All you need is love; it’s not quite all we need

I’m doing two poetry challenges this month. One is a poetry form challenge hosted by Khara House over at her blog, Our Lost Jungle. The other is a challenge to write a poem a day sponsored by Striped Water Poets and hosted this year by Brendan McBreen over at August Postcard Poetry Fest(ival) blog. Both challenges foster networking between poets and give them ample opportunities to expand and deepen their poetry skills.

This week Khara challenged us to write a poem in Pleiades form: seven lines, each beginning with the same letter or sound and lines with alliteration. I began on Tuesday to piece together a Pleiades before climbing Mt. Healy with my daughter and her boyfriend on Wednesday. On the trip up the mountain there was plenty of opportunity to alliterate. “Quaking quads.” “Little steps, no regrets.” “Thunder thighs take me home.”

This morning was deadline day so I got back at it and may have gone overboard with the alliteration but I couldn’t help myself. I like alliteration. Alliteration was part of the reason I was drawn to poetry. I like a lines of internal rhymes. Not that I’m good at it but it still grabs me when I hear one.

Turns out I came up with the dark theme but I make no excuse for this. Poetry should give voice to all things great and small and dark and light. What would poetry be if it were only made up of angels and bright smiles? Most certainly, a one-sided monster.

The great thing about doing a poetry form that you wouldn’t ordinarily is that it often reveals subjects and correspondences that you would otherwise not uncover. Obviously, my subconsciousness was thinking of hate crimes and the ugly side of our history in the western hemisphere. Not that I think we are unique in the world in this. Since the Nazi craze began in the first half of the 20th-century, there have come other numerous mass exterminations plans. It is obvious that large political movements can morph into a race crushing machine when led by power-hungry maniacs set on building a myth of perfection around one particular race. Needless to say, these mean movements also spawn weak and disturbed individuals who commit atrocious acts on innocents in the name of some ideal of racial or ethnic purity. I think this is what was on my mind when I wrote these lines.

Fear

Fast the innocents fell in fields full of fooled fellowers
fighting for fatherland and Fuhrer’s glory.
Fast forward, shy fourscore, this ferocious fiasco:
fiends still stumbling on vicious lies with glorious goals.
Fooled again, they gather guns and ghoulish gumption,
fermenting death and sorrow from Norway to the states.
Frightening is this horrendous heritage of hate.

I think it would be naive to think hate inspired violence will play itself out. It always astonishes me that the foot soldiers of hate often come from well-educated but overly idealistic and morally weak minions fed on an ideological diet based on fear in which the goal of every meal is racial or religious supremacy.  History shows humanity’s ability to thwart these genocidal-based atrocities is dismal. Right now butchers are in operation in Syria, Mali, Afganistan, Berma and a dozen other countries.

I saw at the opening of the Olympics in which the crowds were a gush singing the old Beatles song, “All we need is love.” Boy, I wish that love was all we did need. I think alongside of love we need a good dose of justice, diplomacy, acceptance, integrity, honor and compassion. A little poetry wouldn’t hurt too.

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9 responses to “All you need is love; it’s not quite all we need

  1. I found this blog thru Khara’s pleiades form posting. I wrote two and your poem makes both of mine look like child’s work. Not only have you jammed packed this full of alliteration, you do so without sacrificing meaning. This is a powerful poem.

    And whadda ya know…I am also taking part in the August postcard poetry project. Small world.

    • Linda,
      Thanks for reading and the glowing review. I think challenge prompt and impromptu poems are the equivalent of piano exercises for a musician. I can see where this one has plenty of room for improvement. I’m my worst critic but I’m slowing learning when to tell him to shut up.
      Keep writing and reading. Most writers say that’s the key to stronger poems. Kim Addonizio’s, Ordinary Genius has great tips on writing, as does Ted Kooser’s, The Poetry Home Repair Manual. Kim’s book has lots of online references in the back pages.
      Email me and let me know how your August Postcard Poetry Fest is going. Send a poem or two and we’ll talk online, one on one. Many blessings to you.

  2. You are right, poetry is not all about sunshine and flowers. It shouldn’t be. Poetry comes from our heart and if we like it or not, we all have a little darkness within us. I love this poem! I only wish I had enough gumption to participate… but this blew anything I could do out of the water!

    • Dana,
      I don’t own a boat and don’t know dip about explosives, so my poem couldn’t have blown yours out of the water.
      Whenever I think that one of my poems is blown out of the water, I say a little prayer of thanksgiving — “Thank you, Muse, for showing me how I can grow my poetry” — then I steer my imaginary boat up on the beach and begin to pick up the pieces of that poem I didn’t write but know is already washed up on the shore of my imagination.
      Remember, comparisons can be poison to the imagination. I know right now I’m writing sluggish poems that would make Keats, Yeats and the Beats roll in their graves but so be it. I must start somewhere and I will persist at my folly until I write poems that a few people will remember. In the mean time, I’ll be reading and writing poems and telling my internal critic that he’s useful on occasion but during composing he can take a hike. The important thing is that I write the poems that I can write.
      If I were face to face with you right now I’d give you a big hug and say, “Now go write that poem only you can write.”

      • Thank you!

        It just always surprises me that even established and wonderful poets as yourself have doubts from time to time. Just remember that you are your worst critic. Poems that you think may be mediocre, are fabulous to me!

      • Thanks for the compliment. I’ll take them anytime.

        As for my internal critic, I think we have come to an understanding. Just today I told him, “You know, I really respect your judgment but right now I need a little time alone. Here, take this money and go buy us both a mocha.” He’s generally good about taking suggestions and skipped out the door saying, “Don’t miss me.”

        I have to admit, the house was quiet with out him but I eventually got a lot of writing done. He returned just in time though, because after a time I began to feel the writing was too scattered and in need of some editing.

        Most days, we work together seamlessly. Only occasionally does he get on my nerves and I have to send him packing. He’d probably tell you the same thing. After all, the work belongs to both of us.

      • Good way of putting it! Maybe one day I’ll be strong enough to send my inner critic out for awhile! I think it takes time and practice.

  3. Kris, Your poem comes at a perfect time. I just finished “Little Bee” by Chris Cleave, which tells the frightening story of a young girl from Nigeria who tries to escape her country’s violence. Everyone in her village dies because oil was found beneath the village. The last lines of your post ring so true, although I believe that justice, integrity, and all of the other wonderful things you listed come out of hearts filled with love. Yes, the world needs poets and writers to remind us all of what’s important. Keep sharing your beautiful work.
    Thanks also for stopping by the blog and taking time to comment. I loved your idea of men reading to boys to dispel the myth of “reading = sissy”.

    • Thanks for your encouraging words Julia. Sounds like a wonderful book. Yes, peace and justice are expressions of love too.

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