Saturday, November 20, 2004

"I'm trying to write a modern poem," smirks Elai. "One with no rhymes."

"Is it possible?" I laugh. Elai is the Queen of Rhymes.

"I think so," she says.

As soon as she finishes her dessert, she brings her notebook and pen to the table so she can write down whatever lines have popped into her head during the meal. While she's writing, we all play a little rhyming game. One person says a word and then we go around the table saying the first rhyming word that comes to mind.

"Hat." Since it was my idea, I begin the game and pick an easy word so the little ones can play too.

The responses come: fat, cat, sat, mat, that, splat, drat... around and around the table until we run out of -at rhymes.

Then we make it harder. Instead of just a rhyming word, a couplet is required.

The game begins with mouse.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house."

The next person has to add to the story, making a couplet using "cat," which was chosen by the last player.

"There once was a mouse
who lived in a house.
He hid from the cat
by wearing a hat."

Around the table the silly story grows until it ends with a verse involving a book and a hook.

While we're cleaning up, Elai tells me she has finished her poem.

"Is it depressing and angsty?" I ask. "All proper modern poems are depressing and angsty, you know."

"Hmmm, well, I wasn't feeling angsty when I wrote it..."

So I read it and naturally I think it's good - I'm her mama after all. It is a bit depressing and angsty, I suppose, but I don't think it's particularly modern.

ghost sighs

I used to remember more but now
only precious snatches are left; soft fires, tall trees,
horses’ hooves on gravel, dresses that rustled –
silk dresses that whispered me to sleep

hiding now in the darkness, weeping,
although nobody hears, no rest for me
no rest oh God, I’m so tired
and once
hid my face for a hundred years

covered my ears to escape the sounds
sounds that are alien now or I’m alien
and when I couldn’t bear the silence
and the darkness that deafened and blinded

came out and looked and wept again
for the rustling dresses and horses’ hooves on gravel
for a world of soft fires and tall trees
and blue skies and calm rivers

all gone all destroyed in a world of metal
and plastic and staring houses and grey skies
that didn’t feel my tears like other skies had felt
foul air and foul sounds and foul people

dressed in ugly clothes that pinched and sagged and
no rustles no whispers only fear in their hearts and
anger in their faces rushing on to death in metal boxes
only angry roaring in the air masking the cries for help

a dead world covered with dead people
fighting and dying so more living dead could
fight and die sobs in the air that they wouldn’t hear
cries for a world and a people destroyed

crying for horses’ hooves on gravel no one will ever hear,
soft fires in the hearth no one will ever feel,
tall trees no one will ever see, and silk dresses rustling,
all gone never again no more silk dresses.

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