Poetry Practise

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This article contains amateur poetry written in verse (barring the two short ones at the end). I’ve wished to write poetry for quite a long while now, and being part of the BTSB crew gives me the opportunity to actually publish it, as well as the chance to review it at a later date.

Of writing poetry, I have the following to say. Firstly, it is surprisingly difficult. I had four major points to consider; rhythm, metre, rhymes, and general expression of what I wanted to say. For me, I feel as the rhythm was the most difficult aspect (it remains far from natural in what I present in this article) – perhaps this is felt by other ESL speakers and writers as well. Secondly, writing poetry feels weird. I constantly felt like I was, in an indescribable way, pitting myself against someone or something. Lastly, whilst I thought trying my hand at poetry was extremely enjoyable, sometimes I felt like abandoning it all and writing an article about something easier and, more importantly, less personal.

The short verse-snippets in this article tell of the lives (usually in a mocking tone) of the Nine Worthies, a set of heroes named by 14th century French author Jacques de Longuyon. The Nine Worthies include the following characters, listed in order of appearance in this article; Hector of Troy, Julius Caesar, Joshua, King David, Judas Maccabeus, King Arthur, Charlemagne, and Godfrey of Bouillon. Alexander the Great is, of course, the 9th Worthy, but I opted not to write about him at this time.

In my poetry, I thought it wise to allude to the KJB and Shakespeare’s works to show off what I had read before. Likewise I found it difficult to resist the opportunity to include puns and wordplay. Unfortunately, these factors might make understanding what I aimed to say difficult – and therefore ruin the poetry. This is somewhat ironic, as I have always thought that reading amateur poetry was annoying specifically for this reason. With that being said, I had fun in trying out poetry, and hopefully you, the reader, might be inspired to give it a go one day.

 

Here we lay our scene, played by writer lone,

accompan’d by nine Princes of ages lost.

Set betwixt mind and map, in realms unknown;

wherein man meets Human, at an untold cost.

Should thou seeketh sorry savoury purpose

for wit-working writ in this-like domain,

know thus: it is jealousy of sweet corpus

given life by Poets born nevermore again.

Righteous removal of hatred and hope

mine noble effort doth aim to achieve,

purposing to will a will: graciously cope

with thine deficits, and thyself not deceive.

An unjoyous task be an unsightly view,

howbeit combined, us ten may our sins subdue.

 

 

Down in the deep darks of Underworld dwelleth thou now, paragon.

Once-worsted warrior, won by Worthy wrath, answer I: wert thou war’s pawn?

Virtue or Vice, venture we to weigh, be Man’s grim glory-greed by nature:

opinions oppos’d ought to cull, ere culling come their feature?

Heracles-hatched held thou not, as title; heroic deeds were-

thy toil to Troy’s tale. Thus, live in legend, lacking mine rage to incur.

 

 

Follow we hence an Ancient with another,

driven to decimate this well-Worthy rank

with cruelty akin to that conferr’d by brother

and heavy heir, whose heart in happy jealousy sank.

Then fall, res publica! no father, mother,

no dictator can truly-taught treachery thank;

bloody betrayal will any bond-breath smother,

right-rooted trust from former-friends’ souls yank.

 

Thy death promis’d propagators prosperity,

power war-won, and Divinity dismal:

most bounteous boons by bandit-business.

Follow’d annihilation of austerity;

th’estate of august Athens’ heirs, turned abysmal-

thy life and reign tainted, by want of wiseness.

 

 

Now after the death of Kaiser, our words spin

backwards in time, speaking of asp y Nun-son,

whose deceitful deeds Worthy-worth, held by his kin-

worth the while, deems only I, of being justly undone:

the tribes of th’Twelve would without thou have won.

O Clandestine conqueror; ill cit-servant;

thy victories aptly amount to Cain and one.

In viperous Vices wert thou fervent,

epithets of these Worthy, bestowed by the observant.

 

 

Comes next not Nero, but an other

of his kind; a sonorous song-writing King,

whose fiery feud with fiendish Foe slayed tother.

A Man hosting Heavenly heart, with offspring

of Greatness well-deserving; to this cling,

since thy sovereign sling better never brought.

Saviour-spawning for, honour thy memory we ought.

 

 

Writ or sang, may be songs of gallant heroes

which here world hath witnessed manifold-

many ascrib’d fame, some reduced to zeroes;

thy name thine ruin foretold, fair friar of old.

Holofernes himself hesitated,

in revealing thy nature and natural-name.

Designated traitor, art thou ill-fated

to suffer the slings and arrows of defame?

Revolting as thine atrocious acts are,

take in this: from Iscariot’s vile will art thou far.

 

 

Dragon-descendant boast thee thy title, bear king;

Lord of the castle, Protector of a table-

grandeur and chagrin both did thy knights thou bring.

Lo! of their fearsome feats tell many a fable.

In stories, yea, unmatched remains thy glory,

as testament to power of the auditory.

Without contest, likewise was fair thy Queen,

whose affairs arduous were deemed obscene.

Fine a match in matrimony; thou and her!

save there a sea of spears had between thee been.

Myth equal the merits of eager exertion, Sir.

 

Tedious tales of warlocks, and Knights Green

may – perchance – fail to entertain those keen.

What is fiction? but display of smoke and air;

as Revels are ended, what remains on Scene?

Myth equal the merits of eager exertion, Sir.

 

 

Emperor.

mannered King

conquering, uniting, governing.

Inviolable, untouchable a ruler.

Father.

 

 

Of Bouillon hail thou, good God-Fear,

King of Jerusalem! oh dear!

Renouncing the title,

thought our man vital;

but he died after a single year.

 

La Mer

BTSB la mer

She was brought up by the sea

her mind was the ocean, easily upset

fierce now, calm in an hour

her hair was made of the salt

straws, shadowing her complexion

raw, like the little rocks on the coast

not yet softened by the waves.

 

She found her core in the sea

her spine was the breakwater

her heart the shipwreck far out

her arms the eternal to and fro

her meaning on the crest of waves

her wisdom the salted blow of cold

that whistles in brave boys’ ears

on the coast

her heart, in wooden pieces.

 

She found her love in the sea

she saw it in the black mirrors that

she threw away, back, away, back

she felt it in the white froth

she smashed apart, back, apart, back

she heard it in the deep waters

she wept afraid, not – afraid, not.

 

She grew up in the ocean

her breath the blasting of tidal waves

her joy bright colours in the shallow waters

her pain caught in the drops wind delivers

to the hardened shoulders of the coast

her feet, tangled in a lock of seaweed.

 

There she was

drowning, but there was home

in the lightless freeze of the ocean,

in the sinking grip of the sand,

in the everlasting tie of the algae;

there were wild whispers of the salt

there were stories sung by the whales

there were rhymes cracked by the pebbles

there were taming beats of the seagull;

there lived she her eyes locked,

lit up

like the lighthouse on the coast.

I’ve Caught A Case Of The Feels

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My hands are sweaty,

My heart beats too fast (not fluttering like the wings of a bird but

thumping like stones being thrown into water).

My chest is tightening,

The breath being sucked out (a rude interruption to such a familiar

rhythm but it wakes me).

My skin is sizzling,

Something moves under the surface (a rush of warm

floods as something spiky).

My eyes are open,

Everything is precise ( but I can’t see a thing because I’m

looking through a window of smoke).

I’m afraid, he says, You’ve caught a case of the Feels

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Addicted To Nostalgia

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Do you know the pleasant tingling sensation you can feel at the back of your head when hearing the Moomin theme song, or when remembering how your primary school teacher used to ask you how your mother and siblings were doing? Or when having a flashback of your graduation day: sweaty palms, too much lipstick and tears of achievement? You know – that moment when it feels like something at the back of your mind, like a sneeze, freezes for a second and then slowly melts.

It can be a thought: old words that suddenly come back to you and you can almost hear them right now – like the ones your mother encouraged you with, after your first friendship drama in kindergarten. It can be a smell: how your grandmother’s house used to wrap the aroma of freshly baked cinnamon buns around every visitor. It can be a song: those ones you sang along to with your siblings when watching The Sound of Music. Or it can be an image, suddenly flashing in front of you: marshmallow-grilling at an old friend’s house, the front yard of which now looks greener than ever before.

The sneeze-like sensation warms up your long-time memory and drowns your consciousness in expired feelings. The voyage of déjà-vu can take you from overwhelming happiness to sinking sadness in a couple of seconds. It acquaints you with your memories afresh, releasing what I am addicted to: nostalgia.

 Box of photographs

 

i’ve got a sneeze at the back

of my mind

sneezeful of old thoughts

flashes of antique ego

expired feelings

tingling at the head

of my consciousness,

temperatures that existed

around my past being

smells that have long ago fainted

creep up the tunnels

of my sense

 

now

 

Nostalgia isn’t really the worst thing to be addicted to. It isn’t even a substance that you could buy, intake or abuse. On the other hand, it isn’t exactly the best thing to fill your evenings with either, because you could surely be doing something more productive than reminiscing. And for some reason, it’s always in the evenings when it arrives. I can’t recall of ever having drunk nostalgic tears at day-time. There’s something about that turn in the light; you see, when the day starts feeling blue and then, all of a sudden, gets tired of having to be so energetic, and travels. The rays of sunlight travel years –

 

teary eyes that belong to a moment

years backwards

ghosts that try to set themselves free

of my spine

 

They travel inside your spine, conquering the corners of your skull, then flashing bright in front of you again: look, it’s you at 16 years old, at that new school, meeting your future best friend! And, there’s more, you are next shown a scene of a group of feather-haired little humans watching a Disney film and eating candy so sour that everyone, in turn, does that awkward half-blink of their right eye. And you really sink in, letting nostalgia intoxicate you.

 

legs that suddenly lose their weight

as if i was really running

at these seconds ticking away right

of my now

and i get confused

the sneeze does not come

of my self

 

But then comes a grey thought. Then a couple of even darker ones, spiralling up to paint a grave of a memory. There’s his nervous laugh, those are the keys you threw at him that last morning, oh and how you had just kissed – then French clouds and hundreds of kilometres above earth. You wish you had never met him as you, again, swallow salty tears, then and now.

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smoke that burns here like my naivety did

off my skin

it pierces my seams

i sneeze

smoke

off you on my mind

 

how hard i have tried

to maintain this abstinence of reminiscing

because see i do not

want to be stifled by

all that i have thought

off my mind

therefore only i remains

 

Moving on, you want to see something more harmless and heart-warming, you try your best not to be fooled by bad nostalgia. And there’s how your mother used to call you self-confident when you were 12 and here’s your reaction: you frowned in disbelief and surprise, and the next day, you got that new haircut! You could feel the heavy ends of your curls on your shoulders again, and as if encouraged by them, you decided not to believe your mother. You did not feel confident in your young self.

 

well, child

well, mother

well, you run in between

careful not to lose those lightweight thighs

 

- carpe diem

 

There you are, carefully listening to teachers repeating how you have to know what you want to be when you grow up, but at the same time, pressuring you to live in the moment – and not to forget your inner child along the way either. You were so confused, remember? This one does not pleasantly tickle at the back of your mind, no – it hammers the edge of your comfort zone; it spreads false tunes all over your brain cells. All of a sudden, you are all grown up and it feels right, oh wait,

 

but where do you see yourself in five

years that have grown you into this

off your been brain

an alien feeling

this woman far from all that has been

how could you resist

going back, well

off this ground

 

You manage to switch off the hammering beat of the grey; now you float again. Although you are amazed as well as terrified at how you have become who you now are, by going through all this and that, and even the black moments – and you really are different now than you were then – you eventually just relax. When it feels this safe, this comfortable, this happy – while nostalgia is singing you a soft lullaby – how could you resist going back to

 

the good old days?

 

And why should I not repeat it all over again tomorrow?