Archive for the ‘ethershop’ Category

“Winter Field” by Ellen Bryant Voigt

Tuesday, November 7th, 2006

“The winter field is not

the field of summer lost in snow; it is

another thing, a different thing.

“We shouted, we shook you,” you tell me,

but there was no sound, no face, no fear, only

oblivion–why shouldn’t it be so?

After they’d pierced a vien and fished me up,

after they’d reeled me back they packed me under

blanket on top of blanket, I trembled so.

The summer field, sun-fed, mutable,

has its many tasks; the winter field

becomes its adjective.

For those hours

I was some other thing, and my body,

which you have long loved well,

did not love you.”

I really like this poem and what she does with the concept of a “winter field.” What is more like oblivion than a winter field? What is more cold and useless in its expanse than the winter field? I think this image is what I was trying to achieve in one of my poems. I also really like how the image of the winter field is interwoven with that of the speaker’s body, who “did not love you” while it was like a winter field. A summer field is loved, is played on, is used; a winter field is just an empty space.

Song for Autumn, by Mary Oliver

Monday, November 6th, 2006

In the deep fall
don’t you imagine the leaves think how
comfortable it will be to touch
the earth instead of the
nothingness of air and the endless
freshets of wind? And don’t you think
the trees themselves, especially those with mossy,
warm caves, begin to think

of the birds that will come — six, a dozen — to sleep
inside their bodies? And don’t you hear
the goldenrod whispering goodbye,
the everlasting being crowned with the first
tuffets of snow? The pond
vanishes, and the white field over which
the fox runs so quickly brings out
its blue shadows. And the wind pumps its
bellows. And at evening especially,
the piled firewood shifts a little,
longing to be on its way.

i thought this poem was appropriate considering that it’s fall now and a lot of the leaves are really starting to change. i liked this poem because of the sense of anticipation, of fall coming to full bloom. i also liked the enjambment; the way it was crafted allows each line on its own to have significance, or simply to sound pleasant. also, the stanza arrangement (the hanging lines) helped to lend rhythm and keep the poem from being a solid block of text.

By Accident

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

First she gave me the wound by accident.
Then the tourniquet she tied unwound by accident.

Your friend may want to start running.
I gave his scent to the hounds by accident.

Balloons on the mailbox, ambulance in the driveway.
Bobbing for apples I drowned by accident.

Did someone tell the devil we were building Eden?
Or did he slither on the grounds by accident?

I said some crazy things, but I swear, officer,
I burned her place down by accident.

Only surfaces interest me.
What depths I sound I sound by accident.

“What should we look for in a ghazal, Amit?”
Inevitabilities found by accident.

Amit Majmudar
Antioch Review
Special Issue: Memoirs True and False
Fall 2006


This is my first poem posted that was actually the poem of the day, rather than from the archives.  Ghazal, I had to look up.  Here is the definition:

n. [Ar. ghazal.] A kind of Oriental lyric, and usually erotic, poetry, written in recurring rhymes.

This tells me that someone (a student?) was asking the author what to look for in a poem, and the part about recurring themes clearly helps explain the repetition of “by accident” (as if poetry needs justification!).  To my taste, this repetition is right on the edge; I like it, but I’m quite close to thinking it’s too much.

 Amit (as the poet names himself in the poem, I have the unique luxury of conflating speaker with author without risk) seems to be giving examples from various different scenarios, each compelling, each poetic in their terse power, rather than forming a full narrative.  I enjoy the technique.  The various examples sometimes seem like real accidents and sometimes are obviously not.

 I don’t understand the idea of inevitability here.  Equating an accident with something inevitable is certainly very ironic and interesting, but I don’t see the poem as proving or exploring this directly.  It is the sort of poem I wish I could speak to the author of.

Representative Poetry Online

Friday, November 3rd, 2006

I thought this would be a good place to share my favorite poetry site with some like-minded individuals.  The RPO site has a large collection of major English-speaking poets from many eras.  As it stands on canon, there are fewer present-day poets than might be desired by some, but there is no real use in expecting any one site to have everything.

 The collection, after all, is large enough that no one could can feasibly read through it all.  A function I enjoy greatly is the random poem button.  You can press it, and it will keep refreshing with a random poem, which I skim briefly, see if it looks promising to me, then move on.  I’ve collected a number of poems I like a lot this way, even if it is fair to say that I’ve unfairly skipped a lot of poems that way as well.

 I’ll link one such poem here.


A Marriage Must Be Worked At

Monday, October 30th, 2006

Newlyweds on the honeymoon trip,
they are trying to get
from one set of ruins to the next.
There were no double berths.
He took the top.
Now they are three feet apart.
Neither sleeping.

They are perfectly still,
hurtling over the landscape.

Michael Chitwood
Number 68
Fall 2005
A lot of times, a poem is ambiguous because it lacks narrative.  Here, we see an ambiguity from a narrative out of context.  We are told everything the couple does and where they are, but their feeling are opaque to us.  The title because extremely important, offering us a hint as to what this forced distance might mean.  Do they feel awkward, because they were having troubles anyway, and are forced to do what angry couples often do by choice (sleep apart)?

Their lack of motion against a moving landscape highlights a sense of wrongness, to me.  A poem can have a haiku-like efficiency and mystery without using the Japanese form.

Reccomendation – The Cobweb by Raymond Carver

Monday, October 30th, 2006

The Cobweb

A few minutes ago, I stepped onto the deck
of the house. From there I could see and hear the water,
and everything that’s happened to me all these years.
It was hot and still. The tide was out.
No birds sang. As I leaned against the railing
a cobweb touched my forehead.
It caught in my hair. No one can blame me that I turned
and went inside. There was no wind. The sea
was dead calm. I hung the cobweb from the lampshade.
Where I watch it shudder now and then when my breath
touches it. A fine thread. Intricate.
Before long, before anyone realizes,
I’ll be gone from here.

This has been one of the most rewarding poems to read again and again. I notice more connotations and implications of small details every time I go through it. There really is not a lot of bulk there, but for such a short poem he is able to bring quite a lot across. The terse four and five word sentences are distant almost to the point of abstraction or complete dissasociation – it really paints a bleak picture. Hope you enjoy it…

At Home by Hugo Claus

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

At Home

Father was eating partridge and Mother was out
and I and Joris were talking about murders
and getaways and on what trains
when the sun rolled into our attic
and lay there gleaming in the hay.
Father swore and said: God sees me.
Joris made his getaway
and I went on playing with the trains
which ran on electricity across the floor
between posts.

 I like how this poem tells a narrative without giving too much away.

 The speaker is probably younger since he is continues to play with the toy trains even after his father curses outloud: the older brother must have an idea of what the father is cursing about, and either wants to run away from that, or is anticipating what usually follows after his father curses.

I think the repetition of trains and getaways is good because I think that it implies that the speaker is now older and can see the difference between the getaways that characters in stories versus the real ones that people make.

 I thought at first when I read this poem that it should end right after “went on playing with the trains” but I think now that it should continue in like it does. I think this because the speaker, at that moment in time, is like the train and the tracks he speaks of: he’s caught between his parents because the only track he sees in his life at that time is the one running between them. The posts, like parents, frame a home for children.

Living with Ballads: Sidna Allen

Monday, October 23rd, 2006

He mounted to the bar
with a pistol in his hand
and he sent Judge Massie
to the Promised Land:

the only mountain ballad
my mother ever sang
the years that she was raising me
on Pop Rocks and Tang,

and Grandmother thought secular
music miles beneath
her notice, so my mind is not
one Stith Thompson motif

after another, not a green
wood thick with noble felons,
no Gypsy Davies to seduce,
no Barbara Allens,

just local Sidna, late
in the murder song tradition,
coming at you straight
out of my mother’s kitchen.

i liked this poem mainly because of the rhyme. it’s kind of untraditional in that, as far as i can tell, only 2 out of the 4 lines of each stanza (with the exception of the last) rhyme with eachother. also, the rhyme scheme of the poem matched that of the italicized song lyrics that opened the poem, giving it the feel of a song which is very appropriate considering the subject matter and construction of the poem.

Virginia M. Heatter

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006


This is the sky where it meets
the water’s surface.

This is the wet ridge of it,
the line between life and drowning.

This is the glow of embers rising
against the rigors of evergreen.

This is a ring of large stones,
and in the nostrils, cedar burning.

This is the sound, still throbbing
in the ear canal, of translucence

passing through narrow tubes.
This is the salt of confluence,

and the sweet of imperfection.
This is melody, harmony, silence.

And this —

is the dead space, the rift
behind the gums, that hollow.

I like this.

Couplets are neat.

The “this is” thing is kind of overdone (i’ve done it myself), but it works I think.

“the rift behind the gums” is a great line. Also, the whole thing has nice sound.


Saturday, October 14th, 2006

This poem bases itself on an odd premise from Euripides that I was unfamilar with until now; Helen never went to Troy at all, but instead the goddess Aphrodite replaced her with an illusion (an eidolon, or phantom).

 What is painfully absent from this poem is how Helen feels about this.  She is the speaker, but she recounts dryly things she did not do and feel.  I think we are to understand that she feels some regret that these dramatic and world-changing things never happened to her, but it is ambiguous.  I admire this poem a lot; the lack of emotional contact compels me to fill in blanks and ask questions, as well as giving the poem a certain air of austerity that seems appropriate to classical antiquity (though it was of course written much later).