Poem Portal #28: Gold Swirl Free

goldpanThis was for a contest to rewrite the lyrics of the song “Four Strong Winds.” I remember that my aunt Holly put me onto it. She’d heard about it on the radio or something, and since anne_of_green_gablesI was a writer in full contest mode at the time, she suggested that I enter. Judging by what I came up with, the objective was to make the song very Canadian. Probably a Canada Day contest. This was long before I actually did go to Prince Edward Island on my honeymoon. Anne of Green Gables was the major appeal of the place. I still love all of L.M. Montgomery’s fiction, perhaps more consistently than any other author’s work. Circa age twenty, here is my Canadian “Four Strong Winds” renamed “Gold Swirl Free.”
 

I’m a-goin’ cross the country
From B.C. to farthest shore
Got to see those forests
Stretching everywhere
You’ll pine for P.E. Island,
If I bring you some red sand,
Anne in her green gables
Born of beauty there
Gold swirl free from pan soil,
Rocky Mountains climb skies
Far as all tomorrow, what’s to be,
Beavers build homes in nickels
Prairie grass scratches ’n’ tickles,
 I will show you if you venture forth with me.

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Poem Portal #27: Gift Train

This was one of my word prompt poems circa age 20. “Train” and “mouse” were two of the words. With most word prompt poems, step 1 for me was finding all the possible contexts for the random words I’d chosen. Step 2 was choosing my favourite idea; step 3 to build a poem around that idea. I guess this is one of my lazier pieces, because I didn’t move past step 1:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdress train

I asked for a train

From father, from mother,

                                                A big train, a long train,

                                              And that was not all.

                                             I wanted a mouse;

 A white mouse, a smart mouse,

A long-tailed, fun mouse

That felt good to touch.

I should have drawn pictures,

I realize too late,

Of locomotives and rodents;

They’d see what I said.

My dress doesn’t have wheels,

Though its train is real long

Mom trains me to curtsey without falling down

rodent mouseMy train of thought runs wild round the railscomputer mouse

When dad trains cameras on me

And tells me to smile

As for the mouse, it’s a pet like no other

 They gave me a white one for my computer.

Poem Portal #26: A Galactic Coming of Age

J&A02Circa age 10-16, I loved to organize my little sisters’ birthday parties. My sister Angela often got just as obsessed with series fiction (whether books or TV) as I did. This meant I loved to organize themed birthday parties for her. There was a Harry Potter one once with lots of invented games and props. Before that, we had our Star Trek Voyager phase. I think this poem is pretty self-explanatory:

How eager and proud a big sister I was

When beloved little sister said, “Jenny, I need.”

I took it to the high command,

Craned my neck to meet high eyes:

“Mommy and Daddy, not Bubba Baloos. This year let’s give Angie her favourite Star Ship.”

I wrote invitations with crayons on paper. “Really they’re pads. You have to look harder.”

“Welcome aboard. Put on your com badge.” Sticky, white labels cut roughly triangular.

“Choose who to be,” I told the cadets. “Whatever you want, only Angie’s the captain.”

“To the Mess Hall for cake!” Dairy Queen ice cream.ice cream cake

An audio cassette to play “music on the Holodeck!”

“Tag, you’re it!” And “it” means Borg.

I made stickers and ribbons and wrote down the rules.

Parents picked up their Drones, Klingons and Vulcans;

The Borg Queen’s mother much amused,

“What a strange way to celebrate a little girl’s birthday.

Don’t encourage her, Jenny. Really, she’s crazy.”

Star Trek Voyager assimilated my sister. It got to me too.

Yes, red alert!

But resistance is futile.Borg Cube

Poem Portal #25: Friendship

Now for my drifted-away friend E. We went to the same schools. My family was close with her mother, who was a teacher with many creative outlets. E used to carpool to school with my family, and she’d always make me look bad by being ready to leave before I got out of bed. My dad really appreciated her, because she got all three of his daughters to hurry and get to school on time.lumiere

trumpetE had way more chores at home than I did, took on way more extracurricular activities (mostly dance classes), and had a much more practical skill set than I did (things like sewing and cooking). She played the trumpet in our high school band and was even willing to take on the role of Lumiere when I directed my friends in a play of “Beauty and the Beast”. I actually got so inspired by her example that I demanded my parents give me more chores. I wanted to be just as mature and responsible as her.

E was a wonderful friend, and it’s easier to remember that now. She basically found new friends after our first year in high school and didn’t talk to me anymore. After L (see Poem Portal #10), I think I had a different perspective on drifting friends and wrote E’s song with more finality: she’s over and this is just how it is. There is a hopeful note, but it’s mostly for the distant future.

Chorus: You were someone I knew,

Someone who knew me,

Yet when I see you now, it seems

You’re the stranger who was a friend

In the memory of a dream.

Verse: How did the mist between us comecloud

To thicken into clouds?

Despite our flaws we had become

Friends who were allowed.

I guess now that’s no longer true;

Go your way and I’ll go mine.

Whether it helps us both or only you,

I hope it will work out this time.

Chorus:

Verse: When I look back on the fun that’s freechains

Of the strange chains which now bind,

Where resentment and uncertainty

Spent less time in our minds,

I know that I could start again

To be your friend through dark and doubt;

Without you will never be the same,

That’s what friendship’s all about.

Chorus:

Verse: Can’t say I know just what went wrong,

What triggered a change of heart;

I thought we’d been friends too long

For our lives to grow apart.

Estrangement filtered out with time,

Someday we’ll meet again as friends;

Whatever harm there was exchanged,

It won’t even matter then.

december

Poem Portal #24: Force of Change

MrPGJanuary 2008, I moved to the Lower Mainland to live with roommates, leaving my family behind in Prince George. Back then, the poems I wrote that were not about the writing life were usually about being homesick (or “people-sick” might be more accurate; I think I would have breezed right through if everyone had just moved to the Lower Mainland with me). This poem is for that transition between one home and the next:

 

Cryabbotsford-sign

Softly when our roads divide,

Hands apart, we stand, we go to

Family’s house and place my own,

Calling both names “home.”

A safe goodbye before the flight;surrey-sign

The only force opposed is

That of change,

Hurt, helping lives to

In sunlight times, it

Barely dawns,Vancouver sign

But when the Sandman’s

Sprinkling yawns,

I wish for them so far away

Miss me little, little more,

Don’t miss too much.burnaby-sign

Poem Portal #23: Footpath

I wrote this rondeau for an online poetry course circa age 20. Like many of my poems at that time, it was a protest against realistic choices that I felt would strand me in a realistic life (aka my writing career reduced to a hobby). I’m sure most artists — or even most people who set high goals — can relate.

One journey’s all we get to take,railroad_tracks

Whole life long no time to fake.

Shoes hit rungs, loud, dull whacks,

Footpath confined as railway tracks,

Straight, rigid walk ’til feet awake.

 

Along twisting path the patterns fail,

Life’s lost and trying to find the trail.

No turning back, there’s just ahead.

One journey’s all.mountain_peak

 

Feet find the path they fear and want,

Up mountainside to high peak’s taunt:

“Only weaklings ride the train!”

I climb in spite of risk and strain,

For safe aground, potential haunt—

One journey’s all.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #22: Fly Like an Eagle

This one was a favour for a high school friend who played guitar. I don’t remember exactly why, but she wanted me to write a couple songs for her to play. She might have given me the prompts: one was supposed to be about an eagle and one about rain (I don’t know what crazy mood I was in, but the rain one turned out kind of morbid).
The_Diversion_Cover

The eagle song turned out happy, probably inspired by my love of a certain red-tailed hawk in the Animorphs series. By the time I saw real birds of prey at a show on Grouse Mountain, I was a dignified adult and therefore not obsessed with—kidding! All I could think was “those birds must really be Animorphs on a mission”; my suspicion was confirmed when the bald eagle actually took off on its handlers, soaring far away over the mountaintops as the show went on. The handlers had to explain to the audience that they do sometimes lose their birds (uh-huh, yep, whenever they catch one that needs to demorph;-)

To fly like an eagle,

To soar through the sky,

To admire the world

Through a bird’s amber eye,

To glide through the air,Bald Eagle in mid-air flight over Homer Spit Kenai Peninsula Alaska Winter

To bathe in the sun,

Closing in on the prey,

The day that’s begun,

Skitter and squeak,

Light spread and rise,

Good meal, good morn,

Routine’s no surprise.

Wake, eat and fly,

A good try!

Poem Portal #21: Everything I Need

fingers crossedThis is a song I came up with to help me relax whenever I am suffering major anticipation/fear of disappointment over something. I mostly use it when agents ask to see the beginning of my novel, but occasionally when I’m waiting for the conclusion of a contest or even a day-job interview. I wrote this soothing verse circa age 20 (around the same time that sparse requests to see my work started):

Whether it’s something
Nothing
Or everything I need
Life will be nothing less something
Than what it’s always been
I still will do what I start
And sing from my heart
Forever me
All that I love will live in me and be free
Whether it’s something
Nothing
Or everything I need

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #20: Donkey’s Ass

 

Donkey

Lake Nowhere Delta (an American Mammoth Jackstock jennet). She lives at Lake Nowhere Mule and Donkey Farm in Tennessee.

I can only blame this poem on random word prompts (I think, because I don’t know what else would have triggered it). Oh, and maybe I can also blame my lifelong fascination for words with multiple, confusable meanings. Those are fun. Dialogue is fun, and no matter how old I get, I guess talking animals are too. I don’t really trust myself to feature them well in my major writing projects. Closest I came was “The Brave Little Porcupine” (unpublished children’s story). For poems, I give myself permission to goof off.

 

 

The following is a goofball rolled out of my brain circa age twenty:

“Good day to you, ass.”

“To my ass?!” cried the donkey,

“What mad man are you

To address my behind?”

“I meant you,” said the passer.

“I thought ‘ass’ was your name.”

“It’s Haw,” said the donkey,

“Family surname for years.”

“Hee Haw,” said the passer,

“I’m desperately sorry.”

“You know my first name,”

Hee brayed and went crazy:

“Spying and lying,

I’m shocked at you, sir!

Don’t you fear that I’ll stamp you flat?”

“You bet your ass,” said the passer.

By jcmlott

Poem Portal #19: Diamante

augustMy automatic coping method for most stressful situations in my life has always been distraction. Get my head out of whatever has upset me and focus entirely on something else. This usually means I’m not rooted in reality anymore: I’ve escaped into a story. Growing up, I read fiction or – heaven forbid – gave in to the TV Blare (I’ve been a book-loving snob about a lot of movies, but quality story-telling can be hunted down on the screen).

Now that I’m a fantasy writer, there’s no hope of changing. I’ve heard some people do manic cleaning when they’re stressed. Wouldn’t that be awesome for aftermath? You have a rough day and you have a clean house to show for it? I call that someone who knows how to cope with reality.

Fantasy’s worst reputation is probably the Big Let Down once you come back to earth. You become dissatisfied with the possible, while the impossible torments you with its appeal. Although there’s some truth in that, I honestly don’t know what I’d do for excitement without other worlds in my head. Probably try to go on real-life adventures and accumulate a far more impressive record of injuries (the worst injury I’ve ever had is a sprained pinkie finger; I’m not even kidding).

In any case, I recognized the paradox circa age fifteen, and here is the poem:

Fantasy

Delightful, pleasant

Intriguing, enhancing, appealing

Imagination, creativity—lies, delusion

Disappointing, confusing, distracting

Hopeless, honest

Reality

sparklesdust

By jcmlott