears peal my baby skin 
away 
I lean back and loosen the hinges of my lacrimal ducts, 
spilling tea-rose-aborted petals - - these acid tears torn, 
from an English garden womb, pull my face away 
with the gravity of Alice falling, dropping like false fairy-dusted eyelashes 
into the chiseled crystal bowl, Tiffany and hymen-pink 
I'm not your debutante queen, so let your teen dreams of that keep on 
drowning 
In the same cheap champagne and cherry Kool Aid dreams that created
us 
It all started with reverse tears, our DNA, the mating upside down and 
rolling back into those eyes … 
Those Torrid sized trick or treat eyes, milky with nude phantoms that 
now become ill with ease. 
Phallic shaped universe, rapes from you all pastel, organic-tainted 
solace. 
Ripped and torn butterflies, dance right side up as bubblegum kisses 
bloom in their infancy. 
Candied and pickled will be the flavor of all your wishes that fell asleep 
to dream upon dead stars. 
Wide open for the Valium blessed speculum of vast, unnerving 
intoxications, I am stripped!


The Critique

In Candied and Pickled, Kim Acylic and Julia Callinicos collaborate to create a poem of contrasts, uniting opposites to meld them into unity. The title itself presents the sweet and the bitter; as in great cooking, the acidy offsets the sugary to create a third flavor that is neither of its ingredients. In true collaboration, the critic should not be able to discern who represented the sweet and who the sour, and here I can but see the merger into the subjective aesthetic: There is nudity, as we see with the "unskinned baby", the color of "hymen pink" suggesting nakedness, and the act of lovers "mating upside down", culminating into the final line, "I am stripped!". There, then, is the clothing that cover the nudity: the "hinges" binding "tear ducts" with "rose petals" (tears), "the false fairy-dusted eyelashes", masking "trick or treat eyes", and "pastel, organic-tainted solace" disguising the "milk with nude phantoms", a unification now of nudity and dressing, a metaphoric rendering of two unrelated subjects into a coherent new form. The term "dead stars" perfectly sums up the play with light and darkness, for a star is light, but a dead star is dark; we can have both with the phrase and it would not have been a bad idea to title the poem so: Dead Stars. 

However, it works as it stands. Kim and Julia have created a lovely poem that is dark yet hopeful. Even as they play off each other's words, I can see their spirits working in harmony.





Drip After Drip
by Howard Carlyle and Lemmy Rushmore

There’s a drip, there’s a drop
There’s a ping in the sink
It’s dripped and it’s dropped
Till it’s drove me to drink

I had one, I had two
I had three and then four
But the damn thing still dripped
So I drank down some more

It has dripped as I drank
And as I drank it’s dripped
Until I’ve seen the last
Of my sanity stripped

I’ve heard this drip repeat
Till I’m mentally weak
And if soon it don’t halt
It shall cause me to freak

Should the landlord be found
Should I hack him to bits
For this damn sink that drips
That’s now giving me fits

Should I go to the place
Where the damn thing was made
Take a knife with me there
See the workers filleted

But the landlord comes first
And my wrath he shall feel
And the wounds I inflict
He won’t live to see heal

 I'll make sure that it looks
Like a bloody mishap
Should have heeded my pleas
 And fixed this dripping tap

Could have fixed it I bet
Could have fixed it with ease
But seems he left it here
Just to torture and tease

 It just echoes around
 As it pounds at my brain
Never thought that a drip
Could drive me so insane

Think I need to go out
Clear my head in the air
Get some space from that drip
That’s been constantly there

I go out, I come back
But it drips just the same
And so I drink some more
Thinking who I should blame

I’m past stark raving mad
And I’m drunker than hell
Yet it drips and it drops
And it’s pinging as well

Should I run down the street
To that old water plant
And go off on them all
In a murderous rant

Does the neighbor’s sink drip
Have they caused mine to drop
Can’t they come the fuck here
And make this dripping stop

Could the plumber be blamed
Did he bring this to be
Did he bring on this curse
That’s been picking at me

I have called and I’ve called
Yet he don’t come to see
Is it his fault my sink
Drips so torturously

Should I go to his house
And go off on his door
Kick it right the hell down
Leave him dead on the floor

It just drips and it drops
Till it’s slaying my will
To make this dripping stop
Who the hell must I kill

Could have gave it a go
Tried to fix it myself
Might be safer that way
Save the robbing of health

But it’s been long enough
I should force them to pay
It was them after all
That brought mental decay

It was them and that drip
That would cause me to crack
And now broken I am
And there’s no going back

I’ve thrown hands to my ears
I’ve grabbed drink after drink
But it seems from those drips
That I’m going to sink

Thought I’d drink till I’d faint
But I’m still crawling ‘round
And I’m plagued it would seem
By that god awful sound

It’s annoying at best
As it pounds and it pounds
Till I just have this urge
To start making my rounds

Maybe visit each one
Maybe force them to see
What this faucet that leaks
Has been doing to me

I am drunk, driven mad
Long lost losing my grip
Yet this sink keeps it up
With its drip after drip

It has driven me nuts
The stress shows on my face
Time to pack up and quit
Say to hell with this place

I just can’t stand this drip
Nor the pain that it brings
Seems this sink hates my guts
So out to me it sings

When the next tenant comes
Hope they speak up and tell
Of the drip after drip
That shall put them through hell…


Copyright © 2016 Lemmy Rushmore All rights reserved

Copyright © 2016 Howard Carlyle All rights reserved


The Critique

In Drip After Drip, Lemmy Rushmore and Howard Caryle collaborate to create a form that is both playful and damning; this form is known as "diddling", and as those who have studied the form know, Edgar Allan Poe was the leading writer of his time who used the form to betwixt and befuddle his readers. So, too, do Lemmy and Howard diddle their readers with this collaboration. Primarily, they play with the usage of language. Poe, in his poem The Bells, also incorporated assonance, consonance, and repetition not only to mount suspense but also to mess with the head of his reader, to lead him into the labyrinth of the madness the narrator is slipping into. The word "drip" resounds with the suggestion of a dripping "tap". The penultimate stanza echoes the internal short vowels in the first stanza (and throughout): The short "i" (pronounced ih as in the i in "it") is used nine times in the first alone and eight times in the next to last stanza. Imagine how many times the poor reader has been treated to the sound of "ih" from beginning to end! And I could go on and on about the other devices that mess with the reader's inner ear, but I won't spoil the fun for you. Let's just leave it that Edgar Allan Poe would be proud that diddling is still alive and well in 2016, and in the hands of two capable poets who share a common bond--discombobulating the reader's head.  



Bedroom6 by Steinsdotter




From Darkness To Light

Suppressive darkness presses ever near,
A river of blood so frightening clear.
A pinch, a twist and hallowed screams,
Provokes magic in our deepest dreams.

In the confines we flail and we scream,
We run, we cry, we see our blood stream.
We are so lost and life is the dark ruse,
What can the soul seekers want to abuse?

We see through a weeping glass clearly,
And pain rides another long day wearily.
Can a light somehow overcome all this?
Or here waste we lay in this dark abyss?

Into the darkness of the abyss I gazed,
I drop onto knees with my hands raised.
The struggle is real and hope is denied,
Still my screams echo from the other side.

But in the distance there's a light that I see,
A doorway whispers and it beckons to me.
I run, I cry, I see a river of tears run deep,
Drowning in the depths of a dream I keep.

I awake with a shudder, drenched in sweat,
Shake off the visage of a nightmare threat.
I embrace the light with a loathing of relief,
For nightmares in the dark steal like a thief.

Rosefyre Flannery Wicks and Ricky L Mohl Sr.
April 3, 2016




The Critique

In From Darkness to Light, Rosefyre Flannery Wicks and Ricky L. Mohl Sr. collaborate to achieve a waking dream, that is, the elements of dream with the elements of wakefulness. They employ poetic devices ranging from personification to figurative voice. "Darkness" acts like a person; he "presses" and "provokes". A "doorway whispers" and "beckons". Nightmares "steal like a thief". In contrast, the narrator reacts to the activity of the animated and surreal elements ("pain rides"); "I run, I cry, I see...in the depths of a dream". The narrator has become part of the dream, even in waking. The poem melds the elements as the narrator embraces "the light" after peering into the abyss of night. This is a fine study in similes wrapped in a rhyme scheme that does not detract from its darker elements. 

Rosefyre and Rick work well together here. The poem is seamless as both poets know how to play off their collaborator to great aesthetic effect. 






ON BLACK AND BLUE

ON BLACK AND BLUE THE GREAT BIRD RISES,
FLEET OF WING AND DEADLY SURPRISES.
A SHADOW SOARING UPON THE GROUND,
FREE OF RESTRICTION AND SO UNBOUND.

OVER HILLS SO HIGH AND VALLEYS LOW,
FAITH IN THE WINDS ON WHICH TO FLOW.
EXTENDS THOSE WINGS FROM TIP TO TIP.
CATCHES A BREEZE LIKE A SAILING SHIP

GLIDING THE SKIES SO BRIGHT AND BLUE,
SUN STRAIGHT ABOVE, THE MOON IS NEW.
CATCHES THE HORIZON ON A SUMMER’S DAY,
WAITING FOR AUTUMN TO SHOW THE WAY.

THE SUN REACHES OUT TO KISS THE EARTH,
EVENING WILL FALL, THE STARS GIVE BIRTH.
INTO THE NIGHT AND THE GREAT UNKNOWN,
HEARD THE CALL OF THE MOUNTAIN STONE.

ON BLACK AND BLUE THE GREAT BIRD RISES,
FLEET OF WING AND LORD OF DISGUISES.
A SHADOW UNSEEN, IT CANNOT BE FOUND,
FREE OF RESTRICTION TO TAKE YOU DOWN.

RICKY L. MOHL SR. and ROSEFYRE FLANNERY
APRIL 29, 2015


The Critique

In On Black and Blue, our collaborators surmount an impressionist rendering of night and day, the seasons of the year, earth and sky, without relying on metaphor or simile as the previous poem did. Here they follow a "great bird" in the air, but whose shadow is on the ground--great image. A painting image. Hilltops match valleys, the sun and the moon occupy one stanza with clever balance. Then we understand why the poem is titled "On Black and Blue" (my italics): they represent the seen and unseen in unity, "A Shadow Unseen". It reminds me of "The Second Coming" by William Butler Yeats, where the falcon in the sky begins the poem and the waking leviathan ends the poem. Not as intense as Yeats, but in and of itself, On Black and Blue captures an image that represents more than we see. Rosefyre and Rick show that they can tackle a metaphoric poem as well as an impressionistic one. 






~ A Midnight Ride to the House of Broken Corridors ~

Charon stands at the helm, in fine foul garb
A gnarled fist to the wheel
I cannot see his face
I cannot feel
Another ride
Midnight Crossing
Gentle swells urge us on
Over Styx, foghorn moans
Bright Lights into Dark Wood
At Seaview terminus doomed to roam
Along tainted shores, and Broken Corridors.

Looking back twice to distant mists
From whence some memory persists
A flagging failing innocence
I leave behind to take this trip
On dark waters that don’t reflect
Or mirror my humanity
Or echo any harmony
‘Til harbor greets this simple ship
With shadowed arms
And pale damp kiss.

Ferried ashore
In canvas embrace
Shambling, manacled
Into familiar, rotted edifice
This I know, if nothing else
I’ve been here before
It desires my taste.

A chorus of harsh suffering
An excess of withering death
A testament to the white plague
Slaughterhouse of the mind’s soft flesh
Hallways dripping with ancient mold
Once stalked by gleeful coroners
Wet whispers paint windows and doors
My damned soul has been here before
Dragged through these broken corridors.

It waits outside my door
I’ve told this tale before
Of windows and faces and rusted braces
This is how it happens
This is why it happens
First the pain, then the rain
Of tenderness
First the blade, then the trade
Of flesh for blood.  Blood for desire
Each caress opposite payment for a moment’s distress
All leading back to the long, long flight
Past broken faces and lunatic light
Across enraged waters, down fractured corridors
Where it waits…behind Seaview’s doors
Savoring the taste
Of the mad dreams
Of children.

Innocent wraiths ask why they’re sick
And where have all their mothers gone
A rusty moon, a midnight rune
It comes for me like a sad song
And my weak soul is not immune
Lamenting sanity ‘til dawn.

When I awaken to
Sad reality
Adrift in shades of Normal
And I reach again
For Charon’s fare
That shining, apposite trade
Crimson glint, razor’ed blade
The only true way back
To those fouled shores
Those broken

Corridors.


The Critique

In A Midnight Ride to the House of Broken Corridors, Martin Reaves and Michael H. Hanson collaborate to create a Renaissance ode. As those who have studied the form, we know the "ode" was originally meant to be sung. But as the form evolved, the structure of the poem remained as the music took on new forms. The original form addressed an object or god in elevated language that was meant to bestow importance to the subject while impressing the reader with the manner of the approach. One can easily see how in song this might court the listener while praising the starry night or the cloudy sky back in the day of the Renaissance, but when the ode form reached the Romantic Era, poets like Keats and Shelley showed that music was no longer needed to make the ode a classic form. And Reaves and Hanson deliver us an ode that reflects both Renaissance and Romantic elements while keeping its roots in the 21st Century. 

The traditional elements that shine here are the use of mythical allusions. "Charon" both opens and closes the ode, framing the poem with classical structure. A "ferried" trip across the river Styx also reinforces the address to a god who would understand the importance of this journey (journeys were quite common to connect man and god--Jason and the Argonauts comes to mind). Another allusion to the "persistence of memory" echoes the Odyssey and the epic journey taken by Odysseus to return home or the tragic return of Agamemnon, just as Salvador Dali used it to twist time to show that beginning and end were interchangeable. As we know, the River Styx leads to Hades, so we must imagine in the middle stanzas that there are hellish elements at play here. 

In Dali-eque fashion, the poem leads us on a circular path: 

Shambling, manacled
Into familiar, rotted edifice
This I know, if nothing else
I’ve been here before

That deja vu element here captures the idea of place and of life and death: I have been in this place before and I know life is but the path to death. Both meanings are applicable.

Later, we read: 

A chorus of harsh suffering
An excess of withering death
A testament to the white plague
Slaughterhouse of the mind’s soft flesh

Here a "chorus" can be read two ways: one, as the voice of many in suffering; and two, as the chorus in a Greek tragedy, a group of actors who broke the fourth wall to address the audience as important events unfold. 

The occasional rhyme conjures the traditional form of the use as song. But when prose plays against this form, it becomes like watching the ball go to and fro in a game of tennis. It's a pleasant device for the ode, but more modern in its unpredictable style. An older ode would either completely rhyme or not. 

So, does the collaboration work with this style of ode? Had I not known this was a partnered effort, I could have easily placed this in the Romantic Age of poetry, more Keats than Shelley, but that was my field of expertise, so naturally I lean toward the likes of Coleridge, Blake, Wordsworth, and Byron. And for a first time collaboration by two writers such as Martin and Michael, that is not bad company with which to be compared. 



A Bonus Poem:





The Whistle
by Anthony Servante

When bad memories arise
from the caverns of whim
where they have been exiled,
she whistles a hymn

A happy song without sound
a blathering of blessings
to lift the spirit with mirth
albeit conjured by evil dressings

For she often recalls
the fall of the crimson spade
the shame of the flesh
and the glory of the blade

Perhaps a family gathering
to set her mind at ease
to imprison the escapees
from the mental disease

A dinner with kin and friends
a roasted turkey and sides
a pumpkin pie and cherry too
enough to quell the rising tides

And there must be merriment
parlor games and nursery rhyme
to cheer both young and old
to pinch the thoughts of crime

But there cannot be lies
untruths that shield the beast
beneath the dermal surface
of the familial feast

One stray word of malcontent
or a hint of subtle complaint
might set the rage aflame
and unlock the hound's restraint

And so begins the carving
of the plump and juicy roast
as servings pass from hand to hand
and glasses are raised in toast

To our hostess most kind and fair
may she find a mate in old age
before the last of her youth expires
and lives on an elderly wage

To gales of laughter they drink
and the children spit the thistle
and time itself slows to a crawl
as the knife awakes with a whistle.



**********************************************


And there you have it--our first but not our last Collaboration Poetry column. In the coming months I will work to pair up two writers, poets, musicians, lyricists, artists, and Arkham inmates for another round of poems by collaborative. Until then, look for other poetry columns to come. 

Thank you for visiting. 
AS









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