dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Archive for March, 2015

ORANGE Playlist

I don’t want to get too far along on ORANGE, I only have 5 poems completed for it. I honestly don’t know where I’m going with it. I have connected the titles to ideas and topics: fear, death, apostacy, community, the resurrection, and more. Culturally, orange is associated with autumn, harvest, fruitfulness. Orange is warm and happy. As a secondary color it’s transitional. Orange is a sensational color–slightly more intense than yellow, yet less aggressive than red–that stimulates activity and appetite, and encourages socialization. Orange elicits a stronger “love it” or “hate it” response than other colors.1

The Lord once told me concerning my poetry to make the connections and He would give the meaning. That isn’t to say that I don’t have an intended meaning to what I write. I’ve never quite understood writers that just write words on a page, only to say that they didn’t have meaning, expressed or implied; that the reader gives the interpretation. There had to be something on their mind or in their heart to put the words to page. With my poems I’m trying to make a connection, to have meaning; but God will give my poetry true meaning if my mind is stayed on Him (no matter how imperfect I may be–and I am extremely imperfect), and if I write to please HIm and to encourage, uplift, and enlighten others.

With that in mind, here is the current proposed playlist for ORANGE:

Orange
Jack O’Lantern
Terra Cotta Soldiers
The Scent of Autumn
Orange Crush
Lava Lamps
Orangemen
The Golden Gate Bridge
Black Box
Ghazal: La Naranja de Dios
Thursday in Thailand
Bell Edison Telephone Building, circa WWI
The Life of Oompa Loompas
Coals on the Altar
The Drink of Astronauts
Operation Ranchhand
Flight of Monarchs
Amber Alert
Orange Remix

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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More RED Between the Lines

“Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. The as yet started (as in actual lines of poetry) sonnet, referred to henceforth as “The Sonnet”. I told you I would let you into the process of this poem, so here’s more process.

The following are my notes in one file concerning “The Sonnet”. (In front of me are two small legal pads with some notes, there’s the Inkpad file with the outline, and I know I have a few sheets of paper scattered around here somewhere with more scribblings for “The Sonnet”.) These notes are ‘as is’:

Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ: A Communion

a.    Delights of human love/celebration of love
b.    Lost his head in love
a.     “sick of love”/”a most vehement flame”
b

b.    Flower-crowned skull
c.    Plague/epilepsy
b
c

c.    Loved not their lives to the beheading death
d.    Coming with fire
c
d.

e.    Bread and wine (1 Cor 10:17; )
e.    Consummate/Holy of Holies

The two small legal pads contain notes from scripture concerning Solomon and the coming of Christ, as well as some short historical notes on Valentine (I provided links in my post “RED, shall I compare thee…?“). There are also lists of rhyming words: marry, tarry, bury; married, parried, serried; fire, pyre, desire; faint, saint, restraint; plague, vague, egg; behead, dead, bread. The lists are much longer; these are some of the highlighted, more likely to be used from those lists.

So now I have to find the right rhymes to fit the thought of each stanza and fit those thoughts into iambic pentameter without sounding stilted or forced, natural. NO PROBLEM.

But pulling out the notes, looking at them again (and again…and again), explaining out loud on (I was going to type ‘on paper’) screen what I need to accomplish is one step closer to the completed poem.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Colorless

At the moment I do not know what to write. Continue RED. Another ORANGE. Not ready for YELLOW. As it is, I’m almost to the end of RED, but I still have two poems to complete (the sonnet and the finale/summary). I actually haven’t written much of any poetry since I started this blog about writing poetry. On the one hand that’s okay. I’ve written poetry for years and now is the time to get it out there for others to read and hopefully enjoy. But now I have a new pressure. I’ve started something.

I’ve started something that I’ve shown to other people. The whole world. Now I have to complete it. And there’s still GREEN, & BLUE, & INDIGO, & VIOLET, not to mention perhaps BLACK & WHITE and maybe even non-visilble light. The task seems daunting. And unattainable. And a lot of work. Yes, work. In short chunks of time to write. In between the day job, the family, church and life.

Let’s get some kind of take-away from this. Perhaps it’s these colorless moments that make the colors more vibrant, more alive, more desirable. Like white space on a page. Like the margins around a Polaroid snapshot. They’re anticipation, like an empty canvas before the first brushstroke. Like a blank screen before the first keystroke.

Or maybe I just need to shut up, sit down, and write.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Chants of Being RED

When I started this project, I wanted to incorporate different forms; some that I’m familiar with, others I’ve never tried. Of course I use a lot of free verse, there are the list poems that I enjoy writing, the ghazal and the unfinished sonnet. What else should I use in this collection of red?

Thinking about the line “feast of martyrs” in “Red“, which apparently in Catholic tradition is symbolized by the color red, my mind went to Gregorian chants. That would be cool. But alas, in my research I found that Gregorian chant is not really a poetic form. You can chant just about anything: the Psalms, the book of Numbers, an owners manual for a Volkswagen, a grocery list. Not what I’m looking for. Further study of chants led me to African chants and those being brought to the Americas through the slave trade. These chants are a call and response. This may work.

Occasionally, I’ll throw some Spanish or Latin or some other language into a poem. I don’t speak them, I just like the sounds and sometimes it’s needed. (I have a small collection of language dictionaries of languages I’ll probably never speak.) Living in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, I’m aware of the rich history and cultures of the area, including Gullah. Gullah are directly related to the Africans brought to the South as slaves for the rice plantations. The language is a creole and is in use today.

I wrote the poem first in English with a short Latin refrain. I then translated it into Gullah using De Nyew Testament from the American Bible Society. The refrain is Yiddish. I don’t know if it’s an accurate translation, perhaps it may need polishing. Anyone who knows Gullah, any input welcome.

First the English version:

Feast of Martyrs: Plain Chant

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who shall feed on the feast sublime?
Those who have eaten the bread and wine.
Those who have lived on bread and wine.

Who receives strong meat of the word?
Those who have learned what us evil and good.
Those who can discern the evil and the good.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is worthy to drink of His cup?
Those who are humble and do not lift themselves up.
Any who serves and who does not lift himself up.

Who will not taste death? Who shall partake of the kingdom reign?
Those that take up the cross and show not shame.
Those that deny themselves and lose their life for His name.

dies mortis
dies natalis

Who is a sweet smell in the nostril of God?
Those who sacrifice for others, those who show love.
Those who give themselves for others, sacrificial love.

Who is it that pleases God?
All that believe and know His reward.
They that believe Him and know He rewards.

dies mortis
dies natalis

And now the Gullah version, the title is Haitian Creole (thank you Google Translate):

Fet nan Mati: Plen Chante

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be et de feas ob heaben?
Dey dat be etin de bread and de wine.
Dey dat libe off ob bread and wine.

Who dat git de solid food?
Dem wa laan wa ebil an wa good.
Dem wa know de diffunce twixt de ebil an de good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat fit for ta drink ob E cup?
Dem wat take low. Dem wa ain’t pit demsef op.
Dem wa saabe and ain’t pit demsef op.

Who dat be ain gwine dead? Who gwine nyam een God nation?
E dat tote da cross. E ain for shame.
E dat dohn do jes wa e wahn. E dat giib e life fa God name.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Who dat be dat smell sweet ta da nose ob God?
Dem dat sacrifice fa odas, dat gii lob.
Dey dat gii ob desef fa odas, all de time lob.

Who dat be dat be pleasing God?
All dem dat belieb. Dem dat know what E got.
Dem dat belieb Um. Dem know Um gibe tings dat be good.

maveth yom
yalad yom

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE You Glad I Didn’t Say RED

Since the colors of the spectrum have no distinct delineation (at least to the naked human eye), I thought I’d throw in a poem from the next series, ORANGE, to allow the thoughts to bleed into each other.

It’s a list poem. I plan to start each series this way. I think it’s a good way to get focused in on the specific color. What I’ve been doing is jotting down things of the color, varying shades of the color, things that elicit the color; looking for the common and the unusual, the obvious and the odd. I then select the items that strike me, that stand out, that I see some possibility of spiritual and/or poetic connection, orthodox or obscure.

The final stanza is put together from interesting facts about the color or related to cultural or thematic aspects of the color; and those may lead to an overall theme.

At least that’s how I’ve done it so far.

Orange

autumn leaves and pumpkins
yams
egg yolks
the flesh of cantaloupe and mangoes
cumquats
carotene,
     converts to vitamin A in the liver
Cheetohs®
Tang®
marmalade
mandarins
Viceroy and Monarch butterflies
Baltimore oriole
Honduran milk snake
Okeetee corn snake
Panthera tigris tigris
terra cotta soldiers
construction signs
safety cones
the Golden Gate Bridge,
     it blends well with its natural setting
children’s aspirin
Amber alert
penal jumpsuits
flight data and cockpit recorders
Oompa Loompas
Irish Protestants
US Army Signal Corps
Thursday in Thailand
herbicides in Vietnam
lava
rust

The CMYK composition of a version of orange:
     0% cyan, 69% magenta, 100% yellow, 6% black.
The composition of pumpkin pie filling, from scratch:
     1 c. cooked pumpkin, ½ c. sugar, 1 t. cinnamon, ¼ t. ginger, ¼ t. nutmeg, ¼ t. cloves,
     1 t. vanilla, 1 c. milk, 2 egg yolks, beat until stiff 2 egg whites.
The composition of Orange, VA in 2011:
     70.7% white, 22.8% black, 3.5% Hispanic, 2.3% mixed, 0.3% American Indian,
     0.3% Asian, 0.04% Hawaiian, 0.02% other, 0.04% unknown;
     that’s a total of 2 Hawaiians.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

At the Center of RED 3

There’s an old seafaring saying,

“Red sky at night,
sailor’s delight;
red sky in morning,
sailor’s take warning.”

Crimson hues in the evening and there will be smooth sailing the next day. Red shades at dawn meant a storm may be brewing.

This poem takes a different look at the resurrection. How does it impact those who don’t believe. Or shall I say those who will not believe. The Pharisees (the religious community) of Jesus’ day had all the information. They knew the scriptures (so they thought), they were intimately aware of Jesus’ teaching (they knew exactly who he claimed to be), and they had the first hand facts of his resurrection. And yet, they tried to stop it, to cover it up, to pretend it wasn’t real. So, how do you think God will deal with those who intentionally will not believe…

Red Sky in Morning

You remembered better than His own disciples
His promise to rise,
to return.
Command to secure the tomb against theft–
     as if this band of scattered and frightened
     fishermen, tax collectors, and women
     would dare to move against Rome,
     against the established church,
     against their own doubts,
     to steal a bloody corpse
     and perpetuate a lie–
aids authentication.
For your troops had first-hand facts;
they were there when the ground shook
and the stone rolled away
to a dawning revelation.
You paid them off with leftover silver
and promised protection—
from what?
A governor whose days were numbered?
From you who really had more to gain
from the fulfillment of prophecy?
From eleven men who eventually get it?
It’s incredible that the first to believe—
not believe, know—
the truth of resurrection reject it out right.
Your problem did not go away.
Slaying the Lamb did not stop
the awakening of the Lion.

Take warning.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

At the Center of RED 2

And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant,
and to the blood of sprinkling,
that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
Hebrews 12:24 KJV

I believe sometimes the poem just needs to speak for itself.

Blood Shed

My Father collected all of the legitimate
splinters of wood from the cross,
each individual artifact stained
with the authentic blood of Christ.

And my Father took those splinters
and built a shed in the backyard;
a place for me to run for cover and hide
from the seasonal torrential storms.

And the pounding waters caused the blood
from my Father’s splinters to drip on me, drop on me,
covering me like a fresh coat of paint,
soaking me to the flesh, filling my pores

until they could be filled no further;
until the blood-rain flooded my veins
and deluged the pumping muscle
at the center of my being.

And when the clouds stopped
dispensing and dispersed,
I stepped from the shelter of the shed
gleaming in the warmth of the Sun.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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