dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘love’

Let There Be YELLOW

I am currently about a third of the way through the list of poems for ORANGE. Since I’m  not sure which to work on next, I decided to start  on YELLOW. My mode of operation for the previous RED and ORANGE has been to scour the internet for examples of the color, both articles and images. I would create a list of common and uncommon items, events, songs, stories, people, and places associated or named for that color, as well as interesting notes and facts about them. To write the title list poem, I select those colored things that strike me most or that strongly suggest (at least to me) a spiritual topic or connection.

Well, as I was going through this process for YELLOW, I came across a song by Coldplay titled, what else, “Yellow”.

Now I’ve heard the song numerous times over the years, but never really paid much attention to the lyrics. So I paid attention. Wow! Immediately I made a connection. And thus I conceived the following poem:

Perhaps to you
there is no significant meaning
to the shining of the stars,
the positioning of the planets,
the spinning galaxy
surrounding the tiny rock
you call home.

Don’t be a coward;
actually look at them–
the blazing chaotic
beauty of the nebulae,
the explosive order
in the gaseous dusty sea of space,
the seemingly endless cold expanse
pooled in the palm of My hand.

Now look down.
Look at the speck of dust
on that tiny rock,
that form of clay and spit and air,
that blob of skin and bone.
The crown of creation.
The question of angels.
The image of God.

They do shine for you.

And I am dry.

Now you may have noticed that this poem did not have a title. I usually don’t have a problem here, but this time I can’t seem to get it. Most of what I have come up with have used Coldplay in the title, but I don’t really like any of them. I certainly don’t want to use “Yellow” as the title, as that is for the opening poem.

So, I offer a challenge. Please title my poem. If I select your title, I will send you a signed copy of “RED” and recognition in the “YELLOW” chapbook. In the case of duplication, all parties suggesting the same title will receive the aforementioned.

Copyright © 2016 Scott Daniel Massey

from “Moments of Serenity”

This is from my book of poems Moments of Serenity, all of which were inspired by my granddaughter and angel, Serenity. She was 2½ when this was written.

Touched by an Angel

the smell of flowers
     natural, plastic, painted
trees
tree bark
fallen twigs and branches
swings
mylar balloons
ramen noodles
Goldfish® and raisins
chocolate milk and fresh brewed coffee
the dishwasher and the kitchen sink
     (with help)
Grandma
tongs and wooden spoons
not the electric outlet
the wall,
     with a blue crayon
the sidewalk of Goose Creek
BiLo
Chick-a-let
blocks
twirly dresses
all the magnets on the refrigerator
the pictures held by the magnets on the refrigerator
Spongebob
Veggie Tales
“Finding Nemo”
“Finding Nemo”
“Finding Nemo”
boo-boos and buggy bites
blankalets
“Goodnight Moon”
“Sing, Sing a Song”
“Jesus Loves the Little Children”
airplanes
the moon
Jupiter
this notepad
my hand
my face
my heart

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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

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

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

RED Between the Lines

Okay. Let’s go back to “Solomon, Saint Valentine, & the Coming of Christ”. Since this poem is yet to be completed, I’ll let you inside the process as I go along. This will be a first for me, so it may not be pretty.

As I mentioned in my previous post, “RED, shall I compare thee…?“, this is planned to be a sonnet. There are several forms of sonnets: the Italian or Petrarchan, the English or Shakespearian, the Spenserian, the Miltonic, and modern. I have chosen the Spenserian form because the rhyme scheme (abab bcbc cdcd ee) is interlocking. I want to dovetail these three subjects, intertwine them. That’s what true love and marriage is about. The meshing of two lives into one.

Apart from that, I’m not sure what to tell you. So here are some of the notes and scribblings I have from my research:

These are my original lines for the final couplet. They show my intent of the “interlocking lines”. I probably won’t use them.
e:  And as the interlocking lines of this sonnet song
e:  So too through consummative act, two become one.

A quote from the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba concerning the Song of Solomon:

“All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies.”

According to Catholic.org, the flower-crowned skull of St. Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. Apparently, he is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers (?), engaged couples, epilepsy (???), fainting (at weddings?), greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague (???!), travellers, and young people; and he is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Perhaps my next post about this sonnet will actually contain lines of poetry.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED, shall I compare thee…?

All but two of the poems for RED are complete: “Red: Revelation”, which will be a sort of summary of all; and “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ”. The former is not complete because I want to wait until all other poems are finished. The latter is not done because I want to frame it in a sonnet, and for me that is not an easy task; strict forms are not what I normally do.

When one thinks of sonnets, one tends to think of Shakespeare, Milton, Spenser, Browning. Big names. The bar is set high. And so it should be. The topic–intimate love, marriage, consummation–is worthy of being set in such a lofty form. But, alas, I have never written a sonnet. Seventeen lines of iambic pentameter. With a rhyme scheme. And a volta (a whata?), or turn, that is supposedly essential to a sonnet. This is a heavy commitment for setting pen to page. As it should be. So is the topic.

I normally write free verse. No meter. No rhyme. Occassionally, when the topic merits, I will use an appropriate form. At least attempt the form. This poem will attempt to compare the “Song of Solomon“, a book about which the second-century Jewish rabbi Aquiba is quoted as saying, “All the ages are not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel; for all the Writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies”; the martyrdom by beheading of the Catholic priest Valentine for performing marriages of young Christians in Rome; and the marriage feast of the Lamb, the return of Christ for his bride, the Church.

So, yeah. I haven’t got this one done yet.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Persian RED

“Cheap Valentine” speaks of love being truly unfulfilled; whereas, its companion poem “Ghazal: Of My Love” celebrates love to the fullest.

But what is a ghazal?

Pronounced ‘guzzle’,  it is an early Arabic/Persian form. We’re talking early, like around 900 to 1300 A.D. or before, depending on the source you read (see Bibliography). The main theme of a ghazal is that of love, erotic and/or mystic. English poets seemed to have taken an interest in the form in the last quarter of the 20th century, giving their unique twist to it.

The form itself is very specific (most “forms” are). I’ll give you the basics as I understand them. A series of couplets, usually 7 to 15, though no set quantity; each couplet should stand on its own, meaning it could be a poem by itself. Each couplet ends with the same word or set of words, a refrain. The refrain is actually repeated in both lines of the first couplet. Before each refrain is a rhyme; therefore, each couplet second line rhymes. The final couplet contains a reference to the poet–their name, pen-name or nickname, or a play on their name–something to form a “signature”.

These are most of the structural rules of a ghazal. There are others related to rhythm and meter and other matters, but you get the idea. I think I captured the essence of the style.

Here’s my first attempt at a ghazal, the companion poem to “Cheap Valentine“. Two of the couplets incorporate imagery of Indian/Hindi dress, style, and culture. Of course, red is the traditional color of Indian wedding dresses. Another aspect of early ghazals is the incorporation of much drinking of wine, so I started there. I hope you enjoy.

Ghazal: Of My Love

To the wine cellar! Tap into the kegs of my love!
Drink deeply! Drink deeply! Down to the dregs of my love!

My love’s a basket of fresh, ripe fruit—aromatic
pomegranates and apples, dates and figs of my love.

Crimson lehenga hugs her hips, tapers to her toes.
Satin holds tightly together the legs of my love.

Hand painted embroidered dupatta hides her bosom;
a true sign. Highly favored, the world brags of my love.

See how my arms are stretched taut in an open embrace.
Look closely at the holes made by the pegs of my love.

Scott has received the invitation sent to all.
Come. Come and drink freely at the feast, begs of my love.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Bibliography

Avachat, Abhay. “What is a Ghazal?” http://smriti.com/urdu/ghazal.def.html 21 February 2015

de Bruijn, J. T. P. “Gazal i History” December 15, 2000 Encyclopaedia Iranica February 3, 2012 http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/gazal-1-history 21 February 2015

“Ghazal” AHA Poetry http://www.ahapoetry.com/ghazal.htm

“Glossary Terms: Ghazal” The Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/glossary-term/ghazal 21 February 2015

“Poetic Form: Ghazal” American Acacemy of Poets http://www.poets.org/poetsorg/text/poetic-form-ghazal 21 February 2015

The Cost of Mis-RED Love

Cheap Valentine

I made a Valentine card for you
out of construction paper and glitter.
I cut out an imperfectly symmetrical heart,
with an equally imperfect duplicate
cut in the center,
and super-glued it to the inside
over a wallet sized photo of you.
I composed an unknown poem for the occasion
on the facing page,
written in a sloppy calligraphy—
seven quatrains of slant rhyme
expounding on things known
and unknown only to me.
I signed it using my nickname,
as neatly as I could,
because I wanted you
to be able to read it.

You took it as a come on
and took me
in more ways than I
thought possible.
When you were done,
you rolled out of bed,
bare feet on the cold floor,
and walked out with a knowing backward glance.
You called from the kitchen and
asked if I wanted anything.
Not once did you
mention the metaphor
the card represented.

I may be sharing a well-protected man-secret here, but sex is not the most important thing to a man. It’s true. Look how casually and wrecklessly we deal with sex–inappropriate comments and conversations, premarital and multiple relationships, pornography–we cheapen it. Things that we hold in high regard, things that we treasure, we protect, we share sparingly. For a man that is his heart.

Think about it. As men, we are often called out because we keep to ourselves, we don’t share our emotions, our dreams, our innermost being. It’s because the giving of these is more intimate to us than the sharing of our bodies. And the denial or misunderstanding of this giving, this opening up to another individual is more devasting than being rejected sexually.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

Listing “Red”

Red” is a list poem. Now to the casual observer that would be obvious. So is a list poem simply a random listing of items, things to do or that are done? A good list poem should be more than that; it should contain things that are somehow related and/or tell a story or create an image. Once at a poetry reading, a university English professor told me she really enjoyed the list poem I had read that evening (I believe it was “Red“) because it wasn’t merely a list, it built up anticipation. I enjoy writing list poems. There’s a simplicity to the form and yet putting items in an order that gives the poem complexity and depth can be a challenge.

I don’t believe I set out to tell any kind of story with “Red“. I created a list of red objects or things that elicit a red image, some immediately recognizable, others that were out of the ordinary, hoping to give you a sense of the color inside and outside of normal experience. Not every line has significant symbolic meaning other than to give a bold display of color.

I also researched various cultures in my search for meanings of red. For instance, in India a common color for brides is not white, but red; it also indicates being highly favored. To the Cherokee it is sacred. To the Christian as well, symbolizing the blood of Christ.

The ending stanza sums up the overwhelming theme within most cultural views of the color red–it is a remarkably passionate color. This is seen in two intertwining extremes often symbolized by red, love and war. Love can be war; war fought for love. Both extremes are boldly proclaimed at the cross of Christ; but those central poems of the RED series will be discussed later.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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