dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Archive for April, 2015

RED: Revelation

The final poem.

RED: Revelation

The Most Selfless
desires a help
meet for Him;

so from Spirit lips
a whispered
invitation.

The beautiful accuser,
cartoonishly
depicted in red,

hisses
false alarm
to defy.

Conflicted loyalty
rends the veil
of heaven.

The line is drawn
in the soil
of man.

Love and war
collide
at the cross,

where it is finished
before
it began.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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Preparing RED to be READ 2

With one poem left to be completed for RED (and I’m still playing with it), I’ve been working on getting the manuscript ready for upload to CreateSpace. Two things I’ve been doing: converting blog links to notes in the book and creating my own images to add color.

Converting the links within blog posts is a bit tedious. Fortunately, copying the text from WordPress to my Word document maintained the hyperlink. So merely a bit of copy/paste, addition of subscripts, and a lot of back and forth between pages.

Creating the drawings was a bit fun. I thought about adding photos of red objects within the text, but taking the time to find royalty free images and the possible cost: too much to invest. In actuality, I wasn’t going to use any images whatsoever–let the poems create the color. But in looking at the manuscript page to page, there was just too much white space. So I jumped into Microsoft Paint and drew some red line images. They’re a bit simple and crude, but I think they add just enough color to keep it interesting.

sunrise

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED Comment/Critique

I recently received a comment from asherblake, Lion’s Roar Sparow’s Twitter regarding InspiRED Again:

“Awesome. First let me say it mostly reads very smooth, and kept me interested. It was fairly formal and had some old fashioned notes like the first line of the third stanza and the first line of the couplet but it was still lively. I have three suggestions for you. The first line and 2/5 are not so iambic are they? My scansion’s not so good, and I know there is flexibility with iambs, but I thought you might want to start with the third line, revise a bit, but keep the rhyme scheme. (Though I love calling [Charleston] the Holy City and the presence of a park bench.) When you go into the second stanza I had a lot of trouble telling the connection to the first stanza, especially since they share a sentence. I think the speaker may be taking Valentine as an instructor–as to avoid sexual immorality. The lack of context, especially grammatical, leaves this buried. (The transition into the return of Christ also has a buried theme, which is not always bad, but you might consider making the connections between the reading of the Song, Valentine, and the return of Christ, more open.) Thirdly, do you want to say “spliced”? It has kind of a negative connotation? Well, I hope that’s not too much.”

I really appreciate constructive criticism. This shows me the reader cared enough about me and/or the work to comment, to help better the work. I get some of that within the writing group I belong to (shout out to the Christian Writers Network at Cathedral of Praise, North Charleston). I don’t think I can stress how important these people have been to me, not only as a writer, but as a follower of Christ. As a writer you will eventually have someone critique your work, even if you are totally isolated in your writing: a literary agent, an editor/publisher, the reading public. A good writing group gives you a safe and encouraging environment to grow as a writer. Our group has writers of various levels who work in different genres–poetry, inspirational, devotions, sci-fi and novels, we even have a cartoonist/satirist in the group. All these work together to help each other become better writers.

This relates to followers of Christ. Hebrews 10:25 tells us that we shouldn’t refrain from getting together with other believers. I don’t think this just relates to “church”. We need to get together frequently to encourage and uplift one another; to help each other in our walk with the Lord. Sometimes this may entail “constructive criticism”. If there is something in our life that needs to be corrected, wouldn’t you rather have someone who loves you and is concerned with your well-being point it out to you, than to have the world judge you (and you know they will). To have a group of people in various levels of their walk, with different points of view, can help you become a better Christian.

I had not intended to go in this direction with this post (and I seem to be using Hebrews quite frequently), but there it is. I did look at Asher Blake’s critiques. I tweeked a few things he pointed out, left some alone because I liked the way I had it (for now). But I appreciated the input and I hope I have a better poem for it. Here’s the updated version:

Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ

In the Holy City with faith’s fresh start,
on a park bench—alone; with blushing shame
I read Wisdom’s Song sung from sickened heart,
plagued with fever of most vehement flame.

Love’s perfect bliss banned by dark rule’s claim
that young soldiers be more stout if not wed;
yet embraced by stouter priest whose sole aim,
the union of man and wife, cost his head.

This flowered crown’s among many behead
by those lacking, who deem to quench Christ’s fire;
unending flame whose strength shall raise the dead
complete and whole, clothed in holy attire.

And I, one crumb this bread, one drop this wine,
shall ever consummate the feast divine.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

InspiRED Again

Inspiration struck again. This time from a different source and in a different way.

Kevin Rockwell, an old friend that I bunked with many years ago, showed up in town recently. We haven’t been in contact for 25 years or so, until recently on facebook. We got together for lunch this Saturday to catch up a bit. Kevin is an artist and has been doing pet portraits for individuals and pet organizations. We talked art and poetry longer than we planned. At one point, Kevin asked if I ever got writer’s block and how I dealt with it. I told him that I generally have to just sit down and write, write anything that comes to mind, regardless of whether I think it’s quality or not, to get past it.

When I got home I had some things to get done around the house. My wife was at work, so I might even have some time to write if all went well. And so it did. I thought I should take my own advice and try to throw together something on “The Sonnet”. Time to put in some perspiration.

And it paid off! I now have a completed draft.

Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ

In the Holy City with faith’s fresh start,
on a park bench—alone. With blushing shame
I read Wisdom’s Song sung from sickened heart
plagued with fever of most vehement flame:

banned by edict of darkened ruler’s claim
that young soldiers be more stout if not wed;
yet embraced by stouter priest whose sole aim,
the union of man and wife, cost his head.

This flowered crown’s among many behead
by those who deem to quench the fire of Christ,
unending flame whose strength shall raise the dead
all together whole, eternally spliced.

And I, one crumb this bread, one drop this wine,
shall ever consummate the feast divine.

This may get tweeked before final publication, but right now I’m fairly pleased with it. I constantly edit (perspire) as I write, which may or may not be the best way to get something on the page, but I can’t seem to help myself. The inspiration for this came from connecting (one of the themes of this poem is about connections). I don’t know how many times I’ve come back from a writer group session or a night of open mic poetry and want to sit down and write; write because I have thoughts and ideas to write about. Maybe not connected with the topics of discussion or the poems I heard read, but something creative gets joustled and nudged loose that needs expression.

Writing can be a lonely process, but human beings are not meant to be alone. I mentioned in a previous post that I like to reference bread and wine in some of my poems. The final couplet comes from 1 Corinthians 10:17. This is telling us that we are not alone in this. As many individuals connected together we make up that one bread, the body of Christ.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

ORANGE: The Discotheque

The globs of a lava lamp don’t really get anywhere, now do they.

Lava Lamps

The lava lamp continues
its up and down journey
as the disco ball fractures and scatters
the light about the room,
all the while the dancers dance their dances
with no need for contact,
no need to hold on to anyone else,
gyrating to the disturbance
of the regular flow of rhythm,
electronic synthesizing
of analog counterparts;
reverberating vocals reverberating
the inner core of the medulla oblongata,
erasing the white lines
from the mirror image of powder blues
and ruffled hues all paler than
last year’s model–
thin is in,
less is more or less the money shot,
and the hits keep getting hotter,
virgin vinyl melting under diamond needles:
disco didn’t die–it was just buried alive,
pushed to the underground of the heartland.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Still More RED Between the Lines

Continuing work on “The Sonnet” is a bit slow, but I have progressed more in the past week than when I first conceived to write this poem. I have a better sense of how to connect the subjects. That helps.

The obvious connections of love and marriage between King Solomon, the priest Valentine, and the return for the Saviour for His bride, the church, do not necessarily make it easy to pull them all together into one poem, one sonnet to be precise.

Occasionally I like to reference the bread and wine in my poems in some way that fits as a remembrence of what Christ did for us. I was thinking I would like to do that with “The Sonnet” as I don’t think that I have in any of the other RED poems. In one of my notes, I have I Corinthians 10:17 referenced for the last two lines. This refers to many believers making up the one bread, the body of Christ as it refers to the Church. But the many are individuals. I am one of those individuals.

Then I began to think about the first time I read the Song of Solomon. The US Navy had transferred me to Charleston, South Carolina. At the time, I was a new follower of Christ. I grew up in a small town in western Michigan with only one church in town. Charleston is often referred to as the Holy City because there is almost a church on every corner. I had no idea where to go.

So on my first Sunday in Charleston I went to The Battery, a park at the tip of the peninsula of Charleston, to sit and read my Bible. Sitting alone on a bench under the shade of the oaks, I opened to the Song of Solomon. I had never read it before, never actually heard any sermons on it. (I grew up in the one Baptist church in town; not that it was never referenced, I just don’t recall it.) And I know I blushed. I was a young sailor. I got the sexual references. And there by myself I blushed.

Thus I decided to start “The Sonnet” with me and try to conclude with the many as one.

Here’s the first stanza so far:

In the Holy City with faith’s fresh start,
on a park bench–alone, with blushing shame
I read Wisdom’s Song sung from sickened heart
plagued with fever of most vehement flame

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Smelling ORANGE

One of the first poems completed for ORANGE is another list poem. This list is a bit different in a couple ways. First, each line describes a distinctive scent of fall, at least from my western Michigan youth. So as you read through take your time with each line. If you’re familiar with the odor, try to recall it. They say that memories are strongly connected to our sense of smell.

Secondly, the list actually has story. There is some progression. It’s not a true story from my life, but it does convey truth.

The Scent of Autumn

the air first thing in the morning
wet leaves in the gutter
seats on the school bus
dry corn stalks
fresh cow manure
chalk dust and pencil shavings
cafeteria food
sweat suits and running shoes
          left in the locker room
paraffin and charred pumpkin
candy corn
a blend of Gatorade®, heat rub,
          and muddy, torn-up turf
burning leaves
instant coffee
Thanksgiving dinner
wool letterman jackets
Miller High Life® in aluminum cans
a freshly opened condom
hay
dirt roads after the rain
rotted apples under the trees
leaking coolant, oil, and gas
moist earth from an open grave

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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