dispersing & reflecting light through poetry

Posts tagged ‘red’

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

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 Pornography

Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt

Wandered into the neighborhood
for a bit of self-indulgent window shopping.
Dimly backlit, the wares displayed behind glass:
     living life-like mannequins
     in varying casual pose,
     some in seemingly bored posture,
     stripped to the bare essentials–
     no fancy window dressing–
in window upon glowing window.
The glass returns a vague reflection
emptied of vibrant hue,
subdued by the colored lights
on the other side of the glass.
Tapping for attention…
     slide-stepping to the next window
     occasionally tempted to tap back,
     toying with the intimate decision of purchase
     euros burning a hole
     heart becomes engorged
     beating against itself
     an assault of valves
     a battle lost to the head
     peeking into window after window
     deeper and deeper into De Wallen
     rounding a corner that dead ends
     to nothing,

but a used condom left leaking
on the edge of the end of the sidewalk.

I have been avoiding this post. The topic is not pretty. Not something discussed in polite circles. Certainly not lengthy sermon material. Embarassing. Shameful. And I have personal experience–something I have struggled with off and on throughout my adult life. Pornography and masterbation.

Rosse Buurt is a red light district in Amsterdam where prostitution is legal. This I know only from research, I have never been. But I’ve been on the internet. And as a young boy, I glanced through the glossy pages of magazines the neighbor kid snuck from his dad’s workshop. I’ve allowed lustful fantasies to roam through my thoughts. It’s all around us in the media and programming and advertising. And it’s all empty. It drains creativity and confidence. It leads to nowhere.

Anyone familiar with the teachings of Jesus knows that he spoke against lust. He also spoke specifically against masterbation as well. (He did?) Check out the sermon on the mount in the book of Matthew, chapter 5, verses 27-30. Verse 27 addresses physical adultery. Jesus ramps it up to just looking at a woman (who is not your wife) with lustful thoughts–a matter of the heart. This coincides with pornography, which is all about looking and thinking and fantasizing. Jesus offers a solution in verse 29, pluck out your eye! If you can’t stop, get rid of the instrument causing the offense. Then he offers the same solution in verse 30 for the hand. Why the hand? Yeah. You get it now.

Of course no one wants to mutilate their body–poke out their eyes or cut off their hands. So what’s the solution? It’s a matter of the heart. But the eye needs to see and the hand needs work. Set your eyes upon Jesus. Work works of righteousness. As the writer of Philippians encourages, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

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

Preparing RED to be READ

This morning has not been spent writing. Today was about the nuts and bolts of putting together a chapbook: interior layout, cover design, bio pics and logos. I published my previous chapbooks on CreateSpace.com (click on Home for a list of available titles). CreateSpace is easy to use; they walk you through the process. Working on my first book project for an hour or so in the mornings, I had a printed proof copy within a week of beginning. (Of course the home office is located in nearby Charleston, so standard delivery doesn’t take long.) And my only cost was the proof plus shipping. Now if you’re not into all of the editting and design and so forth, they do have options for professional assistance. Since my budget does not include paying for my obsession, I do it myself.

Now I know that for the longest time self-publishing has been looked down upon by the publishing world. There’s a reason it is referred to as “vanity press”. In the past, writers with the money to spend on printing their own work could bypass the review of editors, the time spent searching for publishers, the heartache of rejection. It’s still possible today. But in this digital era the rules are changing. Anyone with a laptop or tablet can be published. Writing a blog is self-publishing.

So today I prepared for the publication of RED. I set up the title as a project at CreateSpace and they assigned it an ISBN. The manuscript for RED is still unfinished, but that’s okay. I can upload revisions as necessary until I’m ready to publish and even after that I can make changes if needed (e.g. typos that get missed the twelve hundredth time you proof). I create templates for publication that just need the text added and maybe a little tweeking, so that’s what I uploaded for now.

I worked on the cover design. That included editting my personal logo to fit the color scheme, trying to select the right bio pic (though I may go in a different direction with that altogether), and adding the back cover text. CreateSpace provides free cover design templates that can be editted, as well as royalty free stock photos. If you don’t find what you need, you can upload your own, or you can pay to have it done. Options are wide open.

But what does this have to do with the process of writing works of poetry? The process of poetry is not truly complete until a reader reads and gains something from the poem. As the poet I don’t get that satisfaction unless I’m there when you read it or you are there to hear me read. Putting together the physical chapbook is a way for me to have some form of completion to the process. And it’s another step toward you receiving from the work. And when it’s finally totally printed, there’s something about holding those bound pages in your hands.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey


The following is a public service announcement
from the author of these posts:

I promised to let you glimpse the process of the making of this chapbook. Well here is some process in real time. I woke up this morning at approximately 5:30 a.m. EST realizing that I had paired a pair of poems incorrectly. And I have been doing it from the beginning. Perhaps it’s the early morning writing when the coffee hasn’t really kicked in yet. But I sat up and said out loud (hopefully not loud enough to wake my wife), “It’s wrong.”

So what’s wrong? Currently I have “Cheap Valentine” paired with “Ghazal: Of My Love” (both covered in the past two posts) and “Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt” with “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ”, a yet to be written sonnet (more on that later). Okay, Scott? I don’t see the problem. You explained it fairly well in ‘The Cost of Mis-RED Love’ and ‘Persian RED. What gives?

“Cheap Valentine” is about misunderstood and unappreciated love. “Ghazal: Of My Love” is a sensual poem about true intimacy, sexual and otherwise. “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ” will be about committed love and marriage. “Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt” is about pornography and self-fulfillment. So…

“Cheap Valentine” and “Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ” should be paired together, unrequited vs. fulfilled; and “Ghazal: Of My Love” should actually be the companion of “Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt”, selfless vs. selfish.

I’m not sure why I put them in that order to begin with, it seems obvious to me now, but there you have it. A truly inside look at the process. And now for another cup of coffee.

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


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

RED–Parallel Universe…Again


Called from clay,
six foot of sand and soil
converted to perfect flesh,
unearthed from the bowels below,
exhumed and animated
     to breathe new air,
     to gulp God gasped respiration;
come to life from under the rock,
the first of your kind–
the dirty womb and its bloody placenta
now under your feet.

“Adam” compliments “Native”, a companion poem, they are parallel. I think I accomplished this parallel best of the lot.

Whereas, “Native” shows the fall of man and his banishment from the garden, “Adam” seems to take us back to his original creation. You can see man being formed from the ground; being lifted to his feet to breathe for the first time. And you get the sense that it is good, triumphant even. And it is.

But the poem also describes ‘the last Adam’. I Corinthians 15 is an incredible chapter that details the resurrection of the dead. Go ahead. Take a read. I’ll wait right here.

Quick summary: Because of the fall of Adam, the first man, everyone gets to experience death; because of the death and resurrection of Christ, ‘the last Adam’, everyone has an opportunity to experience real life after death. Death and the grave, ‘the dirty womb and it’s bloody placent’, have been defeated by Christ. “Native” is the worldview or problem, if you will; “Adam” the heavenview, solution.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

RED–A Parallel Universe

In a parallel universe this book is titled GREEN. Actually, it probably isn’t. But there are parallel worlds. There is the world in which we live–solid, sensual; to our eyes, real. The others are ethereal, spirtual–yet, just as real. These worlds are seen with the eyes of faith. They are the kingdom of heaven and the kingdom of darkness.

RED is arranged in a parallel order. Here is the current list of titles:

The Diet
Cheap Valentine
Window Shopping in Rosse Buurt
Red Ink Blues
Mars Rising
Capsaicin–The Topical Cure
Seeds of Faith
Blood Shed
Red Sky in Morning
Feast of Martyrs
Luna de Sangre
Words of Christ
Solomon, St. Valentine, and the Coming of Christ
Ghazal: Of My Love
A Study in Scarlet
Red: Revelation

 I was inspired to use this format for these poems while studying Hebrew and New Testament poetry, which use parallelism as a common form. I have arranged the poems, each different in style or form or voice, in a parallel order.

The first and last are introductory and summary. The first seven after the title poem attempt to show the universe we reside in under the influence of the kingdom of darkness or by our own efforts. The seven poems preceding the summary poem show more of the kingdom of heaven viewpoint. The poem to poem parallels are not perfect–I’m not that good–but, I think you’ll get the idea.

For example, “Native” and “Adam”, written in a similar style with different voices, are parallel to one another; “The Diet” and “A Study in Scarlet”, and so forth. I’ll look at the parallels of the first set in the next blog.

The three central poems will focus on Christ, some aspect of the color themes that are found in HIm.

I plan to use this same format throughout this series of chapbooks. (Series? Nobody said anything about a series. You mean there’s more to come after RED?)

Today, I give you “Native”, written using red rich Cherokee symbolism to describe the fall of Adam.


Our skin
is not gi-ga-ge,
as yours
is not white or black or yellow.
are the colors of the earth–
the sand, the soil, the clay.
Our flesh dyed
by the fruit of the sumac,
by the root of the sanguinaria:
these roots bleed when wounded
and the Sky hears.
We were removed
from the fertile land of the East;
driven to evacuate toward the sunset,
return prevented by sacred fire.
Each cycle of the sun chasing the moon
we look back to the East.
Many moons pass.
Many times of spring pass:
we suffer the thunderings of war,
bear wounds that will not heal,
and walk the path that ends,
when skin and flesh and sinew
become one with soil,
and bone becomes dust
returned to its native earth.

Copyright © 2015 Scott Daniel Massey

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