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carolinex Profile
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Re: Kat's Corner


My parents are both nearing their final days. I find a comfort in how you experienced this and what helped you through. Thanks for sharing. Your moon poem is very fun.

What made you decide to toss journals? I've been making drawings over some of mine. In rereading one the other day though I discovered source material for a poem I'd written that I then added to the poem and I think made it richer.
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vkp Profile
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Re: Kat's Corner


Fun. I love this part especially, and the way you've woven other playful moon lore into your playfulness:
quote:

My dear Man-in-the-moon, the cow may be
on to you soon, and the little prince will
laugh to see such a sport as cabbages
and caraway upon the lunar sway,
imperial, mysterious, in amorous array.



Jul/12/2012, 8:28 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: Kat's Corner


Hi guys,

Sorry to have temporarily abandoned this thread and left your comments in limbo! I do appreciate your feedback. If something I wrote makes you smile or gives you some comfort, I'm glad for that.

Caroline,

I started throwing out the old journals as a way of letting go of the past. Also to make more space in my apartment. I do go through the old journals before discarding them. I don't read every page, but I glance through, looking for any old poems I might want to save.

Last summer a friend and I saw a fox nonchalantly trotting down the road in her neighborhood. I've seen it again three times this summer. I wish I had a poem about a fox. Only have one mentioned in passing:

    Field Notes

cold snap this morning

blue heron skims through petals
of ice near shoreline

chickadees bounce
in the busted cattails

yellow sycamore leaves—big
as wrestlers’ hands—let loose
& twirl downstream

limb by unencumbered limb
I, too, release—or am released—
from summer’s ruined romance

dreamt last night
of moonlit fox, alpine
snow cascading

half awoke on brink
of spring, rousted by
shouts of love—no,
the perilous echoing
that follows it


  

Last edited by Katlin, Jul/25/2012, 7:49 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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hi Kat,

Love the way this sets the scene and proceeds seamlessly to its conclusion. Last 5 lines are
terrific. I'm glad to see you return to this thread,

Chris
Jul/26/2012, 8:24 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Katlin Profile
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Hi Chris,

Thanks for the vote of confidence re: Field Notes. Glad you enjoyed it! The article you posted about fairy tales reminded me I once tried my hand at retelling one of the old standards:

Briar Rose

Contrary to popular versions
of the story, you will not
wake up immediately
upon being kissed.

Your dream drenched eyes
will flutter open
and the sap inside
you will start flowing,
but it will take time
for you to blossom
into a full bodied rose.

If mishandled too early
or left unattended,
it could be years
before anyone sees you
in bloom.

A jealous old witch
has cast this spell upon you
that makes believe you need
a knight in shiny armor,
brandishing a sword.

Old wives say
there is another way:
give up these illusions
and marry the frog.

When that bewitched creature
bends down to breathe
in your sweetness
or puts his lips
to your soft red petals,
you’ll no longer be a dazed
sleeping beauty but a flesh
and blood woman
on whom fate has decreed
a fair share of thorns.


Last edited by Katlin, Jul/28/2012, 8:00 am
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vkp Profile
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Kat: Love the ending especially, of "Briar Rose"I have been reading some of the Sexton fairy fales with one of my summer students --most recently, "Snow White". I love the whole concept of revisioning them, or exposing them with humor and bitter sarcasm, as Sexton does. An exercise I regret never trying with my students over the years. Something for the future. Anyway, you make me want to try it one day....

Great stuff, and also the poem just before, in which foxes are mentioned. Some real beauty in there. I will look in my Animal Speak book about the significance of a fox entering your life. I have done that before, but can't recall now what it said. One summer within the last few years, my daughter and I, in different parts of the house, were each woken up night after night by a haunting cry -- it sounded almost human but we could not identify it. One night she heard it and woke to stand at her window, which looks down onto the street. Down the middle of the street -- one of the main streets in town -- under the yellow light of streetlamps, walked a fox, making the haunting cry. He stopped in front of our house and looked up at her window. I have no reason to doubt her story. This is after weeks of the cry coming to us both from all around, behind, beyond our house in the dark of night. Truly chilling cry, and a truly incredible story of animal/human connection that middle night. Just her and the fox, locking eyes. I remember both of us thinking that the message from the Animal Speak book was significant to her at that time in her life, but as with such things, the details have faded. I'll let you know what I find out!
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hi Kat,

Terrific! I'm glad the article on fairy tales reminded you of it.

Chris
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Hi you two,

I'm really taken by the little red fox I've been seeing. Can't really explain it, except to say its beauty touches my heart. vkp, what a haunting story about your daughter and the fox seeing each other in the night. I had no idea what a fox's cry sounds like. Perhaps I've heard it without realizing. Although I've seen the fox three different times recently, it hadn't occurred to me that the Universe might be trying to tell me something until you suggested it. Thank you for that!

I love Sexton's Transformations. Probably my favorite book by her. Yes, reading Sexton's poems and then revisioning a fairy tale would be a great exercise for students. I bet they would enoy it immensely.
Jul/28/2012, 8:16 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Jumping in the wayback machine for an old college poem. You will have to be a a certain age to remember, if only vaguely, the commercials this poem is referencing:

Seeker in a Golden Room

After twenty years in a golden room
       with imitation furniture and wall-to-wall carpeting,
after endless hours of TV commercial reruns
       and a fascination of all those
       with white teeth, odor free bodies
       and a laxative that really works
after twenty years and endless hours
of sitting
           and watching
           and waiting,
my eyes have gone slowly blind—
        the result of nothing more
        than middle class myopia
        and prolonged under use.

Is it any wonder that I didn’t recognize you?
You
        with your stubble of a beard,
        worn out shoes
        and breath which smelled of freedom—
           not of fluoride.
You came
           and went
with the impatience of one
who has no time
for a seeker
           after the sixty seconds of artificial success.
Too much advertising
           caused me to expect more
           than country roads at night
           and beer cans on the floor,
and you accused me
of having been
           /bought and sold/
           by society.
It was then you stamped on my forehead
a label which read
           “Just Another Future Housewife Without a Future”
and moved on with a sigh
          and no backward glances.

But don’t think your movement away
has left me unmoved.
Last week I stopped disinfecting the bathroom.
Let the place reek and teem with germs.
Too much safety breeds sterility.
          That’s what you taught me.
Now I sit starring at the blank television screen,
wondering if I could have learned
to see my reflection
          in your mud-stained bumper.
The image in my neighbor’s dishes fades.
Incessantly
the wind rattles
through the hole you blew
in society’s golden wall,
and I can’t seem to get
past the refrain
which cuts through my brain:
           no visible means of support,
           no visible means of support.
Jul/29/2012, 9:39 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Christine98 Profile
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Ha! I'm old enough to remember those commercials, same message in the current batch, just better production values maybe.

So I wonder about the judgmental, slobby guy.
Free spirit or poser? We give them so much authority when we're young, don't we?

Chris

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vkp Profile
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Kst and Chris: Chiming in here and know just what you mean, Chris. All the self-consciousness of youth. Even those who eschewed "image" had an image, ya know? And yeah... judgmental? Wow. The dichotomous world where hippies in ripped and faded jeans coexisted with the sweater set set. Anyway, many thoughts and memories very awesomely provoked by a cool poem. Thanks, Kat!
vkp
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Katlin Profile
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You are both right, of course! Chris, I would say the scruffy guy in question was part free spirit, part poser. I knew him in high school and for the first few years of college. Don't know what became of him, but I suspect he ended up settling down and getting married himself. emoticon And, vkp, yes the image of those who eschewed image! LOL
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Here's an old poem, post-college but pre-middle age spread, that a prompt on another board brought to mind:

   Say It Isn’t So

Jane Fonda has been shot
once again
behind enemy lines.
 
Tabloids say
she’s had her face lifted,
breasts implanted
and bottom ribs removed.

She claims these are common
place practices, required
by industry standards.

How lucky
the business favors
large breasts and a small waist.
If it fancied short arms,
she’d be one of those women
wringing her hands
at the elbows.

And most of us
would want to be
just like her. Why

do we think
we’ll be safe
or the world a better place
if we’re just some bodies
to kill or to die for?

We can call them
necessary surgical strikes
if we’d like. After all
that’s what propaganda
is for.

I did some research tonight and discovered Jane did have her breasts implanted, and then later had the implants removed. As best I can tell, she has also had a few face lifts but has never had her ribs removed. The thing is I actually like Jane, but years ago I wasn't thrilled to learn diet and exercise weren't the only keys to her lovely looks. Go figure.

PS Here's the poem prompt I mentioned above:

"Barbie Doll" by Marge Piercy

[sign in to see URL]

Last edited by Katlin, Aug/6/2012, 10:56 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Good poem. Some prompt! In another thread, you
wrote about Jane Hirshfield's series of poems called, "assays." I can envision some assays on the subject of body image (for lack of a more original way to say it.)

hmm...

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Hey Chris,

Yeah, that prompt pushes my buttons. Looks like maybe it is pushing yours too. Hope your go for it!
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Two more college poems, which I had to resist tweaking. I'm asking myself why I am doing this, and the best I can guess is that I am looking for something I unofficially said good-bye to, something unappreciated I lost and wish to regain, albeit transformed. These questions remain, however: can you go home again, and (why) do I want to?

Good-Bye

Good-bye is boxes,
stacked up neatly, waiting by the door.
A few stray hangers clatter in the closet,
resounding the emptiness.
The rugs are gone,
and the floor is bare.
Even the walls are striped of design,
and beside an undraped kitchen window,
the tea kettle clock
has stopped its whistling.
When we leave,
the past will be packed away,
loaded into the car
and driven off backwards as we go.

Small Change

Pink Floyd pulsates “Money”
from a wooden larynx on the wall
and drums into my head
as if the needle
were revolving on my ears.
Between breaks in the songs,
Chinese chimes on the back porch
filter delicately in the breeze.
I can see them from where I lay—
     flattened pearl spheres or
     hardened layers of communion bread.
Smoke contorts aimlessly
in an endless muted dance
through the sunlight above our heads,
while our bodies lay stretched out
among the pillows and Indian blankets
like two contented cats licked clean.
My mind is being taken
on an easy roller coaster ride
through a park called “The Past,”
and I think idly of Siddhartha’s river back,
the darting fish of life,
while your presence buys a gentle ticket
to my heart.
The roller coaster stoops under the rose arbor
at my grandmother’s house
and through the clatter of hammers
in the Gulf Station across the street,
and above the revving of motors in the city traffic,
the faint tinking of the Good Humor man’s bell
dance through the distance to greet me,
blonde hair blowing wispy in the breeze.
I turn to skip up the cement walk,
short-dressed,
barelegged,
with one skinned knee,
my socks drooping a little at my speed:
a dogless Dorothy
jaunting the Yellow Brick Road to Oz
in search of a dime.
But somewhere between the garbage can
at the side of the house
and the back yard fenced in,
I was snatched away
without a trace,
bright eyes,
open arms,
and all
vanished quietly into space.
Only to reappear eleven years hence,
intact and in a-maze,
a little lost in a body grown too big,
to touch your hand
and ask for change.


Last edited by Katlin, Aug/19/2012, 1:58 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Maybe these poems reflect a less "schooled," less self-conscious time. Seems like there's a fine line between self-conscious and sophisticated; the former is a defense against criticism while the latter reflects maturity and experience. No creative process should be inhibited by fear of criticism...

or maybe not,

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Hi Chris,

Yes, less schooled and less self-conscious in an inhibiting way. Less faux sophistication?

Today's poem, also an old one, post-college though, is for my sister, who mentioned this incident in a phone call today:

 Remedy Home
(for my sister)

We were whisked
away reckless
one day in that old
Ford wagon with
cracked leather seats
we’d sweat on
and stick to
those hot summer days.

We careened down
the big hill, past
Johnson’s Ice Cream.
Veered right at the light
and headed for the country.
Finally skidding to a stop
before a large gray
building. Children’s
Home
, the sign said.

You were told Get
out
and handed a brown
paper bag filled with
your possessions. This
is where children
go who don’t listen
, Mother
said, pulling away.

Face forward, she told
me, so I watched
her watching you
shrink in the rearview
mirror before she circled
back. This’ll scare her
good
, she maintained.

What scared me
was your silence
as you stood on
the asphalt—red
bows and blonde pigtails
jostled by breeze.
         
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Christine98 Profile
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I remember this one, Kat. Powerful is an understatement,

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Thank you, Chris. I believe my mother would be shocked to discover the impact that incident had on my sister and, to a lesser extent, on me. It wouldn't surprise me if she didn't even remember it and accused us of making the whole thing up should one of us mention it to her. Not that I would at this point.
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I apologize for the length of this piece. Watching the DNC's convention last night brought it to mind:

Notes on an Election

1. Presidential Primary (2/08)

I live in a red precinct in a red
district of a Clinton-blue state.

When I go to vote, I’m greeted by
the first black worker I’ve seen
at this polling place. Oh, good,
she smiles as I move to sign in
on the left. You’re one of us.

2. Early Fall and a Late Vacation (9/08)

We drive through the battleground
state of Pennsylvania, counting McCain
placards & Obama bumper stickers,
instead of license plates. Pleased
to discover there are more of us
than we had imagined.

3. Gettysburg Festivities

Here we are with the dignitaries
and history buffs for the grand
opening of the new museum
and unveiling of the refurbished
cyclorama. Also on display
an original, handwritten copy
of Lincoln’s address.

Back at the hotel, 50 yards
from Lee’s headquarters, we eat pizza
and surf through the blitz
of campaign commercials, waiting
for the first debate.

4. Day Trip to Sharpsburg

Up early we take back roads
to Antietam, counting again. All
the way from the Maryland border
to the Bloody Lane, McCain endorsements
pile up.

It isn’t until we reach the battlefield
parking lot that we see, on the back
of an SUV, the first sign of another
Obama supporter. I want to call out
to the driver, Oh, good. You’re
one of us.
But we start walking.

5. Souvenirs

I buy a few postcards in the gift shop.
The first depicts a cannon, surrounded
by bodies of an artillery crew, lying,
it appears, not far from where we parked.

The second is a photograph of Lincoln
and McClellan, talking in the General’s tent,
two weeks after the bloodiest day
in American history.


The third is a collage of images
from the annual Illumination Memorial,
which honors with a candle, each soldier
killed, wounded or missing.


6. Early Referendum (3/09)

March Special Election
Madness. I pick up the phone:

Hello, I’m Vice-President
Joe Biden. President Obama
and I—


Robocall, not reality,
and it feels like a dream.

7. These Honored Dead (4/09)

A hiker finds remains
near the cornfield. He scoops
bones into a knapsack and delivers
them to museum personnel.

Based on a button, it is determined
the recovered soldier is from
a New York regiment. Perhaps part
of the local 20th Militia, who fought
in the stalks that day.

8. Some first Saturday in December

I’d like to return to the Sunken
Road, see for myself 23,000
points of light. History,
once reality. I try to remember,
imagine, but it still feels like a dream.

  


Last edited by Katlin, Sep/5/2012, 12:44 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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hey Kat,

I remember this one too and it's as relevant now. There is something dreamlike about past history and history in the making. So many of these themes are embedded in the national and individual psyche and they do seem to be playing out again. Also, the conventions are such carefully constructed narratives--heavy on symbols, designed to capture us on every level of consciousness.

A very apt poem, thanks for it,

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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"There is something dreamlike about past history and history in the making."

Yes, you're right, Chris. I've found myself wishing I could take another such trip this election season, but that's not possible.

Writing about the Civil War reminded me of a found poem I wrote up a few years ago:

April 19th A.D. 1861

Father and mother and brothers

I take this oppertunity to inform you
that I am getting along fine
this morning when I got up
the ground was white with snow
but it soon went off.

war war war war war

war is raging
i have inlisted to go
i am going in a year or to

i have no more time

I cant come home Sunday
but i will come in a wekk

E G Footes
L. J Footes
F. S. Foote
J B Foote
W R Foote

After all
T C Foote

Jackson summit co Ohio Ohio


This is the first in a series of the Civil War letters written by Thomas C. Foote, 42nd Ohio, Co. F. In the 1860 Census, the page the Foote family is listed on is dated July 10th. Thomas C. Foote is listed as being 14 years old. Foote’s family included his father Ebenezer (46), his mother Lydia (36) and three younger brothers, Frank, James and William (ages 13, 9 and 5).

These letters belong to a friend whose father died a few weeks ago at the age of 82. His mother's maiden name was Foote. Several years ago another friend and I were given the letters to transcribe. It was quite an undertaking as some of the letters were written in pencil and many contained misspellings as well as colloquialisms from the time period. We finally figured out, for example, that "sheet iron crackers" was a reference to hardtack. I've been meaning to make more found poems from the letters, which taken together tell a compelling story.
 
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A wonderful project, Kat. Who knows what creative reservoir will be tapped in the [sign in to see URL] a gift,

Chris
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This little poem-a-day type poem came to me yesterday:


White Lies

Plausible deniability
isnt't that
what you wanted?
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Hey Chris,

Thank you for the encouragement regarding the found poem project. Maybe I will try a few in the coming weeks and post them here. emoticon
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If you do, I'll love reading them,

Chris
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Remedy Home is amazing. The memory is one many a child might have erased -- too hard.
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Hi vkp,

It's so good to see you! Thank you for your comment. What you say about memory is very interesting. I have often said that without my sister to verify my memories, I might have come to doubt my grasp of reality, because many things that the two of us remember my mother claims never happened.

I hope you can start coming by more often. You have been missed!
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My memory is tremendously spotty, and no siblings close to my age to help me recall things. Every childhood trauma brought with it a giant mop that took broad swipes at any memory in the vicinity, tangential or not. Some people have incredible recall. One of my sisters remembers so much -- and so I can utilize her memory starting when she was around 4 and I 11. And we did not always live in the same home, or state, so did not have constant access to one another's lives! And as for mothers, mine rewrote history on a regular basis, as did my step-mom. I hope I don't do that....

Thanks for the welcome back! I am glad to be here. Even posted a new piece in prose spectrum. Eager to engage.
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