Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Where is your "down below?" Here are ours in free and echo verse. #NationalPoetryMonth

Ouija Séance scene in Downton Abbey
One Christmas, years before Downton Abbey summoned the dead down in the servant's quarters, my mother thought it would be fun to speak through a medium.

She paid for me and my sister to join her and boy! did I learn a lot.

Our well-paid channeler notified us that many spirits had joined us in the room, including at least three we knew intimately. These spirits offered much insight and many disclosures, three of which I will share with you now:

1) It was high time to paint the walls and install new carpets in my childrens' bedroom,
2) My son loved fins and scales and would benefit from an aquarium, and
3) In past lives, I had been both a nun and a librarian.


Truth be told, the medium was "dead-on" about at least two of the three revelations. I went home and redecorated the nursery. Also, my son asked for a freshwater tank. A decade has passed and his nickname is "Fish." While I can neither confirm nor deny the psychic's third communication, my mother is certain that I gave her ample clues with which to divine my fondness for books and religion. "It's your wardrobe, Amy! She just looked at how you dress and made an educated guess."

Ouch—nice rap on the knuckles!

Yesterday, Allison Joseph challenged us to "write a poem about something that takes place 'down below': in a basement, cellar, tunnel, etc. My mind skipped and jumped from Downton Abbey's Christmas séance to my own and then trailed deeper into the depths. I imagined a curious teen creeping down to a musty basement, lit with one swinging incandescent bulb. She dusts off an old work table, lays out the ouija board, gingerly touches the planchette and has a conversation with someone she knows. Her quest appeared to me in echo verse form.*

Ouija Séance

Can you join me at this table?
Are you in here?
If you're with me, please speak.
Can you tell me things I need to know?
Why? Do you think that's selfish?
Don't you love me?
Love me.
This feels creepy and insane.
What should I do with all the thoughts I think?
I can't believe I'm talking to a ghost.
What's that supposed to mean?
I don't understand.
How do I really know it's you?
It's you.

Got a subterranean tale to tell? How about an echo verse? Share them with me here, please!

 *Echo verse is a type of poem that uses repetition of a first line in a second, imitating an echo. The repetition can be the last syllable, word, or words of the previous line, and plays with and twists the meaning. Echo verses aren't that common these days, but in 16th and 17th century England and France, they were all the rage. Check out George Herbert's poem "Heaven"and Jonathan Swift's "a Gentle Echo on Woman."

Here's an update!
Judi Korpi Webb took Allison's "down below" prompt to geologic depths. After I read this, my knuckles and knees felt scraped up and I had to take a few big, full breaths. Go grab your headlamp and read this. Go ahead. You'll see what I mean.

Ape Caves

Sunny and warm under a dazzling blue sky
The disfigured mountain is glimpsed over the treetops
We breathe in the scent of hot dry pine needles
Our yearly adventure into the past begins

The descent on rickety stairs into the caves
Forty-four degrees overcomes us, we shiver
Flashlights only just pierce the darkness
Lanterns required!
The hiss of the kerosene accompanies us on our excursion

The lower caves are uneven underfoot
Spacious and grand overhead
Gently sloping deeper into the earth
Voices of fellow travelers echo around bends
The flicker of lanterns, ahead and behind
The tunnel diminishes to almost nothing
We crawl in the crushed lava,
making ourselves smaller
Then turn around, making our way
Back to the light

Anxiety-inducing upper caves
We resisted for years
Finally, daring to enter
Piles upon piles of fallen lava, boulders
Crawling, careful in the darkness
Treacherous gaps often unseen.
The lantern can blind
Remembering to breathe
Under the mountain, this path slopes upward
Here and there, a tight squeeze
The Wall.
Teamwork is crucial
All are bruised and scraped after clumsily clambering

A break in the ceiling(ground?)
Sheds light into darkness
A riot of color in the gloom
There is no turning back
Onward we go

An old weathered ladder leads up through the earth
Hand over hand, suddenly
I feel the heat
My feet are still in the cold
I pause for but a moment
We emerge victorious
Into the sunlight and familiar world
Breathing deeply, faces turned skyward
Got a subterranean tale of your own to tell? Share it with me in the comments. Thanks!



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